Where Great Content Ideas Come From

How do some websites (perhaps your competitor’s) always seem to nail it with their content?

They have several comments and dozens of shares. Your SEO shows you the nice amount of backlinks they have.

…And it seems like this comes rather easily to other sites.

Meanwhile, you struggle along. And you don’t seem to get anywhere.

So how do you find those truly amazing, can’t-fail ideas?

Here’s how:

  1. Where Great Content Ideas Don’t Come From

First, understand how great ideas come about (usually). They don’t come from the author’s own head.

In other words, authors don’t simply sit around daydreaming, and then one magical moment they have this amazing idea, and BOOM! great content is born.

There is a bit of an exception to this. For example, some authors know their audience so well that they can accurately anticipate exactly what they will like. They’re kinda like the Steve Jobs of their niche: they know what their audience wants before their audience knows it.

…But that’s rare. And hard. It takes years of experience creating content to get that skill. And even then, authors don’t always succeed.

Remember the golden rule of content: there’s a huge difference between what your audience wants and what you think they want.

  1. Keep a Swipe File

What’s a “swipe file?”

It’s simply a list of all the various content ideas you have.

As soon as you come across an idea, however you come across it, and you think your audience would like it, write it down in your “swipe file.”

Also keep a note of how you found the idea.

Typically, you’ll have dozens or hundreds of ideas, while only a few will actually turn into content.

  1. The True Source of Great Content

Your audience, market, or customers, whatever you want to call them, are the most consistent source of great content ideas.

Think of ideas that come from your own mind as “home runs.” When one hits and does well, that’s awesome! But, you’re going to strike out a lot too.

When you get ideas from your audience, you’ll hit a much better average overall. More shares, links, and sales come in as a result.

To get ideas, just ask your customers what problems they have. What’s their greatest fear? What really makes them angry?

Study high-performing posts on your competitor’s blogs.

Think of the questions customers ask you over and over.

Those are solid, consistent ways to generate content ideas that hold your audience’s interest…and turn them into happy, paying customers.

You can sprinkle some of your own ideas in too to see how they work. Then, once you gather data of how well your audience likes those posts by measuring shares, links, bounce rate, and time on-page, you can begin to learn how to give them more of what they want.

As you get further into this process, you’ll find great content ideas all around you.

You won’t have nearly enough time to create them all.

But you will have a reliable, consistent system for generating posts that fascinate and drive sales.

Google Releases (Yet Another) Core Algorithm Update


Well, should you just throw your arms up in the air and pound your head against the wall?

Google’s at it again.

They released the major “Medic” update in August.

And now here in late September, they’ve released another core algorithm update.

This one doesn’t have a name yet.

And, it’s definitely not as widespread as the “Medic” update.

But, it’s still strong enough to catch the notice of many SEOs.

No details have yet been released on what the update does.

And to be honest, it really doesn’t matter. You can’t keep up with all of Google’s updates anyway. But, you can stick to the core principles Google wants to see so you won’t get hammered hard by any update.

Google Offers Nearly Unbelievable Advice to Sites Looking to Improve Rankings

In March, Google released a shocking Tweet about algorithm updates. They said this on March 12, 2018:

“There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.”

Wait a minute? What?

In other words, you’re not doing anything wrong. And you can still lose your rankings?


You see, Google acts on what’s really a capitalist principle: the best, most popular pages get the highest treatment in its search rankings.

Over time, Google’s been working at making sure the truly greatest pages make it to the top of search.

So technically, you can be doing nothing wrong, but still lose ground in search.

How Should You Respond?

Well, Google’s trying to be as fair as possible. They want pages their searchers want to use at the top of their rankings because that keeps people using Google.

So, if someone’s beating you in search, you simply have to analyze their website and top it.

Because content quality is the most significant component of search rankings, spend most of your time figuring out how you can top their content.

Find the most popular sites centered around your topic and top their content…even if that means you cut your posting frequency from five times to one per month.

That one post could then generate shares, comments, and links and keep visitors reading for several minutes.

Those are the signals Google wants to see because they prove searchers like what you have to say.

And then you simply repeat and master the process like none of your competitors can.

Easy to say. Difficult to do.

But it’s certainly the key to success in search.



How to Recover from Google’s “Medic” Algorithm Update

Did your site lose rankings and traffic in August and/or September?

Google rolled out an intense algorithm update.

And you might wonder what you should fix.

Well, here’s what Google’s Danny Sullivan had to say about it:

Doesn’t that seem like the world’s greatest non-answer?

What is this a guy? A politician?

So, you lose rankings and traffic…but you can’t do anything to fix it?

Believe it or not, Sullivan’s answer is a good one. And, it’s the right one.

Why No Specific Fix Will Restore Your Rankings and Traffic

When you try to find a specific fix…when you go down that mental avenue…here’s the problem:

you’re trying to please Google.

Yes. Pleasing Google is not what your website is all about.

That’s because Google exists not to put the sites it thinks should be at the top of the search rankings. Rather, it exists to put the sites that people want to use in first place.

That keeps people using Google (and not other search engines). And it keeps the company making billions of dollars.

Google doesn’t want to lose either.

So, What Do You Fix?

Your website can never again be a one-time or occasional thing you look at and make fixes to. If you go that route, you’re sure to lose your rank in search.

It may come slowly. But it will happen.

Rather, you want to constantly tweak your website to give your visitors a better experience. You do the same at your brick-and-mortar location.

You must also do this with your website.

So each day, simply ask yourself, ”What’s the number one thing I can do right now that will make the greatest impact on how much people like my website?”

…And that can lead you to lots of decisions like improving content, increasing site speed, creating more appealing marketing messages, changing code to improve performance, tightening security, and scores of other decisions.

The Number One Thing You Can Always Do

Ultimately, people visit and stay at websites with the most useful content. So if you’re a naturally talented writer, create the most in-depth blog post of its kind that answers a question, dispels a myth, or sheds light on an issue of concern to your audience.

If you’re not a writer, create a video, upload to YouTube, and post it on your website.

Add a podcast to your website.

The more helpful you can be with your content, the better.


People get all sorts of lame, and sometimes just downright wrong, answers on the internet.

So when you make it clear helping your visitors out is your number one priority, and they get information they can’t get anywhere else, you win attention.

They remember you.

They share your content with their friends.

And when they finally need your service, they choose you (and not your competitor).

In a nutshell, “sharing is caring.”

And that’s how you keep Google happy and maintain a nearly impossible-to-disrupt hold on your traffic and rankings, regardless of the changes Google throws your way.



Does Your Content Stink?

Who determines the quality of your content?



I’ll give you one more guess…

Got it?

Did you say your website visitors?

Ding. Ding! We have a winner!

Yes, your market determines the quality of your content.

Because, if they like it, they click through to your site from search, stay on your page for a minute or two, share your content, and then come back again and read more in the future.

Google factors all those actions into its rankings.

When you optimize for keywords, Google does look at your content too. But it continually adjusts your rankings based on how well your content performs.

Yes. Google works on the concept of democracy. The people vote by taking (or not taking) actions. A sole powerful king or dictator does not determine what you get to see and hear.

How Do You Know If Your Content Rocks…Or Sucks?

Read this snippet of an article of a post at a local online magazine and decide whether you think it rocks or sucks:


The Expert’s Opinion

So, what did you think? Would you have found that useful if you had an interest in going to Minneapolis for a weekend?

Now, get an expert’s opinion.

What do I think?

…It doesn’t matter!

I honestly cannot tell just by looking at the post.

The writing quality is decent. It won’t irk Google and hurt rankings in any obvious ways.

However, the true value of content gets judged by how well it meets the needs and interests of its audience.

…And the only way I can tell that is by viewing data and analytics.

I don’t have access to the website’s analytics. But I can see basic data via Buzzsumo’s Content Analyzer:

43 social shares.

…And this post just got published a day prior to getting this data. So more shares will roll in.

Now, this website is a step above the typical small, local business. For them, I’m guessing it’s not their most popular post.

Buzzsumo lets me see the most popular posts on the site. So let’s look at that data:

Their top posts get 1.5k – 2.1k social shares.

A reasonable guess for this type of website would be that a typical post gets maybe 100 – 200 social shares or so.

It usually takes a couple weeks for numbers to get to their final (that’s how content works). So, this post you just read is likely an average post.

How to Use This to Determine Your Content Quality

Share numbers from your website won’t be nearly as high. That’s because you’re smaller and have a lower reach.

No shame in that. It’s just a fact.

For you, 50 shares on a post might be pretty decent.

But, you can also use Buzzsumo to research your competitor’s sites. See how many shares they get.

And remember, they may have a bigger audience built up. So, you can’t say your posts weren’t successful simply because you didn’t get the same number of shares.

But, you can get an idea of what content works in your niche. Write your own opinion on the same subject. Go farther in-depth and be more helpful.

Add pictures and videos to clarify your meaning. Link to helpful outside sources.

Then, you know you have great content.

And that means you simply have to get yours in front of the right eyeballs.

Great content comes from trying different approaches, studying data, and improving. You build it slowly over time with incremental improvement.

Armed with the right data, you know precisely whether your content stinks…or rocks!

How to Effortlessly Get More Positive Reviews

Consumers just love to see those gorgeous 4-5 golden yellow stars! This holds true for Google Reviews, Facebook, Amazon, your own website, and even just a plain-ol’ Google search.


…Because they offer so much credibility. In the business world, and human life in general, nothing’s more credible than a 3rd-party testimonial.

Now, sometimes you can fake those reviews. It does happen. You don’t want to do that though because all these websites search for ways to screen those out, and possibly ban you from using their site ever again.

Plus, besides looking good and building credibility, positive ratings do help you increase your SEO and search rankings. So the more you have, the better. But how do you get them in the first place?

Well, let us help you with that:

  1. Ask Satisfied Customers for a Review

You can do this many ways. The first is simply by asking a satisfied customer in person to leave you a positive online review via the medium you’d like them to do so the most.

You could also send a follow-up email to them with a direct link to where they can leave the review – which makes it even easier. They don’t have to search for you on Google, create an account, and sign in. Every little step leads to more dropoff.

  1. Offer an Excellent Service

The internet makes shopping and comparing business hundreds of times easier than ever before. So, you have to beat your competitors at what they do and be worthy of a perfect rating.

Good companies have a 4.0 – 4.5 star rating on Google. Great companies rate 4.6-4.9. When you have that extra bit of a star, it drives your sales through the roof.

One study by Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center found purchase likelihood increases the most at around 4.0 – 4.7 stars. Those extra .1 – .2 of a star do help, but the lift isn’t as great as it is at lower ratings.

That same study also found a web page with 5 reviews gets around 270% more sales than a page with 0 reviews.

So, the more you can do to be worthy of a higher rating, the better off you’ll be.

  1. Publicly Respond to Negative Reviews

What do most companies do? They try to brush the dirt under the rug.

However, you can easily turn a negative review into a positive one. Regardless of the medium, you can respond both publicly and privately. Publicly, state you’re sorry about the bad experience and more than happy to fix it. Privately, ask your customer what you can do to get a perfect 5-star rating.

Most customers don’t get too peeved about bad service. They care more about how you respond to it.

If the customer says they want double their money back, give it to them. It pays for itself many times over in the long run.Then, ask them to post an update to their review on their experience with you solving their problem, and how they feel about you now. Last, see if this is a pattern. Are there any changes you can make to your business to prevent this from happening again?

Consistently winning positive reviews online is simple. You just have to get the right systems in place to make it happen. And it’s a glorious thing for your business when it does!



Google Ups Its Standard for “Quality Content”

Google recently updated its Quality Rater Guidelines.

Did you know they have people read websites, rate their quality, and factor how they perceive content into their algorithm?

We have mentioned it here and there on our blog over the years. And it is, and will remain, part of Google’s algorithm for the foreseeable future (at least until machines can fully understand and analyze like people anyway).

This search will take you directly to the official document raters use. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, the link didn’t work!

Anyway, Google has a document that tells raters how to analyze content. It’s just as exciting as reading tax code, or watching paint dry (whichever you prefer).

So, instead of reading a long, obnoxious document, learn the highlights of what’s changed here:

The Standard for “Low Quality Pages” Has Risen

A “low quality” page misses the mark on what it hopes to achieve. Raters are now instructed to give pages low ratings, even if they’re clearly intended to serve a beneficial purpose (which wasn’t the case in the past).

If a page meets one or more of the following criteria in the perception of a rater, then it should be rated “low:”

  • The writer clearly doesn’t have expertise, authority, or trustworthiness in the subject
  • The main content quality seems low
  • The main content isn’t long enough to achieve the page’s purpose
  • The main content has an exaggerated or shocking title (this was added to diminish the rankings of shocking click-bait style articles that contain no depth)
  • Ads and supplemental content distract from the main content
  • There is an unsatisfying amount of information regarding the creator of the page, or the general reputation of the website
  • The main content creator has a generally negative reputation, based on research

What This Means to You

Basically, if you set out to create written content, you must do the best job of it you know how. Or, you need to hire someone who takes it seriously as a profession.That means you need to budget time or money. And if you feel you can’t afford quality content, don’t try to skimp. You’re better off not doing anything at all.



Because Google’s only tightening the standards for the internet. It wants to get at the top of its search rankings exactly what the market (people) wants. People want informative, useful, accurate, and interesting content. They want their time to feel like its been spent wisely.

So aim to give them the best you possibly know how every time. Your business will benefit financially. And you’ll keep your rankings…or watch them rise.