How HubSpot‘s Blog Team Consistently Generates High-Performing Post Ideas (And How You Can Too)

Publishing consistent, high-quality blog content is one of the most effective ways to drive organic traffic, establish authority, and engage your target audience. But let‘s face it – consistently coming up with stellar blog post ideas is hard. Really hard.

Even if you have a well-defined content strategy and a clear understanding of your audience, it‘s easy to hit a creative wall. You sit down to plan out your editorial calendar and draw a blank, struggling to come up with topics that feel fresh, relevant, and impactful.

If this sounds familiar, don‘t worry – you‘re not alone. Idea generation is one of the biggest challenges content marketers face, with one survey reporting that 35% of marketers struggle to produce a sufficient variety of content.

But here‘s the good news – with the right techniques, tools, and approach, you can systematize your blog ideation and never run out of traffic-driving topics. And there‘s no better blog to emulate than HubSpot.

The HubSpot blog attracts over 8 million visitors per month and has built a subscriber base of over 500,000. They publish upwards of 200 posts per month across their different blog properties. And they‘ve sustained this high volume of quality output for over a decade.

So how do they do it? What can we learn from their ideation approach? I studied their strategy and spoke with their Blog Strategy Manager to find out. Let‘s dive in.

The Foundation of a High-Performing Blog Post Idea

Before we explore HubSpot‘s ideation process, let‘s start with the fundamentals. What makes for a high-performing blog post idea? While the specific criteria will differ by company and audience, there are a few universal characteristics:

  1. Relevance: The topic should be highly relevant to your target reader and align with their pain points, challenges, and goals. It should provide genuine value and insight.

  2. Search Opportunity: For sustainable organic traffic, the topic should target a keyword or phrase that has significant search volume but isn‘t overly competitive.

  3. Uniqueness: The angle should be fresh and differentiated from what‘s already ranking in search results. It should offer a new insight, experience, or data point.

  4. Comprehensive: The post itself should cover the topic thoroughly and deliver on the promise of the headline. Thin content won‘t cut it.

  5. Actionability: Readers should come away with specific, actionable learnings that they can apply. The post should inform and equip, not just entertain.

With these criteria in mind, let‘s unpack how the HubSpot blog consistently checks these boxes with their ideation approach.

HubSpot‘s Two-Pronged Blog Ideation Framework

The HubSpot blog team divides their ideation into two primary buckets:

  1. Trend-based, newsworthy topics that tap into what‘s current and buzzy to drive referral traffic and engagement. These posts have a shorter lifespan but bigger traffic spikes.

  2. Evergreen, SEO-driven posts that target strategic keywords and have lasting search value. These posts deliver consistent organic traffic over the long run.

Each type requires a distinct brainstorming approach and skill set. So HubSpot has different team members dedicated to trend and SEO ideation.

"It‘s almost like the difference between a sprint and a marathon," says Pamela Bump, the Blog Strategy Manager at HubSpot. "You need both to achieve your overall traffic and engagement goals, but they require unique research and planning techniques."

Let‘s unpack HubSpot‘s process for each category.

HubSpot‘s Process for Generating Trending Topic Ideas

The goal with trend-based posts is to newsjack buzzy topics, tap into timely conversations, and provide fresh data and insights that attract backlinks and PR coverage.

"When I‘m coming up with these ideas, I‘m looking for topics that sit at the intersection of cultural relevance, high share potential, brand authority, and audience value," says Bump. "The sweet spot is a topic that naturally catches people‘s attention but also showcases our unique insights."

Her trend ideation process includes:

1. Social listening across Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit and Facebook Groups.

Bump tracks trending hashtags, rising posts from thought leaders, and pain points bubbling up in niche discussions. Tools like Sprout Social and Buzzsumo help identify surging topics.

2. Monitoring Google Trends, news sites, and competitor blogs.

She sets up Google alerts for priority keywords and scans trending stories for newsjacking opportunities. Reviewing top posts on competitor blogs also sparks ideas for timely angles HubSpot can cover.

3. Analyzing HubSpot‘s own data and customer conversations.

Some of the most impactful posts come from internal insights. "We‘re constantly seeking opportunities to showcase original data from our platform or highlight common challenges that come up in customer support and sales calls," says Bump.

4. Exploring rising topics on community sites and forums.

Industry-specific forums, Slack communities, and Q&A sites like Quora and StackExchange offer a pulse on what information people are seeking. Bump also attends virtual events to surface trending ideas.

The key is to cast a wide net, monitor multiple channels daily, and look for patterns. "It‘s a mix of art and science," says Bump. "You develop an intuition for the type of topics that will resonate, but you also need to back it up with data."

Some specific examples of high-performing trend posts the HubSpot blog has published include:

  • X Instagram Stats You Need to Know for 2024 [New Data]
  • Google‘s Helpful Content Update: X Ways It Impacts Your SEO
  • The Top X Sales Prospecting Challenges (and How to Overcome Them)

HubSpot‘s SEO-Driven Blog Ideation Process

To build a foundation of consistent organic traffic, the HubSpot blog invests heavily in SEO-driven content. Their SEO strategists are responsible for identifying target keywords and mapping out comprehensive posts that will rank well over time.

"With evergreen, search-focused content, we‘re looking to get in front of potential customers at key moments of research and consideration," says Victor Pan, HubSpot‘s Head of Technical SEO. "It‘s critical that we deeply understand our audience‘s pain points and intent at each stage."

Here‘s a look at how their SEO team generates strategic blog topics:

1. Mapping keywords to the buyer‘s journey.

The first step is organizing priority keywords by customer journey stage and intent, such as:

  • Early stage/informational: how to write a blog post
  • Mid stage/solution-seeking: best blogging platforms
  • Late stage/purchase-ready: HubSpot CMS pricing

"We want to make sure we‘re covering the full journey so we can attract readers at various stages of awareness and consideration," says Pan.

2. Conducting competitive gap analysis.

Using SEO tools like Ahrefs and Semrush, HubSpot analyzes competitors‘ top content and identifies keyword gaps and opportunities. "If a close competitor is ranking well for certain keywords that we‘re not covering sufficiently, that‘s usually low-hanging fruit," says Pan.

3. Mining related searches and People Also Ask data.

For priority keywords, the team digs into Google‘s related search results and People Also Ask (PAA) questions. These provide valuable context on associated subtopics and content formats that are ranking well. PAA insights can also inspire compelling H2s and H3s for post outlines.

4. Analyzing top ranking content with AI tools.

To find common themes and attributes of high-ranking posts, HubSpot uses AI-powered tools like MarketMuse and Clearscope. "These tools surface frequently used keywords, headers, word count, and other characteristics of the top 20-30 ranking posts for a topic," says Pan. "We use those insights to gauge how comprehensive and in-depth our post needs to be to compete."

5. Prioritizing based on Keyword Difficulty and CPC.

To determine which of the hundreds of keyword ideas to focus on first, they analyze two key factors using their SEO tools:

  • Keyword Difficulty (KD): How hard it will be to rank on page 1 based on competitors‘ authority
  • Cost Per Click (CPC): How much advertisers are willing to pay per click (higher = more purchase intent)

"We tier our targets based on potential impact and go after the lowest hanging fruit first – low KD and high CPC," explains Pan. "But we also need a good mix of lower intent topics to capture top of funnel traffic."

Some examples of high-impact SEO driven posts they‘ve created include:

  • The Ultimate Guide to Blogging in 2024
  • X Best Practices for Writing Catchy Blog Headlines
  • How Much Does the HubSpot CMS Cost? (Pricing Details)

Combining Trends and SEO for Blog Ideation Gold

While the techniques for generating trend-based and evergreen ideas are distinct, the real magic happens when you integrate both into your editorial mix.

"Purely chasing trends or keywords in a silo is short-sighted," says Bump. "The key is to find topics that check both boxes – timely and buzz-worthy but also strategic for search."

One way the HubSpot team achieves this is through "newsjacking the SERPs": monitoring rising keywords in Google Trends and rapidly covering those topics before competition sets in. These posts tap into surging interest while also staking a claim on search turf.

Another technique is building "link bait" into SEO-focused posts, such as:

  • Original data and research findings
  • Unique visuals like infographics and charts
  • Quotable soundbites from thought leaders
  • Strong hooks that spark debate or discussion

"When you infuse your evergreen content with highly shareable, discussion-worthy elements, you get the best of both worlds for long-term traffic growth," says Bump.

Equip Your Team for Ideation Success

Of course, having the right process is just one part of the equation. To replicate HubSpot‘s success with blog ideation, you also need the right mix of people and tools. Some key takeaways:

  • Build a diverse ideation team. Have folks dedicated to both trend-spotting and SEO research. Involve a mix of voices across content, social, audience growth, and more.
  • Leverage AI writing tools. AI can help with analyzing SERPs, extracting insights from top ranking posts, and even outlining and drafting. Tools like copy.ai and Clearscope are making this easier than ever.
  • Invest in premium SEO software. To go deep on keyword research and get competitor insights, invest in tools like Semrush, Moz, or Ahrefs. See the comparison table below for key features.
  • Stay in sync with a shared ideation document. Use a shared spreadsheet or Trello board to manage ideas across the team. HubSpot uses their own CMS as well as Airtable to manage their blogging pipeline.
  • Monitor performance and iterate. Watch your post performance closely and double down on topics and formats that are resonating. Learn from what doesn‘t work and refine your criteria over time.

Comparison Table of Top SEO/Content Research Tools

Tool Key Features Pricing
Ahrefs – Keyword Explorer & Rank Tracking
– Content Gap Analysis
– Competitor Research
$99 – $999+/mo
Semrush – Keyword Magic Tool
– Topic Research
– SEO Writing Assistant
$99 – $399+/mo
MarketMuse – AI-powered Content Briefs
– Content Scoring & Optimization
– Competitor Analysis
$600 – $12,000+/mo
Clearscope – AI-powered Content Reports
– Real-time Content Optimization
– Keyword Discovery
$170 – $1,200/mo

Takeaway: Systematize Your Ideation for Blogging Success

Coming up with compelling blog post ideas isn‘t a matter of creative genius – it‘s the result of a strategic, data-driven process. The HubSpot blog is proof that you can scale ideation and hit high-volume publishing goals with the right approach.

By developing your own system incorporating trend research, SEO analysis, and cross-team brainstorming, you can build a rich backlog of impactful ideas. Leverage insights from competitors, tap into social discussions, and showcase original data.

Most importantly, always view ideas through the lens of your audience. "At the end of the day, it‘s not about jumping on trends or chasing keywords," says Bump. "It‘s about consistently delivering value and equipping your readers with information they can put into action. If you focus there, the traffic and engagement will follow."

Now it‘s your turn. Audit your current ideation process and identify opportunities to level it up. Invest in the tools and talent you need to execute. Start building your reservoir of click-worthy, rank-worthy blog topics.

The world is waiting for your next great post. Go ideate something brilliant.

Tags: