Content Marketing
6 Content Marketing Research Tools You’ll Love [Digital Marketing Growth Hacks – Book Excerpt]

6 Content Marketing Research Tools You’ll Love [Digital Marketing Growth Hacks – Book Excerpt]

May 7, 2018
6 min read

I’m super excited to announce the launch of my latest collaboration. 

Digital Marketing Growth Hacks is a multi-author book with some amazing contributions from my good friends Ian Cleary, Dave Kerpen, Erik Qualman, Andrea Vahl, John Jantsch, Viveka von Rosen, Lon Safko, Martin Shervington, Emeric Ernoult, Brian Massey, Phylis Khare, Andrew Davis and Jamie Turner.

In the book, each of us contributed a chapter of our favorite Digital Marketing Growth Hacks. And the best news of all? ALL the proceeds are going to charity! So I decided to give away my chpater for free right here.

Check it out. And if you like it, we’d really appreciate a solid review on Amazon.

6 Content Marketing Research Tools You’ll Love [a free excerpt from Digital Marketing Growth Hacks]

If you want to know how to create content that people are actually searching for, you need to become a content marketing research expert.

But it doesn’t have to be that hard or expensive! To uncover the top trends and topics of interest within your industry, you just have to roll up your sleeves and dig a little bit. You might even have some fun in the process.

Read this, and you’ll have the power to discover what content is making the search engines tick and the social channels hum, with these powerful – and easy-to-use – content marketing research tools.

Google Auto-fill

Google does a lot of the work for you, revealing what search terms people are using with the search engine’s auto-fill feature. You’ve probably used this tool hundreds, or more realistically, thousands of times, without even realizing just how useful it is for informing your content marketing strategies.

Simply start typing in the beginning of a question or phrase. Omniscient Google will do the rest. The auto-fill function displays the most popular searches, offering you a gold mine of on-trend long-tail keywords – for free.

Play around with auto-fill to really get an idea of what it can do. Want to know the meaning of life? There you go.


So when I want to learn what marketers are looking for to help develop their content marketing strategy, look no further than the auto-fill box for ‘content marketing strategies.’ This is what you’ll get:

With this information, you know marketers are after examples, templates, and the latest content marketing strategy tips.

Click on ‘content marketing strategy template’ and scroll to the bottom of the search engine results page to get more related search terms. Now you can get even more specific and spot-on for your audience by creating content that offers a ‘content plan template for social media’ or a ‘content marketing strategy checklist.’

This is exactly what searchers are after. You are now equipped to provide the solution. See, you don’t have to be psychic to excel at content marketing.

Google Trends

Google has even more to offer in terms of free research to help you craft the content your audience wants to stumble upon. Google Trends is your go-to source for finding out what are the most important topics right now in relation to your search terms. You have access to a magnificent amount of search data with this research tool.

Google Trends will show you related queries, interest by region, as well as a comparison of related search terms – over different time durations ranging from since 2004 to the past hour.

Not sure what direction to go in for a particular topic? Is your marketing team having an in-house discussion on what’s a more relevant keyword topic – social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing, or digital marketing?

Google Trends will resolve your issue with neat, easy-to-digest data. And, this tool will give you the top 25 related search queries to make your content development even more efficient.

With all this free help, could it be that Google wants content marketers to only create highly relevant, value-driven, useful material? That’s correct. Google’s vision statement is, “to provide access to the world’s information in one click.” The search engine has offered these free, powerful research tools so you can do a better job. Use them!


I LOVE this tool. (No, I am not affiliated with or receiving commissions from any of these companies.) BuzzSumo allows you to create your entire content marketing strategy with one tool. It’s comprehensive, intuitive, and it simplifies your research. How to uncover keyword gems and start developing ingenious strategies?

Here’s a glimpse of how the BuzzSumo process works.

  1. Type in your category or search query. BuzzSumo will generate a list of the most shared articles on that particular search term. You can filter the results by duration, content type, and more – or even check to see only in-depth articles on your chosen topic. You can then review articles to reverse engineer the most popular topics for your audience.
  2. With this tool you can also see what the most popular publications are in your industry. Now you can create a list of the best publications to target for advertising or to pitch your articles.
  3. Type in the website of a competitor or a top industry publisher. BuzzSumo will show you the most shared articles on the site.
  4. You can even look across the social platforms to see which are the most popular in your niche, and the most likely to engage your target audience.
  5. Give your content marketing strategy an upgrade with a little influencer marketing. When you purchase access to the tool, you can see influencers in your topic area and then reach out to them for guest posts and other influencer marketing strategies.
  6. Monitor your content marketing – you can even compare the progress of your content marketing campaigns against that of your competitors.

You can try out this research tool with a free trial, but to get all BuzzSumo’s elegant search data, you’ll have to sign up for a subscription. The Pro level service is $79 a month, which is a good starting point for small marketing teams and professional bloggers.


AnswerThePublic is a free tool that can make a huge impact on your content marketing research. Sure, the bearded guy on the home page can be a little disconcerting.


However, if you think of him as the wise old man of the web, ready and waiting to serve as your own personal content marketing oracle, you’ll be on to just how game changing this resource truly is.

Like many other all-round digital marketing tools, this one is as simple to use as it is profound in its offerings. Type in your category or keyword and marvel at the results. Plug in ‘content marketing,’ for example, and you’ll get your visual diagram of the 77 relevant questions searchers are using to learn more about the query. Why, how, what, which, when, and where.

From how to do it to why it matters, AnswerThePublic gives you the questions so you can give your audience the answers.


For the content strategist who likes to take their SEO very seriously, Ahrefs Content Explorer is a data-rich resource that will inject an expansive perspective into your keyword and content planning.

You can do a lot with this tool:

  • Look up the organic search traffic and backlink profile of any website, including industry leaders and competitors
  • Get a clear overview of the most popular content for a topic based on backlinks, organic traffic and social shares, as well as an in-depth list of keyword ideas
  • Uncover backlink opportunities
  • Use the SERP Checker to analyze search results and accurately estimate traffic potential

This is one of the most dynamic content research tools out there. It’s even recommended by SEO and content experts like KissMetrics Founder, Neil Patel and SEObook’s Aaron Wall. Like BuzzSumo, Ahrefs does come with a price. Subscriptions start at $99 per month.


Want to see what keywords your competitors are using to drive organic traffic? Wouldn’t it be helpful if you could see clearly how you stand up to other sites in your niche when it comes to search rankings – and track these changes over time? Of course you do! That’s why I use SEMRush. It’s one of the best competitive intelligence tools out there.


SEMRush offers a unique look at your site’s metrics. It is a practical tool for informing both your content marketing and advertising strategies. The biggest perk? The Keyword Magic Tool. This feature gives you access to over 2 million keyword ideas. You can group by topic, analyze, and create targeted lists, helping to make solid content strategies that are well organized.

With all the information at your fingertips, neatly presented with excellent data visuals, you can take your content research capabilities to a whole new level of precision. This is all without having to spend extra time making sense of all the numbers. The tool does it for you. A basic subscription costs $99.95 a month.

Effective Tools Make Your Content Research Worth It

One of the biggest challenges for content marketers is having to consistently come up with compelling content. If you’re not honing in on the most relevant topics and providing answers to the questions your audience is asking, you are losing traction to your competitors. Also, you may be wasting those hours you’re devoting to crafting quality content. If people aren’t searching for your content, what good is it?

On the other hand, by taking the time to research the industry trends and keyword topics that are getting the most searchers in your niche, every blog post, infographic, or video you publish becomes imbued with impact.

Make a commitment to research. Solid research is the foundation of an effective strategy. And, effective content research tools are the backbone of this foundation. Then flesh out your investigative work by staying on top of popular industry blogs and newsletters, reading trade magazines, listening to podcasts, and following the influencers who are moving in your niche.

Whether you prefer the simple brilliance of Google’s free resources or the endless possibilities of content planning subscription services, the more you know, the more empowered you are to make every piece of content count.

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Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

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