[EDIT July 2018: Replaced defunct Content Forest’s ContentIdeator with Moz Keyword Explorer; replaced AllTop with Quora; and tweaked list order.]
Disclaimer: I’m not being paid by any of these sites to feature them here, I just use them regularly in my own content endeavours.
We’ve all been there – the dreaded creator’s block. A total mental embargo on all content ideas. You know your specialist topics like the back of your hand, but what aspect should you write about today? What’s currently in demand? What approach should you take? How do you figure out what you’re going to discuss what questions to answer?
Well, there’s no shame in giving your creative juices a bit of a jump start. These 5 tools can help inspiration on its way, as well as isolating topics that the internet is currently looking for.
Technically, this tool is for keyword research, but the way they tackle topics makes it a great destination for those pondering over blog, video, or podcast content ideas. AnswerThePublic takes a more human approach to keywords than most by returning questions people have asked Google about the searched topic, as well as appending useful prepositions such as “from”, “to”, and “with.”
This method produces meaningful ideas that people have actually looked for in the past. Be aware that it may be worth giving any AnswerThePublic response you are interested in a cursory search on Google just to see how popular it is and whether there is anything new or different you can add in your own content. But that being said, if there’s only one tool you check out on this list, make it this one!
2. Moz’s Keyword Explorer
Next up, we have another keyword tool from SEO gurus Moz. You do need to create a free login to get more queries per month, but it’s well worth it. Hit “keyword suggestions” on the search results page and voila, here are your suggestions. Because it’s a keyword tool, you will get a little bit of search volume data for the more popular terms, and you can order your results by relevance and number of monthly searches.
If you’ve got a mind for keyword research, head on over to the “SERP Analysis” section in your results. It’ll show you a breakdown of the top organic search results, Including valuable data such as Page Authority, Domain Authority, and the number of websites linking to each page. Clever, huh?
3. Portent’s Content Idea Generator
This tool comes at the problem of creator’s block slightly differently to keyword research tools. When you type in your core area of study, it integrates your keyword into a randomised 4-part title suggestion. When you first start to use this tool, you’ll notice that some of the results it comes back with are quite wacky, with references to Kardashians, Nostradamus, and kittens. Granted, those who are creating content about serious topics won’t want to use some of these titles as-is, but a more zany approach can sometimes be the ticket to getting the neurons firing.
As an example, I typed in “content marketing,” and received the suggestion “True Facts About Justin Bieber’s Love of Content Marketing”. Now, I’m not a fan of Bieber’s, and therefore I have no idea as to his stance on content marketing, but if you scale the idea back a hefty notch, you could extrapolate ideas like “Content Marketing for Young Entrepreneurs”, or “How to Use Content Marketing to Appeal to the Teenage Market” for example.
Or you could just click refresh until you get a more sensible suggestion. Your call.
4. Social Mention
When you type your specialist subject in to Social Mention, it crawls a selection of social media and file sharing platforms for popular posts and media matching that term. This not only gives you an idea of the kinds of discussions that are taking place about your topic, but gives an insight into the questions people are raising and any sticking points they may have (that you can, of course, answer). Social Mention searches also provide information about the sentiment of posts, how frequently the topic seems to be mentioned, as well as keywords and hashtags where appropriate; all of which can give further insight into what your audience may be looking for.
Word to the wise: you may find a lot of PhotoBucket results, so it might be worth your while to filter them out. Scroll down your results a little and look at the sidebar on the left, here you can filter the results by source. If in doubt, simply use their Advanced Search option.
Rather than looking at what content people have already created through keyword research tools, why not look at questions that people are actively asking each other? This is where Quora comes in. Any user can put a question out there into the ether for the site’s over 200 million monthly unique visitors to answer. Though I would highly recommend getting stuck in by asking and answering questions, content inspiration can equally come from simply observing the questions that people are asking and the advice they get in return.
The great thing about using Quora is that you know that the questions asked are genuinely in-demand topics in need of further guidance. The answers that others have provided may inspire new and interesting viewpoints to consider within your piece too (without copying obviously). It might be worth using this alongside Social Mention or a social media tool of your choice to see if there is related buzz on a given subject elsewhere too.