Nov 14, 2017 | Payel Mukherjee
There are over 2 million blog posts being produced every day. What a number! We all are pretty sure that not all of these are original content. Some are copied outright. Others are ‘refurbished’ versions of popular blogs so that they can ride the popularity wave and get ranking on Google.
One fact remains is that writing completely original content from scratch is a super tough job. Sometimes it is a Catch 22 of sorts. You need to write something unique about a popular topic but also see that no one else is writing something similar. Sounds a bit difficult but it isn’t impossible.
Here are tips to keep in mind before you start filling your editorial calendar with unique topic ideas
1. Google (Re)Search
At the risk of stating the obvious, it is a super common practice to take a blog idea, type it into Google for your research. It gives you an idea of who has already written about the topic, the angles they have used and how many other people have written about similar topics. The one thing that helps here is sorting articles according to the time they were published. This will show you who was the first to write about it, how long the topic has been trending and who is the latest to join the race for the topic.
The next tool that Google has is the ability to search by country. This allows you to see how the topic has been adapted to country-specific problems. This will allow you to do a deeper research on local implications of the topic and also if the main topic results include local nuances.
When you pick up a topic like ‘7 phrases you shouldn’t use in your writing’ this may differ from country to country depending on the nuances of English language native to the country. This gives you an angle to piggyback on a popular topic and yet write unique and original content.
2. Aim to create cornerstone content
Cornerstone is the latest buzz in SEO. As long it is buzzing, you better put on your thinking cap to come up with 4-5 pages of content on a topic for it to rank well. To do this you’ll need to have (or gather) all perspectives on the topic to give a well-rounded view. This can’t be a 1500 word article ballooned into 2000 words but a 2500 word article that is cut down to 2000 with crisp editing.
Creating cornerstone content isn’t too hard if you already have a grasp on the topic. If not you’ll have to not only assimilate from all the topics you read online but club it with an interesting point of view that can make it stand out from the clutter.
Let’s say you are writing about the impact of IoT on our future. If you pick up the most recent examples for IoT (some of which may not be covered elsewhere), you’ll be able to create an authoritative article on the topic.
3. Unique photos
Photos have taken up a big space on the internet. They are growing bigger in our Facebook feeds and better with Instagram to create a more visually engaging experience. Using unique photos to tell a story can definitely be eye-catching for your users – if your photos are of good quality.
Most businesses get stuck on sourcing photos though.
Where on earth can you keep getting good quality photos on an ongoing basis that make your Instagram account drool-worth?
The answer is not very far. Have a look at the new list of websites that offer absolutely free high-quality photos. This is a great place to start. The photos might just end up giving you more ideas for your posts too.
For others who have customers walk in (restaurants/gyms), even your customer photos can be a great source of photos. You’ll need to ask for permission and give the right attribution but it’s still a great tool to use.
The other option is to have a professional do your business portfolio for a professional shoot. You’ll end up with a ton of photographs that can last a while.
The fourth way is to share your own photos that give the ‘insider’ view of your business. It could be your team, your products or ‘in-the-making’ / behind the scenes photos that showcase the ‘human’ aspect of your brand.
4. Lessons you’ve learned
These truly make a unique article/blog. Things that come out of your own experience – both success and failure can be a great topic for your blog. These days, failures and lessons learned from them are celebrated as much as success stories. It shows that you have the ability to accept your mistakes and make the better of them.
We’ve read stories about companies learning from their hiring processes in order to be able to find the right candidate. Other times, a new campaign strategy that did not work becomes the core of a story. Whether you have successes or failures, these come from your own unique experience. You can ask team members to document their learnings from a specific campaign and then convert it into a blog.
5. Case study
A case study provides an in-depth view of what the problem was, how you identified it, how you got the solution, how things were executed and finally, concluding notes as takeaways. Case studies are one of the best lead magnets your website can have. Because this comes fully from your own experience, it is a topic that has never been written before in the way you are writing.
For example, a lot of companies may have written about how they use SEO to improve their client’s visibility and ranking. But if you can tie up SEO activities with brand awareness and show exactly how things are done, you have an interesting and unique piece of content.
An interview with a prominent personality in the industry is a straight give away of ‘gyan’ from someone who's been there done that. That’s one of the main reasons you are interviewing them anyway. What makes it unique are the questions you ask.
Interviews are great ways to add unique content to your blog. You can cold connect on email or Linkedin to reach out to the person you want to interview. One important aspect here is that you need to prep in advance. The answers will only be as good as the questions. Each of your questions has to be open-ended in order for the interviewee to have enough room to add their thoughts on the topic. They can be conducted over both phone and email and many people may want you to mail the questions in advance so that they aren’t caught off guard and have well-prepared answers.
FAQs have two origins – one is when you put yourself in your customer’s shoes and try to answer any doubts they may have about your product or services. These types of FAQs allow you to think through scenarios where people may need help and pre-empt the question from going into a customer service loop. They also can be used to create questions about your product’s USP.
The second type of FAQs are genuine ones that come from your customers. These could directly come to your inbox or come as a comment in your blogs or even as social media messages. Assimilating a common set of questions from all these media, you can create FAQs that will prevent the future set of similar questions. Because FAQs are closely linked with your products, services, and way of working, there isn’t any chance that it could be twinning with anything on the internet.
Tweetchats are a great source of inspiration for many blogs. You can either pick individual questions from a tweet chat and spin it into a story or pick the topic theme as a whole and write about views shared by others on the topic.
The second type of tweetchat is the one you participate in. You can either blog about the tweet chat and provide a conclusion blog with the link to the main account or you can create your own questions which are similar to the topic.
This gives you enough time to experiment with options in on how to build your twitter chat.
Pro tip: Tweet chats are excellent ways to build relationships with industry partners. And influencers Inviting such companies and individuals for twitter chat can have a lot of benefits. After the first few people agree to participate, you can use it to your advantage and get more people to join in.
Once the chat is done, you can summarize the screens from the chat and share it with the invitees to get more traffic back to your website.
9. Quora questions
Type a ‘how to’ question on Google and you’ll most likely see a box that reads ‘People also ask’ with a few questions below it. A lot of the links come from quora as it is a great place to find answers to questions you don’t know you have.
Quora allows you to search for specific topics and shows you all the questions related to the topic. Many times people want to know the best option for some product or service and its important that your product shows up in the right place at the right time.
While you spin quora questions on your blog separately, don’t forget to answer the actual question on your site to improve credibility along with a link to your blog.
10. Likes and tweets
Some posts receive more love than others. It goes on to show how your followers or sometimes others interact with your brand. Some brands get a great deal of interaction with generic feel-good posts while their own ‘sales/marketing’ posts don’t get equal attention.
It is time you presented your own content in a fun way so that it is widely read and engaged with. Let’s say that your audience sends a lot of love to interesting industry related quotes you share on social. You can assimilate a Top 7 from what they like or even ask your team to come up with their best quotes and share in in the form of a photo post.
You can even check out trends on what people love about your competitor and then see how to incorporate it on your own.
Trending #tags on twitter and trending stories on Google are both good places to look for new blog ideas. If the topic is trending, it means there are a lot of people talking about it / reading it. Here you’ll need to understand the topic thoroughly to present your own view on it.
Let’s say that a housing company recently launched a sustainable housing project with great fanfare which was in the news. Your view about sustainable housing, how it is done around the world, the rigour with which people living there will have to follow rules and its long-term implication can be a great read for anyone who is reading the story about the launch.
12. Team experience
Asking your star employees to discuss their experience with the team first hand is a great HR tool that works to propagate a good image of the company. Each month, your marketing manager can interview one star employee who not only highlights their own experience with the company but also little things that you don’t discuss out there but wants people to know.
This interesting startup, for example, worked only until 4PM on Friday after which, the entire team went out for TGIF. Another company went out of its way to accommodate a pregnant employee’s request to work from home and ensured she came back to work only when she was mentally prepared for it. There are a lot of little stories that the company won’t tell themselves but if shared by employees, it becomes a great way to highlight company culture.
Staying unique and true when writing your blog is a fairly tough job. But the long-term reward from the activity goes a long way in building your leads and reputation.
Do share with us if you have any other ideas on sourcing unique ideas for your blog.
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