Part of being an expert at something is not blindly following all of the other lemmings as they jump off of a cliff. This is an apt metaphor to use for “popular” topics in content marketing. Most search engine optimization (SEO) tools allow for topic research and return results based on what is currently popular, and content marketers dutifully populate their content calendars with these topics based on this research. 

Recent statistics show that there are over 152 million blogs on the internet and a new blog post is published every 0.5 seconds.  With so many blogs competing for readers, how can you ensure that your content will stand out and find the golden ticket topics that will boost your SEO? 

Making “Popular” topics work for you

Popular topics should be used as a jumping-off point, not the be-all-and-end-all. If everyone is writing about a particular topic, your blog or landing page is just going to get lost in the noise. What you want to do is a deep dive into your SEO tools and do other research to find  topic areas that are not being covered so you can be first past the post with those – maybe even snag a featured snippet. 

Featured Snippets are brief extracts of text that appear at the top of Google’s search results and quickly answer a searcher’s query. This content is automatically pulled from web pages in Google’s index and appear above the #1 spot on the search engine results page (SERP) with a backlink to the content it’s been pulled from. Clearly, this position can have a major impact on click-throughs since holding this spot in will ensure your blog receives 8% of all clicks

Popular topics are worth exploring if your company can put a truly distinctive spin on them with something unique that your company does. If, for example, a popular topic is “how to increase your ROI with email newsletters” and your company specializes in healthcare marketing, you may make that topic “how to increase ROI with email newsletters for psychiatrists”.  

Since over one third of all search queries are 4 or more words long, allowing for narrower, more specific search field results, popular topics can help you find your niche because they give you a general idea of what people are actually searching for. This allows you to refine your content and make it more relevant to your business.  Where possible, framing the headline of the blog as a question will make it more likely to come up if someone searches the question. 

Another area where popular topic suggestions can work for you is when the top ranking blog for that topic has been poorly written. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. Many current blogs are relying on longform content to get to the top of search results by using irrelevant, low-quality, and unhelpful information to boost their word count. 

Google focuses primarily on quality content, not word count, so this is an excellent opportunity to do a better job and outrank that blog in search results by providing quality content. Writing a better longform blog that offers concrete tips to readers instead of just rehashing what they already know will give you a very good chance of outranking that top blog. 

Finding “Unique” topics that set you apart 

Another way to find your own “unique” topics is to step away from the tools and talk to people. What questions are your customers asking you? Talk to your customer service and sales departments to find out what these questions are and come up with topics that answer these questions. 

Examine trending hashtags on your company’s social media accounts for topics that may be relevant to your business, and check out what your competitors are posting about and be inspired to do it better.

You can also explore your most popular content if you have a blog with a number of posts. Could you cover an existing topic in more depth? Can you give readers more information on a specific topic?

Check out offline sources relevant to your business like trade magazines and books for ideas that may have been missed online or trends that need more recognition.

It’s increasingly difficult to find topics that will actually “hit” in search results, but with a regular blogging program and copywriting experts like the ones we have at ion8, you will consistently produce fresh content for Google (which helps your SEO all on its own) and “hit” about once or twice a year with content that rewards your site with a glut of targeted traffic.

ion8 is an all-in-one business management consultancy and with a full team of writing experts ready to help you. Every single one of our long-term blogging clients has a blog which is a featured snippet on Google. For more information on everything that ion8 can do to optimize your SEO and provide you with quality content, contact us today.