A lot of the blog content planning for business blogs focuses on different ways to tell the same story about a company’s products, services and key messages. If it’s an SEO approach, then the focus is on content to justify visibility on search engines for specific keywords. Blogs are a great resource for people that are searching for answers, insight, how to’s, others’ experiences and opinion. Finding a way to create content that meets customer needs as well as achieving high search visibility for relevant business solutions is what makes blogs such useful online marketing assets.
One particularly effective way to get content ideas for blogging comes from reviewing web analytics for the kinds of questions people type in to search engines like Google or Bing that deliver visitors.
For example, with derivatives of “social media” as a group of target keyword phrases for this blog, I noticed that numerous visitors each month literally typed in to Google: “what does a social media manager do?” and “what does a community manager do?” sending them to a post, “A Glimpse at What a Social Media Community Manager Does” that ranked well for those questions.
After looking in our web analytics to see which pages those visitors viewed and any goal pages reached, it has served as inspiration to explore other related questions by providing content in the form of answers. ”
Be careful with chicken before the egg advice. I’ve heard advice from other marketers that looking at your own web analytics is the best way to find keywords to use for search optimization. Please understand what a “cart before the horse” idea that is. This only works if a website is to some degree optimized and attracting a diversity of search traffic. That means it has numerous, relevant links pointing to it (with new links shared on social media sites on a regular basis) and new content is being published regularly. Without some kind of pre-existingrelevance to search engines in the form of new content and links, web analytics is only going to reveal what you already know in terms of keyword topics.
Give them what they want to get what you want. Using questions is simply a matter of literally finding out what information people want and giving it to them based on data that is easily discovered through web analytics. This can be as simple as doing a search within your web analytics dashboard on the referring keywords that sent visitors to your website from search engines to find instances of words like “what” or “how” in conjunction with keywords and topics that are a reflection of the interests and needs of your target audience. You could also just search for instances of “?” in conjunction with target keywords or “?” alone to reveal the kinds of questions people are using as search queries that result in visits to your blog. I happen to use Clicky real time web analytics “filtering” options for this. All Clicky data is real-time, not just one report as is the case with Google Analytics.
Sourcing questions for new blogs. This particular tactic of extracting topic ideas is for refinement of a blog that has been in play for a while, not establishing a content plan for a new blog. For a new blog here are a few other ideas about how to leverage questions for developing a content plan:
- Survey your customers using a tool like Zoomerang or Survey Monkey
- Survey front line employees working in your Customer Service and Sales departments to get an idea of the common questions that come up in their interactions with prospects and customers
- Visit Q/A sites like Quora or Yahoo Answers for common questions related to keywords you’re tracking
- Tap into niche sites for aggregated questions. LinkedIn Answers and Focus Q & A are good examples for business and marketing related topics.
- Use Google Suggest as a way to anticipate what questions people are asking. Just start typing in a question in any Google search box to see how Google tries to complete it. What Google’s Autocomplete feature is a reflection of popular search phrases and potentially your own web history so be aware whether you’re logged in to Google or not when you do this. Since you can’t copy the text from Google’s suggested search queries, check out the free and easy to use Ubersuggest which will provide you with a txt file.
- Use SEO tools that compile questions like Wordtracker called Keyword Questions. This particular tool requires registration and I’ve not had the best luck finding suggestions for niche topics without a large search volume, but it’s an option.
Hopefully these suggestions provide you with some useful ideas for sourcing blog content through sourcing questions to answer. It’s a great formula that I’ve been using and advising clients to use for years. If you have an existing blog with some degree of diversity in new content and active inbound linking, then you may find a rich store of ideas in the keyword referring data from web analytics. If you have a new website, then start by literally asking your customers about their top questions and review some of the industry websites that aggregate Q & A to gain insight into what topics are hot and worth addressing in your content plan.
The fundamental takeaway: Create the kind of content (with SEO keywords as inspiration) that people are actively searching for and you can shorten sales cycles, inspire more social shares and be more useful to your community.
Have you used question sourcing tactics to build or complement your blog content plan? What have you tried that worked? What didn’t work?