So, you want to create an SEO campaign that will win over Google’s algorithms and generate tens of thousands of clicks straight to your site.

The only problem? Content creation hasn’t really been your priority. Your blog posts look a bit stale, and you haven’t posted on Facebook since late January.

It’s an intimidating process, and when sourcing ideas for content creation, most companies simply use standard SEO as a guide. But in our experience, there’s a much broader, more nuanced way to approach “topic ideation,” which is just a fancy term for “figuring out what the heck your audience wants to read.” Here’s how it works:

Think Education, Not Marketing

“The single biggest mistake we see brands make is in producing content that focuses on selling, rather than on educating their readers,” says Valèr Zamulin of SeoLogist.

This is self-defeating. The best way your brand can attract new customers and readers is by capturing the attention and interest of web searchers who are looking to learn rather than buy.

It seems counterintuitive, but the reason is simple and three-fold:

  1. You cast a wider net – When people search to learn, they typically use a wider range of topics and ideas. This provides you with more opportunities to target their potential keywords.
  2. You take the “sales” factor out, temporarily. – Many of your potential customers, particularly millennials, are desensitised to direct sales messaging. Filling your content with product placement ensures that you’ll fade into the overwhelming noise of Internet marketing. By focusing first and foremost on teaching, you’re providing a rare, ad-free moment in which your readers can simply learn and have their questions answered. That, in turn, makes for a quality user experience.
  3. You establish trust – The Internet is now the world’s most open schoolyard, and everybody is eager to learn something. By turning your website into a knowledge-creating machine, you’re empowering your potential customers, and improving their lives. If customers are able to find quality information and answers to their questions on your site, rather than on usual sources such as Wikipedia and Quora, they will trust your brand, far more so than if they feel they are being marketed to.

Compile a Digital Dossier

Topic ideation is really its own art form – a careful balance of data, context, foresight and the intuition. When done correctly, it can surface a wealth of information conducive to making truly fantastic content. Essentially, it requires scouring the Internet for topics that generate clicks, customer interaction, and genuine connection with you as a brand.

Rather than settling for typical SEO barometers, you’ll want to engage with social listening tools; which are algorithms that let you monitor the preexisting conversations online to gain better insight and context about what your potential customers are engaging with, thinking about and looking for. Additionally, you’ll want to use semi-automatic search patterns analysis to investigate a number of sources, including but not limited to:

  • Search engines
  • Social media (channels, groups, discussions, user behaviour and more)
  • Forums
  • Discussion boards
  • Industry influencers
  • Competitors’ content activity (including “top dogs” in major locations in North America)
  • Blogosphere “trails”

Sifting through all of this data, you’ll be able to identify popularly-used phrases (“word clouds”), interest levels, search behaviour, recency and authenticity, “heat” of a debate, and many more factors.

This tells you so much more than the run-of-the-mill SEO. Simply put: SEO tells you what users are searching. This topic ideation process lets you analyse the how, the why, and more.

Analyse this Data to Find the Best Content Topics

Based on this rich analysis, you’ll be able to identify the most engaging topics for your unique audience.

It’s best to assess each topic individually, based on its potential for building trust, engaging your social audience, and providing useful, quality information, and order the topics by favourability in those respects. The resulting list becomes your clear, concise roadmap to producing rush-hour Internet traffic for your website.

From there, you’ll want to turn this wealth of information into a full-on strategy and establish your content production plan. That means creating a schedule that allows for consistent content updates at the most fruitful days and times, again, for your unique audience. You’ll then want to incorporate this valuable content into your other digital marketing activities.

Using This Goldmine of Information, For Content and Beyond

Once you’ve analysed this broader set of variables, you’ll have a nearly-encyclopedic understanding of your customers, their mindset, and their needs. How can you best make use of this information?

Modify your products – Our analysis gives you direct insight into the needs and wants of your potential customers. You can then use this information to modify your products accordingly, perhaps offering alternative services, customisations, and more.

Leverage your content – You can use this newly created content to engage potential customers or deepen your connection with existing ones. You can also repurpose this content into newsletter campaigns, display ads, custom remarketing and more.

Make your content social – Social media responds remarkably well to content that is informative and valuable. By consistently sharing information that adds to your followers’ diversity of knowledge, understanding of the world and connection with your brand, you facilitate viral sharing of your content. And, in the process, you generate valuable feedback and more leads.

This wide-reaching, yet meticulous approach to topic ideation is the best way to take your content above and beyond your competitors. By approaching topic ideation through a richer, more nuanced means of sourcing topics, based on the authentic searches and existing online dialogue within your consumer base, you’ll be able to position yourself on the cutting edge of the cultural conversation. This gives your brand online street-cred while making you a valuable contributor to the online marketplace of ideas. And that’s how you build a loyal online audience.