Whiteboard Wisdom: The Content Conundrum

One of the hardest things about keeping a website thriving and staying relevant is being able to continuously add valuable content. And by ‘continuously’ I mean as infrequently as once a month or so. It seems that, no matter our best intentions and deepest desires, life often gets in the way.

“I’m too busy to create new content.”— That’s great! You can probably afford to hire a writer then!

“I have 1000 great ideas. I just need to sit down and do it.”— Even better! But sounds a little like the ‘too busy’ guy. Outline some of your 1000 great ideas and hire a writer.

“OK. Just between you and me: I have no idea what to write about.”— The first step in amazing content is admitting you have a problem thinking up amazing content. We’ve all been there.

Here are some tips for you. Some are kind of obvious. Some use a little data know-how. And some use some data with a side order of speculation.

Write What You Know. But also…

This is definitely an obvious one. But I just want to make sure I say it because I have watched some site owners fall flat by not being the experts they thought they were. (And it’s fine if you aren’t an expert if you frame it that way. Some very entertaining work has come from people documenting their learning about a subject.)

But also…

Write specifically. If there is some current hot topic happening and the whole world is talking about it. It might be a good thing for you to talk about too. But probably not like a nightly news overview would. Dig in and find an angle that makes your piece different and interesting.

How Technology Can Help

Site Search

If you run a website that has a search box on it, you can set Google Analytics to report to you what people have searched for. (It’s actually really easy.) Hop over to GA and make your way to the admin settings. Click on ‘View Settings’ all the way in the right hand column and then scroll down and look for this:

Obviously, this method won’t give you much input unless you have relatively robust traffic and a critical mass of people using your site search. Here’s what the report might look like in Google Analytics. (Maybe our next blog will be about Tom’s socks?)

Categories / Buckets

If your site’s paging system is already set up in a category/bucket structure then you can take a look at your data and see what areas people have shown the most interest in. It’s easy peasy in Google Analytics. Just go to Behavior > Content Drilldown and dig in.

If it is not already set up that way, you may want to consult an expert if you plan to change the structure of site URLs. But if you’re launching a new WordPress site, you can go to Settings > Permalinks and make this change:

There’s tons of information out there about the details and technical considerations of both these methods, and this blog isn’t meant to be a tutorial. I just want to get you thinking about some ways to use potential data about what your users may have already demonstrated that they are interested in.

For a way to use The Big Internet to get more ideas for content, you or your agency can use some other keyword research tools. For that, I’m turning things over to my colleague, Tim Moorhead, Associate Creative Director, Digital …

Thanks, Chris. When it comes to keyword research, you have a plethora of paid and free tools at your disposal. SEM Rush, Moz, and of course, Google AdWords Keyword Planner, are some of my favorite products. But, another great tool is Google Trends.

Google Trends

Google Trends uses real-time search data to help marketers visualize consumer search behaviors over time.

Getting started with Google Trends is easy, and unlike the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, does not require a Google account. You begin by entering your keyword phrase or topic into the input box and Google Trends will show the relative level of interest over a selected time period for your phrase or topic. From there, you have options to compare your phrase with another, or sort by a number of filters, like region, time and categories.

So, let’s say you sell cookware and came to find more content ideas. You can use Google Trends to see when interest in cookware hits its peak. Work this seasonality into your content calendar.

You’ll also be able to find related keywords that are rising in popularity. Take note of these and do some more digging to find out why these are trending. Rinse, and repeat.

We hope you found this post helpful for some ideas on how to decide what topics you should be writing about. Don’t let a blank screen stop you.

Let the data be your muse.