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?
Baran Khan says
This is absolutely amazing..have given me too many tips at once..Thanks a ton for this 🙂
Shonali Burke says
Love the post, Lee! As you say towards the end, simply asking your community can lead to great stuff (sometimes no one cares what you’re asking about, though, and I guess that’s when you find out where it’s “wine o’clock.” :p). The other thing I’ve noticed is that if I specifically end a post with a question or two, that leads not just to comments, but to more post ideas as well.
Thank you Shonali – that’s a valued comment coming from you 🙂 I agree, getting a dialog going in the comments means never running out of ideas to blog about!
Shonali Burke says
PS – just like you did with your post!
Josh T. Burkhardt says
Good post Lee. As a student currently enrolled in a social business/personal branding class, who is being asked to blog now several times a week. I found this information to be useful in a very practical sense and will attempt to use some of these techniques in the creation of my upcoming blog posts. Of course I always appreciate and encourage any feedback on my own blog http://joshburkhardt.wordpress.com/. Thanks in advance for any comments and again for your solid content.
Justin Dupre says
Great tips. It sure helps in clearing out writers block.
Patrick Brondes says
Great post, and something we’ll put into action as it certainly pertains to the home improvement niche we’re involved with
Jamie Northrup says
I’ve never used questions exactly, but I think it’s definitely worth a shot, I see the potential. Thanks for sharing Lee.
It’s some of the best material to optimize and socialize – things people are actually looking for.
Dan B says
I will use questions! Thx!
JJ Currie says
Thanks this good list and I have also found that LinkedIn has been a good resource for content ideas….
Yes, I regulary visit Yahoo Answers! too to find ideas of what people in my niche are looking for. Sometimes I use the answers to fill my content. But you mention more resources here Lee, thanks.
Jennifer Pino says
This is a great list. Creating or “curating” content is always top of mind for our clients and a good old fashioned Q&A is usually the first place to start. I also really like the idea of leveraging SEO and keyword research for hot topics. Trending hashtags on Twitter is also a great spot to find thought provokers.
— Jennifer Pino, Crossroads PR
Paul Blakeney says
These were all great tips. I like that you are able to give your opinions. People do not need to necessarily agree, but can voice their views. It is a great way to learn from others as well.
I really liked what you had to say. We bloggers often find it difficult to come out with topics day in and day out. You tips would definitely come in handy as far as getting new content ideas are concerned.
synthiea d'souza says
Very helpful tips for bloggers. I would say that blog should get update very frequently will be great and unique content is very much required.
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peter john says
Thanks for the great tips. Most of the people don’t agree but can listen to others opinions. It’s quiet interesting for the information which are new.
This is great, too bad I just found this article from technorati. Thanks for the guide
Marketing Ideas 101 says
I laughed out loud at the notion of looking at your own analytics to discern what keywords you should be using. Yeesh. People really do that?
Trending keyword referrers provide insight for content creation that has consistently resulted in increased business outcomes. We’re “sheeshing” all the way to the bank.
futures trading says
Creating or “curating” content is always top of mind for our clients and
a good old fashioned Q&A is usually the first place to start.