SEO Insights > How to research organically valuable content ideas

How to research organically valuable content ideas

Evergreen content is just as important to content strategy as news or product copy. In this blog, we’ll explore how exactly we find potentially organically valuable content that will perform all year round, and for many years to come – and how we can measure success outside of organic search. 

How do we know if an idea is organically valuable? 

When we talk about an ‘organically valuable’ idea, the immediate response is usually to check search volume and trends. And while monthly search volume can be extremely useful, it only gives us half the picture. Evergreen content like blog posts tend to target top of the funnel customers. These are users who are at the first stage of their buying journey; new customers who are unaware of a product or service. The content that attracts them is often more ‘serendipitous’ in nature, though it should still have a link between the topic and your key product or service (the less tenuous the link, the better!).  The content ideas we come up with must be relevant to what you usually create and offer on your site. If we just create content informed purely by search volume and ignore whether or not it’s related to anything on our site, we risk a high bounce rate – as well as potentially affecting brand reputation.  We could identify what content on the site, and in that niche, has performed well in the past. Is the site in the insurance niche that had success with a blog post about the upsides to tenants insurance? Is it a bookseller site that has one book review consistently getting organic entrances for ‘[book name] + spoiler’ queries? Does an old blog post have a higher rate of mailing list sign-ups or conversions than others? These are the sort of things that could influence future content creation.  In this, we’re going to try and create an organically valuable blog post for a (fictional) national bookseller. Previously, the site had success with content like ‘beach reads’ and ‘best books to read on the plane’, but with the pandemic we want to create more content closer to home.

Have a checklist 

When coming up with content ideas, keep a checklist of things to identify/criteria for the idea to ensure we’re keeping it relevant and focused. For example, for our fictional bookseller:  
  • What industry are we in? 

      • Bookselling
  • What content performed well previously? 

      • Best Beach Reads, Best Books to Read on the Plane 
  • What products/key pages can we link back to? 

      • Specific book product pages 
  • Could this be affected by seasonality or specific trends? 

      • Possibly affected by the ongoing pandemic, but no seasonality as such
  • What’s the ‘head’ keyword? 

    • “books to relax” or “relaxing books” 

Getting into it 

There are a few things we could use to inform our content, like keyword research, People Also Ask information, and competitor research. We want to use these to make sure we’re giving our content the best possible chance to rank well.  There’s no set order to these steps. By all means, get stuck into PAA data before dipping into Semrush or Ahrefs to do keyword research, or sneak a peek at your competitors to get the creative juices flowing. 

People Also Ask

Google’s People Also Ask boxes in SERPs offer potential prompts for content and FAQs – showing what questions users have asked related to the query that’s been searched.  It’s possible to scrape the SERPs to find the PAA data if it’s for a larger-scale project, but we can also eyeball the PAAs themselves for a quick check when putting together a brief or a draft. Screenshot of PAA (People Also Ask) Questions Often, PAAs are great jumping-off points for heading tags, which leads to better optimisation for Featured Snippets. Other times, they’re great for generating content ideas in their entirety. For example, ‘What kind of book should I read before bed?’ would potentially be a separate post to ‘What book should I read when stressed?’. 

Keyword research 

Keyword research is a key component of content creation. Using the keyword magic tool on Semrush, we can identify searches related to our ‘head’ keyword. We can use these supporting queries as prompts when creating content. As always, keywords should appear organically in written content, so we don’t have to include all of these, but they’re a good starting point.  In this instance, we can see that while ‘relaxing books’ has a lower search volume (140 monthly UK searches), it has a clear and consistent trend line, meaning people are likely searching it throughout the year. Not all evergreen content has to have a trend line like this – targeting seasonal terms will bring in traffic at the expected times – but it definitely helps for topics like this one.  Screenshot of keyword research output from SEMRush, for keyword, "Relaxing Books" While low search volume isn’t a deal-breaker, I used our People Also Ask data to inform my next searches on the keyword magic tool, with the inclination that maybe users aren’t just searching for books that relax them, but for books that relax them in certain situations (like, as above, stress and sleep).  Screenshot of keyword research output from SEMRush, for keyword, "Books for stress" Under the search ‘books for stress’, the most searched keyword is ‘anti stress colouring books for adults’ with 240 monthly UK searches. This leads us to the search ‘adult colouring book’, which gives us some supplementary keywords like ‘rude colouring books’ (140 monthly UK searches) and ‘mindfulness colouring books for adults’ (110 monthly UK searches), which can help us link this content directly back to products on the site. 

Competitor research 

Finally, it’s always a good idea to look at what kind of content are our competitors creating, and if any of it is performing well. We can use tools like Semrush, Sistrix, or Ahrefs to identify where competitors may be ranking above our site, or even do a quick Google search for our ‘head’ keyword and see what kind of things are appearing.  While we don’t want to copy our competitors entirely, this is a good tactic to see what ‘good’ might look like in the content we want to create. In this case, we can look at other national book retailers (e.g. Waterstones) and see if they’ve ever created content around relaxing books.  In the screenshot, we can see that not only have Waterstones written about relaxing books, but they’ve approached it from the ‘stress’ angle that we discussed in the previous sections, furthering the idea that as opposed to searching for books that are relaxing in their own right, users are searching to solve a problem.  Selection of books; book titles include, "Ikigai", "Silence in the Age of Noise", and "The Art of Stopping Time"

Measuring success

Aside from the obvious analysis of organic entrances and conversions, there are lots of different ways of measuring the success of these organically valuable content ideas. For example: 
  • Backlinks to linkable assets like blog posts 
  • Increased brand awareness, direct traffic, and branded searches
  • Increase in mailing list signups 
  • Pages per session and average session duration 
  • Returning users 
Remember that SEO serves all stages of a customer journey, not just those at the bottom of the funnel and that might convert. Evergreen, organically valuable content can cement sites as thought leaders, so don’t neglect those top-of-the-funnel users. 
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Chloe is an SEO Manager at Blue Array. They were previously a copywriter and editor and they are always noticing things others don’t. In their spare time, Chloe is a performance poet and blogger.