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Faced with a saturated or too competitive subject, what do you do?

More ideas on the same saturated topic won’t necessarily help grab attention if there are already hundreds of thousands of posts published.

There are two mental models that we find useful for developing topics in saturated content areas.

Hierarchical expansion begins with a broad subject and turns to increasingly specific themes. Andy Crestodina described this concept as a “reduction”.

For example, if social media marketing is the topic I write about and it’s saturated with content, I might consider narrowing 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 advertising target is the best value for money for an SME
  • Create a lead generation ad for an SME
  • Content Marketing

Lateral expansion examines ideas that are related to each other at a similar level of specificity. The litmus test for lateral expansion could be as follows:

People interested in X are also often interested in Y.

In the example above, social media marketing and content marketing would be examples of side ideas. He passes the litmus test: « People interested in social media marketing are often interested in content marketing as well. »

Of course, these two models are a bit arbitrary! (Taxonomies are difficult in all fields 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, the specific areas of interest in a hierarchy are only « niche » in the sense that they can be viewed as a subset of a larger area. Niche areas will often have their own experts, big ideas, and areas of controversy or ongoing study.

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

The Topic Explorer provides a quick overview of related ideas laterally (top row) and hierarchically (related keywords).

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