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8 Ways to Generate Infinite Blog Post Ideas

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8 Ways to Generate Infinite Blog Post Ideas

It’s hard to be creative on demand, and harder still to fill a content calendar with high-performing blog post ideas.

Content ideation is the process of generating article ideas. A solid ideation process makes it easy to brainstorm dozens of blog post topics, hit a regular publishing cadence, and consistently grow traffic—without unnecessary brain strain.

The content ideation loop

You can think of a good ideation process as a feedback loop: a series of tasks that work together to make it easier and easier to create great ideas on demand.

Read, watch, and listen widely

It’s difficult to create amazing content ideas in a vacuum. It’s much easier to respond to ideas that already exist in the world, to take in information and playfully challenge, respond to, or remix it.

To generate a ton of content output, you need to fuel your brain with a huge amount of input. Every article, essay, book, YouTube tutorial, podcast interview, and spicy tweet is a potential “seed” for your next content idea.

Don’t limit yourself to just one type of content. As the adage goes, garbage in, garbage out: if you only read content marketing blog posts, everything you create will look and feel like just another content marketing blog post. The more adventurous you are with your consumption habits, the easier it will be to find new and interesting ideas to incorporate into your own content.

Capture inspiration when it strikes

Ideas are fleeting, so make sure to capture them whenever they appear.

Choose a single place to function like your idea inbox—a Google doc, Trello board, notes app, or physical notepad. Jot down every idea you have, no matter how unfinished or bad it may seem, and make time to revisit them in a few hours or days.

Some will be destined for the scrap heap. Others will benefit from a few days of thought. Others still may emerge as new ideas, inspired by others.

Make things that help people

Here’s the golden rule of content ideation: every content idea needs to be useful to another human being (and ideally, many human beings).

Some content ideas will be contrarian and surprising, and may even generate a huge amount of attention on social media—but if they don’t help another human being, what’s the point?

Learn from feedback

Finally, see how your article ideas are received in the real world. Do they earn a better or worse response than expected? Which topics were most popular? Which generated the most traffic?

Take this feedback and learn from it, nudging your content ideas towards more of what works (and less of what doesn’t).

8 content ideation methods

Let’s get specific, and look at eight very different, very useful sources of inspiration for your content marketing.

The simplest way to generate content ideas is also one of the most useful: provide responses to the questions people ask about your product, your company, and your industry.

Prioritize questions that your product can naturally help to answer. For a marketing analytics tool, that might mean answering questions about heat mapping and attribution. For a carpet fitting company, common types of flooring. For Ahrefs, it’s link-building and keyword research.

Examples:

It’s easy to find questions with significant search volume using Keywords Explorer. Enter your seed keywords (in this case, “carpet” terms), click the Matching terms report, and select the Questions report. You’ll see a list of question keywords that include your seed terms:

How to find questions with search volume using Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer.How to find questions with search volume using Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer.

2. Address sales objections

Content marketing is designed to help sales, and the most immediate way to achieve that goal is to directly address sales objections. Record the problems that prevent people from becoming customers (or ask your sales team), and write responses to their issues.

Creating a shared, documented response for the whole company to learn from is a great way to speed up sales deals and persuade would-be customers.

Examples:

Pipedrive compares its product to close competitor HubSpot.Pipedrive compares its product to close competitor HubSpot.

Pipedrive compares its product to close competitor HubSpot.

3. Capture your successes

Another way to help sales: tell the world about how awesome your company is. Document your customers’ wins, how they achieved them, and the role your company and products played in their success.

Our golden rule applies double here: make things that help people. A case study should do more than just boast about your amazing features and decisions: it should also help the reader solve a hard problem for themselves.

Examples:

Podia highlights the success of one of their customers.Podia highlights the success of one of their customers.

Podia highlights the success of one of its customers.

4. Challenge your competitors

Chances are high that your competitors already have a few content pieces generating new business for them. If you can identify the content that generates the greatest traffic or backlinks, you can create your own (better, or different) version to siphon away some of their business.

(But remember to create new, original ideas too: you don’t want your entire content strategy to be a carbon copy of your competitors.)

Examples:

To easily see which articles generate the most traffic for your competitors, enter the URL of their blog into Site Explorer and navigate to Top pages. You’ll a list of pages ordered by estimated organic traffic, from highest to lowest. In this example, we can see three articles that account for almost 20% of the traffic to Ahref’s blog.

How to find your competitor's most popular pages with Ahrefs' Top Pages report.How to find your competitor's most popular pages with Ahrefs' Top Pages report.

If you can help your customers and would-be customers understand the world around them, you can help them make better decisions (and earn their goodwill in the process).

Use your experience to explain why things happen, and how people should respond. Highlight new technologies to use, explore the possible consequences of new trends, or share high-performing business strategies.

Examples:

Ahrefs (that’s us!) shines a light on Zapier’s successful approach to SEO.Ahrefs (that’s us!) shines a light on Zapier’s successful approach to SEO.

Ahrefs (that’s us!) shines a light on Zapier’s successful approach to SEO.

6. Challenge industry truisms

Every industry is rife with best practices and truisms (ideas that most people believe and follow). But is a best practice still helpful once everyone knows about it and copies it?

If your knowledge and experience tell you that some commonly held ideas are wrong or unhelpful, you can help people by challenging those ideas, explaining why they don’t work in practice, and suggesting a better approach.

Examples:

Basecamp explains why they don't use wireframes.Basecamp explains why they don't use wireframes.

Basecamp explains why they don’t use wireframes.

7. Share useful personal experiences

You and your team have unique experiences: hard problems you’ve had to solve, processes you’ve built, and lessons you learned the hard way. Whenever these experiences would prove helpful to your target audience, share them: let them learn from your effort and shortcut straight to a solution.

Our golden rule crops up again here: not all of your personal experiences will be helpful to your target audience, so be discerning about what you share.

Examples:

Coinbase share their decision-making framework.Coinbase share their decision-making framework.

Coinbase shares its decision-making framework.

Content can help to create a clear, articulate version of your company’s philosophy: why you exist, why you built your product in a particular way, and what you value.

Customers care about features and pricing, but in some cases, being able to buy into a vision that they support can help seal the deal. The same goes for persuading potential employees, and even investors: it helps to share your company’s beliefs and reason for existence. 

Examples:

Thoropass explain the big vision behind the founding of their company.Thoropass explain the big vision behind the founding of their company.

Thoropass explains the big vision behind the founding of their company.

Final thoughts

Having original, creative ideas is a serious challenge, but the more tools you have in your mental toolkit—methods of ideation, types of source material, and sources of feedback—the easier content ideation becomes. And, with every idea you create, the easier it becomes to create another, as previous ideas plant the seeds for future ones.

Want to share your ideation process? Connect with me on X or LinkedIn.

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Gen Z Ditches Google, Turns To Reddit For Product Searches

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In this photo illustration, the Reddit logo is displayed on a smartphone screen.

A new report from Reddit, in collaboration with GWI and AmbassCo, sheds light on the evolving search behaviors of Generation Z consumers.

The study surveyed over 3,000 internet users across the UK, US, and Germany, highlighting significant changes in how young people discover and research products online.

Here’s an overview of key findings and the implications for marketers.

Decline In Traditional Search

The study found that Gen Z uses search engines to find new brands and products less often.

That’s because they shop online differently. They’re less interested in looking for expert reviews or spending much time searching for products.

There are also frustrations with mobile-friendliness and complex interfaces on traditional search platforms.

Because of this, traditional SEO strategies might not work well for reaching younger customers.

Takeaway

Companies trying to reach Gen Z might need to try new methods instead of just focusing on being visible on Google and other search engines.

Rise Of Social Media Discovery

Screenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Gen Z is increasingly using social media to find new brands and products.

The study shows that Gen Z has used social media for product discovery 36% more frequently since 2018.

This change is affecting how young people shop online. Instead of searching for products, they expect brands to appear in their social media feeds.

1719123963 547 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Because of this, companies trying to reach young customers need to pay more attention to how they present themselves on social media.

Takeaway

To succeed at marketing to Gen Z, businesses will likely need to focus on two main things:

  1. Ensure that your content appears more often in social media feeds.
  2. Create posts people want to share and interact with.

Trust Issues With Influencer Marketing

Even though more people are finding products through social media, the report shows that Gen Z is less likely to trust what social media influencers recommend.

These young shoppers often don’t believe in posts that influencers are paid to make or products they promote.

Instead, they prefer to get information from sources that feel more real and are driven by regular people in online communities.

Takeaway

Because of this lack of trust, companies must focus on being genuine and building trust when they try to get their websites to appear in search results or create ads.

Some good ways to connect with these young consumers might be to use content created by regular users, encourage honest product reviews, and create authentic conversations within online communities.

Challenges With Current Search Experiences

The research shows that many people are unhappy with how search engines work right now.

More than 60% of those surveyed want search results to be more trustworthy. Almost half of users don’t like looking through many search result pages.

Gen Z is particularly bothered by inaccurate information and unreliable reviews.

1719123963 785 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Takeaway

Given the frustration with search quality, marketers should prioritize creating accurate, trustworthy content.

This can help build brand credibility, leading to more direct visits.

Reddit: A Trusted Alternative

The report suggests that Gen Z trusts Reddit when looking up products—it’s their third most trusted source, after friends and family and review websites.

1719123963 403 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Young users like Reddit because it’s community-based and provides specific answers to users’ questions, making it feel more real.

It’s worth noting that this report comes from Reddit itself, which probably influenced why it’s suggesting its own platform.

Takeaway

Companies should focus more on being part of smaller, specific online groups frequented by Gen Z.

That could include Reddit or any other forum.

Why SEJ Cares

As young people change how they look for information online, this study gives businesses important clues about connecting with future customers.

Here’s what to remember:

  • Traditional search engine use is declining among Gen Z.
  • Social media is increasingly vital for product discovery.
  • There’s growing skepticism towards influencer marketing.
  • Current search experiences often fail to meet user expectations.
  • Community-based platforms like Reddit are gaining trust.

Featured Image: rafapress/Shutterstock

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Google Clarifies Organization Merchant Returns Structured Data

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Google updates organization structured data for merchant returns

Google quietly updated their organization structured data documentation in order to clarify two points about merchant returns in response to feedback about an ambiguity in the previous version.

Organization Structured Data and Merchant Returns

Google recently expanded their Organization structured data so that it could now accommodate a merchant return policy. The change added support for adding a sitewide merchant return policy.

The original reason for adding this support:

“Adding support for Organization-level return policies

What: Added documentation on how to specify a general return policy for an Organization as a whole.

Why: This makes it easier to define and maintain general return policies for an entire site.”

However that change left unanswered about what will happen if a site has a sitewide return policy but also has a different policy for individual products.

The clarification applies for the specific scenario of when a site uses both a sitewide return policy in their structured data and another one for specific products.

What Takes Precedence?

What happens if a merchant uses both a sitewide and product return structured data? Google’s new documentation states that Google will ignore the sitewide product return policy in favor of a more granular product-level policy in the structured data.

The clarification states:

“If you choose to provide both organization-level and product-level return policy markup, Google defaults to the product-level return policy markup.”

Change Reflected Elsewhere

Google also updated the documentation to reflect the scenario of the use of two levels of merchant return policies in another section that discusses whether structured data or merchant feed data takes precedence. There is no change to the policy, merchant center data still takes precedence.

This is the old documentation:

“If you choose to use both markup and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

This is the same section but updated with additional wording:

“If you choose to use both markup (whether at the organization-level or product-level, or both) and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

Read the newly updated Organization structured data documentation:

Organization (Organization) structured data – MerchantReturnPolicy

Featured Image by Shutterstock/sutlafk

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What Is It & How To Write It

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What Is It & How To Write It

In this guide, you will learn about alternative text (known as alt text): what it is, why it is important for on-page SEO, how to use it correctly, and more.

It’s often overlooked, but every image on your website should have alt text. More information is better, and translating visual information into text is important for search engine bots attempting to understand your website and users with screen readers.

Alt text is one more source of information that relates ideas and content together on your website.

This practical and to-the-point guide contains tips and advice you can immediately use to improve your website’s image SEO and accessibility.

What Is Alt Text?

Alternative text (or alt text) – also known as the alt attribute or the alt tag (which is not technically correct because it is not a tag) – is simply a piece of text that describes the image in the HTML code.

What Are The Uses Of Alt Text?

The original function of alt text was simply to describe an image that could not be loaded.

Many years ago, when the internet was much slower, alt text would help you know the content of an image that was too heavy to be loaded in your browser.

Today, images rarely fail to load – but if they do, then it is the alt text you will see in place of an image.

Screenshot from Search Engine Journal, May 2024

Alt text also helps search engine bots understand the image’s content and context.

More importantly, alt text is critical for accessibility and for people using screen readers:

  • Alt text helps people with disabilities (for example, using screen readers) learn about the image’s content.

Of course, like every element of SEO, it is often misused or, in some cases, even abused.

Let’s now take a closer look at why alt text is important.

Why Alt Text Is Important

The web and websites are a very visual experience. It is hard to find a website without images or graphic elements.

That’s why alt text is very important.

Alt text helps translate the image’s content into words, thus making the image accessible to a wider audience, including people with disabilities and search engine bots that are not clever enough yet to fully understand every image, its context, and its meaning.

Why Alt Text Is Important For SEO

Alt text is an important element of on-page SEO optimization.

Proper alt text optimization makes your website stand a better chance of ranking in Google image searches.

Yes, alt text is a ranking factor for Google image search.

Depending on your website’s niche and specificity, Google image search traffic may play a huge role in your website’s overall success.

For example, in the case of ecommerce websites, users very often start their search for products with a Google image search instead of typing the product name into the standard Google search.

Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner]Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner], May 2024

Google and other search engines may display fewer product images (or not display them at all) if you fail to take care of their alt text optimization.

Without proper image optimization, you may lose a lot of potential traffic and customers.

Why Alt Text Is Important For Accessibility

Visibility in Google image search is very important, but there is an even more important consideration: Accessibility.

Fortunately, in recent years, more focus has been placed on accessibility (i.e., making the web accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities and/or using screen readers).

Suppose the alt text of your images actually describes their content instead of, for example, stuffing keywords. In that case, you are helping people who cannot see this image better understand it and the content of the entire web page.

Let’s say one of your web pages is an SEO audit guide that contains screenshots from various crawling tools.

Would it not be better to describe the content of each screenshot instead of placing the same alt text of “SEO audit” into every image?

Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Alt Text Examples

Finding many good and bad examples of alt text is not difficult. Let me show you a few, sticking to the above example with an SEO audit guide.

Good Alt Text Examples

So, our example SEO guide contains screenshots from tools such as Google Search Console and Screaming Frog.

Some good examples of alt text may include:

”The
”Google
”List
”Screaming

Tip: It is also a good idea to take care of the name of your file. Using descriptive file names is not a ranking factor, but I recommend this as a good SEO practice.

Bad And/Or Spammy Alt Text Examples

I’ve also seen many examples of bad alt text use, including keyword stuffing or spamming.

Here is how you can turn the above good examples into bad examples:

”google search console coverage report
”google
”seo
”seo

As you can see, the above examples do not provide any information on what these images actually show.

You can also find examples and even more image SEO tips on Google Search Central.

Common Alt Text Mistakes

Stuffing keywords in the alt text is not the only mistake you can make.

Here are a few examples of common alt text mistakes:

  • Failure to use the alt text or using empty alt text.
  • Using the same alt text for different images.
  • Using very general alt text that does not actually describe the image. For example, using the alt text of “dog” on the photo of a dog instead of describing the dog in more detail, its color, what it is doing, what breed it is, etc.
  • Automatically using the name of the file as the alt text – which may lead to very unfriendly alt text, such as “googlesearchconsole,” “google-search-console,” or “photo2323,” depending on the name of the file.

Alt Text Writing Tips

And finally, here are the tips on how to write correct alt text so that it actually fulfills its purpose:

  • Do not stuff keywords into the alt text. Doing so will not help your web page rank for these keywords.
  • Describe the image in detail, but still keep it relatively short. Avoid adding multiple sentences to the alt text.
  • Use your target keywords, but in a natural way, as part of the image’s description. If your target keyword does not fit into the image’s description, don’t use it.
  • Don’t use text on images. All text should be added in the form of HTML code.
  • Don’t write, “this is an image of.” Google and users know that this is an image. Just describe its content.
  • Make sure you can visualize the image’s content by just reading its alt text. That is the best exercise to make sure your alt text is OK.

How To Troubleshoot Image Alt Text

Now you know all the best practices and common mistakes of alt text. But how do you check what’s in the alt text of the images of a website?

You can analyze the alt text in the following ways:

Inspecting an element (right-click and select Inspect when hovering over an image) is a good way to check if a given image has alt text.

However, if you want to check that in bulk, I recommend one of the below two methods.

Install Web Developer Chrome extension.

Screenshot of Web Developer Extension in Chrome by authorScreenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

Next, open the page whose images you want to audit.

Click on Web Developer and navigate to Images > Display Alt Attributes. This way, you can see the content of the alt text of all images on a given web page.

The alt text of images is shown on the page.Screenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

How To Find And Fix Missing Alt Text

To check the alt text of the images of the entire website, use a crawler like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb.

Crawl the site, navigate to the image report, and review the alt text of all website images, as shown in the video guide below.

You can also export only images that have missing alt text and start fixing those issues.

Alt Text May Not Seem Like A Priority, But It’s Important

Every source of information about your content has value. Whether it’s for vision-impaired users or bots, alt text helps contextualize the images on your website.

While it’s only a ranking factor for image search, everything you do to help search engines understand your website can potentially help deliver more accurate results. Demonstrating a commitment to accessibility is also a critical component of modern digital marketing.

FAQ

What is the purpose of alt text in HTML?

Alternative text, or alt text, serves two main purposes in HTML. Its primary function is to provide a textual description of an image if it cannot be displayed. This text can help users understand the image content when technical issues prevent it from loading or if they use a screen reader due to visual impairments. Additionally, alt text aids search engine bots in understanding the image’s subject matter, which is critical for SEO, as indexing images correctly can enhance a website’s visibility in search results.

Can alt text improve website accessibility?

Yes, alt text is vital for website accessibility. It translates visual information into descriptive text that can be read by screen readers used by users with visual impairments. By accurately describing images, alt text ensures that all users, regardless of disability, can understand the content of a web page, making the web more inclusive and accessible to everyone.

More resources: 


Featured Image: BestForBest/Shutterstock

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