How to predict trending topics ahead of your competitors

Producing content on a topic no one – or very few people – have touched on can seem an impossible task. As content marketers, staying one step ahead of the game is essential.

Having previously relied largely on keyword tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner to produce optimised content; as a historic tool, most – if not all – are great at telling you what has already trended in search but not what is about to. It became quickly apparent that to produce new article ideas on the next topics of interest, I would have to use other tactics to find them not only before their surge but even before keyword tools reveal them.

What are the benefits of talking about a topic early?

Firstly, it presents your brand as a thought leader on the topic. Having your business recognised as an authority may lead to content syndication (especially where the brand is one of few producing content on it) and opportunities to share insights such as commentary in the press or speaking at conferences, all to a relevant audience. Readers will also potentially return to you and trust your opinion when speaking further on said topic.

SEO-wise, having content published ahead of an interest influx could equate to Google indexing your site ahead of competitors who later cover the same thing. This could lead to more visibility and traffic for you. With the topic not yet saturated with relevant results in the SERPs, searchers are more likely to click on your site.

Below are five content research methods that have helped me overcome the obstacle of finding new topics:

News agenda

The news agenda often has an impact on future content trends and is therefore great for spotting upcoming themes. If we take recent times, for example, a health pandemic perpetuating the news has led to an increase in knock-on effect topics such as mental health, working remotely and home exercising. Using these insights, it’s possible to have an educated inkling of what people would like to read about next to guide your strategy in the right direction.

Social media

The first step in researching and finding topic ideas through social media is joining platforms and following relevant people and businesses. As many topics are broken down and discussed on social media first, you should be active on them. As it can become overwhelming at times, I advise utilising a management tool such as Hootsuite in which you can curate different feeds and organise to suit your needs.

Social media can also be used like Google Trends as some of the most prominent platforms have trending sections. My personal favourite is Twitter as I’m able to follow topics and find out what people are saying in real-time. However, the preferred social channels of your audience should be prioritised.

Twitter favourite topics

Conducting social media research and understanding the conversations of my client’s audience allows me to create fulfilling content as early as possible.

Google Trends

Aggregating Google search, news and YouTube, Trends gives you a 360 view on what is trending on the web – assisting you with brand new article topics. It’s free to use and provides you with interest patterns over time, geographical breakdowns and related queries, which allow for further context and understanding of search intent. Let’s look at ‘home workouts’, for example:

Google Trends home workout

Having seen an increase in people turning to home workouts during the lockdown, one of our leisure clients wanted to gain insight into the specifics of which home workout content people were seeking. While Keyword Planner updates monthly, Google Trends helped to identify which workouts had increased as of very recently, in line with the pandemic.

From the above, we knew to create content around arm and back exercises as it would suit the needs of those interested in home workouts.

As well as searching for specific terms, the Google Trends homepage also provides recently trending searches and their uplift on a global scale.

Quora and Reddit

Quora will supply you with the questions people want answered, while Reddit shows the topics people are talking about. I think of them as real-time ‘Answer the Public’ tools with additional insights such as the popularity of the query, responses, and related asks. All of which should assist in producing new and meaningful content to satisfy searchers.

To get the best out of these boards, join communities and engage with users. It’s a great place for researching and gaining understanding.


The ‘Discover’ section of BuzzSumo is great in many ways. Similar to Google Trends, the ‘Trending’ page provides trending topics but from trusted publications as opposed to search.

‘Discover Topics’ goes a step further by creating a word cloud based on a topic of your choice using those publications. In other words, the word cloud is reflective of the amount of content that is being published in your area of interest.

BuzzSumo home workout wordcloud of topics

Cross-referencing breakout topics in Google Trends with your BuzzSumo content research identifies blind spots. For example, Google Trends revealed arms and back home workouts are of public interest, but this demand is not being met looking at the quantity of content being created; this makes for a valuable article opportunity.

If in your case it does appear on the word cloud, clicking through will allow you to look into further topic insights such as the number of articles published and engagements over time, example content and their engagements, related keywords and questions from boards such as Quora and Reddit.

What are your tips for article research and creating novel content? Share your additional suggestions in the comment section below.

Comments are closed.

  • Love your line of thinking Carla. I’m 100% behind the importance of watching / listening and reading the news to spot emerging trends – I’ve actually become a bit of a fan of BBC World Service, lots of programs on that channel are really in-depth and pretty cutting edge too. Great example of the need to keep your ear to the ground: when the “ok boomer” phrase started to appear, the domain name was available in the UK – I resisted the temptation to register *yet another* domain; regardless of thinking it would have made a good tshirt affiliate site (for redbubble). Long story short: someone else grabbed it while I was making up my mind. But I never would have discovered the opportunity if I wasn’t interested, generally, in emerging pop culture memes. Good content people have great general knowledge and awareness of current affairs in my humble opinion. Thanks!!

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