Even when you’ve got the purpose and topic for your next blog post all figured out, you still need to conduct some proper research for your blog post. A careful research will help you write more focused content for both the search engines and the real people coming to read your post.
There are basically three types of research when writing your content. They are – keyword research, competitor research and content research.
Many say proper keyword research to be the very first and the most crucial step before writing any content. Many say it to be dead, obsolete, defunct. What is keyword research and how should you do it in 2021?
What are Keywords?
There are too many definitions about this little deceiving word, all of them being essentially correct. It’ll be suffice to say that keywords are the search queries people enter on their favorite search engine which mostly is Google. “Water” is a single-word keyword, “Save water” also a keyword and “How to save water when stranded on a solo desert trip” is also a very specific long-tailed keyword.
So what did we learn? That they can be a single word, combination of two or more words or even a completely phrased out question. This lesson will prove valuable when researching what keywords to rank for.
Why are Keywords Important? (Yes, they still are)
Whenever you write something on your blog, you can promote or share that post to people you know who’ll be interested to read it. This is a very limited way for your post to get exposure. You’ll want people to come to your blog naturally and organically to gobble up everything you post naturally and organically.
If you know beforehand exactly what they’re searching for, you can then build your content around that keyword and witness them coming in huge numbers once you rank your post high enough to get noticed.
That long last sentence is not just bad writing. It also shows how difficult it probably is to rank your content on the first page of Google by only doing keyword research.
Keywords are still important because they give an idea about the search intent of the searcher. Why a particular term is being searched is way more important than the term itself. And your best friend to deduce that for you? Why, Google of course.
How to do Keyword Research
Earlier it was enough to find easy-to-rank-for keywords relevant to your niche and then stuffing them all over your content. Now it’s not so simple.
- Go to any keyword research tool out there and enter the topic you’ve decided for your blog post. Ubersuggest is a great tool in this regard.
- It shows you metrics such as Search Volume, Cost Per Click and SEO Difficulty for the keyword you entered as well as all the variants of it.
- Select one that will be easier to rank, with considerable volume and CPC. Play around to find a long-tail variation that is better suitable if your keyword seems too competitive. Ubersuggest also provides you with content ideas, traffic overview, keyword traffic and top pages traffic.
- Now enter that keyword you’ve selected in Google search console. You’ll get a ton of results. Look at them and try to find out the search intent for that particular keyword.
- Google helps in this regard by their “People also ask” section. They’ve already simplified the whole thing for you even if you don’t spend too much time on a keyword research tool.
- Try to find the search intent and a content gap that needs to be filled. Then work towards filling that gap.
Sun Tzu said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” In the blogging world, your competitors are not exactly your enemy but often your greatest allies. Still the fact remains that both you and your competitors are fighting over a dominance in the SE rankings. Knowing your competition and their mistakes or shortcomings will give you the perfect opportunity to fill a gap for both of your reader-base and thus beating them for a better ranking.
What is Competitor Research?
Competitive analysis in the business world means to know who your competitors are and how they are making use of their business. Similarly in the blogging world it is to know about other blogs in your niche or related niche who are competing for the same keyword you’ve selected and look for ways to beat them.
In simpler terms, competitor research is reverse engineering your competitors’ success and then take it up a notch.
Why is Competitor Research Important?
Sun Tzu was an old man you say. He certainly didn’t know anything about this digital world we live in. I’ve got better bullet points to stress the importance of competitive research than asking you to rely on the ancient strategist then:
- It will allow you to find the keywords that your competitors are already using successfully or not so successfully to outrank your content. Maybe your own keyword research overlooked or ignored those keywords.
- It will reveal what relevant keywords are not being used yet by your competitors. You can write your content based around those untouched keywords and easily get ranked.
- Going through their ranked content will give you insight on what type of blog post to write, with how many words, use of rich media content like photo or video and many more. Success often is just repeating what works.
- Going through their not-so-well-ranked content will give you ideas on how to outrank them by writing better content. Maybe more elaborate and research-driven posts are needed. Maybe simpler language is the need of the hour. Success often is just finding loopholes and gaps with the aim of repairing them right.
Keep in mind that I’m talking of competitor research from a broader perspective, not only keyword competitive analysis. A thorough competitor research means to gobble their content on a regular basis, not just stopping with finding unused or badly used keywords.
How to do Competitor Research
- While a lot of keyword research tools like Ubersuggest that I’ve mentioned above offer competitive analysis for keywords, you should be prepared to go truly spartan while aiming to do a thorough competitive research.
- That means to go through their sites, noting their design aspects, writing style, usage of rich media content – basically everything they have on display. Then copy their successful strategies while ditching their not so successful ones.
- Remember about search intent? Here’s how you can figure out if your competitors have already figured that out for your common keywords.
While searching anything on Google, there’s a “People also ask” section where Google is already trying to understand search intent for a particular keyword. This is a treasure trove of information. Do your competitors have content to answer most relevant of these queries? If they don’t, write one yourself and grab that space.
I’m deliberately leaving another important insight that you can get from your competitors – their backlinking strategies. I’ll write about that when talking pure SEO.
No, not the qualitative and quantitative analysis method for determining correlations and patterns in the process of communicating content. Did you understand anything out of the previous sentence? Neither did I. Neither we’ll have to.
What is Content Research?
You’ve got some valuable information already by doing keyword and competitor research. Now you just want to gain some more ideas on how to make your content better. Searching for your blog topic on different search engines, forums and social media platforms will give you these ideas. Moreover you might need to learn some more about what you’re going to write. Together they form the base of content research when it comes to blogging.
Why is Content Research Important?
- It will build TRUST among your readers.
- It will establish your AUTHORITY on the topic you write.
- It will gradually but surely increase your INFLUENCE in your selected niche.
These three things are what every content writer or digital marketer or any online entity strives for.
How to do Content Research
- Learn as deep as you can about your topic. Take notes, save quotes and interesting or useful data for later use, all the while keeping an alert eye on finding that perfect happy gap where you can fit your content.
- Post questions, create surveys and polls in social platforms to better understand your buyer persona, for you’ll be writing for them at the end.
- No matter how long your blog post may finally be, stick to the point you’re already making. Relevance is an often misused concept sometimes even in content produced by the thought leaders themselves. Deviating regularly from the main message can prove fatal to your blog if you pay no attention to it while writing your content.
The ultimate goal of content research is to present your content in the most authoritative way, like you’re THE one and only expert who knows more than anyone visiting your site. This might seem like an absurd goal but most of the times is achieved by simply changing the style and tone of your writing even.
“And then he planned and planned, only to discover he did nothing to put the plan into action.”
While all the things discussed here are certainly important, (I wouldn’t write about them if it weren’t) always remember that overused quote on the internet – “Over-planning kills magic.” You’ll learn more about whatever ScribbleSquare is trying to tell you once you actually start writing your content.
This was the second post in the Write Them Right series that originated in this little piece of content. I tried to give a holistic view about the different research methods to apply when writing your content. Please tell me if I’m successful in communicating that intent. In the next post, we’ll dive into how to create an outline for your future blog post.