The Best Content Strategy: Pen & Paper

Because I’m skilled at PR, communications, SEO, and generally how to come up with new story ideas, I get a fair amount of requests to discuss my process. The best content strategy method I utilize for my emerging tech SEO efforts and other clients is the notebook method. The notebook method will absolutely work for you no matter what industry you exist within. (Best of all—your competitors won’t do it.)

Where most SEO strategies go wrong.

It’s helpful to briefly review where many folks go wrong in emerging tech SEO. They quickly turn to their toolbox that contains SEM Rush, aHrefs, Google Trends, Keyword Planner, Screaming Frog, Moz, Yoast,, and TapClicks. And while these tools are helpful, complete reliance on them always leaves you a few steps behind.

Competing over key phrases and terms of the past is truly only helpful if you sell a commodity or widget your competitors also sell, and you have a lot of money to edge everyone else out. If you are unique and have a unique solution, your company requires a unique approach. Human connection is the driver behind superb emerging tech SEO strategies.

In the words of Aaron Johnson, VP of Marketing at Accumold and a client of mine, “a Steinway only sounds great in the hands of a concert pianist.” Understanding the tools doesn’t help if you don’t first listen to and understand the people you want to influence. If you become an expert listener, you can predict future terms with zero competition.

The Notebook Method

The notebook method is the easiest way to win the SEO game because it gives you a look into what your target customers will be asking in the future. I know it sounds complex maybe expensive, but it’s amazingly simple. In fact, because of this simplicity, your competitors will resist it. I’ll expand on each point, but here’s the 3 step process:

  1. Bring your notebook* to meetings with prospects or any customer interactions.
  2. Write down their raw questions, as asked.
  3. Write blog posts that answer those questions and put their question in the headline.

That’s it. You can use Yoast (it’s super cheap) to help you target phrases correctly from an SEO perspective, but here’s the best news: Your competitors won’t do it, because it takes work and seems too simple.

How to come up with new story ideas

You’re probably aware of SEM Rush, aHrefs, and similar SEO tools; these show you existing search patterns but they can’t tell you what people are searching right now or tomorrow. Also, consider these tools show you terms that are already controlled by your competition. But if you want to know how to control future terms, you need to learn how to come up with new story ideas that will be popular next week or next month. You can anticipate these terms by listening to your target reader. The emerging tech SEO strategies I’ve learned working with my clients apply to every industry.

The notebook method utilizes customer curiosity as a content driver. Here’s why this works so well.

15% of all Google searches have never been searched before.

Most search engine traffic is query-driven. According to Google, “15% of all Google searches have never been searched before.” This means, if you’re an expert in your space and someone asks you a question they may be dropping future search trend hints. Professional questions are your best content driver.

The questions you’re asked are not unique. Others assuredly have the same question, and they’re asking Google. This is why it’s important to write down their question as asked. This will help you properly target the nature and phrasing of the question.

To expand your inquisitive reach, you can apply the notebook method to Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces or Callin. For those wondering how to come up with new story ideas, this is one major method I use and how I capture part of that 15% of traffic.

Mining natural customer and prospect curiosity in the real world is an emerging tech SEO goldmine.

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