A lot of businesses are put off blogging as they do not want to put several hours into writing a post with no benefit to their business. Fortunately, there is a simple, free way to help you qualify and plan a potential blog post: the humble Google search.
As it turns out, search engines are a powerful means of understanding demand for a topic, gleaning keyword information, and seeing the type of pages that people are looking for when making a specific search
To apply this to your next blog post, all you have to do is follow these steps.
1. Use the auto suggest feature to gauge the level of interest in your blog post
The first step to writing a blog post that actually benefits your business is picking a topic that is of sufficient interest to your audience.
Naturally, keyword tools are a popular choice for determining whether a specific topic is of interest to people. While Google has its own keyword planner, the data that you get from this tool is rarely updated.
A far better way to gauge interest into a topic is to slowly type your topic into the Google search bar, and see if the autosuggest anticipates it.
When you begin to type a query in Google, the bar anticipates what your entire search term will be. This feature is known as Google Autocomplete, and it’s a predictive function based off of the most popular searches that use the same terms.
This feature can both qualify whether an existing idea is popular enough to be worth writing about, and help you turn a fuzzy idea on a general topic into a usable title.
Let’s say, for example, that you own a boutique clothing store and are hoping to create a blog post catered toward those shopping for Father’s Day gifts. You know the core subject you want to write about, so you can type that into the search bar to reveal more fully fleshed out queries.
With this information in mind, you might choose to write a blog titled “Father’s Day Gift Guide from Daughters in 2020” or “How to Create The Perfect Father’s Day Gift Basket”. In any case, it’s clear that taking a few seconds to plug a seedling of an idea into Google will help it blossom into a fully formed concept.
2. Gain insight into user intent and keyword competition
Once you have a fine-tuned topic in mind thanks to Google’s autocomplete feature, you can go about perfecting the structure of the title, and double-checking that any post that you write won’t be buried in a sea of higher-ranking posts.
Searching the topic that you plan to write about can help you avoid this in two ways:
- It helps to gauge “user intent” on the topic
- It helps you gauge the level of competition for your topic
While “user intent” is bandied around as a mysterious SEO buzzword, all it really means is that you need to choose blog topics that justify an informational article rather than, say, a product or service page.
Take the search: “where to buy the best designer coat”. While this may seem like a decent blog post idea where you list the best coat shops in your local area, Google tells us that the majority of people who search this are actually looking to buy a designer coat. They therefore want sales pages for these coats.
This is indicated by the fact that all the top ranking pages for this term are sales pages.
So, instead of titling your blog “Where to buy the best designer coat”, choose something like “How to choose the perfect designer coat”. When someone searches for this they are looking for a guide, rather than to buy something, so a blog post is appropriate for this topic.
Again, Googling your topic and seeing the types of pages that it delivers can give us this information.
As long as you have a firm grasp on what you’re hoping to accomplish with a piece of content, then Google will provide clear answers as to whether or not your working title will meet those goals.
When a topic has passed the autocomplete and searcher intent tests, there’s one more hurdle left to jump before you can assuredly get started on writing your content: sizing up the competition.
When it comes to rankings and traffic, bigger sites get preference over smaller ones.
You should take this into account when choosing a topic for your blog post.
Again a quick Google search of your topic can give you an idea of the competition for any given topic. Simply scan the results on the first page of Google and look at the types of sites that are ranking.
If the front page is dominated by large authority websites (think national newspapers and global brands), then your chances of getting organic traffic are far lower.
This can be disheartening, but you should think about writing about something more specific. Remember to use the autocomplete trick again to get the right balance between demand and specificity when picking a narrower topic.
When analysing competition, an ideal results page will contain pages from smaller sites. An ideal result shows articles that do not quite address the topic at hand, and forums on the topic.
People tend to use forums when they search a topic, but cannot quite find the perfect answer.
It’s time for you to go and fill that gap.
3. Let Google help you structure your blog post
There’s one final way that Google can improve upon the end result of your content while you’re still in the ideation phase, but you’ll need to scroll beyond those first few results in order to find it.
The “people also ask” section of the page gives you insight into the types of questions people that are interested in your topic are after. If you scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, you’ll even find fodder for future content with tangentially related searches.
As you can see, if you are writing an article on building a website, you may well want to include a section on free platforms to use, and talk about recent (2020) best practices in website design.
When you structure your own content according to the way people are actually searching you’re more likely to gain organic traffic with your posts. Keeping related search terms in mind for the future will save you research time when it comes to writing your next blog.
Rather than over-complicating the process the next time you sit down to plan new content, simply open your browser and start Googling the topics in your industry—things are bound to fall into place from there.
You might also like: 8 foolproof blog post ideas (+ free download)
About the Author:
Oli Graham is the Head of Content at copyrighting agency RightlyWritten.
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