Maintaining a successful blog is not easy. While they may seem like a simple way to drive visitors to your website, there's a lot more that goes into running a successful blog then it may appear on the surface.
For starters, there’s the actual writing and editing of each blog post. Then you have to consider the work that goes into the creation and maintenance of an editorial calendar that ensures you’re posting regularly and that your posts are tying into your overall content strategy. On top of all that, you have to plan the promotion of each blog post itself to ensure it’s reaching as many people as possible. It’s a lot.
But more important than all of this is first having something to write about. It may sound basic, but developing blog topics is one of the most difficult parts of managing a blog. You have to come up with topics that your targeted audience wants to read on a regular basis. Without doing some analysis, how can you ensure the work you’re putting into creating posts will be worth it? Where do you begin?
In order to hone in on relevant blog topics for your organization, we’ll walk through a simple brainstorming exercise. This exercise is intended to help you match up the topics you have expertise in with what your visitors are most interested to read about.
What will the result be? A higher likelihood that people will find your blog posts in search results (not to mention a great opportunity to show off your organization’s expertise).
Step 1: Review Top Organic Search Keywords
Google Analytics helps us determine the most popular keywords that visitors use in search before landing on your website, and Google’s keyword research tools also provide search terms being used for that you want to rank for.
Say, for example, you run a plumbing business but your company doesn’t come up in local “plumbing” searches. That’s not great. Content targeted toward this can help change that. By knowing what people are searching for, you can develop blog posts that capitalize on their interests, resulting in a higher likelihood your website is found during relevant searches.
If you haven’t already, set up an account and connect your website to Google Analytics. Here’s a guide from Google on how to accomplish this. From there, see which keywords are guiding the most traffic to your site.
With this data, you’ll have a better sense of what you’re already ranking well for and content topics you need to invest your time in to improve search visibility.
Then, take a look at the keyword research to see which search terms present the opportunity that’s most relevant to your business.
Step 2: Review Services or Products Advertised on Your Website
Website visitors who turn into customers will be purchasing one of the services or products listed on your site. By keeping in mind the services they are interested in when developing content, we can better plan to create content that is useful and relevant for those visitors.
List them in order of popularity as follows:
Service 3 and so on
Step 3: Determine Your Expertise
Take 2-3 minutes to write down what you consider to be your organization’s expertise. What sets you apart from your competitors and overall market? This can include technical proficiencies, business differentiators and even intangible qualities or knowledge that your employees possess. If it directly benefits customers, then you should include it in your list.
The more specific you can be, the better. For example, at Simple Machines Marketing we would list something like “strategic marketing planning that positions clients for success” over something much less descriptive like, “marketing.”
Step 4: Audit Existing Content
Looking back over your existing content is a great way to see where the gaps are in the buyer’s journey for your personas. By conducting a content audit, you’ll be able determine where you’re lacking content and develop topics to address this.
Use a chart like the one below to go through your existing content for each of your buyer personas. Your personas are the semi-fictional characters your organization uses to visualize the different segments of your real and potential customers, while the buyer’s journey is the process customers go through to gain awareness of your business, consider their options and then make a decision on what to purchase.
Step 5: Develop Topics
After taking into consideration what your website visitors have demonstrted interest in, what your audience is already searching, what your organization’s strengths are and where you need to fill in gaps in your content strategy, you can take a more strategic approach to developing blog topics.
To kickstart some initial ideas, take your framework from steps 1-4, fill in the blanks in the following example titles and continue developing more titles based on the information developed in your brainstorm.
- How-to ___________________
- 5 examples of ___________________
- What you need to know about___________________
- Unique ways to ___________________
- What’s the difference between ___________________ and __________________?
- Why you should never forget to ___________________ when ___________________
- Why didn’t my ___________________ turn out like I thought it would?
- Best practices for ___________________.
Step 6: Constantly Reassess
The key to making blog topics that resonate with your audience is to constantly track and analyze what they respond to and what they ignore. It may be the case that something you were sure was going to be a big hit ended with… crickets.
The truth is that there will be missteps along the way. Be sure to stay up-to-date on how your blog posts are performing by reviewing analytics so you can fully determine why one post is more popular than another. Maybe it was shared by an influential user on social media, or you used a tone or headline different from your usual posts. Whatever the reason may be, by tracking the performance of your blog posts, you can make more informed decisions on what topics you should invest your time in.
And there you have it. Follow these steps to develop blog topics that will drive traffic to your organization and make creating interesting, useful blog posts a whole lot easier.