When is the best time to start creating SEO-friendly content for your website?
If you have a crystal ball, or your business is based on seasonal occurrences such as the golfing season, Halloween, Christmas, or when your bees are done making honey, it’s very easy to decide when marketing effort should be scheduled. If you’re operating without that very specific luxury, then you should be budget time to work on marketing tasks each and every week. No week should pass by without you having done something with your website or something that will drive future business through your front door. Just as it would be unthinkable for a farmer to go a year without fully taking advantage of the planting season it is unthinkable that you would go a week without putting new “seeds of opportunity” in the ground.

What do those seeds look like?
This is aptly illustrated by one of our clients who receive 80% of their revenue in the 4 to 5 months of spring, summer, and fall. While things slow down and get quieter in the winter they use this time to build a bullpen of articles and content that can be rolled out when things get crazy during their peak season.  They understand that there will be no time to think whatsoever, and they will have moved into reaction mode during those peak times. Their seasonal business could easily suffer without the steady push from publishing saved content.
If your peaks and valleys are less predictable I would recommend setting aside a fixed amount of time each week to brainstorm or develop new content that you can post your blog and then repost to your other social media sites. The biggest part of your job is going to be the blog writing and content creation. Here are some handy strategies that you can use to get your content development developed each week.

  1. ONLINE INSPIRATION:

Sign up for Google alerts.  With Google alerts you can input key phrases related to your business or the particular benefit your product has. Google will then send you notifications by email at regular intervals as discovers related during it’s indexing process. This will help with brainstorming new content you are developing. It will also help you to identify trends within your industry that you might have otherwise missed. Also, check out Google Zeitgeist. Google Zeitgeist tracks search traffic and publishes the main keywords that are trending online. If there’s something in there related to your business you should be aware of it and understand why it’s happening.

  1. YOUR BUTTERFLY NET:

Keep a notepad handy where are you can scribble down ideas which might turn into blogs later. Be careful to listen to how your clients talk when you are chatting with them. Be sure to note the kinds of problems and specific pains they might be going through. Set aside some time every week to review trade magazines and other publications, pen in hand so that you might scribble down things that occur to you while you’re reviewing that material.

  1. MOBILIZING YOUR PEOPLE:

Keep an eye on your employees and see if they don’t have some downtime that could be used for developing ideas using the strategies described above. You may find that there are hours of productive work to be untapped from willing hands. For the right person, content development might be just the thing to throw some extra personal development into their job.

  1. MOBILIZE OUTSIDE PEOPLE:

Using a classified ad or a posting at the local university or college, try to hire a student to do research and writing on your behalf. This could be done on a contract basis and is a great way to get quality work done in your content and blogging effort. Be sure to educate them on your business focus and the kinds of content you are hoping to feature.

  1. MOBILIZE OUR PEOPLE:

We can also connect you with high-quality writers from our own bullpen of talent who can write every month on your behalf. Be sure and check with us to find out what might be done in this regard. Well outside help might not sound like you exactly they will do a much better job than if you don’t have anything done at all.
Returning to our riddle posed at the beginning, the best time to plant a tree is 50 years ago. The above tactics would already be bringing in traffic had you started them already. So the second best time to plant a tree is today.  Get cracking and put your content development and creation train on track!

  1. QUIET MOMENTS:

Keep you pen and paper (AKA the Butterfly Net) in your car.  If you are alone, try driving with the radio OFF. You’d be amazed the kinds of great ideas pop into your head when you let your thoughts wander without competition.  Make sure you pull over to record your ideas! Try to keep you notepad near every place where you typically have these kinds of “lightning bolts” of inspiration. Outside the shower, by your bedside, near the sink where you do the dishes or any place where your mind is free to wander while you are busy doing something mindless.
Other Reasons To Blog (or at least write regularly)

  1. You’ll become a better writer. At its core, writing is communication. It is about recording thoughts in an interesting way.  Writing improves with practice. Regular blogging will naturally improve your skills as a writer. To accelerate the development of your skills consider taking a night class on writing once a week.  You might consider connecting with someone who is a good writer and have him critique and edit your work. Read your stuff out loud. Make sure there is a natural flow to what you have written.
  2. You’ll become a better thinker.  Writing is 90% thinking. The writing process encourages you to stop and think deeper.  Writing forces you to put thing into a coherent framework that can be understood by others.
  3. It’s easy to repurpose Blogs for other things.  If you are blogging you can repurpose your content into other things.  If you are called upon to speak at some industry function you may have some great material stored up.  If you finally get around to writing that guidebook meant for new clients you may be able to draw upon what you’ve written on your blog as base material.  Blogs can also be developed into videos which can be posted on your site or shared through social media.

Finding Ideas for Your Blog
Bottlenose
Bottlenose provides live social intelligence for you by analyzing activity across all of the major social networks. It allows you to discover what’s trending in social media in real time.
Here’s how:

  • Open Bottlenose Search.
  • Type your topic directly into the search bar OR select a popular topic from the list that’s provided. Bottlenose searches for real-time mentions of your topic in social media.
  • The Now tab will show Top Trending Links, Trending Topics, Recent Comments and Recent Images. The articles you discover through these links can serve as inspiration for topic ideas for your own blog content.
  • Bottlenose displays trending content in various formats.
  • The Sonar tab shows trending topics that are similar and related to your topics. For example, my search on #blogging is linked to many other trending topics and subtopics as you can see below.
  • Sonar shows links among trending social media topics.

Write a Blog Post From Customer Questions
Your customers come to you with questions because they see you as a knowledgeable resource. It’s very likely there are others out there who have the same questions. The questions you receive (in person, and via phone and email) are a great starting point for a blog post.
Do you keep track of the questions you receive and use these for content ideas?
There are a couple of benefits to this strategy. First, you’ll increase the likelihood that others will find your blog by searching for this topic. And you’ll further establish yourself as an expert in the field.
TweetChats
TweetChats are regularly scheduled events where people from all over the world get together to have a conversation over Twitter about a certain topic. Basically, it’s an updated version of chat rooms, conducted over Twitter.
These are great resources for finding blog content, because a TweetChat almost always involves questions, answers, facts and opinions.
Here’s how you can find TweetChats specific to your topic and area of interest:

  • Open the Twitter Chat Schedule Google Doc.
  • Open the Find box (click command + F or control + F).
  • Search for keywords on your topic. For example, “finance” or “money.” Search for keywords related to the content focus of your blog.
  • Once you find a match, use the Twitter Chat hashtag found in Column A (see image above).
  • Take this hashtag and paste it into the box at the top of TweetChat . Click Go.
  • TweetChat will give you all of the most recent tweets related to this chat
  • Use interesting tweets or questions as a starting point for your blog post.

Use TweetChats to find tweets to inspire ideas for your blog content. You’ll likely find the questions in these tweets to be particularly helpful.
Read Blogs in Your Industry for Ideas
I’m not advocating ripping off other people’s ideas nor copying material from another site. Because of the search engines’ work to reduce content spam, this would only hurt your site.
Instead, use these ideas and add your own commentary on the subject. Take the topic and discuss whether you agree or disagree and why. Provide your own references, data and/or examples to support your thoughts.
Quora Questions
Quora is an amazing Q&A site that features questions with answers containing facts, opinions and humorous stories that are voted on by Quora members.
Further, Quora’s content license allows the following: “you can reuse all new content on Quora by publishing it anywhere on the web, as long as you link back to the original content on Quora.”
Here’s how you find blog content on Quora:

  • Go to Quora.
  • Type your topic into the search bar. Quora will populate the list with common topics.
  • Quora search will suggest several topics available based on your search.
  • The results page will list popular questions and open (unanswered) questions. These unanswered questions are a golden opportunity to identify topics to blog about. It’s likely that others out there have the same question.
  • Use unanswered questions on Quora as a starting point for your blog content.
  • Answer an unanswered question on Quora (optional).
  • Take your answer and transform that same content into a blog post.

Examine Topsy
Another social search tool, Topsy, allows you to search across various social channels. Topsy provides a sleek interface and provides you great control to filter your results.
Open Topsy Search, Type in your search topic. Topsy provides you with a populated list of topics as well.
Use Topsy Search to find social media content for your topic.
The default search results show links and images for your topic that are trending on Twitter. You have lots of flexibility to adjust the results. You can filter by time, type of result you’re looking for (Links, Tweets, Photos, Videos) and type of network (Twitter, Google+, Facebook). Topsy search results can be filtered and you can create recurring alerts for yourself.  You can also create an email or RSS alert to send you regular updates for this topic. This feature is great if you regularly need trending topics in your area of expertise delivered to you with a certain frequency.
Comment on Popular Blogs
The most popular blogs in your specific areas of expertise probably get hundreds of comments per post. Because of the volume, the authors don’t have time to respond directly to all of these comments and questions. This is a golden opportunity for you.
First, reply directly in the comment thread and provide a helpful response to the commenter’s question. Second, take the question from the comment and your answer and create a blog post with that content.
Use the comments you leave on industry blogs as a starting point for your own blog content. Image source: iStockphoto.
If you continue to answer questions on these industry blogs, you’ll begin to be recognized as a subject-matter expert. Plus, you’ll have a blog filled with great content for your readers!
Get More Blog Content Ideas
An active blog with fresh content can be a great boost to your company’s bottom line. Use these tactics to generate more ideas for the content you publish on your blog.