Publishing blogs regularly is one of the cornerstones of SEO and content marketing.

But writing blogs for the sake of doing it won’t cut it – and it won’t be the best use of your time, either.

If you want to make the most of your blog and use it to improve your SEO, you also need to write about the right topics.

And by ’right’, we mean what your customers or target audience actually want to read.

But here’s the problem.

Coming up with the right blog topics isn’t always easy – and, more often than not, it’s quite a challenge.

But there are techniques that can make it much easier. Here are five you can try:

1. Do keyword research.

Keyword research is one of the most effective ways to find out what your target audience is searching for online about your product or service.

By learning what they’re searching (including the exact words and phrases they like to use), you can create content that matches those topics/keywords or variations of them.

For example, if you’re in the furniture industry, your keyword research might show that the keyword phrase ‘buy furniture’ is frequently searched. In this case, you can plan blog topics relating to this search term, such as “How to Buy Furniture” or ‘An Essential Checklist for Buying Furniture’.

The idea is to plan blog topics and create content that people are already searching for.

There are a variety of keyword research tools out there, so you can try different ones to see what works best for you. We like using Google Keyword PlannerAhrefs, and SEMRush.

2. Use Google Search.

Ah, Google. What can’t it do?!

Googling your product or service can uncover a lot of information on what topics you should write about for your blog.

Aside from googling the main keywords in your keyword research (see tip above), you can also use Google’s autocomplete feature to see what questions about your product or service people are commonly searching for. This feature may not always provide the exact questions you’re looking for, but it can provide ideas and tangents for your brainstorming.

3. Check what your top competitors are writing about.

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it’s also one of the most useful techniques in SEO. Especially for blog topic planning.

After all, if your top competitors are writing about a certain topic, chances are it’s something your customers and target market will be interested in.

But make sure you look at not just your direct competitors in your industry, but more specifically, your top competitors in search ranking for the keywords you’re targeting. You’ll want to see what those with the highest rankings are writing about. And when you do find good topics from them, don’t just copy their blog content straight ahead – either write a variation of the topic or create content on the same topic that’s much better than theirs.

4. Use topic generating tools.

There’s an online tool for almost anything – and that includes brainstorming blog topics.

You’ll find a variety of tools and sites online that can help you brainstorm topics, generate ideas, and research trending topics.

Here are some popular tools you can try:

  • Answerthepublic – a keyword research tool that visualises what people most commonly ask or search for in search engines for certain keywords
  • Buzzsumo – a useful tool for seeing what blogs and blog topics are trending online
  • Ubersuggest – a keyword research tool that also provides data on the top-performing content for your searched keyword
  • Google Trends – provides data on the top search queries on Google in different regions around the world

5. Ask your customers.

One of the simplest ways to learn what topics you should write about is also one of the most overlooked: asking your customers directly.

If you’re fortunate enough to have direct access to your customers and they’re receptive to your questions, then you’re in luck!

By asking your customers directly what things about your product or service they’d like to know more about, you can get a more accurate picture of what they would read and consume online. Not every business has the opportunity to do this, so take advantage of it if you get the chance to do it.

Above everything else: Make it worth your reader’s time.

Throughout your brainstorming sessions, always keep in mind that the best and most effective blogs for SEO don’t come out of thin air.

In most cases, these blogs are carefully planned, researched, and made with a purpose. Blogs are there not only to beef up your website and show Google that your site exists. More importantly, they’re there to help your customers or target audience.

Whether it’s providing more information about your product or providing content they’ll genuinely enjoy, your blog content should give your readers something valuable in exchange for their time.

And the more you keep this goal in mind, the easier you’ll find it to plan blogs and create content for them.