Blogging can be hard, especially if you don’t quite know what to write about next.

Sometimes inspiration hits you in the face, sometimes that pool of blog post ideas is drier than a desert.

I’m going to list for you a number of proven ways to use data and come up with that next killer blog post idea.

After all, it’s 2020 and to not use data for your blog post ideas would be kinda going backwards. So…

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Why you need a data-driven approach

Quite frankly, there isn’t really an excuse not to in 2020, especially with so much access to data around. The finger in the air method doesn’t quite cut the mustard.

Intuition is a good thing, but coupled with data, it can be unstoppable.

Google Trends

Who is this for: Everyone

Difficulty: Easy to do, but you need ideas to validate

How to do it:

  1. Head to Google Trends
  2. Filter for your country and for what timeframe is most relevant to you, considering things like current affairs and seasonality
  3. Type in new things in your industry
  4. Then compare those with new things that are up and coming – see Exploding Topics below.
  5. If you need further ideas, look in the ‘related topics’ and ‘related queries’ sections further down the page.
  6. Once you’ve found your topic or term that is trending upwards, then link it back to the general subject matter for your blog.
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A great example of success here was with a former employer. I don’t have the full details as this blog post still drives a lot of traffic for that employer, but we used Google Trends to guide a post about the cloud in 2012. This post has since been updated multiple times, but given what we saw in 2012, this was a great bet for some excellent long term traffic:

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If you’ve never used Google Trends before, then please remember, you won’t get traffic data here, but what you will get is a normalised comparison of what topics and search terms are trending. And thanks to Google’s near-monopolistic position in most countries, it means that it is a great insight into the psyche of those countries at a certain point in time.

Google Search Console

Who is this for: Everyone

Difficulty: Medium

How to do it:

  1. You need to make sure that your blog has been verified on Google Search Console and you have some history in there. If you haven’t got some yet, then do that first and come back to this list. It may take up to a week.
  2. Head to Google Search Console and select to your site
  3. Make sure you have your XML sitemap and robots.txt file added
  4. Now there are several things you can do here. Perhaps it warrants its own post, but for now, try these.
  5. Go to Performance then toggle the options to make sure that everything is selected:
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  1. Then, perform the following filtering:

Google Analytics

Who is this for: Anyone with a Google Analytics account

Difficulty: Easy

How to do it:

This one should have a post on its own, but for now, here are a few tricks to come up with blog post ideas:

Where users spend their time

Within GA, go to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages and then make sure you filter down to just get your blog.

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Make sure you then remove any outlying factors, such as if a post has a 5 min video, then that will probably attribute to a 5+ min session time. Basically just use your common sense here.

From here, look for patterns. They could be in the same category etc. Is there a blog post idea that could compliment what you find here?

Site search report

If you’ve got a site search function on your site, then head to Behaviour > Site Search > Search Terms. In here, you’ll find the very queries that people are searching for.

As these are the very things your users want to find on your site, you’ve got some ready-made seeds here for your next blog post idea.

Martini Tag Insights

Who is this for: Anyone with a WordPress blog

Difficulty: Easy

How to do it:

  1. Make sure you’ve downloaded Martini Tag Insights from the WordPress directory, activated it and got the plugin up and running.
  2. Go to WordPress Admin > Martini Tag Insights > Analytics and you’ll see your tag viewership stats from the moment that either the relevant blog post was published or from when. This gives you a quick visual representation of what is popular.
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  1. But, then you scroll down, and you’ll see the volumes of tags that are the most popular on your blog. From there, you’ll need to do a little bit of thinking in relation to your blog:

Ideas

Middle-of-the-road tags

It should be obvious what tags are the most popular, and you may have an idea on how many of your posts those tags feature.

What you can do: if you look through and see tags that are in the middle of the pack, but aren’t featured in many posts, then this is a sign that that particular tag may have some popularity, and therefore it may be worthwhile writing a new post on this topic.

Topic extension posts

How well do these tag view stats match my page views, i.e. if you have one or two standout posts that totally eclipse everything else, then they may dominate here.

What you can do: Look at those popular posts, then see if there is a topic or section from within that post that you can elaborate further on in a post of its own. Then, when that post is published, make sure you edit the popular post to internally link to the new post. Then, with other promotional activity, the popularity and tags on your new post should start evening out.

Launchpad posts

When you’ve got a good section of tags that are obviously popular, you can then look to combine one or more of those topics as a launchpad, using one of these other techniques as the rocketship, especially Exploding Topics, below.

What you can do: Armed with your popular topics, you can then look at the Exploding Topics site to see what similar topics are emerging as popular, then you then formulate a post linking your topic base with that newly trending topic.

Keyword Surfer

Who is this for: Anyone

Difficulty: Easy

How to do it:

  1. You’ll need to start somewhere, with a seed idea. I’d suggest looking at the Martini Tag Insights section below to start or alternatively use the Google Trends idea or a conventional SEO keyword research tool.
  2. Download and install the Keyword Surfer Chrome extension.
  3. Go to Google, and search for that seed idea
  4. Immediately click on the first organic option, then click back
  5. You should see six ideas that Google has provided options on
  6. On the right-hand side, you’ll see a list of further keyword ideas, as Google’s ‘people also searched for’ below the link that you clicked on.
  7. And there you have it, more blog post ideas.
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Google versus trick

Who is this for: More technical people

Difficulty: Hard

How to do it:

David Foster details this method on his Medium post, but basically it involves doing a string of ‘a vs b’ posts combined with the people also searched for technique above.

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Courtesy of David Foster

It basically works this way:

  • Start with your original ‘thing vs x’ query, then it finds things for ‘x’
  • Then do an ‘x vs y’ query for each value of x, and you, in theory, should have 100 possibilities for ‘y’.
  • Of course, there is filtering that will need to be done, and David explains what you need to do here.
  • From here, you’ll find several topics which should give you multiple blog post ideas.

Exploding Topics

Who is this for: Anyone wanting to be a thought leader about new topics related to their industry

Difficulty: Easy

How to do it:

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  1. Go to Exploding Topics
  2. Set your time frame to something that is more relevant to your industry, probably shorter than the default 5 years.
  3. Filter down by your category, like education, home, fashion, sports etc
  4. Then browse through to see what topics are new, exploding or have peaked and see what relates to your industry
  5. And voila, you have some new topics to write about that you know are trending the right way.

Tip: Look at the Martini Tag Insights section above, at you can give your blog post from an Exploding Topics suggestion a great base by looking in at your tag analytics from with in the Martini Tag Insights plugin.

Photo by Franki Chamaki on Unsplash


Sam Wiltshire

Passionate digital marketer with an interest in most things sport, especially rugby union, food, booze, tech and music. Just wanting to help small content publishers with getting more content ideas that resonate with their users at scale. My Medium page where I write about more conceptual subjects.