You work hard to create blog content that people actually want to read. You know it’s an important part of your content marketing efforts that will bring in new customers over time.
But there are a few topics that online readers have seen time and time again—and at this point, they’re just becoming noise.
An Algoso survey found that 88% of people read blogs because they want analysis and opinions, while 74% wanted information on trends within a sector or to learn from others’ experiences.
In order to satisfy those readers’ driving desires, you need to write blog content that says something new, interesting, and insightful—not regurgitates what everyone else has already said.
Here are 5 topics that have been overdone (and that you should steer clear from.)
1. The 10 Best X
With more than 4.9 billion search results for this phrase, it’s safe to say that we’ve all seen our fair share of top 10 lists.
For example: The 10 Best Ways to Get More Followers on Twitter or The 10 Best Ways to Grow Your Email List
The trouble with these posts is that they strive for quantity—not quality—by providing only surface level information rather than taking a deep dive into one particular point.
When we look at a top 10 blog post, we don’t learn much beyond what they are. There’s often no how that explains what makes them qualified to be on this top 10 list or that walks you through how you could emulate what made it so successful.
Plus, research shows that the average content length for a top-ranking site in Google has at least 2,000 words. Therefore, it’s clear that Google defines higher quality content as posts that go into greater detail.
Unfortunately, the average top 10 post falls far short of that minimum. Bottom line: There’s not a lot you can teach in that few words.
Try this instead: Rather than throwing together a quick top 10 post, pick the best example on the list and pick apart what makes it work so well. Create a piece of content like ‘The One Best X to do X’ that teaches the reader something valuable using this singular example—and leave the rest of the top 10 list behind.
2. How X is Like X
Another overdone blog topic is the comparison post that finds some creative similarity between two concepts and trys to spin it into something interesting. There are 1 billion search results for this blog topic—so comparison posts have had a good run.
For example: How Your Business is Like a Computer Processor or How Your Marketing Funnel is Like Baking a Cake
It sounds like a good idea, but is there real substance for the reader that can come from such a far-fetched comparison? Is it going to teach them something they didn’t already know?
Posts that try to use comparisons to teach a concept often miss the mark because the writer is so focused on staying on track with the theme. The content becomes idea-centric rather than based in research, and while it might make for a clever headline, the content itself comes out weak.
The other obstacle that arises from posts that pivot on similarities between concepts or products is that they lack those essential personal opinions and experiences that offer unique insight—which the Algoso survey showed was a top motivator for blog readers.
Try this instead: Comparisons can be powerful when used to demonstrate a finding that others can implement, too. Try something like ‘What We Can Learn from Testing A Against B’ that shows how a test proved that one method was more effective than another.
ContentVerve uses this to effectively showcase results of A/B testing and compares two versions side by side to illustrate the positive impact.
3. News Round-Ups
There are more than 350M search results for news round-ups, but how many of them offer something new to the conversation?
When it comes to these news round-up posts, they often just repeat information that’s already been shared elsewhere and leave out personal insight.
For example: Healthcare News Round-Up for August 2015 or Marketing News Round-Up: The Things You Missed
For the reader, there’s simply not much value. Number one: They may have already read the news elsewhere, so when they encounter it on your blog with no accompanying input, it feels disappointing. When someone visits your blog, they want to hear from you—not from someone else.
Number two: News round-ups also frequently include quote-heavy content that really tells the reader, “Hey, I didn’t have the story, but someone else did.” Is that a message you want to send to your readers?
Try this instead: Rather than just repackaging existing information, try a topic like ‘Highlights of X and What You Can Learn From It.’ This way, you’re still sharing the important information, but you’re doing the legwork for the reader and telling them what they need to read between the lines. Or, share what you know from your past experiences—and weigh in with some fresh perspective.
4. Why X is Cliché/Wrong/Bad
Lots of bloggers and content marketers like to take to the pulpit and express their opinions on business issues, launching lofty statements like, “X is wrong and here’s why.”
For example: Why Blogging is Bad for Your Business or Why Client Thank You Notes are Cliché
Don’t believe me? Check the 1B search results that come up for that title.
Opinion and persuasion are definitely key elements to a great blog post. However, when writers make these bold claims, they often forget to back them up with research, case studies, or experience. They’re purely opinion-based—and there’s where things get tricky.
Commentary that’s not backed in tangible proof can read as trivial for the audience, and can put you in a position to play defense with people who disagree. What might sound like an emotionally charged blog post that you’re really passionate about could actually do harm for your personal brand if you don’t have the ethos and logos to accompany your claims.
Additionally, these posts often lack a strong CTA for the reader. If blogging is part of your content marketing strategy and you throw in an opinion piece that’s missing a strong, relevant CTA, you can cause serious damage to your sales funnel.
Try this instead: Make bold claims by showcasing interesting case studies you conducted that include screenshots, testing methods, and real numbers that prove your point. Think more along the lines of ‘How We Tested (strategy) to Discover You Should Use A Over B’.
5. The Year in Review
999M ‘year in review’ posts exist already.
For example: The Year in Review: Looking Back at My Business in 2015 or Recap: The Year in Review and What I Accomplished
Do we need another? Probably not. Here’s why:
Reflection posts that simply recap the past 365 days don’t typically offer the reader any new insight and instead just recycle ideas, lessons, and events you’ve already talked about.
More importantly, though, think about what motivates your audience to visit your blog in the first place. They might like your writing style and online persona, but really, they want to learn something they can use for themselves.
If you’re just looking back on what you accomplished this year and not showcasing an in-depth lesson you took away from it—you’re probably just rambling.
Try this instead: It’s okay to share what you learned over the past year, but remember to focus in on one key theme. A topic like ‘The Most Important X I Learned in (year) That Helped My Business’ gives the reader serious value—you’re squeezing the best lesson you learned over a the course of a whole year and handing it to them with a pretty bow.
With millions of pieces of content that already exist on the Internet, the blog posts you write need to stand out, provide value, and be backed in research—not pure opinion.
Gary Vaynerchuk said that when it comes to what you’re producing on the Internet, “Someone is always watching.” Readers can see when you’re not giving a solid effort to your blogs and each time you deliver less-than insightful blog posts, you chip away at the trust and authority you’ve earned with your audience.
Stop rehashing these overdone blog topics and start being a unique voice in the noisy world of content.