You have to write an article or blog post, and the clock is ticking. Every writer knows the feeling. You need to write about something, and quickly, but you are at a loss for writing ideas.
For authors and those writers who are into more creative writing pursuits such as writing a book or short story, there is usually more time to wait for inspiration and ideas to arrive and evolve.
But for article and content marketing writers, waiting to be inspired to write is not an option. You have a deadline, and it’s approaching fast. You need good ideas fast.
Trying to figure out what to write about can become very stressing. You know you can and love to write, fast and well, but finding a place to start can often be infuriatingly difficult.
You can’t see the wood for the trees
Sometimes the problem for many people can be that there is an overload of topics to write about.
You collect a little bit here, a little bit there. An idea or two to use later. Notes to yourself to remind you about notes from someone else. Notes about your deadlines. Eeek!
In other words, you are cluttered up, and your thinking can become muddled.
When you think you are in this situation, it is time to clear the deck and your mind and start afresh.
But for an article writer, the run of the mill ways to overcome writer’s block is of little practical use.
Searching for an online writing prompt, or being advised to write about a time when you were excited at high school, is not going to help you at all.
What you need are some quick choices of popular topics on search engines or social media that fit with the product or service, or the advice theme that you need to write about.
And you need them fast. But don’t worry. There is an easy way.
It’s time to do a bit of good old-fashioned spying
The great thing about the Internet is that you can quickly and easily spy on your competition. But they can spy back on you too, so it’s all very fair.
When I am stuck for an idea and need to start writing, I head straight off to top websites and blogs that are related to my topics and categories.
I used to keep a list in my bookmarks. But now I use Semrush SEO software to keep track of and monitor content and keywords on competitive sites.
However, you can do pretty much the same thing to come up with quality content ideas if you take it step-by-step using Google.
The key is to look at article and post titles.
Start by going to a high ranking blog in your field and find the most recent articles, and if possible the most popular articles on the site. Then make a list of the titles.
If you do this on our site, you will end up with a list something like this.
Real Writers Never Write Anything In All Small Letters
Kindle Publishing Is The Fast Track Way To Publish Your Ebook
The Key Features Of Great Blog Writing And How You Can Do It
How To Grab Your Competitors Long Tail Keywords And Use Them
What’s The Best Way To Promote My Self-Published Book?
How To Convert A Document From Word To Epub Or Mobi
You could make a longer list if you like.
Now look at each title and highlight what you think are the SEO keywords. I have put them in bold in the list above to help you.
Keywords are usually only nouns, verbs and adjectives, so they are pretty easy to spot.
Now take one keyword and do a Google search.
I’ll use Publish Your Ebook as an example.
On page one of the search results, you’ll find some paid ads, the ten highest-ranked pages and for many searches, a snippet box and a “people also ask” list, as in the screengrab below.
You can scan the titles and descriptions of the top ten pages, as well as the paid ads for ideas.
Or you can click on the “people also ask” list and it will continually expand with more, and more, and more ideas for you!
There is just no way that you will not find a great idea to write about.
Once you have decided on your idea, there is just one more thing to do.
Turning your clear new idea into a potentially high ranking article
Let’s say you choose this topic for your article idea. How much does it cost to publish a book?
Sure, you could do a little research and probably start writing almost immediately.
But before you do, wouldn’t it be great if you could quickly find a bunch of semantic and long tail keywords to use in your article?
Not only are they great for SEO, but they are also useful in helping you order your ideas and giving you a framework or outline to work from. It will give your article clarity and make it easy to read.
I always prepare a list such as this for every article I write. Well, as I said before, Semrush can do it for me in less than a minute.
But when I write an article, I tick off my list of keywords as I use them.
So how can you prepare a list?
It’s easy. Find is your friend.
From your Google search, open the top four or five pages in new tabs. Now, when you are on each page, use the Find function. It is usually listed under the Edit menu of your browser.
Enter your main keyword, or keywords one at a time. You will get a result similar to the image below.
Now note down keywords or keyword phrases that you think you could use in your article.
Perhaps from this small selection, self-publishing, publishing is easy, vanity publishing and freedom to publish might be worthwhile.
Look further than just the highlighted words for ideas. Word document file, in the image above, is a good example.
Once you have finished doing a Find on three or four of the top-ranking articles, you will have collected a list of top quality keywords.
Now you’re full of ideas and ready to write your article in no time at all.
But have a cup of coffee first.
Your deadline is still hours away, so you have plenty of time now that you are fully prepared.
I started my working life as a lithographer and spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of Lake Geneva and the Alps.
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