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