Ideation Part 3: Answer the Questions Readers Care About

February 26, 2014

When people search online, they are searching for answers. Is there a frozen yogurt shop close to me? What are the benefits of using an electric toothbrush? How can I prepare my home for the winter?

The most helpful (and most read) articles are the ones that answer the very question that the reader is curious about. To write this type of article, you’ll have to know what people are asking about the keyword you have been given. Luckily, we can find posts and data that give us a hint about what people want to know. Here are some helpful sites to use:

Quora (or Yahoo Answers):

Both of these sites allow people to submit questions about anything, so other users can answer. Just search for your keyword, or a variation on the keyword, or find a category that relates to your industry. The format Quora uses is helpful because users can vote up or down depending on whether they liked a question or answer. The more upvotes, the more interested people are in that question.

 Quora search

 

Our example uses the keyword “tea kettles.” We’ve broadened the search to “tea” since people who buy tea kettles will likely be interested in the many aspects of tea. Based on the questions “How do Americans prepare their tea?” and “What tea is highest in antioxidants?” we know that people are interested in the preparation of tea in different countries and the health benefits of tea. Asking a question can reveal many interesting avenues worth pursuing and researching—and you know the ideas will be at least be somewhat engaging because someone has asked it. Don’t stop asking questions.

Ubersuggest:

This website collects information from Google Suggest and other sources so you can see what people are actually searching for. Put in a basic keyword, like “dentist,” and Ubersuggest will deliver the search phrases that start with “dentist + a,” “dentist + b,” and so on. You will need to be more specific in your article, but these terms will give you a good starting point.

UbersuggestUbersuggest

In this example, using the keyword “tea” resulted in other tea products customers might want to hear about. With a more specific keyword like “tea kettle,” we can see start to infer that there are actual issues around this topic that people are wanting to solve, like how to remove hard water buildup in a tea kettle or simply how to use a tea kettle. Both would make excellent “how to” articles.

Google News:

Checking news articles about the industry you’ve been assigned can give you some related current events that you can mention.

google news

These were some results that came up for tea in January 2014. Because Downton Abbey has made tea more popular, you could talk about the types of tea that are most popular in England or other locations. You could explore and discuss trends within the tea industry. Each result offers a great breadcrumb trail to follow.

Addict-o-matic:

Addict-o-matic is a combination of information from all over the web. Type in a keyword and find headlines, videos, and pictures from Twitter Search, WordPress, Google Blogs, Flickr, YouTube, etc.

Other Tools

There many other tools online that you can use for idea generation. Also, don’t ignore online social outlets. Take notice of which articles (or pictures, or people) seem to be the most popular within any given industry or search. Chances are, their popularity hinges on the quality, engagement, and readability of their posts. Here are a few we like:

  • Pinterest: Home and Garden, Health, Fashion
  • RedditBusiness, Tech, Politics

And don’t forget Facebook. The news posts on your Facebook wall may very well be trending nationwide as well.

 

See Part 1, Part 2, and Part 4of this training for more ideas on how to choose the best focus for your article.

Know of other resources? Share your favorites in the comment section below!

By Shannon Williams

Shannon Williams has been with Boostability, WritersDomain’s parent company, for a year and a half. As a content strategist, she speaks to clients about their content needs and helps refine the company’s products. Shannon graduated from BYU with a degree in English and editing. And, as if she doesn’t spend enough time in front of a screen at work, she is a major cinephile and an aspiring novelist.

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12 comments

  • Laura College

    February 27, 2014 at 10:23 am

    These are excellent resources, Shannon. I’d never heard of Ubersuggest before, so I’m definitely bookmarking it. Writers might also want to use Google Trends to see which topics are trending around a given keyword. It’s hard to balance trending topics with evergreen content, but I think it’s a good starting place for inspiration.

    1. Shannon Williams

      February 28, 2014 at 8:35 am

      Thanks so much, Laura! Google Trends is definitely another good source to use. And you’ve made a great point—you don’t want to be so trendy and topical that no one will know (or care) what your article is about a few months later. But I think that, if you can spin that trend into information people can use (like in the example, creating recipes for tea-infused dishes), it will remain relevant.

  • Charity Angel

    February 27, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    Thank you for the additional awesome tools we can use!

  • Rheanna Lamph

    February 27, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Thank you for these amazing resources. I’ll be using all of these from here on out.

  • Sherrie Hurd

    March 15, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Thank you so much!!!

  • Angela W.

    July 11, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Thanks for these great resources! They will be a wonderful help as I continue to strive to create high-quality articles here.

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    September 17, 2014 at 8:16 am

    […] ideas that fulfill one or more of these criteria tend to be inherently more engaging. Visit the WritersDomain Ideation Training for more […]

  • Michele Fair

    September 19, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    This is extremely helpful, thank you so much for sharing!! Some great suggestions here 🙂

  • Amy Harris

    September 22, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Thanks for this helpful post!

  • Dr. Rhonda Baughman

    November 10, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Where have I been? I had no idea. This is amazing information. Thanks!

    1. WritersDomain

      November 12, 2014 at 8:55 am

      Better late than never! Glad these resources are useful to you.

  • Kamesha Evans

    November 20, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    Thanks for sharing this! =)

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