Process: Topic Selection

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Topic selection is about accuracy. If a blog post is written that has no results, in our eyes, that post is a failure. By being extraordinarily picky about the topics you write about, you increase your chances of being successful with content marketing. When every blog post is an investment that is being measured, it's wise to make bets that are based on intelligent research.

Topic Types

There are 12 types of blog posts that you'll generally see in the wild. At Content Powered, we focus primarily on two of them: evergreen and link bait.

  • Evergreen: Relevant 1, 3, or even 10 years from now. Desired for its long term traffic.
  • Linkbait: Created primarily to attract links and to help grow your SEO and authority.

As with most of our processes, we can either choose a combination that we feel is best for your site, or you can choose your ratio.

With brand new sites, we like to go a bit heavier on linkbait posts to establish some foundational link authority and increase overall blog performance. With more established sites, we might choose a smaller ratio. For larger sites, we may go with a 100% evergreen strategy, as they receive enough organic links already.

Overall, we focus primarily on evergreen topics. We want our clients to squeeze the most performance out of their blog posts, and by creating long-form content that will surface for topics that will remain relevant for years or even decades, we're helping them do exactly that.

Topic Checkboxes / Requirements

Before a topic is chosen, it must fit all of our requirements, or in other words, tick each of these checkboxes:

  • Competition: Is the topic too competitive? If the sites ranking for these topics are massive and have already written stellar content on this subject, we lower our chances of realistically competing. Conversely, if we have a hard time finding similar articles, the traffic and demand for information on this topic may be too low. This brings us to:
  • Traffic: Will this topic yield enough visitors to justify writing about it? Do analytics platforms show this topic as a top source of traffic for competitors who have content on this subject?
  • Value: What kind of people are searching for this topic? Are they still in high school, or are they a C-level executive? Is this topic more valuable than others, or less?
  • Brand fitment: Does covering this topic compromise our branding? Do we like reviewing other products, or do we want to avoid that? Does this make us look good or bad?
  • Buyer intent: When considering the type of person to research this topic, are they looking to purchase a solution, or just looking for an instructional?

As you can imagine, this results in a lot of topics being crossed out. This is one of the more difficult and time-consuming parts of the topic ideation process, but it's arguably the most valuable.

Competitive Analysis

Before the pen hits the paper, we analyze dozens of competing articles on each subject during the topic ideation process. Here are some of the things we look for in a method that we've dubbed "A.C.E.S.E.O":

  • Age: How old is this article? When was it last updated? When was it first indexed? Has it fallen out of date, or is it still relevant? Are they still approving comments?
  • Content quality: Is the article only 1,100 words in length, or is it 4,100 words? How much of the article is unique? Are there grammatical errors? Are the links over-optimized? Did they use any media in their content? Did they touch on all of the points they should touch on, or did they leave anything out? Did they ramble on, or did they get right to the nuggets?
  • Enter opportunities: Did they forget to cover something? Is this topic a competitor's top source of traffic? Is this topic responsible for most of their links? Should we hop on this?
  • Site authority: How old is their site? How much domain authority do they have? How much traffic do their blog posts generate? What are their top pages?
  • Engagement: Is it receiving comments? Social shares? Backlinks?
  • Optimization: How fast is their site? Which plugins are they using? How well optimized are their meta tags? Are they using the proper headings? Are they citing their sources?

If the competition is too strong relative to your site, we'd prefer not to pick a fight that we have a low chance of realistically winning. We're experts at finding diamonds in the rough through a rinse-and-repeat process of constant analysis and research.

Keywords and Titles

Keywords are usually over-hyped when it comes to blog post titles, with many bloggers obsessing over things like keyword density, placement, repetition, synonyms, and so on. That isn't to say they aren't still important.

Before we finalize a blog post topic, we look at many different things, such as:

  • Competing topics: Are they all super similar, or vastly different? What's different about the number one result on search engines? Can we do it better?
  • Google Autocomplete: When we start typing the topic into Google, do they give us tangential topics that are of any value? Are they worth including in the topic?
  • Length: Does our topic title fit within the allotted pixel limitations that Google provides? Will it fit?
  • Additional keywords: If our topic comes up a bit short, can we sneak in an extra keyword so the article can potentially surface for additional queries?
  • Avoid repetition: Have we asked too many questions, or created too many lists? How can we mix it up?
  • Synonyms: Is this the best word to use? How do the search results vary when we swap it out for a similar word? How does the traffic change? Is one better than the other?

Adding a single extra keyword can multiply the traffic in a blog post. For example, many bloggers who are writing a "Review" post will also include extra keywords in their topic, like "Review, Pricing, and Alternatives". This is an elementary example, but if they cover those things in their article, they could potentially rank for dozens or even hundreds of additional keywords. We like to know these things and squeeze extra keywords in when they make sense and if there isn't a conflict with our other findings.

Topic Preapproval

We prefer to handle the topic selection process due to the complexity and time involved. In the early stages of working together, topic pre-approval is a necessity so that we're all on the same page about the direction we're taking and the audience we're trying to reach.

Our goal is to move to a hands-off process to minimize friction and maximize results.

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