What do you do when faced with a saturated or overly competitive subject area?

More ideas on the same saturated topic will not necessarily attract attention once there are hundreds of thousands of published posts.

There are two mental models that we find helpful in expanding topics for saturated content areas.

Hierarchical expansion starts with a broad topic and deals with increasingly specific topics. Andy Crestodina described this concept as "niches".

For example, if social media marketing is the topic I'm writing about and it's saturated with content, then I should narrow my focus:

  • Facebook Marketing
  • Facebook Live
  • Facebook advertising
  • AB test
  • Facebook ads
  • Average Facebook ad spend for an SME
  • Save money on
  • Facebook ads as an SME
  • What type of ad goal is the best value for an SMB?
  • Creating a lead gen ad for an SMB
  • Content Marketing

Side extension considers ideas that are related to each other on a similar level of specificity. The litmus test for lateral expansion could be:

People who are interested in X are also often interested in Y.

In the example above, social media marketing and content marketing would be examples of lateral ideas. It passes the litmus test: "People who are interested in social media marketing are often also interested in content marketing."

Of course, these two models are a bit arbitrary! (Taxonomies are difficult in any field of study.)

Laterally related topics can also be expressed as part of a hierarchy. They would simply be listed with the same importance.

Certain areas of interest in a hierarchy are "niche" only in the sense that they can be viewed as a subset of a larger subject area. Niche areas often have their own experts, big ideas, and areas of ongoing controversy or study.

However, the concepts of lateral and hierarchical expansion are useful for developing blog post ideas, especially when our main subject area is highly competitive or already saturated with great content.

The Topic Explorer provides a brief overview of side (top line) and hierarchically (related keywords) related ideas.


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