Hunting for the perfect blog topic ideas is a bit like finding amethyst and rubies in a mine. They can take forever to unearth, but they’ll definitely pay off big time. Unless you’re Howard Ratner, of course. Anyhow, today I’m going to teach you how to do your mining so that you end up with a big ol’ bag full of only the best gems.
When I first get started on content for a site, I like to do a ton of research for topic themes, and also begin a keyword list, altogether. So I’m going to take you step by painful step through that process.
The good news is I only use free tools. But that’s also the bad news because it means more brain power and manual entry is required. But these free techniques can be used at any point, no matter your site size or credibility, to research your next blog topics.
Discover how to research the best blog topic ideas
Here are nine ways I explore topic theme ideas, and how I search on each of them to maximize results. I start by popping open a blank Google presentation deck, and I give each section below its own slide. As I start to see topic themes and possible keywords I paste them in, so that I’m left with one master place all my research is housed.
1. Search Amazon
First things I do is head on over to Amazon. Here I’ll look at book titles for the topic, in the case of this article I’m going to be doing research for my WNBA site, so on Amazon we’ll search “women’s basketball books“. A quick skim of the results shows:
- drills, plays, strategies, speed, rebounding and how to play basketball better
- women in sports in general
- the history of women’s basketball
- WNBA athletes such as Elena Delle Donne
- NBA athletes such as Michael Jordan
- coaches such as Pat Summitt and basketball coaching
- mental toughness/competing
- AAU basketball handbook
Then I’ll look for a book with the most reviews and highest rating. I’ll pop that open and copy paste some of the reviews text and throw that into a Word Cloud.
Some of the words come from Amazon’s interface so things like abuse, stars, etc I’m going to ignore. But here I’m picking up on struggling, team, fans, USA basketball, and making a difference or doing things differently.
2. Use Ubersuggest to research
My first step on Ubersuggest is to look at my direct content competitors. So I begin by checking out WNBA.com and its top SEO pages:
In the results, scores and Sue Bird jump out as popular topics. Then I look at specific keywords the website is ranking for:
Specific players (Candace Parker, Brittney Griner, etc) seem to drive the bulk of the interest. I’m also seeing standings pop out, which means people care about how each team is pacing.
I also do the same research for ESPN.com, even though the women are only one area of interest they cover. What stands out to me there is the page title for the NBA which includes rumors and teams. So gossip and team news must be big.
Now I want to find a few more women’s specific basketball sites. One way to do this is using SparkToro, but I don’t have budget. So we’re going to go the free route. I Google women’s basketball and find big news sites such as USA Today, and college sites. Unfortunately those results in Ubersuggest will include too much noise as the sites are too broad.
I simultaneously take note of Google’s related search results:
Then I narrow my search to WNBA basketball:
Looks like the LA Sparks and the Washington Mystics generate the most interest. Also the draft and schedule pop out as topics with some interest.
Through this search I find SwishAppeal by Vox and SB Nation, which I run through Ubersuggest.
It looks like gossip, including news on GMs, and players dominate this site’s top posts.
And specific players (Penny Toler, Skylar Diggins, Gigi Bryant, Tea Cooper), the Dallas Wings team, and questions about a player’s height are top keywords.
I also checked out The Athletic’s NBA section, and see racial justice and diversity, sneakers and brands, health and safety, and how they’d run teams, as topics.
I also want to look at sites that are similar but not in my exact vertical. So in this case I explored some soccer sites. From SoccerWire I see this:
This makes me think women’s basketball events could be something to cover, as could any contributions the stars make to younger player development.
3. Explore Wikipedia
I’ll also check out Wikipedia for the main topic (WNBA) and look at the “see also” section for related ideas.
Here, seasons, foreign WNBA players, WNBA broadcasters, leading scorers, and awards and award winners pop out to me. As do Seattle Storm, Lisa Leslie, and Breanna Stewart when I skim the References section.
Then I Select All to get all the text on the Wikipedia page, copy it, and throw it in a Word Cloud:
ESPN, NY Liberty, jerseys, the players’ association, Minnesota and Phoenix all show up.
4. Look on Quora to research blog topics
On Quora I’ll look for my specific topic (WNBA) and then a few general queries that could relate, such as the related Google Searches (women’s basketball). Here I’m skimming for questions that have a lot of answers. Then, I’ll also Select All and copy all the text on the page and dump it into, you guessed it!, a Word Cloud. I’ll also look at Quora’s search autocomplete:
What ends up jumping out at me from all of the above research are: playoffs, women’s players salaries, best players, how the WNBA compares to NBA, WNBA profitability, the CBA, dunking, and how to watch.
5. Check Reddit
On Reddit I search for my specific interest and general queries as well, and skim for topics with a lot of up votes within the WNBA community. New topics I pick up here are: news about the 2020 season, Kelsey Plum, Natasha Cloud’s shoe deal with Converse, Kiah Stokes, top 10 players of all time, podcasts, hiring of assistant coaches, staff pay, and roster cuts and benching. I see asks about jerseys, cards, and socks.
I also find this awesome thread about why people watch the WNBA, so I can learn directly from the fans what they love most. And I also know this topic can stoke some controversy which tends to drive a lot of views.
Then I check out the NBA community. Here I see players being compared against each other, player season highlights, and talk of passing/dimes among timely news about Covid.
6. Use Pinterest
Up next I head over to Pinterest. First up I explore autocomplete for a few terms where I learn that player outfits, womens basketball fashion – shoes and jerseys – and inspiring quotes are most of interest.
7. Look at Facebook for blog topic ideas
Next I check out WNBA and basketball Facebook groups. Here the championship, social justice, a start/bench/cut game, hall of fame, the 2K video game, trick shots, and player posts dominate the news. This article about the average aging curve of a WNBA player caught my eye in particular.
I also check out Facebook competitor pages. On SwishAppeal’s Facebook page, I selected all the text, and pasted it into a Word Cloud:
Here I see the draft pop up, and probably Maya Moore. And then finally, I scan any Facebook ads I can find under Page Transparency, and often times Select All and dump them into a Word Cloud as well.
8. Apply trends
Then I check out Google Trends on the website and also via the daily emails I’ve subscribed to. I also check out emails from Trends.co, the Cassandra Daily newsletter, Retail Pulse, and Glimpse. And I skim emails from Help a Reporter Out that include daily requests for information to see what other people are thinking and writing about.
While I’m not seeing much about women’s sports I’m thinking about how I can bridge what’s interesting about these articles and apply it to basketball. Basically I’m doing apples to castles thinking I use for landmark content to try to compare and contrast different things to develop new ideas.
The most obvious way is “women’s basketball trends.” But for example now I’m also seeing a lot of safety questions about how folks can operate amidst Covid, and clearly that would apply to the 2020 basketball season.
9. Customer data
If there are any, I’ll also look through customer support tickets, NPS open-field responses, any win/loss information, and public product reviews to see what questions folks are asking, or whether there are broad themes. I’ll typically run these through a Word Cloud as well as looking at any type of tagging/buckets customer support has carved out.
Extract key themes for blog post ideas
OK so now I have a ton of big theme buckets, and I need to marry those with what my brand represents as well as what I have expertise in. The themes I discovered from all that research are:
- How to play basketball well: drills, plays, speed, rebounding, dimes, trick shots
- The game’s history: statistical analysis on WNBA, events like the championship, hall of fame, salaries, trends, the CBA
- The people of the game: WNBA players, coaches, assistant coaches, and GMs
- The competing teams: standings, gossip, strategies, roster cuts, and benching
- The issues: Advocating for social justice, wellness, mental toughness, and competition coping
- The merchandise: women’s basketball fashion, jerseys, cards, and socks
- Comparison lists: top 10 players, a start/bench/cut game
- Timely updates: news about the 2020 season and Covid
Develop your custom blog theme mix
Based on what appears to be driving the most interest, I try to develop a mix that will capture the most eyes (and hearts!). For example about 50% of what I encountered was player specific. So in thinking about the mix I want to provide readers, what my writers are most capable of covering, and what unique element I can add, I’m going to go:
- 50% Players
- 20% Team news
- 10% Controversial and competition
- 10% How to play well
- 10% Fashion
Get specific about post topics
From there I start trying to identify the specific keywords to go after for each theme first. I’m looking for at least 5 players, 2 teams, 1 controversy, 1 skill, and 1 fashion idea to start. I start by going back to the BOFU basics, using keywords I already have, and then I broaden to the whole world of possibilities.
1. List easy BOFUs
First I go to my standard group of BOFU blog post topics and see how they could fit my current vertical. My bofu hits are:
- Cost of and Price of posts (for example “the cost of going to a WNBA game”)
- Comparison posts (for example “why is the WNBA better than the NBA”)
- Alternative to [Competitor] posts (for example “alternative to watching EPL”)
- Best tools for [Specific Task] posts (for example “best articles for learning how to dribble)
- Best tools for [Industry/Job Title] posts (for example
“best magazines about women’s basketball”)
- How to choose the right [Product or Service] posts (for example “how to choose the right WNBA podcast to listen to”)
- Product use case posts (for example “ways to get WNBA news”)
I’d add all those to a tab in a spreadsheet that will hold all my keywords and label it BOFU. And I’ll use Keyword Planner to list each keyword’s volume and possible supporting keyword variations. Up next I try to reduce my paid ads budget, while increasing the success of my content topics.
2. Grab high-converting keywords
For this I’ll check out any existing SEM campaigns and look for keywords that are the highest converting (say your top 25%), that also have a decent amount of traffic. The traffic depends on your Domain Authority (as the higher your DA the higher traffic keywords you can more easily grab) but I’m generally looking for something with 200+ hits. I add these to my list in a High-Converting tab.
3. Use Keyword.io
Then I use Keyword.io to get more specific topic suggestions based on my themes. I input a handful of different starter keyword such as WNBA, women’s basketball, and some of the Google related searches from earlier. I dump all of the results from these lists each into their own spreadsheet tab and name the tab for the term I used to get the list.
4. Use Answer the Public
After that I’ll head over to Answer the Public and input a few promising keywords I just found to get even more keywords. I’ll also input my broad themes and see what pops out. I dump these into corresponding tabs in my spreadsheet.
5. Use Google Keyword Planner
From there I use Google Keyword Planner to narrow into specific topics. First I’ll chose to Start with a Website and input a competitor’s site. I add those keywords in another tab on my spreadsheet. Then, I input my topics into Discover New Keywords.
Now I can use Google’ Refine topics to get a feel for the thematic buckets that the majority of keywords fall into. This method surfaces New York, Dallas, LA, and Seattle, and “young” keywords.
I also export add all these specific topics to my spreadsheet. Now I see what’s tempting! I know from earlier research that these popped out:
- LA Sparks
- Washington Mystics
- Seattle Storm
- Lisa Leslie
- Breanna Stewart
- Penny Toler
- Maya Moore
- Kelsey Plum
- Brittney Griner
- Candace Parker
- Natasha Cloud
- Kiah Stokes
And Google shows me some overlap:
Place your blog post idea bets
Now it’s time to start finalizing my list by placing bets. I’m going to let you in on a little content marketing secret: About 20% of my blog posts are going to drive all my traffic, so I don’t put too much pressure on myself to get it right at this point – only pressure to learn quickly.
If I had a well-established site with strong Domain Authority I’d go after the keyword topics with overlap right away, such as Maya Moore, because they have huge monthly search volume and low paid ads competition.
Pro tip: Supposedly competition on paid does not match organic so you can ignore that factor. But I’ve found they’re pretty similar, and have had better luck ranking against those that are low. It would make sense that fewer dollars being spent on ads might correlate to less search engine optimization on the organic side.
But as a new site, I need to target long-tail keywords which tend to be three to four word phrases with volume under 500 searches per month.
So I’ll scan my lists for keywords that could fit the bill, and add about 30 of them to a Final Keywords tab in my sheet. Then I’ll look up their exact keyword volume in Keyword Planner and record that, as well as a few other attributes that I’ll keep track of over time to help me understand which posts perform best.
Also, if I’m just getting started, I like a healthy mix of BOFU and TOFU content, and typically alternate on that cadence. This helps establish credibility in the area you’re going to cover and potentially saves your paid ad campaigns some money, while also giving you a good shot at getting the eyeballs to start showing Google you’re important enough to care about.
Once I have a list of about 15 BOFU and 15 TOFU keywords I like, as a last pass I’ll also search Google for the keyword plus my top three competitor’s website’s name, one at a time, to ensure they’re not already trying to rank for it. Again, this is less important if your site already has strong Domain Authority as you’ll more easily be able to compete with other content. If a top competitor is already ranking, I’m not going to chase it —at least not until I’ve exhausted other options.
And that’s it! Now you know how to fill your mining bag with 10 brilliant blog post ideas.
You’ve picked the best keyword topics!
You’ve researched audience interested, identified essential blog post themes, taken into account your competitive advantages and personal interest, and narrowed down your list of keywords to the perfect set of blog post topics.
Curious if your blog posts have all the content, search intent matching, and keyword placements needed to be successful based on the topic you’ve picked? Get in touch with me for an analysis of any blog post for just $99.
I’ll score your post on my proven success template, and provide actionable ways for you to achieve a higher Google ranking. Plus, I’ll review it all with you in a half-hour call and answer any questions you have, so you can apply the method to every piece of content you create. You can probably even put the cost on your company card! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
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