When faced with a saturated or overly competitive topic area, what do you do?
More ideas for the same saturated topic won’t necessarily help grab attention if there are already hundreds of thousands of published posts.
There are two mental models we find helpful to expand topics for saturated content areas.
Hierarchical expansion begins with a broad topic and looks to more and more specific themes. Andy Crestodina described this concept as “niching down.”
For example, if social media marketing is the topic I write about, and it’s saturated with content, I may want to consider narrowing my focus:
- Facebook marketing
- Facebook Live
- Facebook Advertising
- AB testing
- Facebook ads
- Average Facebook ad spend for an SMB
- Saving money on
- Facebook ads as an SMB
- Which type of ad goal is the best value for an SMB
- Creating an a lead gen ad for an SMB
- Content marketing
Lateral expansion looks at ideas that are related to each other at a similar level of specificity. The litmus test for lateral expansion might be this:
People 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 interested in social media marketing are also often interested in content marketing.”
Of course, these two models are a little arbitrary! (Taxonomies are tough in every field of study.)
Laterally related topics can also be expressed as part of a hierarchy. They would simply be listed with the same level of importance.
And, specific areas of interest in a hierarchy are only “niche” in the sense that they can be considered a subset of a larger topic area. Niche areas will 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 if our main topic area is heavily competitive or already saturated with great content.
The Topic Explorer offers a quick look at lateral (top line) and hierarchically (related keywords) related ideas.