I think Topsy.com is greatly underutilized as a social search engine.
To search within a particular site:
Before we proceed, let me warn you: there's room for only one of us in the niche and the title of tzarina of traffic generation is already taken.
Proceed with caution.
So you go to Topsy.com and enter site:trafficgenerationcafe.com in the search box.
(Side note: the extension “site” will list all the indexed pages of any particular site, eliminating other sites that merely mention the same URL.)
The results will look something like this:
You see the number of retweets displayed at the end of each tweet?
That's your first indicator of how popular a particular piece of content might be.
If a particular blog gets say 50 tweets per post on average and you find a post that got 150 tweets, that would be a great clue you might've found a sweet spot.
To search by topic:
You can also determine popularity of posts within any given topic.
Here's an example of searches for “traffic generation”:
This search is not as accurate as searching by site, since a tweet popularity is largely determined by the originated site popularity, but it can still give you a good idea of what's hot.
Now if you move your eyes all the way to the right, you'll see the following:
Clicking on the “From analytics.topsy.com” link will take you into the whole new world of competitive analysis.
Kind of like this:
The shot above is the perfect example of researching competitive topics.
Do you see those two posts I highlighted?
They are both on how to generate traffic from Pinterest.
However, the number of social shares is very different.
What made the difference?
The quality of the post itself?
Here you can also take a look at who retweeted the content and how influential those folks are.
Maybe that's what tipped the scale.
And now that you know who those pillars are, it's time to get to know them a bit closer.
This free Firefox/Chrome extension is pretty amazing and comes it handy for many research tasks.
The trick is to know what you are looking for and to make sure you have those SEOQuake parameters enabled.
(Hat tip to Kristi Hines)
For this specific task of finding popular content in your niche, we need to enable social media shares for Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.
Go into SEOQuake => Preferences (found under Tools => Add-ons in Firefox, and under chrome://chrome/extensions/ in Chrome) and check the following boxes:
I only check Google boxes to keep things simple.
Now when I preform site:trafficgenerationcafe.com search in Google, the results will look something like this:
You can also sort them by the number of tweets/shares by pressing the arrow down next to each network.
As great as this tool is, just about every time I use it, some of the data does not get properly updated.
In the screenshot above taken in Chrome, the Twitter and Facebook shares showed the same number for each page of my site.
When I performed the same search in Firefox, FB shares wouldn't show up at all.
I guess we get what we pay for…
Great tool nonetheless.
For yet another great way to milk your competitors' content for all it's worth and turn it into your very own traffic goldmine, take a look at this post:
How to Make Popular Content Your Own
Of course, this is not a call to plagiarize other bloggers' content or regurgitate what's been said over and over again.
The key to generating great content ideas using this method is to provide a unique perspective on the same topic.
For instance, someone writes a great post about “5 Awesome Blog Post Titles“.
The post takes off – the readers definitely enjoyed it and gave it the comment/social media love accordingly.
Now you use that knowledge to your advantage and write a post about “5 Worst Blog Post Titles Mistakes“.
This way, you can even go back to the original blog you got the idea from and leave them a comment letting them know about your post.
This might turn out to be a great way to jump start your post promotion.
This might seem to be dead simple.
And it is.
And it also works.
So stop wasting your time writing on the topics you think your readers might be interested in and start writing knowing what your readers are interested in.
Give your readers bread and games.