Content ideation is the process of coming up with content ideas.
“Content” could mean blog posts, press releases, videos, infographics, or any other form of online content. Ideation is the research involved in coming up with ideas for your content, such as the topic itself, the keywords the content is built around, and the specific target audience the content is targeting.
Content ideation is an essential step in content development because poor content ideation leads to sub-par content creation. Coming up with good ideas increases the probability that your content will succeed and provide you with a good return on your investment — saving you time and resources.
Before you develop content ideas, it’s good to understand your key performance indicators (KPIs) and who your target audience is.
Content marketing KPIs are indicators that measure your content’s performance, which helps you measure your progress and whether you’re on track to achieve your goals.
KPIs we recommend you track include:
Before coming up with content ideas, you’re going to want to have clear goals you can measure so that you can understand which content ideas produce the best results.
Understanding how your content ideas correlate with various success markers will improve and simplify your content ideation process in the future.
Out of these two hypothetical “buyer personas”, which do you think will provide you with the best information to generate good topic ideas?
30-40 year old women in the US interested in losing 10-20 pounds with a ketogenic diet.
People who want to get fit.
The clear answer is persona A. This buyer persona provides much more to work with. With this specific information, one will have an easier time coming up with content ideas that engage this audience — because there’s more scarcity of information that specifically targets people that fit these criteria.
Granted, if you’re targeting persona B, you’ll have an easier time finding more topic ideas. But quality and specificity > quantity!
Consider the following details to find your buyer persona:
While understanding who your target audience is and what your KPIs are will help with content ideation, there’s only so much you can assume about what will work.
The right tools can help you understand how often particular keywords are searched for and how competitive they are.
This type of data is excellent as it helps you:
Note: None of these recommendations are sponsored.
Ahrefs is a popular SEO tool used for backlinks and SEO analysis.
Ahref’s Keyword Explorer is excellent for content ideation as it can help you find the average monthly search volume of different keywords, “keyword difficulty,” approximate cost per click (CPC), and click-through rates (CTRs).
Their “Site Explorer” is also helpful as it provides you with information about other websites and their top ranking pages, allowing you to spy on competitors and see what type of content is performing well for them.
Ahrefs also has a clean user interface (UI), making their software a pleasure to use.
SEMrush is a popular SEO solution for SEO, PPC, content, social media, and general competitor research.
They have a massive database that’s frequently updated and generally regarded as one of the more accurate keyword research tools out there for content and PPC research. Semrush’s keyword research tool gives you access to search volume, competitiveness, and the profitability of specific keywords for every country.
Moz is an SEO platform that has a popular keyword research tool called Keyword Explorer. You can find specific information like monthly search volume and search engine results page (SERP) features (like featured snippets and local packages) and competitiveness.
Moz’s keyword research tool is an “all in one” tool that you can use for all your content ideation needs and is one of the most popular tools around.
Reddit is a social media network comprised of different communities based on specific interests. Reddit is a unique platform as users are typically anonymous. This makes for very “real’ discussions and can give you a transparent insight into what really gets people engaged.
You can use a Reddit keyword research tool like Keyworddit to find the most mentioned keywords within a specific “subreddit” or filter posts in a subreddit by popularity and date posted.
Google Search Console provides you with analytics for your search rankings.
Google Search Console is useful for content ideation because it helps you understand what’s performing well on your site regarding total clicks, impressions, CTRs, and your average position for all queries on your website.
Understanding what’s already working for you in organic search can help you figure out what you should continue to focus and invest in.
Google Keyword Planner is a tool Google provides for its ads platform. Google keyword planner is free, as you don’t need to set up ads to use the keyword planner.
This tool will give you approximate ranges of search volume for various keywords and their overall competitiveness and difficulty. While this tool is made for ads, you can use it to perform keyword research for content ideation for your organic content development.
Google search is the world’s biggest search engine. While this isn’t a keyword research tool, it’s the place where everything ends up — so it’s worth paying attention to.
Search results are the best place to understand the search intent behind specific keywords.
Once you find target keywords for your content using another tool, you can search them in Google and study what’s ranking high.
Try to look for patterns in the top results by asking yourself:
To see the search results for different countries, you can use a VPN or use a tool like Ahrefs to view country-based SERPs. Country-specific results vary, which is essential to know if you’re living in a different country than you’re targeting.
8. Google Trends
Google Trends is a website by Google that shows you the popularity of top search queries in search over time for different regions and languages.
You can visualize the popularity of a keyword to see where it peaked and what the general trend is over a custom period of time.
For example, if we type in “google trends” in Google trends, we can see that over the past 12 months in the US, the “interest over time” for the search term “google trends” has been relatively stable on a scale of 0 to 100.
AnswerThePublic is a tool you can use to discover what people are asking about. You type in 1-2 words for best results related to a topic, brand, or product (e.g., chocolate). Then you’re given a range of questions that begin with “how,” “can,” “where,” etc., such as “where chocolate comes from.”
These questions are searched often, so you can use these terms to kick-start your content ideas that you may further develop and research with other keyword research tools to see if they’re viable in terms of search volume and competitiveness.
Keyword.io is a versatile (and free) keyword research tool. You type in your seed keyword, select your target country, and then choose which platform want content ideas for (e.g., Google, YouTube, Amazon, etc).
After typing in your “seed” keyword, such as “bitcoin,” you’ll get a long list of long-tail keywords that fit within the seed keyword you enter. This list will give you many potential content ideas that you can explore further for viability.
Content ideation is often overlooked as a crucial step in the content creation process. To get the best results out of your content marketing, you have to put in the time and effort to research topic ideas and plan content that you can be sure can generate the best results possible for your website.
A lot goes into content ideation. If you want to explore learn more about researching content ideas, be sure to read our guide on how to find blog topics for more actionable tips.