Data-driven content research provides you with an editorial calendar full of deep niche phrases
Consider the rise of talent shows on TV like America’s Got Talent and American Idol. When it comes down to it, they’re simply performing good old-fashioned market research. Why sign an unknown singer to a record label, or sign a new act to a Vegas casino, when you can see how the world responds to them first? The same method applies to content. Developing data-driven content ideas can be the difference between a homepage full of stimulating ideas, and a page full of templated headlines on the same topic.
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Most of the time when we talk about topic development and search engine optimization, we discuss keyword tools to pick phrases that your audience is looking for. For example, if you’re a paying AdWords user, you can use the Google Keyword Planner to punch in a phrase, and Google will tell you how many people are searching for that phrase, along with hundreds of related sister phrases you might be interested in writing about.
But for the person doing the research, it begins at the topic level, and how deep does your topic knowledge go? New editors to a small gardening publication, for example, might be tasked to write about roses, hydrangeas and peonies but only have deep expert knowledge on roses, hydrangeas and peonies. So what then? In comes data-driven content research.
A lack of expertise in any given area can lead to weak content topics, like one more “10 ways to grow beautiful peonies” article that looks like a drop in the bucket of search results. In fact, just go ahead and steer clear of tools like Hubspot’s Blog Ideas Generator which spits out headlines just like this. You may find it helpful for writing headlines, but not for coming up with niche topic ideas.
Meanwhile in the rose topic, the expert rose editor might choose a more niche topic like “how to prune climbing roses” or “the therapeutic benefits of roses” or “how to keep ancient Alba Roses alive in the winter”.
As any SEO knows, the deeper the topic, the better the search return will become over time.
So if you’re not a topic expert, perhaps you’re the content marketer building your keyword universe for your editors. In order to do the keyword research, you first need to come up with topics you might want to write about. Starting with a tool like the Keyword Planner as your first step means you’ll miss out on the preliminary research necessary to broaden the scope of what you’ll eventually look for in the Keyword Planner.
Below are several tools you can use to come up with topic ideas that will fuel your keyword research:
AnswerThePublic: This is one of our favorite new tools and one we use often before keyword research. With this tool you can type in a topic and it will give you a variety of long-tail phrases that people are asking online about that topic and results are broken into types. For example, here’s a question people are asking about growing roses: “How is growing roses from stem cuttings better?” A preposition is “growing roses near the ocean” and a comparison is “growing roses and tomatoes together.”
If you’re going to use just one tool, we recommend that one. However there are many more that reach different aspects of topic development.
BuzzSumo: With this tool you can type in a word, like “growing roses” and it will show you some of the top performing articles on the web according to social shares. So for example, some of the top posts about growing roses are How to Grow English Roses and Growing Roses in the Pacific Northwest. For free, you’ll get 10 results which is helpful, but for more you’ll need to pay for the pro version.
Google Trends: This tool is especially good for seasonal and news-driven topics. For example, if you search Google Trends for “growing roses” you’ll see that “growing climbing roses” and “growing roses in pots” are the top keywords at this time. In December, they may be more about growing roses indoors.
Keyworddit: There’s no denying that Reddit is the most popular underbelly of the internet used by tweens and professionals alike. If something is going on in the world, or if there is a hobby with a tribe of passionistas, Reddit has a home for them. It requires knowing a subreddit channel you wish you look deeper into, which you can find here. In this case, there isn’t a subreddit for roses, but there is one for gardening. From there, you can enter your subreddit name into Keyworddit and it will extract keywords from the most popular topic threads within that channel. Depending on your niche, this could be helpful for taking the pulse on your niche.
FaqFox: With this tool, you can enter your desired topic and a competitor’s website, and it will give you a list of articles they and others in the niche have written on the topic. So for example, on the topic of growing roses, I can see posts like Tips for Pruning Roses on Better Homes & Gardens and other related articles.
UberSuggest: This tool looks very similar to Keyword Planner without the monthly search data. However the results seem to be more topically relevant that what you usually find in the Planner, and the bonus is that all you need to do is click on a term you like to look it up in Google Trends. By looking for “grow roses,” I find terms like “grow roses from potatoes” and “how to grow exhibition roses.” Additionally, you can click on a keyword phrase and it will dig substantially deeper. So for example, when I search “grow roses” it offers up results like “grow roses from seeds” and when I click on that to expand the results, I get more niche ideas like “grow desert roses from seeds” and “grow rainbow roses from seeds”. While it does act similar to the Keyword Planner, it does a better job at finding related terms you can plug in to Keyword Planner later.
Once you have a giant list of topic ideas under your belt using one or all the above tools for data-driven content , you can begin entering them into your keyword planning tools to determine the search volume for all your given topics and build out a robust keyword universe that touches the depths of all your content areas.
If you don’t have a keyword universe yet and are a publisher looking for a partner in audience development and data-driven content research, please reach out for a chat with our CEO, Don Nicholas. We build Mequoda Systems for publishers who are looking to attract new visitors, convert them into email subscribers, engage them with incredible content, and increase revenues through multiple monetization methods.
If you have any tools for creating data-driven content to add to this list, leave a comment below.