Data-Driven Pro Tips for Researching Blog Topics

by Christina Hooper on March 4, 2020
in General

Don't let your lack of inspiration screw your publishing schedule

If you've been blogging for any length of time, you know how much of your soul goes into every article that you publish.  You painstakingly craft every word.  Design every graphic.  Meticulously use bullet points to make it easier to read.

Then you unleash it on the world and get ready for the inevitable success that should follow it's launch.

You wait.  and you wait.  and you wait... and nothing.  Your carefully crafted post flopped like so many are destined to do.  What the heck happened?!

As an industry expert, we tend to overestimate our own knowledge.  We think we can predict success.  But just because we like our own posts doesn't mean that our audience will too.

Instead of relying on our own opinion, we need to analyze audience data before we even start writing so that we can choose topics with a greater chance of success.

Let me show you 5 data-driven tactics for choosing topics that will resonate with your audience.

#1 - Leverage Google

Look at articles that are already performing well on your blog.  Then head over to Google.

Type in the title of a successful article and then take a look at Google's "People also ask" box in the search results.

This box will be filled with queries that other people have asked that Google thinks are related to the one you searched.

If your audience liked the main topic, then there's a good chance that they'll enjoy content about these related topics.

#2 - Read Their Conversations

This might sound like you're being a bit of a stalker but I'm not suggesting anything immoral or illegal.

I'm suggesting that you read through things they publish online that are publicly available.

As an inbound marketing professional, I spend (too much) time on marketing related blogs like Inbound.org and HubSpot's Marketing Blog.  But I am able to draw sooooo much inspiration from them for good topics.

People that are trying to get better at marketing are posting questions and leaving comments on articles every day.  Many people even post professional information about themselves like their job titles or the companies that they work at.  

You can use this information to make a connection with your buyer personas.

This makes it easy to see what your personas are really looking for when they hit the web and try to find answers to their questions and solutions to their problems.

If you aren't sure where your audience hangs out, then start with Quora.  Search for a topic that you're considering and see what people are asking about.

Let me show you how this works:

You will find a ton of questions just on the main result page, but you can click into a question to see a full discussion about it and get more details and insights that can help you develop your article even farther.

Did one of these tips inspire you?  Let me know what you plan to write in the comments below!

#3 - See What Works for Your Competitors

If you have done your research into your competition, then you already know who you are trying to beat online.  There's a really good chance that at least some of your personas will overlap.

So if content is successful for them, then there's a good chance that it will be for you too.


Performing Well = Engagement
You aren't just looking for topics that they write about a lot or what they've published recently. You are looking for indications that their audience is enjoying the content.  Look at comments on blog posts.  On social posts about those articles, look for likes, shares, and comments.

You can use tools like BuzzSumo or EpicBeat to dig into their most shared posts.  Look through and see if your audience could benefit from the same or similar content on your site.

But don't stop there. Make it better!

Your goal isn't to simply do as well as your competition.  You want to do better than them.

  • Give the content the benefit of your own unique perspective.  
  • Provide more details, or explain things in a way that's easier to understand.
  • Include a video or other graphics to illustrate the concepts.

#4 - Do More of What Works Already

Ok - I know - do more of what works is kind of like "DUH!"... but stick with me for a minute.

Your own data will be more accessible, more accurate, faster to obtain, and easier to understand than anything you get from any tool or any other website.

So take the steps that you need to help you surface the best-performing posts quickly.  Use tools like SharpSpring, WordPress Tags & Categories, and HubSpot to help track where your leads are coming from.

You want to look at metrics like:

  • page views
  • time spent on the page
  • subscribers acquired
  • leads generated

You also want to consider how many posts you have on a particular topic.  If you have a lot of articles on Topic #1 and not a lot of articles on Topic #2 then it would make sense that you would see more traffic aimed at that topic.

#5 - Talk to Sales

If you want to gain more insights into the information that your customers and leads are seeking, then your sales team should be your first stop.

They answer questions from prospects and customers.  Your sales team knows what things are keeping your customers up at night and they know how to overcome those objections by providing information.  They know what information is the most and least helpful.

If you aren't interviewing your sales team members regularly for new content then you are looking right over one of your most valuable resources for new content that is guaranteed to appeal to your audience.

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