Targeting the right topics is vital for boosting your blog’s SEO and getting readers interested in your content. Here are some tips for finding SEO-friendly post topics.
Your headlines are the first things readers see when they look at your blog content, and need to grab their attention strongly enough that they’ll stick around to find out exactly what you have to say — and strong headlines are built on fresh and interesting topics, or at least new angles on well-covered ground.
But coming up with good SEO-friendly blog post topics and titles is something many marketers (even experienced ones) struggle with. After all, it takes more than listing some top keywords to get attention. It takes an irresistible hook: a burning question answered, a sensational factoid revealed, or a complicated subject made simple.
By choosing the right topic to address, and representing it in the right way, you can carve out a niche in the content marketplace. In this piece, we’re going to cover some methods you can use to come up with SEO-friendly post topics for your blog whenever you’re running short of inspiration.
Get Granular With Your Keyword Research
Detailed keyword research is the absolute best thing you can do when searching for SEO-friendly blog post ideas. Keywords are ultimately responsible for bringing people to your site through organic search, and you have to choose them extremely carefully — if you miss an important keyword in a particular piece, you can lose a lot of traffic, but if you over-optimize your keywords, you can end up with content that looks spammy and low-quality.
Every blog post must have a distinct title reflecting its topic, and since page titles have character limits, you have to make tough decisions about what to include — taking into account not only which keywords are most relevant but also which ones face the most ranking competition. Since you’ll likely be writing numerous blog posts with topics that overlap somewhat, you’ll need to spread out both short-tail and long-tail search phrases for maximum effect.
Topics that focus on long-tail keywords will attract clicks from slightly warmer leads (people who have actionable intent, as opposed to those absentmindedly browsing for information). Short-tail keywords get a lot more traffic, but a lot of it is unrelated and/or worthless, and the most popular search terms will typically be fought over by massive corporations with giant budgets.
Start your research by noting down potential central topic keywords, then build up lists of synonyms and related terms that could be used to inform body copy. For instance, a post about ‘mobile UX’ could be semantically linked to the keywords ‘UX principles,’ ‘touchscreen UI design,’ and ‘Android UX.’ This is known as Latent Semantic Keyword (LSI) research, and there are many tools available online to help you identify useful terms.
Once you have this information down, work off the general topic areas to jot down some spec titles for individual posts. Taking the example we just considered, you could come up with “8 UX Principles for Touchscreen Interfaces”. It hits some top keywords, but has enough of a niche goal that it might have a chance of standing out.
Fill In The Content Gaps
Take a top-down view of all of your current blog content, and come up with some more ideas related to each covered topic — you may find that there are some clear gaps in what you’ve written about. For example, if you run a realtor content site, you might notice that you have a lot of articles about buying homes, but not all that many about selling property.
Content gaps also present good opportunities for creating evergreen content (content that doesn’t significantly lose its value over time). In ideal circumstances, you would have a solid array of evergreen content pieces covering all the most important topics, then commit your content marketing efforts to keeping them maintained and creating fresh content to fill any new gaps that appear as time goes by.
Look To Your Website’s Branding For Inspiration
Branding your site will somewhat help you improve the overall SEO of your blog (this post goes into more detail about what good company branding looks like), but it’s primarily about building desire in your target audience. Your branding comes across in not just the content you write but also the images you use and the tone you strike.
Use your website’s branded image to inform your topic generation. For example, if your brand is targeted at non-expert consumers in your field, you should give a lot of consideration to topics that address common queries — or if you’re trying to market luxury products to wealthy consumers, you should focus on topics that glamorize opulence and inspire envy.
The type of topics you come up with should then inspire your post titles. A post answering frequently-asked questions should be phrased as something like “10 Things You Should Know About X” or “A Beginner’s Guide to X”, while a post about luxury products should be given some kind of superlative: “The Most Expensive X Ever Constructed” or “The Best X Money Can Buy”.
Think In Terms Of Rich Snippets
The advent of rich snippets (page content being tagged with categories for easier analysis by search engines) has provided valuable SEO opportunities for bloggers everywhere. Rich Snippets are designed for short, specific queries — searches seeking answers to questions like “What does X stand for?” or “When was X first used?”.
Suitably-tagged relevant information will typically appear in search results in a highlighted box containing around 300 words of copy. The relevant keywords from the search will appear in bold, making it clear to the searcher why that content was selected to be shown.
When you are planning your content strategy, keep the existence of rich snippets in mind by catering your content (at least in part) to clearly answer specific popular queries relevant to your field. For an FAQ-style piece, for instance, carefully structure your copy with questions for headings and answers for paragraph text, and be sure to include the most important keywords at the beginning and end. If you can identify a topic that you can break down into numerous common queries, you can produce a highly-valuable piece of content that is likely to rank well.
Bootstrap Your Ideas With Power Words
Most of the time you’ll come up with a topic and then create a compelling title, but sometimes you can whip up a strong title framework and work backwards to find a suitable topic. To do this, try thinking about ‘power words’ — eye-catching terms that work excellent in search results — and figure out ways to fit them into your target niche.
Consider these terms, for instance: eye-opening, miracle, triumph, backbone, hope, uplifting, guilt-free, outrageous, and memorable. Used in page titles, terms like this gives prospective readers clues about what they can expect to feel after reading those pieces.
Let’s use a different business scenario. Imagine that you blog about creative writing, and you’re trying to come up with good ideas — if you take the word miracle, for instance, you can riff on it until you get something decent. “Miracle” can lead into “How to Write a Miraculous Event” or “The 10 Biggest Miracles in Writing History” or “5 Inspiring Stories About Miracles”, and each one of those titles could inspire a new range of topics for the future.
Using power words to drive, inform and frame topics is particularly fruitful in the ecommerce world where regular content needs to be more directly actionable. If your blog is ultimately in service of an ecommerce business (particularly if you’re using a well-rounded retail CMS that provides a native interconnected blog), think about cross-pollinating power words throughout your PPC and blogging strategies to get some viral brand uplift.
By using these methods, you can target relevant keywords, fill in content gaps, find ideas that match your brand, come up with topics that will perform optimally in search, and use catchy title conventions to bootstrap your creative process.
In doing so, you’ll be able to cover an ever-growing range of SEO-friendly topics, helping you draw in new fans, keep your existing followers satisfied with your content, and ultimately reach new levels of brand success.
by guest blogger – Patrick Foster
Patrick Foster is a writer and ecommerce expert from Ecommerce Tips — an industry-leading ecommerce blog that offers practical marketing advice so your online store receives the exposure it deserves. Check out the latest posts on Twitter @myecommercetips.