5 Ways You Can Use Familiar Tools for Better Content Ideas

Shawn Ragell
Shawn Ragell

5 Ways You Can Use Familiar Tools for Better Content Ideas

Sometimes the greatest ideas come to you in an instant. Lightning suddenly strikes and boom, you’re ready to craft an amazing story!

But every writer and creator knows that consistently generating great content ideas can be tough and grueling work.

Even seasoned content marketers experience dips in inspiration and find themselves in a rut, wondering if all the good ideas have already been taken.

Need to get the creative juices flowing?

These five tools and excerpts from Pressboard’s Epic Guide to Content Marketing will get you back to producing amazing ideas for your brand’s content.

And our uncommon tips will help you get the most out of their many features and services…

1. Buzzsumo

Simply type in any domain and BuzzSumo will spit out a list of its most shared posts. As I said in Part 1 of this series, there’s no shame in emulating your competitors as a starting point.

In The Epic Guide To Content Marketing, Contently’s Director of Content Services, Ryan Galloway, recommends using “opportunity analysis” to audit your competitor’s’ content:

“Look for white space: who’s not being addressed, what topics aren’t they covering, which content types are they failing to deploy? Know where your
opportunities to steal mindshare are, and the ideas will surface themselves.”

You can also download the BuzzSumo Chrome extension for a quick way to see how many times something has been shared without interrupting your normal browsing.

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Uncommon Content Tip: If you click on the “View Sharers” button when searching, you’ll probably notice the same people sharing content in a certain industry. Take note of these people, research their social presence and following, and save them in an “Outreach list.”

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You can then build targeted audiences to promote the content on Twitter. Before you do, reach out and follow them to make a connection, and build your relationship by sharing relevant content they’re creating. Then, when you have something that you think they might enjoy, seed your content through the lists you’ve created.

*Note some of these are Buzzsumo Pro features*

2. Google Trends

Google Trends is great for big picture perspectives that can shape your storytelling.

This simple, yet powerful tool lets you compare up to five search terms at a time and will let you filter data from 2004 onwards by region, time period, category, and by the type of search.

Arnie Kuenn, CEO of Vertical Measures, highlights seven great ways you can use insights from Google Trends to “punch up your content creation.” I especially enjoyed his idea of looking at seasonal trends as a way to help plan out your editorial calendar.

Looking at the comparison between “bridal shower” and “bachelorette party” in Canada throughout 2015, it’s easy to see that both terms peak in terms of content consumption in May and June (it’s too cold up here for a winter wedding), making that a great time to publish stories around those categories and

Uncommon Content Tip: A lesser-known feature of Google Trends is Google Correlate, which finds associations between search trends so that you can write content most related to what readers are interested in.

For example, if a children’s retail marketer inputs the word “Halloween,” the related term “Halloween characters” could be capitalized on for a story written about the popular trending term in order to capture searchers looking for fun content about their favorite Halloween characters.

3. Open Site Explorer

Open Site Explorer by Moz ranks websites based on the number of inbound links they have. By analyzing competitors’ content based on its backlinks, you can pull insights from what types of content works best for them.

The end goal is to get inspired and create your own winning idea, not duplicate something that’s already been done.

Cory Collins at Linkarati has good step by step tutorial for this:

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Uncommon Content Tip: While there are many factors that come into play when assessing the success of an article online, comparing link metrics can also help you uncover gems of wisdom to help you create better content.

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In an article from Percolate on, “Five Things the Best Marketing Campaigns Have in Common” the author included all external links (it was a roundup after all). And it’s no surprise the article did well, seeing as giving shouts to other authoritative content and brands in the industry does great things for your ranking, and even share activity. While you need to be careful about linking out too much and undermining your authority, giving someone credit and reaping the benefits is a smart, and data-supported strategy for link-building.

4. Mention

If you don’t know what your target audience is talking about, then any content you produce is just a shot in the dark. You don’t want to write blog post after blog post, praying for something to go viral. This is why media monitoring is so popular with advertisers.

Whether someone online is talking about you, your company, or your competitors, Mention keeps you in the know. From your dashboard, you can see all the activity happening that’s relevant to your company, making it easy for you to respond to and connect with anyone who’s talking about your brand.

Uncommon Content Tip: Take a look at the topics people are talking about in relation to your company or industry. What common pain points are they experiencing with competitors? What queries are coming up again and again?

Use what your audience is talking about to drive your content. By including these queries in your headline or subheadings, you can improve your SEO. This sort of content will also position you as a reliable source, boosting your credibility with potential customers.

5. PostReach

Social engagement and shares are what tend to drive content clicks for advertisers, so it’s crucial that you understand everything you can about them. All you do is enter your blog post’s URL and PostReach will tell you how far your content is spreading across Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn and the top influencers who are amplifying it.

This tool is brand new to market but we can already envision how the insights generated can help you continue creating successful content. Connect your Google Analytics account and quickly learn what current blog posts are resonating with your audience, helping to spark completely new ideas and while keeping you ahead of the curve.

Uncommon Content Tip: The tool itself is uncommon enough to warrant its place in this article, but here’s a hot tip – Historical data when first entering the URL is limited to seven days prior at the moment (as with a lot of social media analytics tools), so use PostReach to capitalize on breaking trends by amplifying your content or giving it an additional boost on social media.


Whether you’re a content marketing rookie and just need a place to start, or a seasoned vet with a case of blogger’s block, these five tools and the uncommon ways to use them will help you generate fresh and exciting ideas for your brand’s content.

For advice on what to do after you come up with your big idea, download a free copy of The Epic Guide To Content Marketing. It features tips and wisdom from the world’s greatest content minds at The New York Times, Outbrain, Huffington Post, Forbes, and many more!

Shawn Ragell

Shawn Ragell

Shawn Ragell is a full stack marketer working in the Toronto office of content marketing startup Pressboard. Prior to helping brands create custom content with North America’s most influential digital publishers, Shawn led social media strategy at Blue Ant Media. You can find him tweeting about content marketing and mid-2000s screamo bands at @shawnragell.

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