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Finding thought leadership topics: get ideas quicksmart

Feb 13, 2023

If you want to become a trustworthy industry voice, you need to publish regular content on a variety of subjects around your expert subject. But finding thought leadership topics is as tricky as folding a king-size fitted sheet.

Do you wonder what the hell to write about? 

Are you feeling like you’ll never be able to find any content ideas?

And every time you sit down to plan your content, you have nothing but a blank page to begin with? 

This guide will help you with finding thought leadership topics — the ones that your customers actually care about and want to read. Perhaps they’ll even share it. 

Plus, if you use the right keywords, you can rank in searches on Google and YouTube for your articles and videos — a bloody brilliant way for new customers to find you. 

So how do you find topics that are popular Google search terms? 

You conduct keyword research. This means you use free or paid tools to find phrases that are popular in Google search.

Part One: Finding thought leadership topics using free tools 

Free tool #1: Google autocorrect

Sometimes, when you type stuff into Google? It finishes your sentence. It uses previous search data to guess what you are searching. Smart. 

Of course, that search data is what you want. 

My client, an ADHD coach, was looking for ideas for content for parents with ADHD.  

I started a Google search with the term ‘how can I help my ADHD child…’ and took a look at the autocorrect options. 

And in less than a second, she has several subjects to cover. Thank to Google, finding thought leadership topics is fast and easy.

Free keyword research tool #2: Google related searches 

For any search term, if you scroll to the bottom of the Google search results, you will get the related searches feature. 

As with autocorrect, it’s Google sharing data on what’s popular related to your initial search. Gold material. 

Using my ADHD coach example again, you can see the results in the screenshot below. 

Now, we have even more suggested pieces of content. How great is that? Publishing well written, useful content for these topics will help you get found in Google when people need you the most.

Free keyword research tool #3: people also ask

Another one from Google. 

Some search queries (not all) offer you suggested additional questions related to your search. 

It appears midway in the search results panel. Google knows you so well, it knows additional questions you may ask, and suggests them to you.  

In the example above, Google has suggested four additional questions that people also ask. Again, it’s based on search data. So you KNOW that Google has a good volume of search data for these three questions. 

And that means, if you can answer that question well (and optimise your post for that question) you have a good chance* of appearing in search results for that query. 

*It’s not as simple as just publishing content, you also need quality backlinks and a fast, bug-free website. I don’t want to mislead you—SEO is an expert skill that takes time. 

Free keyword research tool #4: answer the public 

This could not be easier. Type your area of expertise into Answer the Public and it spits out loads of potential subjects to cover. 

Brilliant. Bloody hard to read with the wheel thingy it creates, but brilliant nonetheless.

Free keyword research tool #5: Wikipedia 

This one can be dicey. It may give you loads of ideas, or it may be a dud. 

It takes about fifteen seconds, so it’s worth a shot. 

  1. open Wikipedia 
  2. search for your expert subject 
  3. find the listing 
  4. check out the content categories 

Using the ADHD example again, you can see that there are several sections in the listing, covering all the basics of ADHD. Perhaps you can write about some of these topics for your area of expertise? 

In this case, the content is quite technical. But there’s plenty of subject ideas.

Side note: If you aren’t happy with the Wikipedia listing, you can edit it yourself.

Free keyword research tool #6: Pinterest 

Pinterest is not just for brides and party planners. It’s a search engine. A powerful one. 

Like Wikipedia, this may be hit and miss for you. Depends on your industry. 

  • Type in your subject into Pinterest
  • Start scrolling to get topic ideas 

You’ll notice that many bloggers, podcasters and influencers create pins about the hot topics in your industry. Could any of these be thought leadership subjects for you?


Ps. You can do this with other social platforms, too. Instagram, TikTok, Twitter. Find out what’s trending and share your viewpoint.

Free keyword research tool #7: Google image search 

Back to our friends at Google. 

The image search is a goldmine for finding thought leadership topics.

  1. Open Google image search
  2. Type in your expert subject 
  3. Scroll the image categories to find potential subjects 
  4. Check out the panel of suggestions

In the example above, I’m looking for subjects on interior design. The Google image results give me some ideas. Because this is Google data, we know these are common search terms. Result.

Free keyword research tool #8: your own content 

Check your stats. 

  • What social media posts got the most comments and engagement? 
  • Which blog posts get the most traffic? 
  • What newsletter headlines get the most opens and click throughs? 

The beauty of this approach is that it’s YOUR audience. The other tools are just testing the general market. 

By using this data, you know what your audience already likes to hear from you. So give them more of the same. 

Taking what began as a social media post or newsletter can turn into an article, a video, a masterclass or a guest blog.

Free keyword research tool #9: your existing audience 

Firstly, ask yourself. 

  • What do your clients struggle with? 
  • What questions do they always ask you? 
  • What mistakes do you wish they could avoid? 
  • What do you really want them to know? 
  • What beliefs do they have that are false? 

Once you start writing this down, you’ll find yourself easily coming up with topics. Focus on the different stages of the buying journey. What do newcomers need to know? And how can people with more experience take it even further and achieve more? 

Secondly, ask your clients, your social media followers and your newsletter list. 

  • What do they struggle with?
  • What do they most like to know about your topic? 
  • What are their biggest reasons they don’t invest in your thing? 

Whether you run a complete formal survey or simply ask in your Instagram stories, it’s a great way to check what your audience is feeling and thinking. It’s gonna be extremely valuable beyond just finding thought leadership topics, f’sure. You can use these insights on your sales page, in your social posts and your discovery calls. When you use the same kind of language as your customers, they’ll realise you deeply understand their problems and priorities, which makes them more likely to buy from you. 


Part two: finding thought leadership topics using paid tools 

Of course, there’s only so far you can get on free tools. Paid keyword tools give you a whole new level of insight. 

Paid keyword tool #1: keywords everywhere 

This browser extension for Chrome and Firefox gives you search volumes for each keyword you type into Google search. 

Here’s an example, for my own expert subject, thought leadership. 

You can see that this term gets, on average, 1,300 searches per month. These stats are for Australia, you can change the settings to your country of choice, or use global search volume. 

It also gives you the cost-per-click data (for Google Ads.) This is helpful to know which terms attract a high volume of advertisers. 

Keywords everywhere also gives you related keywords volume. This provides plenty of additional ideas for subjects similar to your original search term. 

By choosing a higher search volume keyword, you can be confident that it’s a subject of interest to lots of people. 

Keywords Everywhere is cheap. You pay US$10 for 100,000 credits. One search uses one credit. Credits last one year. So far, I haven’t used up my ten dollarbucks’ worth in a year of frequent Google searching.

So as a paid tool, it’s a no brainer. 

A word on keyword volume before we proceed 

If you find a keyword with a low volume, you might decide not to cover that subject. Because it has low SEO value, what’s the point? 

Please. Always let your customers be your guide. 

Serving your customers always takes priority over keyword volume. 

You know in your guts more than any tool what your customers want to learn. Plus if it’s an emerging topic? It might be on the increase. Giving you the chance to nab a good ranking while it’s not competitive. 

So if you find a low-volume term, but you think you’re able to cover it and deliver true value? Then forget the volume. Knock yourself out. And do a shit-hot job of it too. 

Side note: as a copywriter, I wrote blogs for my business that had an average search volume of zero, and they were some of my best performing pieces of content. 

Paid option #2: SEO tools 

If you are using thought leadership to drive SEO, then consider a paid SEO tool. They are super fancy and have plenty of extra features. However they can take time to learn. And they can be pricey. 

Some popular tools include: 

  • MOZ 
  • KWFinder 
  • SEMRush
  • AHRefs
  • Ubersuggest

Paid option #3: outsource your keyword research 

A keyword research expert can use a paid tool to recommend the best keywords to target. Importantly, this report goes beyond just search volume. A good keyword research expert will also consider: 

  • your website domain authority
  • the keywords your competitors are chasing
  • whether you have a chance in hell of ranking for the relevant keyword 
  • what you’d have to do to rank (including how many backlinks you’d need) 
  • a mix of high volume, medium volume and low volume keywords
  • if your preferred keywords are too difficult or competitive, and if so, what alternatives may be more feasible 

Shameless plug: check out my VIP day, where I spend the day finding loads of amazing keywords for your content (plus heaps more).

The good thing about using keyword tools or outsourcing your keyword research is that you increase your chances of finding thought leadership topics that are hidden gems. These little nuggets of gold can start driving more traffic to your website. Recently, I helped a client find a very exciting little keyword that had high volume, and low competition. She published a blog post covering the ins and outs of the subject, and within weeks she was ranking on Google page one for the search term. Eureka!  

So to summarise: finding thought leadership topics

  1. Google autocorrect 
  2. Google related searches 
  3. Google people also ask 
  4. Answer the public 
  5. Wikipedia 
  6. Pinterest 
  7. Google image search
  8. Your own content 
  9. Your existing audience 
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