Getting Started with Content
Creating content isn’t something that comes naturally to most people. Writing a blog post for the first time can be torture and reading the results often as painful. The biggest problem for many can be knowing where to start. There’s so much out there, and it seems like whatever you want to do or say has been done already. So how can you find content ideas that are both useful and simple to create?
The following content ideas are straightforward and super actionable or include some great examples of people doing them well.
Regex in Analytics to Find Users Questions
It might sound complicated, but using regex in Google Analytics to find users questions is surprisingly easy and can give you enough content ideas to keep your writers busy for weeks. Full credit goes to Joshua Unseth, who originally wrote about this in a post on SEOmoz.
Open up your analytics and got to Sources > Organic Traffic.
Click on “Advanced Segments”, “New Custom Segment”. Give your new segment a name like “Questions”. Select “Include”, “Matching Rexep”, then add the following in the text field:
Once you’ve saved the filter you can use it to pick out searches that include keywords contained in the regex. This particular regex helps you identify questions users have found your content by. You can then export this to excel and play around with the data.
Pro Tip: Filter the results by the time on page. If users are spending more than roughly 15 seconds on the page it’s reasonable to assume they’re already finding answers to their questions and these might not be the best to focus on.
Disclaimer: This approach is best suited to finding questions related to content that is already on your site but that might not be answered effectively. As such, it requires you to have a bit of content on your site to start with.
Google Search Queries FAQ
Similar to the previous method; this uses advanced search operators to find common questions asked on Quora & Yahoo Answers. Simply swap the first word (“SEO”) with something related to your niche and enter the following into Google:
intitle:seo intitle:adding | intitle:does | intitle:do | intitle:who | intitle:what | intitle:where | intitle:when | intitle:why | intitle:how | intitle:will | intitle:can | intitle:? | intitle:am | intitle:is | intitle:are | intitle:was | intitle:were | intitle:be | intitle:being | intitle:been | intitle:versus | intitle:vs | intitle:vs | intitle:best inurl:quora.com | inurl:answers.yahoo.com
Or check it out here: http://goo.gl/2mBvM
You can add sites to the end. Including the pipe (“|”) is the same as “or”.
I should address the elephant in the room. Yes, there are already answers to these questions out there. But often answers can be poorly researched or incomplete. These questions can also act a as a starting point, with further development once you’ve seen broader trends in the type of questions being asked.
Pro Tip: Use the SEOquake extension for Chrome & Firefox to export the URLs from results to CSV, repeat for a few pages of results or for multiple topics. Then use Screaming frog to get the titles of those pages. This allows you to scale up the process to get a bigger range of questions.
You could also consider using the word count info from screaming frog and the Page Rank info from SEOquake to get an idea of which questions have already been answered well and which are ripe for the picking.
Unlike the first two suggestions, this is a longer term tactic and isn’t necessarily going to drive search traffic in the same way. Instead this content relies on social sharing and a commitment to adding to the collection. However, if done well it can lead to massive amounts of social shares and potential links.
We recently saw the mother of all content curation. The Short Cutts has the quick answers, and video, taken from every Matt Cutts video. Ever.
Honestly, the first thing I thought when I saw this was “Damn, why didn’t I think of that”. It’s not a complicated concept, but the execution is faultless. It has some nice graphic design, prominent social buttons, lazy loading of videos, to decrease page load time, and gives the answers simply and quickly.
Since launch in March this has got over 1000 +1’s and tweets, a considerable number of likes & linkedin shares, 127 upvotes on inbound.org and, on a quick check of Majestic, 157 linking root domains.
Other examples of curated content include:
- The SEOmoz – Algorythm Update List
- Server Bear – Server Porn (images of server setups)
- Ninite – Essential installers for when you change PC’s
- Kuler – Community curated colour palettes
Content curation is limited only by your imagination and has a lot of potential in a range of industries. However, if the curator isn’t going to keep up to date with the latest changes to the subject matter, then it’ll be hard to establish the content as authoritative.
This might be bending the definition of simple, but for the cost of a freelance developer and a little creativity, using data collected in the course of normal business can be an excellent means of creating useful content.
There are some fantastic examples of businesses using data for content:
Indeed use the data taken from the jobs posted on their site to show trends in Salary by job and industry. They even allow you to compare between results.
The OKCupid blog takes aggregated data from user profiles and reports the more interesting relationships in the data. This isn’t automated, but done manually.
Another example of automated data content, Zillow show trends on mortgage rates in the sidebar.
Favourit allows users to place fantasy bets with “pretend” money. They also aggregate the players winning picks, showing the data in their tip tracker and creating infographics manually (bottom of the page).
Expedia look at trends within their site and put put them into an interesting and newsworthy context, published in their media section.
These are all fairly different approaches, but each uses data which is collected through the normal operation of business. If you’re collecting data and can provide some insight on it, or present it in an interesting way, creating this kind of content could be a great way of attracting shares and links, and generating PR opportunities.
If you’re looking for an easy-ish way of displaying the data on your site dynamically, have a look at Google Charts. With a bit of PHP and some imagination you can create graphs and charts for live data, straight from your database. Win.
How Do You Do It?
These are just a few of the content development tactics we picked out to share. We’d like to know what tactics you use for coming up with content ideas or just how you’d modify ours to be even better. Tell us what you think on Google Plus.