Web Content – 6 Free Tools to Generate Great Ideas (and all from Google)

SMS Text

Even if search engine optimization is not part of your job description, you still need to come up with topics for content that is relevant to the web users you are trying to reach.  Whether you are looking to write pages of content for your website, quick posts for Twitter or an interesting nugget for an email newsletter; sometimes it’s a challenge to come up with a regular source of ideas for content that will entice readers and help your search engine rankings.  Here are six tools that are free, easy to use and access. All you have to do is log into your Google account.

1. Google Alerts


Google Alerts

Sign up for Google Alerts and receive notification by email whenever new content comes online with any of your selected keyphrases.  Here you will often find great articles that you can recommend to your connections on social media channels. Even better, you may find some ‘not so great’ articles on topics that you can probably cover better.

You will also get a good idea of what people are ‘talking about’ online and with this information you can come up with related topics for articles on your website, as well as other types of content for your online marketing campaigns.

While you are at it, don’t forget to include an alert for your own name, business name and competitors so you can keep an eye on what’s being said about you and your industry.

2) Google Reader


Google Reader

Subscribe to the RSS feeds of websites that provide good information related to your business. Similar to Google Alerts, you will find a wide range of articles that can inspire you for your online marketing channels.  The range and quality of the articles depend on the feeds you subscribe to.  You can also see what articles your Google connections recommend.

Many Google Reader ‘users’ find that they never get around to reading the feeds that they subscribe to.  I find it a great way to catch up on my reading when I am waiting in line at the grocery store.  Don’t leave home without the smartphone!

I probably don’t have to remind you that you shouldn’t just copy the content you find and pass it off as your own, but there are completely legitimate uses for this content:

  • Post links to the articles that your social media connections will find interesting and relevant.
  • Write an article with your take on the item: why you find it so interesting, how it specifically relates to your region or specific industry, etc.
  • Write your own completely fresh article on the topic.
  • Post an item compiling a number of related articles you’ve found.
  • You may also find some great sites related to your own that you can submit articles to and perhaps get a valuable link to your website.

Writing original content is the best way to add value to your own site and get better search results, but a combination of these methods will work perfectly across all of your online marketing channels.

3) Google Suggest

Google Suggest

‘Power’ Google users probably don’t look at Google Suggest-ions, but these phrases are great if you need a really quick and easy way to see what information people are looking for.  Yes, some in the industry have worked out ways to influence these suggestions, but for the most part this is still a good tool to get ideas for articles.

4) Google AdWords Keyword Tool


Google AdWords Keyword Tool

Many, maybe most, SEOs rely on the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to research what phrases people are searching on related to our clients’ businesses.  It’s more helpful than many other online keyword research tools because you can see results by country if needed.

You don’t need a Google AdWords account to use this tool, but you will get more results if you do.  It’s easy to sign up for an account and you don’t actually have to run any AdWords campaigns to do so.

5) Google Webmaster Tools


Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools is a treasure trove of information on your website; from lists of phrases people searched on to reach your website to suggestions for better meta tags and how to improve the download speed of your pages.  Here you will see the phrases that you may get some hits from, but could probably do a lot better if you provided better or more related content.

6) Google Analytics


Google Analytics

Most sites are using Google Analytics for their website statistics, but not all users know that you can set it up to track “Site Search”.  Once this is set up you can see what visitors searched on, if your site provided a result and often what the user searched for on an external site to get to your website.  This is valuable information on what your visitors are looking for, so important to ensure that you are providing content on this topic.  Also review the search phrases used and see which you could get better results for if more content was provided.

You are probably already using at least a few of these tools provided by Google, but perhaps not specifically to get ideas on your web content.  They are all free, easy and accessible; so now you have NO excuse to not include interesting, relevant content across all your online marketing channels.

Ann Donnelly
For ten years Ann Donnelly has been helping businesses achieve their goals using the internet; starting with developing static brochure websites to now offering fully... Read Full Bio
Ann Donnelly
Subscribe to SEJ!
Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!
  • Kristi Hines

    These are definitely the right tools to use if you want to know what content will get the best rankings in Google search. I keep forgetting to take advantage of Google Webmaster Tools. Insights is another one, especially if you are writing content that is only popular during a particular season.

  • Infonote

    Stumbleupon is also a good tool (Not of Google) when the stumbles are “filtered” by topic/interest.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the non-Google suggestion! I know I can be very Google oriented, just because it’s so easy to set up and review when they are all in one place. I need to ‘get out’ more 🙂

  • Jenny, Crash Test Mommy

    I’m a humor/memoir blogger who only started paying attention to SEO in the past month to month-and-a-half (I know, I know). I now use at least 2 or 3 of these tools every day. I’ve seen an undeniable increase in relevant Google traffic, with my monthly bounce rate staying around 65-68%. Happy Google user here.

  • Rômulo Martins

    Great Post. Google it´s a great source to webcontent. Thanks.

  • Alyasha

    I found this article very useful.All of those are great way to check on trending topics, not only for the matter of inspiration but also for your content to be picked up by users, read, and propagated further.

  • Zippy Cart

    Google Suggest is a great way to figure out the way in which people are typing a specific search query into Google. The way I (or anyone else) might think to phrase it might not be the way in which users are actually typing it. Letting Google guide the way a little gives you some insight into organic actions.

  • Anonymous

    Nice List … I think the best way ist to combine all ways. Its a good start to get new ideas from Alerts, the Reader and Suggest and to refine the new ideas with kw-tool, wmt and analytics … never lost your view on your customer and vistors

  • Patent Application

    What if I’m a blogger and wanna earn some cash?? What should I do?

    • Web Hosting Service

      You can work as guess blogger for some famous blogs, but for that you need to pass the screening process. If you do pass it, then you will be paid for every post you do.

  • Ruan Smit

    I’m glad that Google is helping out where they can. I’ve been using Analytics,Webmastertools and Keyword tool for ages and they’ve never let me down. Also they are definitely cheaper than the more expensive keyword tools out there.

  • Jamie Fairbairn

    I often use Google News to come up with topic ideas – it’s useful for finding current subjects that are being written about. Just make sure you put your own slant on these rather than just rewriting the existing content or agreeing with everything that’s been said.

  • Anton Stetner

    just to add one note. in google analytics we see good questions to answer via a blog post or faq, under the keywords they are already finding us for, but their search query is posed as a question.

  • mobiledevelopment

    Well said. Those tools listed creates a great aid for your sites research & analytics. Google is such a good place to start digging valuable information not to mention it just cost an email.

  • Tara

    Hi Ann,

    Great advice! I’ve got a question for you about getting the content seen once it’s written. I’m working for a start up ecommerce web site, so while we do have the content, we’re having a tough time getting it seen. Our Facebook and Twitter sites have yet to be built up, and we’re doing things like guest posts but that usually results in us writing content specifically geared for that site, not necessarily the content we’d really like to rank for. Do you have any tips/advice?

    • Anonymous

      Hi @0c3859d085c1d5ce44aa5891a443b092:disqus , sorry I’m only replying now, if your guest posts are not bringing in the leads that you like, you should probably look for guest posting opportunities that are more likely to bring traffic (and quality links) to your own site, otherwise what is the point?

      Twitter and Facebook can be helpful when you get that going, but many people are finding that the time put in may not bring the actual conversions they are looking for, but great for building their profiles and creating good networking opportunities. So you need a really good campaign to actually drive business.

      Making sure your site is optimized for good search ranking is key to getting the traffic without having to pay a fortune for PPC advertising. Research the keyphrases and ensure that they are used effectively in your site. Then use guest articles, social media and begging to get valuable links into the site.

      Good luck with it.

  • Resell Rights Ebook Store

    Insights and Google Suggest are my favs. I always preach to others to pay more attention to Google suggest for additional keyword suggestions to utilize. 7 out of 10 times we locate other keyword phrases that we might not have otherwise.

  • Resell Rights Ebook Store

    Insights and Google Suggest are my favs. I always preach to others to pay more attention to Google suggest for additional keyword suggestions to utilize. 7 out of 10 times we locate other keyword phrases that we might not have otherwise.

  • smith brell

    The equation begins to go wrong when you don’t see any difference with your sales when you’ve got all those web content on your website?


    checking google analytics has become a daily activity for us to optimize our design blog.

  • Beauty Health Women

    I just know 3 tools of Google tools, 3 other just know after reading this article. Thanks Donelly for write this informative article

    • Anonymous

      Google is the king of free!  they know and have many different potential avenues of ads that giving away tools like this is great. If we could just make everything else free.

  • Zachari rayenz

    All the tools are really best by google and I used this all tools,it give best result as well update so we know that where we are in this search engine,alert ,analytic this are the best tools.

  • London Web Design Studio

    Google is your best friend if you know how to use its power properly 🙂
    Great article, thanks for sharing!