15 Tools to Identify The Content Your Audience is Reading Right Now
A big thanks to Tara from Koozai for a really useful guest post on tips and tricks for identifying trends to inform your content creation strategies.
Great content is important. We’ve all heard this before, but following recent animal-themed algorithm updates, it has become even more important.
Even if your site hasn’t seen the hard side of a panda-paw or felt the cold slap of a penguin fin, the impact these updates have had on the practice of SEO in general are still going to be felt by everyone in the industry. As a result of these updates, even more businesses are turning to high quality content in an attempt to get ahead in their online marketing efforts.
So when everyone is creating ‘great content’, what can you do to ensure your content has the best chance of success? Keyword research is one of the most important things you can do to make sure your content has legs before you even start to write it.
This post lists the idea generation & keyword refinement tools which I explored in my Presentation at OMN London on Thursday the 24th of May.
To put the process of keyword research into perspective, you need to have a basic understanding of the Content Marketing Cycle:
To make sure you get the most out of your content marketing (whether it’s on-page or off-page) you need to consider all of these steps, keeping them in mind throughout the entire process.
Idea Generation Tools
Once you’re ready to start the keyword research process, the first step is to use idea generation tools. These will help you to establish some ideas for the topic of your content that your audience will want to read.
Experian Hitwise Data Centre
This tool shows you handy things like the top ten fastest moving search terms of the week. Beware that data can be a week or so behind what is trending, but it’s still really good as an indication and a good place to start getting ideas.
AOL Hot Searches
When you use AOL Hot Searches, you need to look at the white boxes on the right hand side lower down the page. Ignore the big orange box with a flame illustration as this is slow to update. The data in the white boxes lower down the page are very useful though. This tool is highly rated if your client is in the gadget or entertainment industries.
BBC News Most Popular Now
This page on the BBC website is dedicated to telling you exactly what is popular on their site right now. You can filter by hour-of-the-day, or just by the day so far. It’s an ideal tool if you are in need of an idea for content that is going to be written and published immediately, as you can catch the trend in its prime if you sort by hour-of-the-day. As this is the Beeb, you are also guaranteed to find a wide range of subjects covered, so you should be able to get an idea here for whichever industry you are writing about.
News Now’s Hot Topics
News Now is an aggregate news site that pulls on around 45,000 different news sources. This includes mainstream and independent news sites. As a result of the wide range of sites covered, it is highly likely that you’ll find an idea on their Hot Topics page.
Google Insights for Search
Not to be confused with Google trends (which is much slower to update), Google Insights is the ideal tool if you have the resources to plan your content in advance. You can see when particular terms were trending over the past years and plan your content strategy accordingly. Just remember to check over a few years to see if there is a genuine trend. Although planning content in advance is a necessary evil, it’s also important to remember that it’s okay to stray from your content plan if other, more topical, opportunities arise.
Social platforms such as Twitter are a great place to check out what is being talked about and what your audience might be interested in.
If you see something trending on Twitter but want to know what it’s all about you can use What the Trend. If your content marketing campaign is location-specific, you might also want to check out Trendsmap, which maps Twitter trends by location.
Google Plus have recently included a ‘what’s trending’ box in the top right hand side corner of most pages when you’re logged in. You may find some good ideas here depending on your industry.
SEO Gadget Keyword Ideas Tool
This tool was created by SEO Gadget and is handy because it scrapes some sources that I haven’t covered in the tools above, such as social bookmarking sites. You enter your keyword and the tool will scrape sources to bring you titles that have already been written.
Keyword Refinement Tools
By this stage you should have an idea of what you want to write about. The next set of tools are to help you refine this idea down to keyword level. This will enable you to establish an exact keyword phrase that you will use as your content title, as well as any optimisation that you conduct around this content.
Using this tool is the equivalent of typing your idea into Google, preceded and then followed by every letter of the alphabet, and numbers 1-9. It scrapes all ideas from Google Suggest and puts them all in one handy location for you to download.
Before Google got too wrapped up in “protecting user privacy”, Google Analytics was a great place to get keyword ideas. Depending on the kind of people that use your site, you may not have been too badly affected by ‘not provided’ and might still be able to get some good keyword ideas here. By filtering keywords that have had over 100 visits, you’ll know that there is a strong search demand behind them.
AdWords Search Query Report
Without going straight down the path that Google intended by taking away organic keyword data, the AdWords search query report is a good place to get keyword ideas that you know have a genuine search demand. This report now includes search queries that have resulted from impressions, as well as clicks (previously it was just based on clicks). Also, check out terms which have lead to conversions, because if a keyword is already making you money, you should be all over it!
I’d even recommend experimenting in AdWords with a campaign specifically for keyword research. Add a few terms on broad match and set a budget you are comfortable with. Then check out your search query report to see what has genuine search demand. Once again don’t forget to filter by search queries which have had over 100 impressions or clicks, so that you know there is a strong search demand behind them.
AdWords Keyword Tool
Although this is probably one of the most popular keyword tools, I recommend using it with caution. There are doubts about the data’s validity for the UK, because the data is apparently scraped from Google.com, regardless of whether you are using the UK setting. The cynic in me also wants to remind everyone that this is Google’s AdWords keyword tool which is ultimately designed to give you keyword ideas on which to bid within AdWords, where Google have a vested interest in making more money. As a result, I believe that they tend to only show you competitive keywords from which they can make significant money from. Often, there are keywords which we know have search demand (because they are in Google suggest and other keyword tools), however, according to the AdWords Keyword tool, have no search demand.
Google Webmaster Tools Search Query Report
On the left hand side of the Google Webmaster Tools menu, you will see a section called Traffic. Within this you can find Search Queries. This is a great place to find keywords because it is based on impressions data. This means that you can find terms for which your site already has the strength to rank, but might not necessarily be receiving clicks from at the moment.
This tool is perfect if you are looking for a keyword that is phrased as a question. These kinds of terms work well for blog posts or articles. Use their new Keyword Connections tab if you want to explore some long tail variations, as this works by putting prepositions around the questions it generates. Wordtracker also claim their data is filtered, so that it does not include searches generated by software that is checking rankings. This means that you should be getting a truer indication of search demand.
YouTube Keyword Tool
Although the keywords generated here are scraped from a database of searches relating to videos, you can still get some really good ideas from this tool. It’s also important to remember that content doesn’t just have to mean written content. If you are making videos you should be using this tool as well. I’ve seen a lot of media rich pages that contain both written content and videos work really well in the SERPs recently. It is a Google property so I’m a little bit skeptical about how much of the data we are actually given, but I have found some really strong unique keywords using this tool.
Now you have a handy list of some idea generation and keyword refinement tools, you can use these to find the right phrase that pays and give your content the potential to do well, before you’ve even started writing it!
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