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The Must-have Blog Post Topic Generation Tool

This is a guest post by Eric Siu of Evergreen Search.

Ideas are the beginning points of all fortunes—Napoleon Hill

Unfortunately, sometimes it’s very hard figuring out how to come up with blog post ideas. And based on that quote, if you can’t come up with ideas, then it doesn’t look like you have a starting point from which to create a fortune.

Over the years, many different aggregators and tools have become standard ways to generate post topics. Some people might use Quora or Yahoo Answers to look for problem-solving topics. Others might use Twitter or news aggregators to check for trends. All these tactics are effective, but it can be difficult to track everything at once.

What if there was an all-in-one tool that could combine these tactics into one, so you didn’t have to painfully click around anymore?

Enter: the Content Strategy Generator Tool (CSGT) by Daniel Butler of SEOgadget.

csgt

What is the Content Strategy Generator Tool?

The CSGT is a Google Docs spreadsheet that utilizes importXML functions to pull various data around the web for content brainstorming. That content doesn’t have to be restricted to blogging—the tool can be used to research videos, infographics, or audio.

With this tool, you can spot trends, get great headline ideas, come up with your own spin on topics, view new keyword opportunities, and more—and all in one spot. Talk about saving time!

Setting it up is a matter of completing a few steps:

  1. Get the tool here.
  2. Make a copy in Google Docs (File -> Make a Copy)
  3. Enter your keyword in cell B3 (for multiple keywords, using the ‘+’ operator e.g. pet+stores).
  4. Sit back and watch the magic happen.

What’s inside

The spreadsheet itself can display quite a bit of information. This section will break down the different types of data that is pulled into the sheet so you can begin to formulate a strategy on how you’d like to use it.

News

CSGT pulls news from Google News and Bing News. For Google News, three columns in the spreadsheet give you the title, author and time posted, and a description of the article. For Bing News, you’ll find two columns: one for “best match,” and one for “most recent” articles. This gives you the flexibility to dig through all the latest topic-related news on Bing.

Digg and Reddit are also included in the sheet. Similar to the information it provides on Bing, the sheet will display “most dugg” and “most recent” data from Digg. It will show you the top posts only from Reddit.

Social Media

If you’re looking for video content ideas, you’re in luck: CSGT also displays the top videos from YouTube related to your search.

Topsy, which is a great tool for displaying trending tweets, shows you the latest tweets in the last day as well as the top trending tweets. You’ll also see the usernames, author names, tweets, times of tweets, and number of retweets for each trend. Twittorati Search will pull in more tweets from the highest authority bloggers, and display the user and Twitterati Authority as well.

Facebook isn’t left out, either. AllThingsNow pulls the hottest Facebook shares for the day into the spreadsheet.

Aggregators

CSGT also pulls in topics from various aggregators like Blog Catalog, Fark, Redux, Helium and Cracked.

These sites are all different in their own ways and, at the end of the day, add more diversity to the scope of topics being presented to you. Perhaps you might look at Cracked and come up with a funny spin on a niche topic—anything could happen!

Q+A Sites

The benefit of having Yahoo Answers in the spreadsheet is that this data shows you popular problems that people are actually having right now.

Yahoo Answers will pull the most-answered questions related to your query, and display them for you. You can then go to Google and search on those specific questions. If the answers on the first page aren’t that good (and you think you can do better), you may just have picked up something to write about.

Miscellaneous

Uber Suggest is an excellent keyword suggestion tool and CSGT brings it right to the sheet so you don’t need to go to the website to find suggestions for other relevant keywords that you can target.

Google Insights will show you what the top and rising searches are in your niche.

And finally, How Stuff Works results will give you ideas for potential how-to content that you can generate.

Source and Place

That’s not all, though—the Source and Place tab will tell you how to find the top Twitter experts, bloggers, and editors in your niche. Use this to figure out who you can follow—and start new relationships with.

How to use the tool

Whenever you are stuck or want to spot trends on a subject, just pop open this tool and enter a topical keyword into cell B3. You can use modifiers to do some more digging, but the bottom line is that this is a great starting point for any content campaign.

At the end of the day, the main benefit of the Content Strategy Generator Tool is to save you time while giving you more ideas. The simplicity and the fact that it’s free makes this tool a must-have for any content creator.

Have you used the CSGT yet? Did you find it useful? Tell us what you thought of it in the comments.

Eric Siu is the Vice President of SEO at Evergreen Search, a digital marketing agency in los angeles. He’s also written about Minimum Viable SEO: 8 Ways To Get Startup SEO Right and 10 Immutable Laws of SEO. In his free time, he likes watching football, playing poker, hiking, reading, or eating ice cream. Feel free to follow him on Twitter( @ericosiu) or on Google+:+Eric Siu

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Comments

  1. Dwayne@TWC says:

    Eric, these are some awesome tools that I (and I’m sure many others) have never heard of or even knew existed. It can get difficult to keep coming up with great post ideas but these should definitely help. Thanks.

  2. Great tools, the spreadsheet is awesome!
    I usually use http://popurls.com/ to get updated topic ideas, but these could be good tools also.

  3. Binny Oinam says:

    Hi Eric

    I cannot make a copy of it. It’s inactive.The only options active are Share, Download and print.

  4. Amrit Hallan says:

    This seems quite interesting – must give it a try. The best tool to generate great ideas is of course the motivation to provide best content on your blog. When you are constantly thinking of your passion, you rarely run out of blogging ideas. Of course, you need some tools to organize your thoughts and retrieve information that you keep on storing while working or researching.

    Going to try this Google Docs spreadsheet out. Thanks for sharing.

    • Eric Siu says:

      Hey Amrit,
      I agree. Without passion, you won’t have a chance of keeping people interested in the long run.

  5. Hi Eric,

    Powerful tool.

    I agree with Amrit. Being inspired to provide the top shelf content for your audience is the best way to generate ideas. Either you attract tools like these or find inspiration in the comments section of sites like problogger, or you attract neat ideas from blog posts like this one.

    The ideas are always out there. You need to dig deep, keep an ear to the street and be prepared to set aside extended quiet time each day to increase inspiration and pen helpful usable content for prospects and readers.

    Meditation helps. Sitting still for 1 hour or more daily helps me dissolve blocks to creativity. Once the block is dissolved I am free to create helpful, usable content. 1 idea to keep in mind: no matter how hot the topic is, if your content is not easily digestible and usable, you won’t convert. This is a fact many desperate bloggers learn fast.

    Writers are in a hurry to publish a post but the desperate vibe creates a desperate, poorly planned post. No money in this one, no value, no service, and if you provide no value you will not be seen as valuable. You receive money in proportion to the value you bring to the market. You attract readers in proportion to the problem-solving nature of your posts.

    Solving problems? Good. Even if your subject matter is not amazingly current you attract readers and convert folks into buyers pretty quickly if you solve problems with your content. If you ignore this basic fundamental, you will struggle mightily, for quite an extended period, because you get what you first give. You receive cash or readers or other really neat things in proportion to how much you give in the content creation department, and the ideas must be centered around solving problems.

    Thanks for sharing your insight with us Eric.

    Ryan

    • Eric Siu says:

      Ryan,
      I really like the idea of meditating – I’ll give it a shot. And you’re spot on about delivering value. The whole ‘fad’ with content marketing is not really a fad at all, it’s been around us this whole time but people are only now starting to see that it’s all about delivering value. As long as you keep that as your main priority, you’ll do fine :)

      Eric

  6. Robin says:

    Totally mind blowing title as i sometimes suffer from getting a topic to write for.. :) thanks a lot for the great write up and giving a better insight.

    Cheers.

    Robin.

  7. Eric Siu says:

    My pleasure Robin

  8. Joanne says:

    This might possible be the coolest thing ever. :)

  9. Gjivan says:

    Great piece of information, Eric!!
    Indeed thi can be a combo for generating high quality content. But, I doubt we won’t be a victim for information overload cz the output data seems to be a huge list. Well, I will try this method once. Thank you

  10. Glynis Jolly says:

    I’m going to try it. I have had one problem but I think I have a way to go around it. When I went to File to make the copy, it wasn’t there to clock on. I downloaded as excel instead. I’ll upload to Docs.

  11. wczasy egipt says:

    There are certainly quite a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That could be a nice level to carry up. I provide the ideas above as common inspiration but clearly there are questions just like the one you deliver up where crucial factor can be working in trustworthy good faith. I don?t know if greatest practices have emerged around issues like that, but I am certain that your job is clearly recognized as a fair game. Both girls and boys feel the affect of only a second’s pleasure, for the rest of their lives.

  12. Faith says:

    I usually just use Google Trends and the Keyword Toolbox to mine for content ideas, but I’ll check this out as well.