In fact, as you read through some of my methods for finding blog topics, you might say to yourself, “this sounds an awful lot like keyword research.”
And that’s because, in many ways, it is.
The problem I have with keywords is that many people get hung up on the short-tail keywords (or root keywords as I like to call them) and try to rank for those.
Unfortunately, when looking at root keywords, you don’t get a lot of context as to what the intent is behind the search; you can’t pinpoint what kind of information the searcher wanted to find.
The best way to find blog topics is to start with a root keyword and expand it to all the questions someone may have about it.
Doing this will create topics.
Confused yet? I figured, so let me give you an example.
Let’s say your business sells managed IT services to other businesses.
You’d probably think, we gotta rank for “managed IT services”.
Okay, but what is a searcher really looking for when typing in “managed IT services”?
A description of what it means?
A list of companies that sell managed IT services?
Information on whether it’s a good fit for them?
You need to expand on that root keyword to turn it into a helpful piece of content for your audience. This long tail keyword research yields actual topics surrounding the root keyword you want to rank for.
You can take things a step further by typing in various modal and auxiliary verbs plus your keywords to find questions people ask.
For example, let’s say you’re producing content for a snowboard shop and you want to produce content for snowboard boots.
Here’s a couple of searches using “snowboard boots” as a root keyword paired with several different verbs to create questions.
People also ask
In addition to auto-complete, once a search has been entered, many search pages will have a special SERP feature called People Also Ask (PAA).
These boxes contain questions similar to the one you just typed in and if you click one of them, the box will expand with a truncated answer.
Rather than guess what other questions people might have about your product/services, Google hands them to you on a platter.
Below you’ll see a PAA that appeared after I typed in “how to choose a pest control company.”
Along the same lines of PAA are the Related Searches queries found at the bottom of the article.
These are sourced in a similar means as PAA but lack the short answers.
Instead, to see answers to those searches, you need to click on one of the queries and go to the next search results page.
Below you’ll see the Related Searches for the same pest control query shown above. Some of these results are fairly similar to what’s shown in the PAA’s, but there are several completely different.
I highly encourage you to spend some time on Google typing in various questions people would have about your products/services. Write down all of the relevant Auto-Complete suggestions, PAA questions, and related Searches you find.
You’ll end up with a wealth of content ideas.
4. Use Answer The Public
Answer The Public is a really cool tool anybody can use as they have a free version that can give tons of topic ideas from entering root keywords.
All you have to do is enter your root keyword into the search bar and they generate a ton of topics you can write about.
What I like even more about this tool is it breaks the results down into a few types: questions, prepositions, comparisons, alphabetical, and related searches.
You can view the results in a neat exploded visual or in tables.
Take a look at the the results I came up with after typing “law firm” that shows the "questions" it came up with: One thing the free version lacks is that while you get tons of keywords, you don’t get average monthly search volumes and ranking difficulty.
For those metrics, I turn to other tools.
5. SEMrush (or similar paid tools)
Editor's Note: Full disclosure, any link on this article to SEMrush is an affiliate link. IMPACT partners with SEMrush and will receive compensation if you sign up for the tool. This, however, in no way influences my review of SEMrush. If you'd like to check out comparable tools, I've listed several of my other favorites below.
Easily one of my favorite tools for keyword research is SEMrush.
Even though I always start with interviewing salespeople and targeting The Big 5, I still want to see the data of these keywords which SEMrush provides.
It’s a great tool to continue to find new topics as well.
There are a lot of mentionable keyword research tools like Ahrefs, Moz, Ubersuggest, and dozens of others, but for me, I prefer SEMrush.
For example, it suggests I look at 295 results that also include “service” in the keyword or the 240 results that contain “commercial.”
But, as I mentioned at the top of this article, some of these shorter keywords don’t always give me the best context to what people are really looking for when searching these terms.
I often click on the “Questions” tab to get a list of queries that tell me what the searcher truly wants to know.
I also use Advanced Filters to plug in The Big 5 topics to get a better look at the volume and difficulty of ranking for those terms.
Below, you'll see a few results for segmenting for "cost".
I can honestly spend hours sorting through all the keywords and coming up with an editorial calendar that can stretch for several months.
Keyword gap tool
Do you have any competitors in your space you’d love to scrape ideas for blog topics from?
If so, head to the Keyword Gap tool and put your website into the gauntlet to compare yourself to them.
With the Keyword Gap tool, you can enter up to five domains at a time, but I often prefer the head-to-head comparison for this next tip.
SmartBug Media is one of IMPACT’s greatest competitors.
And like any savvy marketer, I want to get as much insight into the competition as possible.
I especially want to know what blog topics they outrank us for and those that they rank for that we haven’t even written about.
When you enter websites into SEMrush’s Keyword Gap tool, you’ll see a Venn Diagram between the domains.
By default, the Venn Diagram is set to keywords we both have in common.
From here, I can review keywords my competitor is outranking me for.
To find blog topics from this list, I pay close attention to keywords that are questions and those that are several words long.
I pare that further by looking at keywords that I’m not on the first or second page for.
If I’m stuck on the third page for a keyword, there’s a good chance the content of the page is either too weak to rank higher or the copy isn’t quite relevant enough to rank better.
I can either edit the existing page if it’s on-topic but poorly written or I can write a brand new piece of content.
With that said, what I really enjoy doing with this tool is switching the Venn Diagram to keywords unique only to their domain. That’s a clear indication that I don’t have any content targeting those terms.
Again, I meticulously sort through the list of keywords looking for questions and longer keywords that give me greater context into the search intent so I can turn those into blog topics.
Alright, so there you have it.
A list of easy to use research methods for finding your next blog articles.
And trust me, if you try even half these methods, you should have enough topics to write about long into the foreseeable future. But does this mean you’re done?
Absolutely not, you’ve still got a lot of work ahead of you.