Blogging is easy. But doing it well – and generating actual results – is time-consuming and challenging.
Unlike in Field of Dreams, if you build it, they won’t come. More than two million blog posts are written every day, so you can’t just rely on people randomly stumbling across your latest article. It takes a lot more than just writing dozens – or even hundreds – of pieces of content to make your blog a success.
However, it is possible to achieve real, measurable results from your blogs. Here’s how…
Research your audience and their pain points
You won’t grow your audience without knowing who they actually are. What makes them tick? What motivates them? What do they need help with? How do they consume content, and when? Without this information, you’re basically just screaming into the void.
There are a few ways for you to access this data, including:
- Google Analytics: While some marketing experts doubt the veracity of the demographics tools in Analytics, some studies – such as this one from Humix – have shown it’s actually pretty accurate. While we wouldn’t recommend basing your whole content marketing strategy around the age, gender, device and location information found within Analytics, it’s certainly a helpful jumping-off point for further research.
- Facebook Audience Insights: Facebook generates a lot of data (around 4 petabytes a day). Why not make use of it? With Audience Insights, you can find people who are interested in your brand or subject area, then view the pages they like. You can also segment further by age, gender and location. It’s far more useful for B2C audiences than B2B though, so if your brand sells office supplies or business accounting services, it probably won’t be much help.
- YouGov Profiles: Unless you’re a big brand, it’s unlikely you’ll have your own free YouGov Profile. But the rest of your research should highlight a few major brands that your audience relate to, so there’s certainly some useful data to be found here.
- Ask your sales team! Your salespeople – and also your account managers – will have more insight into the behaviour and mindset of your customers than anyone else in your business, because they speak to them every day. Dig into that information: find out the common questions your current and potential customers are asking, and the daily challenges they face. Use that detail to inform your content strategy.
The most important point here is that none of the above information should be used in insolation to create a blog schedule.
All of these methods will occasionally throw up something weird that doesn’t correlate with your wider audience (according to YouGov Profiles, Nike customers’ favourite film is Police Academy 3: Back in Training, which seems unlikely). But combined, they can give you an extremely valuable insight into the content your readers want to consume.
What long-tail terms can I target?
When it comes to blogging, SEO isn’t a dirty word (well, a dirty acronym). It’s the GPS that connects your audience with the great content you’re producing.
From header and title tags to alt text in images and internal linking, there are plenty of SEO basics you should be using to improve the organic visibility of your blog. The next step is to ensure you’re blogging about topics that people are actually searching for.
One of the best tools for this task is Answer the Public. Enter any term and it’ll produce a visualisation of all the related query-style searches and prepositions, based on its huge database of Google autocomplete results.
You can download this data into a spreadsheet, then run it through Google’s free Keyword Planner to identify the search volumes around each phrase. That’ll help you decide which terms are worth targeting with content.
What can I learn from my PPC data?
The AdWords Search Queries tab in Google Analytics shows you all the queries that have brought people to your site via paid search, coupled with the number of conversions those queries have generated.
Most of this information won’t be much help for creating a blog schedule – a lot of it will be brand-related, or specific to certain products. But if you filter by query-type searches – who, what, when, where, why, how – and words like “best” and “compare”, you’ll be presented with the long-tail phrases that your audience are searching for.
Essentially, you’ve created a list full of potential content titles that you know are of interest to your audience. That’s invaluable when it comes to planning a content marketing strategy.
Learn from your competitors
Imitation may be the greatest form of flattery, but it’s also an extremely effective way to identify blog topics.
Obviously, you can just see what your competitors are blogging about for a bit of inspiration, but it’s also possible to be a little more sophisticated in your approach.
With the Content Gap tool from ahrefs, you can enter multiple competitor domains alongside your own. This generates a list of keywords for which your rivals are ranking, but you aren’t.
A lot of this data will be brand terms specific to your competitors, and therefore probably not much help. But if you export the data to a spreadsheet and filter out these terms, what’s left will be a list full of phrases you can target through your blog content.
Give your readers somewhere to go next
If you’ve put the hard work in to bring someone to your blog, you should be giving them every reason to engage with the rest of your site.
It’s not necessarily a problem if your blog has a higher bounce rate than the rest of your site. Google says the average blog bounce rate is 70-98%, so don’t be shocked if the majority of people who visit your blog are bouncing straight off after engaging with an article.
It can even be a good thing – they might have found all the information they needed by reading one blog, which will keep you front of mind next time they have a similar query.
However, all too often blogs have a sky-high bounce rate because users simply don’t have an obvious or compelling reason to click through once they’ve engaged with your content.
It doesn’t take much effort to tackle this problem. Give your visitors a list of related articles to read next, and include a compelling call to action through to your product or contact form pages.
Also, don’t overdo popups. While they can be an extremely effective way to build an email list, more than two-thirds of people find them annoying. If you are going to use them, do it sparingly – and as unobtrusively as possible.
If you blog for the sake of blogging, you’re unlikely to see any benefit. But if you take the time to understand your audience and research your topics, your blog can have a real impact on your organic visibility and conversions. So make sure you’re:
- Researching and iteratively updating your audience’s pain points
- Identifying content gaps by reviewing the key terms your competitors are ranking for
- Regularly reviewing your PPC data to highlight growing trends and long-tail queries
- Planning future content based on long-tail searches from tools like Answer the Public
- Creating compelling calls to action for every blog you produce
Struggling to generate results from your blog? Don’t have the time to build a content marketing strategy? We can help you! Get in touch with us today