As is the case with any creative industry, ideas are likely to dry up from time to time. SEO is no exception to this and many in-house SEO’s as well as small business owners will find that when optimising for the same site over a prolonged period of time, finding unique angles for quality content can prove tough.
As we all know by now, Google seeks to reward high quality, unique content and has been doing so for some time. This has placed more emphasis on quality guest blogging as opposed to building up a backlink profile full of directory links and article submissions.
Been There, Done That
Whilst there is no question that writing quality content is a good move, it can cause problems for companies with limited creative resources. It is particularly problematic for those people operating in a very niche market. Take for example, a business that specialises in desk calendars. There are only so many articles you can write about the actual product itself, and perhaps more importantly, only so many blogs that you can target for that all important link.
So after months of writing about different design options for desk calendars, you may think you’re totally out of material, right? Wrong.
A Fresh Start
There are a number of ways you can come up with new ideas and new angles which open a number of doors for you in terms of link building. This way, you prevent yourself from getting stuck in a rut when it comes to creating content, and more importantly, prevent yourself from constantly finding the same blogs when looking to place guest posts.
For a small business owner who doesn’t have any in-house staff, websites such as this link bait generator might come in handy. Simply enter your keyword, and the website will do the rest of the work for you by generating a (pretty generic) title that can be used for a piece of link bait or a blog post. As you may expect however, the titles can range from dull as dishwater, to downright outrageous, and always seem to involve a number.
The use of numbers in the headlines is an interesting point. There is a common understanding that numbers in headlines are particularly effective. This article from Content Marketing Institute states that posts that are in the form of a list tend to generate more traffic and click-throughs, and that lists with an odd number of points generated a further 20% of click-throughs.
I came up with a few random keywords inspired by the everyday objects that I can see in front of me and put them into the link bait generator; here are a few of the results I got back:
“8 Things You Think You Know About Desk Calendars But You Really Don’t”
“7 Health Problems Associated With Clocks”
“8 Outrageous Frauds Involving Ball Point Pens”
“6 Shockingly Evil Things About Post-It Notes”
Getting a 500 word piece out of those titles would be a tough ask for the most talented (or obscure, depending on how you look at it) writer, however the more obscure pieces of content also tend to be the ones that garner the most attention and generate the most traffic. As a result, these posts are the ones most likely to be linked to.
On a more serious note, there are a few ways that you can come up with different ideas for content without letting a randomly generated website do all the work for you. When it comes to brainstorming, it’s wise not to rule any idea out as too tenuous.
In-house SEO’s from larger companies could do a lot worse than to sit down with other members of staff from their PR and marketing departments to throw a few ideas around. Firstly, ensure they are educated on and embrace SEO. This way, they will know what will be of use to you. Any sort of press releases, charity links or awards are a good starting point for link generation. Also, brainstorming with people from different areas of expertise is a great way to discover new angles as they have experience of writing on different topics for different purposes.
Take A Look Around
Using everyday items as an example again, think about where you may stereotypically see stationery. A few quick ideas could include business branded pens, school stationery and everyday office supplies. That’s just a few suggestions and from those you could target business, workplace and educational blogs as a starting point.
With regards to content for these sites, it’s probably best that you don’t focus specifically on the product and maybe just give it a passing mention. For example, an idea would be to target business blogs with a post titled “Top Ten Tips To Stand Out At Trade Shows” and give a mention to branded pens somewhere in there, like:
“Free gifts are always a good way to win over punters at trade shows. Goodie bags that include small items such as sweets, badges and branded pens will ensure that your presence at the show lasts in the memory of attendees.”
This way, the post isn’t commercial and plugging a product or service, and is reaching out and opening doors to blogs you wouldn’t have had a reason to contact otherwise.
Similarly, it’s also beneficial to take advantage of things happening at the time. Keeping up with current affairs is extremely important in most businesses and SEO is no different. There are a number of major sporting events coming up in 2012, and many SEO’s will be racking their brains for ideas to tie these into content that they can use. In-house SEO’s could do worse than to keep up to date with their marketing and PR teams to see if they are doing anything for the occasions.
It’s inevitable that occasionally, as an in-house SEO or small business owner, you may find yourself short of inspiration for new content. It’s important to link build with an open mind and not be too dismissive of ideas. A lot of the time, it’s a case of trial and error and there’s no guaranteed quick fix, but you never know if something’s going to work unless you try it! If you have a spare few minutes, then check out this “Whiteboard Friday” video from Rand Fishkin on SEOmoz, as he gives a few more tips to overcoming your winter of dis-content (his pun, not mine…unfortunately!)
How do you come up with creative ideas? All comments welcome… you no doubt have devised your own approach to creative brainstorming and we would love to hear it!