Content Development: Finding Great Topics for Your Target Audience

Last week, we discussed how to find your target audience by using internal resources such as your own sales and support teams, Google Analytics, and social insights. Once you have defined your target audience, your next goal in content development is to find great topics that your target audience will love. Here are some ways to start.

Internal Resources

First and foremost, try to get content topic ideas from the internal resources that help you determine your target audience. This includes:

  • Asking your sales and support team what questions are asked most often. Answers to these questions could easily make good topic ideas.
  • Look at keyword questions that come through your website using your Traffic Sources > Organic keywords list in Google Analytics.
  • Set up Site Search in Google Analytics to track what keywords and questions are asked when people are on your website itself in the search box.

Another great way to utilize your resources is by simply asking your visitors what they want you to cover next. Tools like Qualaroo (formerly KISSinsights) will allow you to add a simple popup in the bottom of your website that will ask visitors a question such as “What should we write about next?” You can start with a free plan with up to 100 responses or look at premium plans starting at $29 per month for even more responses. Or you can simply send an email to your mailing list that ends with asking subscribers what questions they have about your industry.

Keyword Research

You’ve probably already done some extensive keyword research to optimize your main website. But have you done keyword research for content topics? You can start with tools like the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. When you search for a keyword or phrase, you will typically get stats for those search terms plus about 100 related keyword ideas.

keyword-research-for-content-ideas

You will want to put a check next to the keywords that look like they could be part of a content topic title and export those ideas to CSV using the Download option and select My Keyword Ideas.

If the 100 related keywords isn’t enough and you have a Google AdWords account, be sure to sign in to get additional results.

keyword-research-content-topics-sign-in-google-adwords

Depending on the keyword or phrase you began with, you could end up with hundreds of additional topic ideas. Again, put a check next to ones that could be a part of a great content topic title and export it to CSV.

Once you have your list in Excel, add an extra column for potential content titles and then expand the keyword ideas into titles. Then add additional columns for content types, places to publish, and other important information for your growing content strategy.

keyword-content-ideas-excel-spreadsheet

Once you’ve updated it, save this file as an Excel file. Trying to save it as a CSV can change the formatting and compatibility of some changes you have made to the original download.

Popular Post Ideas

What if you don’t just want topic ideas, but you want popular ideas for your content? Topics that have been proven to be successful on particular social networks? If that is what you are looking for, try the following sources for content topic ideas.

Topics Popular on Twitter

tospy-for-content-topic-ideas

Topsy allows you to see some of the most popular stories based on tweets over a specific date range. Just enter a keyword phrase to see the titles of content shared on Twitter the most.

Topics That Get Stumbled

content-ideas-stumbleupon

StumbleUpon is well known to send lots of traffic to content added to their network. Just use the following URL and change the keyword to the topic you are looking for.

http://www.stumbleupon.com/interest/keyword or http://www.stumbleupon.com/interest/keyword-phrase

The nice part (depending on how you look at it) is that since the content is listed by popularity, some topics are going to be old. Hence, they could be up for a update by you!

Topics Popular by Niche

Write for a particular niche? If there is a social bookmarking network specifically for your niche, try seeing content topics are getting the most votes. A few to try include the following.

  • BizSugar – Small business news including marketing, finance, franchising, management, technology, and startups.
  • Blog Engage – Blogging news including blogging tips, social media, SEO, and technology.
  • Design Float – Web design news including graphic design, branding, programming, photography, and tutorials.
  • DZone – Developers news including CSS, how-to, JavaScript, and many more.
  • Inbound – Internet marketing news including content, entrepreneurship, CRO, e-commerce, SEO, Social, and Video.

You can find even more niche social bookmarking networks listed on at Little Web Giants or by crawling through the networks listed on KnowEm.

Question & Answer Networks

Last but not least when it comes to resources on generating great topic ideas are question and answer networks. These networks allow people to post questions on a variety of topics to receive help from experts in the network’s community. A few good examples of Q&A networks include the following.

  • LinkedIn Answers – Covers topics from Administration to Technology for professionals.
  • Quora – Covers a huge amount of topics from A to Z.
  • Focus – Covers a wide variety of business topics.
  • Stack Overflow – Covers topics for developers and programmers.
  • Yahoo Answers – Not necessarily the most professional network, but covers lots of topics if your business targets B2C.

Using Q&A networks, you can find content topic ideas through the questions asked most often and determine their popularity based on the number of answers. If you create content answering particular questions quickly enough, you can even link to your piece of content in an answer your give for the question, driving traffic back to your website and content.

What methods do you use to determine great content ideas for your business?

Photo Credit: Paul Swansen



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6 thoughts on “Content Development: Finding Great Topics for Your Target Audience

  1. Lillian says:

    These are all good ideas for brainstorming content. I find that a lot of business just need to start by turning their hidden away FAQ page into several blog posts. People are SEARCHING for the answers to those questions.

    I like taking the brainstorming process a step further by making it a part of my editorial calendar. I’m brainstorming, outlining, scheduling, and writing blog posts all at the same time. I use this template, and it’s worked great for me so far. :) http://saidigital.co/how-to-use-an-editorial-calendar-to-blog-better-5700/

  2. Joe says:

    These tips look excellent, what was actually really helpful was that little picture showing what posts were going to the company blog and which were going out as guests posts.

    Is that generally what you recommend for sites, 50% on own site 50% as guest posts? I know that numbers not for everyone…

  3. Comsaurus says:

    Hi kristi, This article seems to be one of my favorite, :) I like the Internal Resources section..

    Thanks, Comsaurus.

  4. Mary says:

    Excellent information.

  5. witaysen says:

    Hi, Kristi thanks for sharing these nice tips regarding the content development. It really helps me while making my Blog.

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  6. Spook SEO says:

    Thanks for sharing your resources Kristi. I especially liked the links you shared about the bookmarking networks. Cheers!

Comments are closed.