Content Ideas: Getting Unstuck

Have you been feeling stuck for ideas lately? Not sure what to write about? That’s a real problem if you run a content-based site, and it’s an even bigger problem when you’re trying to rank high in the SERPs. Keep reading for some suggestions to help you get your mental idea factory churning merrily along again.

The idea for this article came from Kelly Simon writing for Compendium. We’ll begin by taking an obvious resource and using it in a not-so-obvious way: your keywords. No doubt you have a lot of keywords for which you want to be found in the search engines, and you’ve tuned your SEO accordingly. You may even have delighted in watching your website climb the SERPs for those keywords. Good for you.

But let’s reverse things for a moment. Forget the keyword for which you’re trying to be found, and focus on the ones that are actually referring traffic to your site. If you’re using Google Analytics, it should be child’s play for you to find out what a user searched for before clicking the link to your website. If they clicked it, they must have thought you’d have what they’re looking for…and what they did after they found your site will give you a hint as to whether you filled their need.

Say you’re a dentist, and you notice you’re getting a lot of hits for a certain dental procedure. Perhaps it’s time to include a one-page explanation of that particular treatment: what it is, why it’s done, whether it’s usually covered by insurance, what a patient can expect going in, etc. Make sure to link to it appropriately. You could see your hits from search engines rise, and even gain a few conversions this way.

Simon also suggests looking to your business trends when creating content. If you tend to get most of your new customers in the summer, for example, that means that they’ve spent the time before that doing research. So you should have built up content that will be useful to potential customers doing research BEFORE the summer. Creating lots of good, useful content can take months, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time.

Doing this has the added advantage of encouraging you to think like your customers while creating content. If you want to write something that will be useful to them, you need to consider their concerns at that particular point in the buying cycle. Suppose you sell landscaping and gardening services, and you know that your customers like to start thinking about what kinds of changes they’d like to make to their landscape in early February, and get serious by early April. (Remember, this is strictly hypothetical). In late December at the latest, you’ll want to start writing articles about preparing the landscape and the kinds of options to consider based on various criteria. You could even get a little personal and talk about what you’re thinking of doing for YOUR garden. Focus on whatever topics you think will help a potential customer make a decision.

Start running these articles in mid-to-late January, and be sure to link to them appropriately within your site. Get incoming links from other sites as well. You want to appear in the search engines when your potential customers are looking and doing their research. Working with your business trends should help you increase conversions.

The third tip Simon mentions for creating more content is so obvious that many of us forget it: ask your customers. Many times, you won’t even need to ask them; they’ll tell you what they think anyway. And that can help you shape content just for them.

To use a non-Internet-based example, I recently went on Disney’s Backstage Magic tour, which takes visitors “behind the scenes” at Disney World and into many areas that guests never get to see. While we were in the tunnels under the Magic Kingdom, our guide noted that the company got a lot of positive letters. Two of the positive things that visitors mentioned most were the courtesy they received from Disney employees, and the cleanliness of the parks. The guide went on to explain three of the reasons for that cleanliness: a corporate culture where every employee picks up trash whenever they see it; garbage cans placed strategically as the result of one of Disney’s own experiments; and (at least in the Magic Kingdom) a giant vacuum cleaner system that speeds the trash to its destination at 60 miles an hour.

Exactly how Disney keeps its parks clean isn’t important here. What IS important is that the company saw a lot of visitors commenting on it as something they enjoyed about the parks, and used that information to shape content – in this case, making it an interesting part of a tour. And they never would have known to do that if they didn’t pay attention to the feedback they received from their visitors!

You can use keyword referral, business trends, and customer feedback to help you figure out what kind of content you need to add to your website. Start filling in an editorial calendar and soon you’ll find that you always have a new idea at your fingertips. Good luck!    

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