So you’re the marketing manager at your company and your boss says, ‘Oh hi, marketing person. I’ve just been speaking with a best-in-class growth hacker who says we need to do more quality content.’
Putting aside the fact you’ve been telling your boss that very same thing for the past three years, you can’t just stagger blindly into the content jungle like a drunk dog with a flannel over its face. You need a plan.
In this post I’m going to cover some of the best tools I’ve come across that will help give you some direction and make the whole terrifying process of planning and executing a content strategy much more palatable.
Disclaimer: this is not an exhaustive list. There are of course other free tools out there, but these are some of my favourite ones and it’s my post so that’s that.
I’m going to split the post into the following areas:
- Keyword research
- Generating ideas
- Finding influencers
The best part? All of these are completely free to use.
Google Keyword Planner
Obviously you can’t have an article about content planning without mentioning Google’s very own keyword tool. It’s an absolute gold mine for anyone looking to get detailed information about search terms in their industry.
The tool lets you get a whole range of information relating to your business terms, from suggested related keywords to monthly search volume and average cost-per-click (CPC).
This is one of the fastest ways to generate hundreds of keyword ideas around a general topic.
Just enter your search term and the site displays a huge list of related keywords in alphabetical order.
But wait, there’s more! Click on the plus next to each keyword and you’ll see another list of keywords related to that subheading.
This is a great way to see how different keywords have performed over time in terms of search volume. You can break it down by region for local SEO, or by time period.
It also provides a handy list of related searches at the bottom of the page.
Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator
I certainly wouldn’t recommend relying on tools like Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator.
But on those foggy-headed mornings when you just can’t think of anything good to write and you’re toying with the idea of jacking it all in to become a horse whisperer, they can help pull you out of a creative slump and get the ideas flowing.
Simply type in three terms relating to your business and get five post title suggestions in return.
OK, it’s not perfect. ’14 common misconceptions about plan’ is likely to win neither hearts nor minds. Change ‘plan’ to ‘flan’, however…
This one is quite fun. No tricks or computer-generated ideas here: this is effectively a brain-storming exercise that prompts you to think about your industry, the types of questions people might want answered, the common problems and so on.
Just go through the four stages and put in as much detail as you can, and by the end of it you’ll end up with a load of content ideas that came straight from your very own head.
What a genius you are!
Portent’s Content Idea Generator
We’ve written about this tool on the Econsultancy blog a few times, probably in part because it uses a humorous and lighthearted tone and we tend to like that sort of thing around here.
Just type in your subject and get a post title idea related to that term, complete with sometimes helpful and usually entertaining annotations.
I’ve included this for a second time because it’s also great for finding real-time content ideas by looking at current search trends.
You can also narrow it down to something a bit more relevant if you really can’t find a way to link your business to Justin Bieber.
Influencer marketing is increasingly becoming an integral part of any content strategy. In order to get the best out of that content you worked so hard to produce, you’re going to need some help getting it out there.
Buzzsumo lets you input a subject and get a list of the biggest influencers within that field. It includes lots of useful information such as number of social media followers, domain authority, average retweets, etc.
It’s a simple way to begin building a list of influencers that you want to target within your industry.
This is another decent tool for finding Twitter users related to your industry who have a large and engaged following.
Type in your search term and get a list of Twitter profiles ranked by number of followers and social authority.
This tool only lets you get your top 10 influencers for free, but it’s a good way to get started as the results are based on various factors rather than simply looking at Twitter followers.
Again, simply input a number of subjects related to your field and get the results almost instantly.
What do you use?
These are some of my favourite free tools for planning content, from researching keywords to generating ideas and finding influencers. But I’m sure some of you have preferred tools that aren’t included in this list.
Let me know in the comments below if there are any others that you feel deserve a mention.
Final tip: stop procrastinating by reading this blog post about content planning and actually go do it.