My Favorite Tool For Content Ideas

Great content is a must for any successful content strategy. Effective content helps your buyers, drives awareness for your brand as well as your service or product, and helps to convert your readers into leads and ultimately increase sales.

One of the best ways to measure content effectiveness is by looking at the number of social shares your content receives. Social shares are not the end goal, but they are an effective means to achieve reach to the widest audience of interested potential buyers who have a chance to convert.

How do know which content will attract social shares?

You can start by doing content profiling. This process helps you gather as much research and data as you can to inform your brainstorming and content ideation process, which will lead to better content ideas.

Content profiling also helps you learn about what works well in your industry, what your competitors are doing, and which social channels you will want to target. To get these insights, I love to use the BuzzSumo tool to conduct keyword and domain-based searches.

Keyword-based Search

When conducting a keyword search with BuzzSumo, you want to use content-driven keywords associated with your industry or product/service that are non-commercial in nature. This is because you want to get results on the top performing content created using those keywords, rather than product or service pages as you would get with commercial keywords.

To narrow your results, you can use quotation marks around the keywords you’ve typed in, and you can also filter the results by date so you are pulling up the newest content (i.e. last year).

You will see that the results are organized by total number of shares, then broken down by each social media channel. Do a deep dive into content pieces that have done well on all social channels. Continue running searches like this over time will help you identify content themes and ideas that perform best, which you can use to brainstorm your own content topics.

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As you conduct your keyword search, you may have noticed certain domains that kept appearing in your search results. You want to note those websites down so you can do deeper dive research on them.

They are likely doing something right with their content efforts that’s worth looking into. As well, domains with higher social shares usually have a decent size audience reading and sharing their content, which may be sites you want to build a relationship or collaborate on a campaign with to help promote your content in the future.

As you work through your search results and deep dive research, you will also want to identify potential influencers who you can reach out to. You can do so by clicking on the “View Sharers” button  for each piece of content you want to look into, or by clicking on the “Influencers” tab. Note those influencers down and start looking for ways to engage with them, as they may be open to sharing your future content.

Domain-based Search

You can conduct searches on domains the same way you run keyword searches through BuzzSumo. This is extremely helpful when you want to do a deeper dive into sites that continue to appear in your search results, as well as looking into what your competitors are doing. Keep in mind that in some cases you might not be able to get a good set of results, particularly for smaller niches or domains that BuzzSumo may not have enough data yet to be useful.

You’ll see that the search results look similar to a keyword search, but the results are filtered and limited to only the domain you’ve searched. From here, try to look for patterns and trends in posts that appear to do well, as well as names of authors whose posts have continued to appear in the top results. Not only does this give you ideas for content you can create, these authors may have a big social following and may be people you want to engage with to help amplify your content.


You can do all of this research with the free version of BuzzSumo. The paid version will give you more insights into your target keywords and domains, such as the social networks and sites that are generating the most shares for top content, average shares by content length, types, and social networks.

With the paid version, you will want to do this kind of deep dive analysis on your competitors as well, so you can find out what content is getting the most social shares and what social networks are working well for them. Check out this article from Moz that walks you through the steps of how you can use BuzzSumo API and Google Sheets to run this type of analysis more quickly.

BuzzSumo is my favorite tool to help you generate content ideas and build out your strategy. What other tools do you use to develop or improve your content strategy? Please share your ideas in the Comments section below.

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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.

4 thoughts on “My Favorite Tool For Content Ideas

  1. BuzzSumo is not a tool I’ve used before but I will keep it in mind in the future if I get writer’s block. I have found, especially for short blog posts, that lists of “the top 10” in a particular subject are great places to look for inspiration and ideas to expand on.

  2. Don’t give too much credit to the sites that get the most social shares though. I mean, BuzzFeed is probably at the top of most of those charts and, well, it’s BuzzFeed…

    That being said, I agree that BuzzSumo is awesome AND free – a rare combination!

  3. Thanks for the terrific insights, Michael! In addition to BuzzSumo, I dig Topsy for Twitter trends and IceRocket for PR searches. On the paid front, I’m a fan of Spredfast Intelligence and Brandwatch.

    1. Thanks Dennis, I agree Topsy is great. I had not heard of IceRocket so will check them out. Thanks for sharing!

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