Have you been tasked with building your company’s blog, or your own blog, and you don’t know where to start? Or maybe you have been doing it for long enough to know that you need to know more. You probably have a ton of ideas for stories to tell about your business — what we would call content — and you’re overwhelmed as to where and how to start. The good news is that there is a general framework and process for this, which we call content ideation and topic ideation.
Every content marketing specialist has a particular style and method of content ideation. In this article, we’ll show you how we do it at rellify. We’re an end-to-end content marketing agency that helps businesses grow their brand and visibility in search engines. In this article, we’ll walk you through the process using a specific example, creating content around the topic of “credit scores.” Let’s begin!
Content ideation begins with purpose
This step in your content marketing strategy naturally flows from a content audit, in which you analyze every element of your website. In particular, you list every blog post, examine their strengths and weaknesses, and look for content gaps. Now, it’s time to fill in those gaps and generate content ideas.
First, you need a “Why.” Why are you creating content about credit scores? And a “Who.” Who is your target reader for this credit score content? The answers will anchor your content-ideation process.
In the ideation process, we recommend analyzing the audience with a discerning lens involving the five W’s. The goal is to build a bridge between the customer and client by understanding the customer and their desires as well as the client and their solutions. Here are some starter questions:
- Why are you creating content and for whom?
- What do you want your target audience to take away from your content?
- Is the aim to educate your audience or have them transact — or both?
- What is your audience’s interest? What do they want to learn about? What are their pain points? What are your audience’s common questions? What are the best answers to those topics?
- What’s your unique offering that makes you stand out from the competition? Remember that your direct competitors are not your only content competitors. Other groups and individuals might be generating relevant content you’ll have to contend with.
- How will readers engage with your content? Read, watch videos, fill out a form, etc.
With this figured out, let’s dive into the topic ideation process.
Building content topics ideas
Get your brain in gear with a good cup of joe or tea (or whatever fires you up) and block out a chunk of time — a few hours. In fact, you might want to break this up into days.
Hint: You’re going to find yourself going down a rabbit hole in this process so try to stay focused.
Second hint: Get a spreadsheet ready to collect and organize your findings.
Start with good old-fashioned brainstorming, either by yourself or with colleagues. Keeping in mind the answers to your 5W questions, jot down all your ideas about credit scores in any order they come. Ideas may come to you from your own experience and expertise, your sales team, your customer service representatives, other colleagues, friends, experts, customers and clients.
If you feel that you don’t have a good grasp of a topic, dive into Google or a keyword research tool and explore the topic more deeply.
You should also research social sites, such as Quora, Reddit, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Learn how the main topic and related topics are being discussed there. You often can find hidden-nugget topic ideas here.
Researching topic ideas
Now let’s go deeper into our topic, credit scores, to understand how users search for it. Create a list of the top five or 10 topic ideas that make sense for your audience and business. Pick one to get started and the others can follow this exercise.
Tools for the job
Google, Bing search: Autocomplete search suggestions, people also ask, related searches.
Google trends: Seasonal and trending interests.
Keyword tools: Semrush, Ahrefs, and many other options out there.
Social forums: Quora, Reddit, Twitter, LinkedIn, Meta (FB), AlsoAsked, and similar sites.
Websites: List of niche bloggers and competitors.
Experts: People you know from work, friends, and other knowledgeable people.
Things you want to uncover
Research more deeply how the topic is being searched for in search engines, niche websites, and discussed on social media.
- Keywords and questions used in search engines
- Questions and answers in social forums
- Content quality or E.A.T.
- Format types: articles, video, images
- User intent: information, transactional, other
Research should also include analyzing competitors for topic coverage, keywords, and content quality. Based on this research, there seems to be subcategories within the realm of “credit scores” such as:
- Credit score knowledge (basic knowledge, understanding)
- Credit score management
- Credit score factors
- Credit score ranges
Organizing topic ideas
Collect your research findings in a spreadsheet, starting with the keywords and related data. If you’re using a keyword tool like SemRush, Ahref, etc., then some of this data is provided.
Examples: Topic level & Keyword level
If you develop a large number of keywords from your head keyword — “credit scores” — you might want to take advantage of technology that clusters keywords. Keywords with similar search intent (similar Google results) can be grouped together as a cluster. This is useful not only for content organization but also helps avoid creating duplicate content.
At rellify, we have our own proprietary clustering AI tech, but several tools are on the market for this purpose.
The outcome of this will be that all your keywords are clustered into topic themes with associated meta data so you can begin organizing and prioritizing articles to write about.
Identify Pillars and Posts
Next step is to identify topics that would make pillars vs. posts. This content strategy is also referred to as Hub and Spoke.
A Pillar Article is like an entry guide that covers several core points on how to do something, like: Why You Need to Know the 5 Parts of Your Credit Score.
A Post Article is a detailed article about something specific that should connect back to a Pillar, for example: How Does Credit Utilization Affect Your Credit Score?
Prioritize and organize
Begin prioritizing the topics to write about based on your goals and audience interest. Use the search volume and keyword difficulty as an indicator if you’re struggling to decide between pieces of content.
Create relevant content
And now, you are ready to create content with purpose. Content marketers will tell you that simply posting content for the sake of having it is a waste of time and money, and possibly counter-productive. We hope that this guide will help you understand the proper way to perform content ideation. It’s a lot of work, and if you think you might want help with it, contact rellify. We do this all day, every day and our clients like the results.