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As companies continue to produce more and more content, it’s becoming harder to stand out. Most alarming to marketers, Ahrefs found that over 90% of content gets zero organic traffic from Google. That means coming up with unique and relevant content ideas that rank well and garner click-throughs is a crucial task for digital marketers now more than ever.

With this in mind, we’ve asked content marketers which methods work best for generating content ideas, whether there are any tools they recommend, and who they think should be involved in the process.

Which Methods Work Best?

Maryna Burushkina, Head of SaaS at Hamburg, Germany-based Neuro Flash starts every content journey with topic discovery. “First, we need to identify what topics we want to write about, which at the same time, reflect upon our brand values and meet our marketing goals,” Burushkina explained. She evaluates 25-50 topic ideas based on search volume, keyword competition, consumer sentiment, brand consistency, and a variety of other factors. “After topic discovery,” she added, “we dive deeper into long-tail keyword research.”

“Our industries are highly competitive with limited brand loyalty,” revealed Adam Lumb, EN Site Manager at Malta-based Cashcow, “so we need to produce articles that users are specifically searching for.” That’s why his content ideation process is based heavily around keyword research and competitor analysis for each region and market they’re involved in. “This process is particularly effective,” Lumb explained, “as we can immediately gauge the potential ROI based on the search volume of a keyword, how valuable it is, how likely it will lead to a conversion.”

“Our content ideation process consists of researching and staying on top of the news trends and stories that pertain to our client base,” stated Anne Szustek Talbot, VP of Content at New York, N.Y.-based BX3. Once they have a running tally of story ideas, they agree on which topics best fit the brand’s voice. “Importantly, we try to cite external sources when developing content,” Talbot added, “so that our posts read more like news articles than paid ads.” Keeping a journalistic approach to content can lead to better stories and projects more authority for the brand. For Talbot, their content marketing success lies in employing “a journalistic approach in researching and executing story ideas so that we present the most professional voice on behalf of the brands we represent.”

Related Article: Content Modeling: What It is and How to Get Started

The Tools That Marketers Use

“We use a variety of tools for different reasons,” Burushkina said. In particular, she uses Google Analytics and the brand’s own website data to find content opportunities related to things they’re already ranking for. “We then conduct further long-tail keyword research using Google Keyword Planner, and research competition in SEM Rush,” she said. When determining the scope of the content, Burushkina and her team checks Buzzsumo to see what other related content has been performing well.

“We use Google Analytics, Google News, and Meltwater to keep on top of trending news stories,” Talbot said. These tools work best for their journalistic-based approach to content creation because they feature the latest news and can be filtered for the brand’s target audience. “Regularly keeping up with and reading content from top-tier news services is key to ensuring we are telling the right stories for our target audiences,” she added. 

“The main service we use to do keyword research and competitor analysis is Ahrefs,” revealed Lumb. Ahrefs is a comprehensive tool that offers insight into backlinks, content shares, keyword traffic, and other SEO information. Using the tool, Lumb is able to start with very generic keywords and drill down into a few target keywords that were recently discovered, have low competition, or their competitors aren’t ranking for at all. “However, we supplement keyword research with a few other tools too,” he said.  For example, Google Trends is useful for determining if keywords that are more popular during certain times of the year and AnswerThePublic provides autocomplete data from search engines that reveals how users construct their search terms.

Who’s Involved in Generating Ideas?

“Everyone in the team is involved in generating content ideas, from [the] Machine Learning expert to [the] Marketing Manager and [the] CEO,” Burushkina said. That way, the brand’s content strategy includes a variety of perspectives and ensures ideas are vetted by all areas of the business. 

It’s great to get everyone involved in generating ideas, but ultimately it’s up to marketing leaders to determine which content will resonate with their audience. “While contributing thoughts to the idea box is a team activity,” continued Burushkina, “the Marketing Manager will be the one taking it a step further and actually conducting a thorough analysis, and finally crafting the content.”