You know that content can help your company reach new customers and you’re investing in social channels to get that content out there, but every time you sit down to write, the blank page taunts you.
If you’re struggling to jump-start your content strategy or build a great blog-writing process, I have a shortcut for you: Google AdWords. And the good news is you don’t even need to be a Google advertiser to use these tools. Here’s how it works:
Set up a free Google AdWords account.
You don’t need to advertise – you don’t even need to add a credit card – but you do need an account to continue. It’s free to sign up.
Use the Google Keyword Planner to find keywords that people use to search for your business.
There are two ways you can teach the Keyword Planner the keywords that matter to your business. If you already know some of the keywords you want to start with but you’re looking for expanded ideas, you can manually add a few keywords and Google will suggest others. For example, I started with small business content, and the tool suggested related terms: online marketing, business website, content marketing, and more.
If you already have some content on your site, including product or service information, you can create keyword suggestions by pointing Google at your site. In this example, I pointed Google at my blog and it automatically populated several pages of suggested keywords, along with how much search traffic and competition (on AdWords) those terms generate. Cool, huh?
Identify keywords and phrases that would make good blog posts.
This is where the machine-human interface becomes stronger than the sum of its parts. Google’s powerful algorithm collated hundreds of potentially good blog post ideas for you, based on what your next customer is looking for. You will want to order or filter for the right blend of high search traffic and low competition, based on how competitive your business niche is. Think also about what you know and can write about pretty confidently because that will make for a better blog. The ven diagram for perfect content is high demand, low search competition, and quality.
For example, No Pants Consulting is competing with others across the country because the geography of what we offer is irrelevant. That means we are looking for low-competition keywords with a decent amount of search traffic. Highlighted in pink are keyword phrases that would be good for us to cover because lots of people are searching for them, but few of my competitors have that market cornered yet. Mobile content marketing, in particular, seems a pretty sure bet – it’s something I haven’t seen a lot of blogs about, it is in demand, and I can speak with authority on the subject. The yellow-highlighted term, content strategy agency reminds me of the competitive landscape and prompts me to consider writing a blog about how we are better than an agency.
Still need more blog keywords? I have one more tool for you.
It’s Google Search. Opa! Google’s own suggestions make for fantastic blog ideas. Type in one of the keywords or phrases from the Keyword Planner and read the autocomplete suggestions. Take note of good blog ideas, then repeat the process by typing those in. You’ll have blog titles coming out of your ears in no time! So now you have fewer excuses for staring at that blank screen. Get creating!
Bonus tip: How to keep your blog strategy organized
At No Pants Consulting, we love blogs. Like, we heart-eyes emoji love them. And we use this process pretty frequently to come up with blog ideas, for ourselves and our clients, which means it’s easy to lose track of what has been written, where it was published, and what seemed like a good idea at 3am but maybe doesn’t need to have a blog written about it.
We have a spreadsheet that helps us keep track of the blog title, its subject, production stage, where it was published, when and how it was promoted, and whether part or all of it can be converted into more content, such as an infographic. It really helps to keep track, especially to make sure you’re covering all the subjects that matter to your customers.
Technology note: I used Google examples throughout because they are far and away the easiest and most familiar tools. There are other keyword tools, some like Keyword Tool and WordStream’s keyword generator are free, and there are other search engines that function in similar ways. If you don’t like Google, there are plenty of alternatives.
Main image: Allef Vinicius, CC.