How to use Google to generate content ideas

So, you’re keen to start blogging. You can see how important and valuable it is. You set an hour aside and sit at the laptop, but your mind goes blank. White page. That flickering cursor taunting you. A timely case of writer’s block.

Don’t despair

So many business owners struggle with the constant pressure to think up fresh content. And it’s even tougher if you’re not a natural writer and your talents lie elsewhere.

But there are a few simple tricks to guarantee the ideas start flowing…and the best tool you have at your disposal is right in front of you – Google.

Google is also really valuable for verifying your ideas against user intent – checking what people are actually searching for online. There’s no point writing endless blogs and social media posts that interest you but aren’t relevant to anyone else. We need to look at what people are actually searching for online – and Google’s the best place to find this insight.

Getting started

First, go back to basics with a big brainstorm. Think about all the themes, topics and trends that are relevant to what you do and the service or product you offer. Jot down all the words, ideas and phrases that crop up. Make it as broad as possible – a thorough brainstorm – anything that relates to your industry. Get everything down on paper. Use a thesaurus to double or even triple this list of keywords and topic ideas, if you want to.

Value and purpose

Next, this list needs to be refined and shaped. Review it and highlight all the terms that are likely to interest your ideal client or target market. Think specifically about how useful they will find the terms or topics. Always think about purpose as you develop ideas – remember that some of the content you produce needs to be valuable and solve a problem. Which of these might provide a good way to demonstrate your expertise?

Intrigue

As well as useful, valuable content, we need to think about variety and come up with ideas for content that will pique the interest of your ideal client – intrigue, amuse, entertain or amaze them. This makes great shareable content.

Get Googling!

Once you have your refined list of phrases, keywords or topics, it’s time to hit Google. When you’re doing keyword research, always use Incognito tabs – this ensures you’re seen as a fresh visitor. Google customises the search results you’re served, based on your past searches. So for keyword research to be of value, you need a clean slate.

To go Incognito On a Mac you need to go to File—New Private Window

In Windows, it’s File—New Incognito Window

1. Autocomplete

One at a time, go through your list and enter the keyword or phrase into the search box and – before you hit enter – look at the ‘autocomplete’ suggestions that come up – if any are relevant to you or spark other ideas or tangents…jot them down.

Using Google for content ideas1

2. Search again

Once you’ve typed your query into the search box and noted down the autocomplete suggestions, hit enter, then click back into the search box at the end of the phrase and you’ll see a fresh list of new autocomplete suggestions.

Using Google for content ideas2

3. Related searches

For every search you complete, make sure you look at the bottom of the page for “Searches related to”. This gives you more idea about user intent – what people are actually looking for online. Again, jot down anything relevant to your product, service or industry, all the time keeping your ideal client in mind. Will it be of interest to them, relevant or useful?

Top tip

When reviewing the search results for all your variations, look for opportunities to improve on the content – could you do it better, add more detail, add value, or add your own, unique perspective? Appearing on page 1 of results doesn’t mean it’s the best possible version of that content – it might simply be the only piece. Also think about format. Is there anything that appears in the results that you could you switch up into a podcast, a video, an infographic or a lead magnet?

4. Google images

Image searches usually throw up lots of extra ideas and inspiration. Obviously be mindful of the search terms you choose (!) but you’d be amazed what new concepts Google images can spark.

5. Google Trends

Jumping onto current trends is a great way to generate engaging ad-hoc content for social media. Referencing trending topics in your own content can really boost interaction. What’s currently capturing the public’s imagination? Is there anything relevant to your product or service, or your ideal client?

Obviously you can also hop onto Twitter and look for trending conversations that are relevant to what you do. But, back to Google Trends…

Make sure you select United Kingdom in the drop-down at the top.

There’s useful data on the homepage under ‘recently trending’ – the key topics that have been hottest through the previous month.

Also look at the ‘Year in Search’ function, near the bottom, if you want to create content around nostalgia or anniversaries of events.

Screen Shot 2019-05-04 at 21.33.29

And you can search for specific terms, too, to ratify your content ideas or identify the ideal timing for a particular topic.

For example

The term ‘decluttering’ peaked during late December into January 2019. I initially thought this might simply be due to the Marie Kondo effect. But looking at the results over 5 years, it almost always peaks in the first half of January. Which leads me to think it’s actually due to New Year’s resolutions. So, for someone running a cleaning, decluttering or house clearance business, it could be worth planning a big hit of content ahead of 1 January.

Think about other ways to use this data…

For example, searches for the term ‘podcasts’ have steadily been increasing over the past 5 years, suggesting this might be a format to look into for presenting your own content.

This should give you a few ideas about getting beyond writer’s block, and get those content ideas flooding out. But do get in touch if you need support producing content, or you’d like to work together on a wider digital content marketing strategy for your business.

BerniPalumboPhotography_Jaime(6)