If you want to be heard, then answer the questions people are asking using these topic-finding tools

By Jim James,

Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast

In this day and age of AI, it’s increasingly possible to create all manner of content, text, pictures, video, music even, using technology. As a result, smaller companies, even one-person companies can create an inordinate amount of content and amplify that, but one of the issues that many companies face is what to talk about in the first place. 

People often get tied up talking about their own company and products, and then they go, "What am I going to talk about next?" Figuring out what to talk about is so important, because it’s topics that drive narratives, and this is what can create great PR content. Now, thinking of topics isn’t necessarily that easy. So, one solution is to turn to a couple of technology platforms that will help unlock the mind and find the right topic to talk about. 

Let TopicSeed generate topics for you

Photo from TopicSeed

One such platform is TopicSeed, which comes from the UK. By simply inputting a keyword or URL into this platform, it will analyze the content on that web page and provide you with target keywords, support keywords, co-occurrences, questions, and content ideas, all for free. It not only provides keywords, but it also provides context. It comes up with words that search engines use to create relevance and to show how comprehensive a blog post is. In other words, if a blog post is only full of keywords, then it’s been SEO-written only and won’t be very good for the reader itself. 

If you’re wondering what co-occurence is, this is search engine optimization using Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) key words or words that co-occur. Basically, these are words that appear next to or around the keywords. Again, these are words that help build the context around a subject, such that when those words are found in an article, they add validity to the content. Apart from that, TopicSeed comes up with questions that real people have searched for online that include these keywords and co-occurrences. These then become possible topics or content ideas for an article. 

AnswerThePublic!

Photo from MaxPlaces

Another useful tool is called AnswerThePublic, where you can have a number of free searches per day (or more with their Pro plan) based on keywords that you input, and it will find related subjects that are being written about or being asked about. If you know what people are asking and if you write an article that responds to that, then your content is likely to be picked up. AnswerThePublic has a great visualization of all the different terms and keywords that are related to your keywords and your co-occurrences. 

In terms of pricing, TopicSeed is $90 per month, and you can choose 100,000 words per month. With this plan, you can do topic graphs, content graphs, group analysis questions, document interpretation, and sentiment analysis. For AnswerThePublic, their plan is $99 a month, and they have an annual plan at $79 per month. This comes with unlimited searches, unlimited users, and compared data over time which can be exported to a CSV file. 

Other alternative topic-finding tools

Photo from Questions.NINJA

Other alternatives include Wiki Browser (also by TopicSeed) and Questions.NINJA. With Questions.NINJA, it allows you to pick keywords and it shows related questions that are being asked on the internet. With their free plan, you don’t get a full volume of data searching and you have a limited number of data requests, but for $19.99 per month, you will get unlimited requests as well as tables and charts.

These are all great alternatives to the Google keyword, which will tell you for free what people are looking for on Google search. What these tools do, though, is also give you some ideas, associations, and charts.

When it comes to writing articles and generating content, it’s quite easy to run out of ideas. But these platforms like Questions.NINJA, TopicSeed, and AnswerThePublic will give you guidance on what people are searching for answers to and what’s trending. 

Topic generation the old-fashioned way

Tony Buzan, who invented mind mapping, had an offline way of doing this, and this was called radiant thinking and linkage thinking. Radiant thinking is where you put a topic or a word in the center, and then you draw or write a word related to that. Linkage thinking is where you put one word, and you go to the next place to where that takes you. And then, you go to the second word, and you see where that takes you, and then you go to a third word. In radial thinking, what happens is that each word is directly directly related to that first word, but in linkage thinking, each word is a step away from the original word. This is an old-fashioned way, as it doesn’t tell you what people are searching for online, but it does give you a fun way of creating new ideas of what to write about. 

With this ongoing pandemic, seeing each other, especially one’s team members, is going to be harder, leaving people doing more work on their own. Thankfully, technology is there to build a bridge for everyone. So, if you’re looking for something to write or make a video about, check out one or two of these tools that will give you some guidance and inspiration during lockdown. 

This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast SPEAK|pr, you can listen here.

Cover Photo from Lifewire

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