I was having trouble coming up with my next blog post topic when I figured it out: I’d write about tips for narrowing down a blog topic idea.
It can be easy to fall into a routine and find yourself writing about the same thing over and over again. Not only does this start to get stale for your readers, it actually can hurt your own blog if posts are competing with each other for spots on the results page, known as keyword cannibalization.
Using the right tools can help you get an idea of what sorts of content your audience is looking for so that you can write content that’s going to appeal to them and provide value.
Tips for Narrowing Down a Blog Topic
- Rework an old blog post. Do you have an older post that’s lost some of its views? Can it be updated? Is there a set of bullets within the post that you can expand into an entirely new blog post? Can you create a eye-catching infographic for an older post? Google (and your readers) love fresh content, so make sure you’re keeping your blog posts up-to-date. This post, for example, is a different take of one we published in 2014.
- Check the editorial calendar. Utilize an editorial calendar like this one to plan ahead and come up with new blog ideas. Make sure you’re tracking upcoming holidays, cultural events like Hispanic Heritage Month, and big events like CES or the Olympics (whenever they happen again) and try to build content around them. This will help you create timely content that’s going to have the added SEO boost of tying into popular search terms and phrases.
- Poll your readers. You should always write content that your readers find useful. Create a simple poll on your blog homepage or in a newsletter asking what types of content they are reading the most and what, if any, they’d like to see more of.
- Look at the numbers. Are your listicles being read most? What about how-to articles or interviews? If you’re catering to your existing audience, the blog stats should point you in the direction of posts that resonate with your readers. Notice other content types that could use a boost or are missing entirely? Try to fill in those gaps on your blog for a more well-rounded collection of content.
Tools to Research Blog Topics
Answer the Public
Effectively answering a searcher’s question is key to getting your content to show up in search results. But how to do you know what the question is? With Answer the Public, you can plug in a keyword or phrase and the tool will give you the most popular Google and Bing searches around that term for a given location. Free and paid options are available depending on your needs.
Click over to the Data tab in the results to get a handy breakdown of the questions organized by question type: who, where, how, when, etc.
Let’s say you wanted to write a blog on podcasting, for example, and used this tool to get a few specific topic ideas. Some of the results from searching “podcasting” in this tool include “can podcasts help you sleep,” “podcasting how to book,” and “where does podcasting go next.”
If you’re looking to get ahead of the curve, this can be a great tool to utilize. Exploding Topics helps you find trends before they take off. By analyzing millions of searches, conversations, and mentions across the internet, the technology can identify “exploding topics” and send users a list each week. Since the topics haven’t blown up yet, it means there’s less content to compete with, giving your post a better chance of ranking well.
Google can be a great tool to find new blog topics. Google’s goal is to provide content that answers the searcher’s question and part of its strategy is providing a variety of results. The variety of sources and types of content can be really useful in brainstorming blog topics.
Try searching for a blog topic you covered recently. I used “Slack for Writers” in the below examples and the first page alone gave me several helpful answers.
Groups of questions from sites like Reddit, for example, show different variations of the topic that people are looking for information about, like Slack groups specifically for freelancers or fantasy writers.
Other results give me an idea of the types of content that are ranking well for this particular topic – how-to guides and personal stories in this case.
And of course the related searches section at the bottom of the results is always a helpful way to keep digging into the topic and find new angles you hadn’t previously thought of.
If your particular search results include a set of “People Also Asked” questions, utilize them as well. Each question you expand will generate even more popular search queries.
To help refine your search even more to fit your needs, get familiar with advanced Google search techniques.
There are tons of keyword research tools out there. No matter which tool you decide to use, this should always be a critical part of your content strategy.
By thoroughly researching keywords for your posts, you will get a better picture of what readers are already coming to your site for, and what they could be coming to your site for. These tools also will give you a variety of related terms and phrases that are being searched for, which can lead to new blog topic ideas.
Search for relevant hashtags to get new blog topic ideas. Twitter can be noisy, but doing a more focused search will help you see what questions are being asked about your specific topic and what your competitors may be writing about.
Tools like BuzzSumo also help to analyze the content on Twitter and other domains to spot backlink opportunities, understand social media reach, and create even more topic ideas.
Still having trouble?
Maybe you’ve just hit a mental wall and cannot wrap your mind around writing a new blog. We previously wrote about tips for battling writer’s block that may help get you going.
And if you’re looking for more story inspiration, set up a custom newsfeed with PR Newswire for Journalists. You’ll receive press releases that are targeted to your interests, have access to high-quality images and videos, and be able to utilize ProfNet to connect with subject matter experts for your story. Registering for PR Newswire for Journalists takes only a few moments.
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Rocky Parker works in Audience Relations at PR Newswire. Check out her previous posts for Beyond Bylines and connect on LinkedIn. When she’s not working, Rocky typically can be found cooking, binge watching a new show, or playing with her puppy, Hudson.