4 Steps for Brainstorming Blog Post Ideas Like a Boss
As an Inbound Writer for Lean Labs, Melissa writes about high-converting websites and customer-centric marketing. She's an avid traveler, with trips to Iceland, Ukraine, and Portugal under her belt. She currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with her dog, Morrie.
As a business, it can really be challenging to produce content. With so many other marketing initiatives requiring effort and expertise, making time to write blog content seems impossible sometimes. That's why many companies plan out their editorial calendars so far in advance. By developing content months in advance, they never have to worry about skipping a post.
However, building up this large volume of blog topics is no easy feat. In addition to targeting the right keywords and topics, the titles need to be engaging, eye-catching, and immediately hook a potential customer. This kind of approach can take a lot of time. Using our approach, however, it doesn't have to. You can craft more than a month's worth of blog titles in under an hour.
The Secret To Generating Blog Post Ideas
The mystery behind really engaging blog post ideas isn't a special tool or resource. It's not a secret platform that every business owner knows about but you. To create blog post titles that really resonate with your audience, you need to do one simple thing.
You need to focus on your customer. By keeping the focus on your ideal customer, you'll generate stronger topics that address their fears, frustrations, and challenges.
Those are the kinds of blog posts that your leads want to read about. They don't want to read another blog post plugging a brand, or talking about company updates. They want content that gets them from point A to point B. And that content starts with a strong, engaging title.
Here at Lean Labs, we believe that 50% of the energy creating content should be in giving it that fantastic title. So in this article, we're going to show how you can develop exceptional titles, and fast.
Step 1: Pick Your Topics [10 Minutes]
Before writing down a single blog title, consider the general topics you want to cover. For instance, HubSpot covers sales, marketing, and services. Their blog posts dig into those topics, providing a lot of specific expertise about aspects of each. That's the kind of content they're known for, and it keeps potential and existing customers coming back again and again to read it.
By selecting these 3-4 topics to focus on, you'll also be prepared to create content pillar pages later on. Pillar pages, or long-form, extremely in-depth parent or cornerstone pages, are the big shift in content strategies. So even if you're not planning pillar content now, working off those general topics now will help organize your efforts and inform your keyword strategy, if you don't already have one.
If you want more guidance about creating a cohesive content strategy, check out another article we wrote, "How to Make a Content Marketing Plan That Actually Works."
Step 2: Brainstorm Titles [30 Minutes]
After selecting topics, the next thing we want to do is find keywords. For each broad topic you selected, generate around 5-10 low to medium competition keywords that relate to each. Tools such as Google Keyword Planner and Keywords Everywhere can help with this. After we've got those keywords, it's time to pull out a Google Spreadsheet and get to work.
There are a few ways to approach brainstorming. To create more titles, sooner, we recommend using tools such as:
HubSpot Topic Clusters: Using HubSpot Topic Clusters, you can assess the strength of your keyword, see relevant content, assign pillar content, and even get suggested subtopics. The tool is located under the Strategy tab in the navigation (under Content). Using this tool, you can get your entire content strategy organized and visible in one central place.
Answer The Public: You plug in a keyword, and get a ton of potential titles and long-tail keywords in return. Some of these titles will need some wordsmithing, as the tool generates titles using a formula that doesn't always make sense.
Buzzsumo: Take your keywords, and start to see what other articles come up for competitors and industry sites. A lot of these articles can be adjusted and changed enough so it's an original title.
Amazon, YouTube, and iTunes Podcasts: Take your keyword and search for it in these platforms. The titles that come up could also be tweaked to become a unique title. You can also find great resources for when you write the post later.
Print + Digital Magazines: While these won't always relate to your industry, the titles of magazine articles are usually pretty good. Take a title and swap out the parts that aren't generic or appropriate for your brand, and plug in your keywords instead for inspiration.
Forums and Social Conversations:
You should also browse Facebook Groups, Twitter, Reddit, and Quora to help find ideas for posts. While this will be time-consuming, there's a lot of valuable information on these platforms. Use hashtags, follow feeds, find influencers, and dig into conversations to see what topics and trends people are discussing.
By the end of this exercise, aim to have at least 25 working (first draft) titles per broad topic. Each one of your blog posts should also have a specific keyword you want to rank for, and these keywords need to carry over to the titles as well. So if you're trying to rank for "digital marketing," make sure that keyword is in your title.
Step 3: Optimize Your Titles [20 Minutes]
There's a lot that goes into a strong blog title. Titles need to be clear and concise, while explaining what content the post will contain. There are a few best practices we recommend with writing an effective blog post title, such as:
Make sure it lives up to its promise. A blog post that promises 10 tips to increase traffic needs to provide 10 exceptional tips.
Keep it under 70 characters. Otherwise, it'll get cut off in search results. If you opt for a long title, make sure your keyword is positioned at the front of the article.
Be descriptive. For a title to be catchy, it's best to be descriptive. So if you're writing about tips, for instance, go beyond a title such as "X Tips For Increasing Leads," and try something more like "X Awesome Tips For Increasing Leads With Blogging."
Choose your words wisely. There are certain words and phrases that nearly every company uses in blog post titles. After a while, this gets redundant. Mix up your titles with more uncommon words, as well as words that evoke emotion, or provide a sense of urgency.
Once you're done adjusting your titles, you should have plenty of titles. If you still need more titles, HubSpot has a nifty infographic that's essentially fill-in-the-blank blog post titles. These templated titles are generic enough to work for basically any keyword, and can be optimized to sound more intriguing.
Additional Step: Score Your Titles [Extra Time]
Now you have some titles, but there are a few ways to make them even better. How? By scoring or grading headline titles. With the help of our team, we sweep through our titles and score them individually, also providing comments and feedback for each one.
Everyone has their own scoring system, but here are a few metrics we track for each title, such as:
The keyword volume. How many people are searching for your targeted keyword every month? You can use SEMRush, Keywords Everywhere, or Google's Keyword Tool to access the volume of searches for each keyword.
The keyword difficulty. SEMRush provides a score via percentage to show how challenging it will be to rank for a keyword. The higher the percentage, the more difficult it will be to rank for it.
The priority score. Moz gives a priority score, which aggregates all the other metrics, such as Keyword Difficulty, Opportunity, and Volume. This metric is accessible in the Moz tool only. The higher the number, the more potential there is to rank.
Confidence score. We grade our own headlines from 1-10, in terms of how confident we are that it will be a strong title. A 10 means that post is a potential knock-out. A 1 is the lowest grade we assign. If it's a one, we did something wrong when selecting the keyword or writing the title.
We keep track of these metrics in a Google Spreadsheet, which makes it really easy to prioritize the strongest titles. The titles with weaker scores can be adjusted, either with new keywords or a fresh angle. This practice is important to anticipate and plan for the success of our content.
Going Beyond Blog Post Ideas
If you're looking to generate new blog post ideas, you're likely trying to attract more traffic and potential leads to your website. While fresh, new posts are great for keeping your blog driving organic traffic, there's also a lot of opportunity in the assets and materials you already have. Using tactics such as historical blog optimization, search optimization, and more, you can easily refresh older pieces of content.
By actively repurposing assets, we get the best possible ROI from our content. Repurposing content can increase conversions and engagements, improve search rankings, and fully utilize each of our social platforms. To see how we give older content new life, check out our free guide, Repurposing Toolkit: Why & How to Repurpose Content.
There's no catch, and we won't call you up for a consultation. It's just a complimentary guide with dozens of real-life examples of the why and how to repurpose content.