Blog Post Ideas
(Here’s the Step by Step Guide to Generating Hundreds of Them)

Today I'm going to show you how to generate hundreds of blog post ideas.

I know it’s not always easy to generate new content ideas for your inbound marketing, especially on a rainy Wednesday morning when all you want is a few extra hours of sleep.

Instead, you’ve got timelines to adhere to, targets to hit and people within your company counting on you to keep pumping out high-quality content that appeals to your personas and gets noticed, shared and linked to. So what’s a digital marketer to do?

NeverFear  We’ve done the hard yards to put together a guide on our internal content idea generation process, including links to the various tools that we use.

If you follow the instructions and use the tools listed below, you’ll be able to generate hundreds of blog post ideas or content asset ideas around your topic of interest that (most importantly!) are what your customers want to hear about, rather than simply what your internal business units/HiPPOs want to talk about.

We’ll give you a couple of examples as we walk through the various tactics. Letsdoit

ProTipBookWhilst going through and finding content ideas, at the same time you should be building your list of influencers. The people releasing popular, shareable, linkable content within your niche are the perfect people to then reach out to when you’re ready to release your own high-quality content to pump up your lead generation and lead nurturing.

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Plug in your topic keywords and BuzzSumo will spit out the most popularly shared articles (amongst other content types such as infographics) over any time in the last year. One thing to be aware of is that some publications/sites will get a huge amount of shares based solely on the fact that they’re well known (an example in the business world might be Forbes). What you want to be looking for is the articles that have gone viral for their content rather than where they’re housed.

Overall, this is a brilliant tool, and a great place to start. Follow these simple steps:

      1. Sign-up/log-in to BuzzSumo. You can sign-up to a free account to trial the tool, which gives you access to the first page of results, but for any serious research you need to sign up for the paid version.
      2. Type in the keyword that you’re interested in, which for our example is “BYOD”. Many of the usual search operators apply, such as quotation marks, plus signs and minus signs. There is also an advanced search option which explains the search engine operators available in more detail.
        Screenshot example of searching a keyword in a search engine
      3. Another option is to type in a domain name, such as “”. This is a great way to keep track of the popular content being created by industry leaders and/or competitors in your niche. One feature here is that you can search by category folder, for example “”, which is very helpful for narrowing your focus, especially on larger websites.
      4. If you’re going to be using the same searches often (helpful if you’re producing a lot of content around a keyword, and also helpful if you’re reposting popular articles to your social media accounts), use the “Save Search” feature. It’s pretty straightforward – just make sure that all the parameters (types of posts, timeframe, search operators) are as you want them, hit the “Save Search” button and use a detailed descriptor of the search.
      5. Screenshot example of filter by date in BuzzSumoAlthough it may be tempting to always look back 6 or 12 months, we find it better to determine your look-back time based on what your objectives are. If you’re trying to find high-value content assets and more evergreen stuff, then looking back over 6-12 months is best. If you’re doing monthly brainstorming sessions for upcoming blog posts or content for your content calendar, choosing 1 month is the best option. If you’re looking for newly released information to post to your social media accounts, 1 week or 24 hours is best. If you’re looking for breaking news to comment on, then choose 24 hours.
      6. Depending on how popular your niche/keyword is, you may end up with a lot of results and a high volume of social actions, or a small number of results with a low volume of social actions. There’s no hard and fast rule here, but if you’re getting a lot of results you may wish to narrow the look-back time or keyword focus, and with small results you may wish to expand the look-back time and broaden your focus. Remember, if people aren’t reading and sharing the topic/keyword you’re looking for, then chances are they won’t share your posts or content assets if you speak about the same topic – it’s just not interesting enough. You may need to go back and do more keyword research and brainstorming around the topic/keyword you’re looking to cover.
      7. Make sure you click through and actually view the most popular results/the ones that you’re going to include on your worksheet. If comments are allowed, take a look at these as they can provide valuable information, contrary points of view, facts that the author may have missed, etc. Take note of the total number of comments, as well as any useful points raised in any of the comments.
      8. Export your results and add to a content brainstorming spreadsheet.

ProTipBookBuzzSumo really comes into its own as an outreach tool – it allows you to not only see how many times a piece of content has been shared, but also who the top people sharing it on Twitter were. Alternatively, you can use the “Top Influencers” tab at the top to see who the most influential people are around any topic you choose as well as a number of important stats, such as their followers and retweet ratio. Everything can be exported too, making BuzzSumo one of the most valuable content creation and promotion tools there is.


Reddit doesn’t have the greatest user interface in the world, and due to that it can be easy to overlook. But once you know how it works, it can be a goldmine for generating content ideas, particularly in the B2C space. Just follow these steps:

        1. Screenshot example of subscription to subredditsSet up an account (free).
        2. Click on the “Edit” button at the top right of your screen. This will allow you to subscribe to “subreddits”, which are essentially category/interest groupings. Upon signing up you will be automatically subscribed to some of the most popular subreddits, so if these aren’t relevant to your niche or industry, you may wish to unsubscribe from them.
        3. When subscribing to subreddits, you can either use the reddit search tool, or a 3rd party one such as one of the following:
        4. Take a look at your feed. It will now be populated with all of the popular stories and posts related to your subscribed subreddits, and hence all of your topics of interest.
        5. If you wanted to look around a bit more, you can dig down into the feeds of specific subreddits, by typing your niche in the search box at the top right.

Screenshot example of searching for specific subreddits

          1. This can be a great way to generate some content ideas, so keep track of all the ones of interest and log them in your worksheet.
          2. Reddit is also a great place to promote your content once you’ve created it!

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Open Site Explorer (OSE)


OSE is a great way to see which of your competitors’ posts have generated not just shares, but also inbound links, as well as the quality of those links.

Follow this step-by-step guide:

    1. Log in to Open Site Explorer. This requires a paid Moz account (the free version only allows viewing of the top 5 results, and doesn’t allow exporting or social media stats).
    2. Plug in the URL of the competitor/industry-leader.
    3. Click on the tab “Top Pages”.

Screenshot example of top pages in OSE with Inbound links, HTTP status, FB shares/likes, Tweets and Google +1s

          1. Export to Excel by clicking on “Request CSV”.
          2. In the first column you’ll have all the URLs of the individual pages. Ideally the target you’ve picked has a good URL structure/naming convention, so that all blog posts are under a /blog/ or /articles/ folder or something similar. Use an advanced filter to exclude all pages that aren’t within that folder so that you’re left with just the blog posts or articles on the site. This removes pages such as the homepage and any product pages – of course, if you wanted to view all of their pages you could exclude this step. In our example, because we wanted to include articles, blog posts and white papers, we set up our filter as per the image below.

Screenshot example of URLs and views on websites using USE

          1. You can then sort by whichever metric you want, whether linking root domains, inbound links or social likes/shares etc. Unfortunately OSE doesn’t include LinkedIn, so it’s less useful if that’s where your efforts are mostly expended and where your competitors and customers hang out.
          2. As with BuzzSumo, make sure you click through to view and take note of the comments on any posts.
          3. Add all of these results to your spreadsheet.

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Forums are a great way of knowing the types of questions that people within the industry are searching for, including popular/controversial topics, and can spur some creative juices into a whole range of content assets. These also tend to work quite well for dry or boring niches or industries. Steps to follow:

          1. Do a Google search for forums within the niche/industry. Using search operators works well here, using things such as “[keyword inurl:forum OR inurl:forums]”. So for example the search: “iso 9001 inurl:forum OR inurl:forums”.

            Screenshot example of searching forums using Google
          2. Dig through the results to see popularly frequented forums. Our search above returns examples such as
          3. Look at the blog posts that have had a lot of comments and views. Some forums let you sort by these metrics which makes it easier. As with the blog comments above, look at not only the original title of the post, but also at some of the best responses. Some forums allow answers to be “liked”, while others that could be considered “best” are comments that generate even more conversation.
          4. Note all of the most popular topics in your spreadsheet, as well as adding some of the best comments (perhaps in point form) into a notes field.

Similarly to forums, Quora is a great resource for finding not just questions that people are asking (and sorting them by popularity), but also for finding great responses which you can use to stimulate alternate points of view. You may find possible blog post guest authors or experts willing to contribute to expert panel posts or interviews. Steps are as follows:

          1. Log in or sign up. If you’re signing up, you’ll need to go through a somewhat lengthy process of selecting the areas/topics you’re interested in, but it is definitely worthwhile.
          2. Once in, search for the topic/keyword that you’re interested in. This will return a range of questions people have asked about that specific topic, as well as responses and comments. The most popular comments are up-voted, and some of them tend to be exceptionally detailed and well thought-out.
          3. Using the example of BYOD, we can see a number of questions, which you can either click into to see the results, or if you find that the answers aren’t defined enough or there are too many questions to dig through, you can refine the question with some more keywords.

            Screenshot example of searching keywords on Quora
          4. As with forums above, add the most popular questions into your spreadsheet, and include the best comments in the notes field.

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LinkedIn groups


LinkedIn is one of the most popular social networks, especially with professionals, and tens of thousands of groups have sprung up covering almost any business niche possible. Steps are as follows:

          1. Log in to your LinkedIn account (or sign up if you don’t yet have an account).
          2. At the top search bar, click on the drop-down menu option and select Groups.

            Screenshot example of drop-down menu for LinkedIn groups
          3. Once you’ve done so, type in your keyword and hit enter. You can wait for suggested groups to appear below the search bar (similar to Google’s autosuggest), however to get a complete list with stats, just hit enter which will return all results for that keyword.
          4. These results are sorted by total members, with some minor filter options available in the right hand menu.
          5. Groups with a little lock on them mean they’re a locked group and you need to ask permission to join. This usually won’t be a problem with the exception of some company related groups that are specific to employees, or groups that might require membership of a specific association. You can only view the topics and discussions within these groups if you join, but for other groups you’re able to view these without joining the group.
          6. Click through to view a group – it’s best to choose a popular group. LinkedIn advises on a number of important stats, particularly noting whether a group is “Very Active”. These groups are the best places to start.

            Screenshot example of a popular group on LinkedIn based on keyword
          7. Once you click through to a group, you’ll see a list of all discussions, sorted in chronological order (with the most recent listed first). Sort by most popular discussions.
          8. Add these topics and some metrics (as well as links to the discussion) to your spreadsheet.

            Screenshot example of discussion and topics on LinkedIn
          9. As with the forums and Quora, go through the questions to find any relevant to you, and note these down in your worksheet, including the best comments.

ProTipBookLinkedIn is a great place to post your articles/blog posts/content assets, especially for B2B businesses, as well as to begin conversations with possible outreach targets.

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Using SEMRush to spy
on competitors

Neil Patel of Quicksprout developed this brilliant content marketing strategy, and he was kind enough to let us share it. As with BuzzSumo, choose competitors or industry sites, especially those that are actively publishing content, and go through the following steps:

  1. Log in to your SEMRush account (to access all that we’re going to use this tool for, you’ll need a paid account).
  2. Using as our example, simply enter the URL into the search bar.
  3. After that, in the left-hand menu, choose Positions (under the Organic Research menu option).

    Screenshot example of Positions in the left-hand menu in SEMRush
  4. That will give you a list of the organic search positions and estimated search volume for keywords that your competitor appears for. Above the graph select the “All Time” option, and then click “Export”.

    Screenshot example of organic search positions & estimated search volume
  5. Screenshot example of Exporting Data and three optionsClicking Export will give you three options to export the file to. Choose the “CSV” option.
  6. You’ll end up with a CSV file containing all of your competitors’ URLs, as well as all of their keywords showing up in the SERPs.
  7. Delete all of the columns except for keyword, search volume and URLs.
  8. Once you’ve done that, highlight the list of URLs within the URL column, right-click and then sort by “Ascending” or “Sort A-Z”.
  9. When you receive a pop-up “Sort warning”, simply opt to “Expand the Selection” and then click “Sort”.
  10. At the top of the spreadsheet you’ll likely notice the homepage URL and the keywords that the homepage is appearing for. You may also notice sub domains as well – in the case of the results at the top include their apiwiki and devblog sub domains. You should delete all of these from your spreadsheet, as you’re looking for specific content pages that you can target, and long-tail phrases that those pages appear for.

    Screenshot example of a table of keywords, search volume and url
  11. Screenshot example of inserting pivot tableNext you should create a pivot table. First select all of the content within your spreadsheet (Ctrl-A on a PC), then go to Insert and click Pivot Table (this appears in different places depending on your version of Excel).
  12. Drag the URL and Keyword fields down into the “Row Labels” area on the right hand side and Search Volume down into the “Values” area. You should end up with something like this.
  13. Click on the little “Down” arrow in the 1st row of the table. This will open a menu where you should choose “Value Filters” and then “Greater Than”. Experiment a little bit with the numbers here – the higher the volume the better (Neil recommends 3,000), but for smaller niches you might want to start with 1,000 or so, and then fine-tune it based on how many results you get. Remember that the figures provided here are NOT the amount of actual traffic that the site gets – this figure is just the estimated search volume for that word, so even if you ended up ranking first for the keywords, you’d still only get a portion of the total search volume (likely less than 30%).

    Screenshot example of spreadsheet after sorting URLs in SEMRush
  14. The final CSV file you’ll end up with will show you the keywords for which your competitor shows up in the top 20 of Google’s SERPs, the search volume for those keywords and the competitor URL that appears for the keywords. This can give you a great idea of the type of content you can create to try to beat your competitor for those same keywords – look at what they’ve created and try to determine how you can improve on it.

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Adwords -
phrase and broad match

Although only relevant for people who are running phrase and broad match Adwords campaigns, and without the sharing and link metrics of other tools, this is still a powerful way to create content based on what people are actually searching for with relation to your topics. Steps are as follows:

  1. Log in to your Adwords account, and go to the Keywords tab.Screenshot example of Details drop-down menu
  2. Tick your phrase and broad match keywords related to a specific topic.
  3. Go to the Details drop-down menu, and underneath “Search Terms”, click on “Selected”.
  4. This will generate a long list of the actual keywords that have generated clicks and impressions based on your phrase or broad match keyword. Unfortunately Google doesn’t provide a comprehensive list, but there is still a lot of information here that can be useful to determine possible content assets such as blog posts.

    Screenshot example of adwords kewords in a table with their matchtype, ad group, clicks, impression and CTR statistics
  5. Export those and add them to your spreadsheet.

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Twitter keywords


Twitter is a great place for keeping your finger on the pulse and creating content on what’s trending, as well as keeping an eye on the types of content companies within your niche are releasing. Unfortunately there’s no easy way to see the most popular Tweets by keyword, so the best way is to simply search for your keyword and view the results – you can then expand them or view the summary to see how popular they were. You’ll need to add them manually to your spreadsheet as there is no export function in Twitter.

Screenshot example of Twitter keywords

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Autocomplete tools

Google Autocomplete Suggestions is when Google suggests phrases based on the keyword(s) you’ve entered into their search box. It does this by using real search activity from Google users, and can vary by region and language. Autocomplete tools let you see all the different phrases that correlate to your keywords, whether by volume ( or by first letter ( They can give you a quick and easy view of the types of things people are searching for around your keywords. Simply:

  1. Open the autocomplete tools.
  2. Enter your keyword, target country, spam filter and click “Suggest”.
  3. Add results to your spreadsheet.

Screenshot example of Google Autocomplete Tools

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Suggested Search

24Google’s Suggested Search is the results that often appear at the bottom of a page for a search. So for example, searching for BYOD gives the following results, which can also be added to the spreadsheet:

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“What, why, when, how”

This tactic is as simple as asking questions around your keyword to try to get into the heads of people searching for things related to your product. As people get more comfortable using Google search, search behaviour is moving away from simple keyword searches and more towards user intent, focused on one of four types of searches (Navigational, Informational, Commercial and Transactional). This article on SEW discusses the topic in more detail and gives some great advice on how to organise your content creation priorities. So an example, pairing this with the Google suggested search above, might give rise to potential content topics such as:

      • How can you create a BYOD policy?
      • What are the pros and cons of BYOD?
      • Why is security a BYOD concern?

Do the exercise and add the results of the brainstorming to your spreadsheet.

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Blog post
title generators

In terms of creating some catchy (and sometimes amusingly ridiculous) blog posts and content asset titles, there are a few different tools to help stimulate your creative juices. You just need to plug your keyword in, and they’ll generate some blog post ideas based on popular blog post types. You should use these as a starting point to further brainstorming, rather than just taking the examples provided and running with them.

Screenshot example of blog post ideas based on keywords

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Screenshot example of a query regarding wiping of data from HAROThese sites help connect journalists with news sources, and they can be useful in a number of different ways. Firstly, they can generate content ideas based on the types of things journalists are looking to write about. An example from HARO is:

Secondly (and what these sites are most commonly used for), you can get in touch with the journalists and pitch yourself as an expert on your topic (assuming you actually ARE an expert) – this is a great way to generate coverage and possibly strong inbound links as well.

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Subject Matter Expert
Brainstorming - Shortcut Blogging

If you’re able to beg, plead and/or bribe your subject matter experts into sitting down in a room for 45 minutes and doing the Shortcut Blogging brainstorming exercise, you’ll likely find yourself with dozens of possible blog posts. However, a word of warning – your subject matter experts may know the product or service inside out, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll know how people would search for and research it. As such, you should probably still vet their results through some of the other tactics above in order to validate them. Alternatively, if you’re the subject matter expert within your organisation on the topic you’re generating content ideas for, you’ll find the brainstorming exercise above extremely valuable.

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Site Search & Webmaster
Tools Keywords

In our experience these are better for building an FAQs section for your site than they are for building out content ideas for blog posts and content assets, but it’s still worth trawling through this data as you may find some surprises. Regularly reviewing these should be part of your ongoing site content improvement process anyhow!

Google Alerts are a good way to stay on top of what others in the industry are releasing. Simply go to Google Alerts, type in your keyword and the email address you want alerts sent to, and then create the alert. You’ve got a number of different options as well, so simply adjust these based on what you’re trying to achieve.

Screenshot example of Google Alert

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Google Keyword
Planner Tool

We’ve intentionally kept this one last because this is the first (and only) place most people tend to do their research, and you’ll often end up with uncreative content that’s similar to what everyone else is releasing. That being said, it’s always worth at least doing a quick look at the suggested keyword ideas that the Keyword Planner generates in order to get an idea of keyword volume around your topics or keywords, as well as what type of competition there is for your keywords.

Example of keywords with associated average monthly searches, competition level and suggested bid.

The other thing to keep in mind is what the best ways are to actually create content that people link to. It’s not enough to simply rehash what someone else has done. You need to put your own spin on it, make it better, and then get it in front of outreach targets. But that’s a post for another day!

ProTipBook After you’ve finished all of your research, you may wish to put the results into Wordle – this will help you quickly analyse the most popular themes around your topic. To more easily see which additional keywords were popular, simply right-click your keyword and remove it. This will give you a quick overview with a result like the following:

Screenshot example of popular keywords and themes around topic using Wordle
Once you’ve got all of your ideas together, you’ll want to start planning out your content calendar as the next step of your content marketing process. Each of your pieces of content should relate to one of your customer personas to ensure that it resonates with the people you’re actually trying to reach. And don’t forget to include your Calls-to-Action within the piece of content so that your prospects know what to do next! Our next ebook will cover all of these points and more in laying out a step-by-step guide to the Content Creation Process. Subscribe to our blog if you’d like to be notified when we release it.

Author Thanks:

Thanks go to the following people whose work I’ve leaned on for various parts of this guide: Neil Patel, Paddy Moogan, Brian Dean, the brilliant Moz community, Nicole Rippey and many, many others that I’ve picked up tricks and tips from over the past few years.


About the Author:

Adrian Cordiner accidentally stumbled into digital marketing after starting an online travel company and realizing there was a whole world out there of SEO, SEM, Analytics, CRO and so on that he knew absolutely nothing about. Many years of reading, researching, testing and making lots of mistakes along the way have lead him to where he is today, running his own digital marketing agency (Digital Rhinos) and founding a content marketplace startup (Prozely), still reading, still researching, still testing and hopefully making a few less mistakes.

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