How to Conduct Research for Your Blog
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When you want to create expert quality blog posts that will be read, shared, and raved over, you’ll need to conduct research. The amount and type of research you conduct for a given blog post depends on several factors. What your readers are looking for, what level of knowledge they already have, and what you hope to gain from those readers are three of the top things to take into consideration.
How to Research You Blog Post
1. Brainstorm Ideas on Your Topic
To do this, decide what your readers and website visitors may be looking for, how much they may already know, and what you’d like to gain from creating the post.
Before starting your research, first determine what exactly your readers are looking for. This blog post you’re reading now could be interpreted in two ways. Readers might want to know how to research and create a list of blog post ideas, such as for a content calendar. Or they may want to know how to research information to create an individual blog post they intend to write. For the purposes of this article, we’re focusing on the second option.
2. Keyword Research
To ensure that your content shows up in Google searches, you’re going to want to do keyword research and identify relevant keywords around your topic. You can use a tool like Ahrefs, SEMRush, or Ubersuggest for keyword research.
When doing keyword research, you need to focus on two things: the keyword difficulty and the keyword volume. Keyword difficulty refers to how competitive each term is within the industry. A low-keyword-difficulty term means there’s less competition than with high-keyword-difficult terms. On the other hand, if it has a higher keyword difficulty, then there’s more competition.
Keyword volume refers to how many people actually enter the phrase when searching online. You want to find keywords that have enough monthly search volume so that people will actually come to your site but that aren’t overly difficult.
As you do your research, also look for related search terms to include in your content. These should help drive additional traffic to your site.
3. Research Your Competition
Once you’ve identified some good keywords, it’s time to do some competitor analysis. Use tools like Buzzsumo, SimilarWeb, Alexa, Compete, Quantcast, and others to get a better understanding of who else is out there competing against you. Look at their websites, social media profiles, and even their backlinks. The goal here isn’t necessarily to copy them; rather, you want to understand where they’re getting their traffic and why they rank well.
For example, if you see a website similar to yours is ranking well in searches for the same topic you are going to write about, you’ll need to put in the extra effort to ensure that your content is just as good, if not better. Google probably won’t rank you if your content is just the same as the competition.
4. Decide on the Format of Your Blog Post
Once you’ve identified your topic and researched the competition, it’s time to figure out the format for your blog post. In many ways, the format will be dictated by the topic. There are literally dozens of potential formats you can use for your post, including:
- Case study
- How-to guide
- Expert roundup
- Ultimate guide
If you don’t know exactly what kind of article would work best for your audience, try writing several different types of posts and seeing which ones perform the best. This way, you can make sure that you’re providing value to readers while still keeping them engaged throughout the entire process.
5. Read Authoritative Sources
The best way to create an authentic, believable, authoritative blog post is to use reputable sources when researching.
Sometimes finding reliable sources for a topic is the hardest part of writing. Internet search engines often give the most weight to the loudest sites, even if they are not necessarily the best. And some sites look loud by being fresh and prolific. The problem is that most of those types of sites may simply parrot information found online with a cursory glance. They don’t verify sources and accuracy because they’re too focused on generating lots of content quickly and cheaply. You can use this to your advantage.
Search the web for the topic you’re writing on. Use your primary key phrase, even if you haven’t chosen a full title yet. Look closely at the top five results in Google, Bing, and Mobile search engines. If those top five sites are mostly fluff, then keep digging. In some cases, you may need to look at all of the sites on the first five pages of search results. If you’re unable to find acceptable resources in those pages, you may need to modify your search phrase until you find better sources.
Good reference sources are authoritative. Large news websites, for instance, are often excellent. Well known national magazines are also considered reliable and reputable sources. Be sure you’re not using publications that have a strong bias for or against something, however, because their articles may be worded specifically to imply something without actually having statistics or data for it.
The best reference sources for you to use in your research are educational, professional, or statistical. Educational content is often well researched and may include material from universities or educational publications. Professional sources may include trade magazines and professional associations. Statistical references are often research publications. These are sometimes created for educational or professional purposes, and often have plenty of specific data to back up given claims. Google Scholar is an excellent tool to use for finding these publications.
Last but not least, don’t forget that you can use people and print books to research blog posts. Call or email an expert on the topic to ask them questions, or look through books at your local library to find reference material.
6. Organize Your Talking Points
As you read through the sources you’ve found online and off, take notes about what is commonly covered in each. Those top five results on a search engine likely touch upon areas of the topic that you should as well. You will not be copying what they say, simply take notes about what they say so that you can verify and write it better in your version of the article.
As you read through the news, magazines, books, and research reports, you may find there are additional topics to include in your blog post. Talking to experts may add others as well. Note down all of the thoughts, ideas, and points of interest you find. If you’re not sure about one or two, write it down anyway. There’s no rule that says you can’t remove it later.
Once you have your general notes and ideas, start organizing them into a logical flow. Well researched blog posts don’t always begin at the beginning, and they’re not always written from top to bottom. Don’t be afraid to cut and paste your notes and talking points into other sections of your post based on what makes sense as you’re writing.
As you are organizing notes, talking points, ideas, and subtopics, you’ll begin to expand some of the sections. Feel free to write whichever part strikes you first. Don’t worry about making it perfect in the beginning, simply write based on what you’ve learned from your research. Keep writing each section until you have a fully finished blog post ready for editing.
7. Brainstorm Titles
There are two ways to approach writing a blog post title. Some advocate creating the title first, and then writing your article to support the chosen title. Others feel it is more helpful to research and write the article in full before creating the final title for the post.
How you choose to approach this step will depend on your work style. If you like to brainstorm, research, and take notes of information before you begin writing, then you may like creating the title last. If, however, you come up with fantastic blog post titles and want to create content that supports the title, then you simply need to find research that supports the content as you’d like to write it.
Sometimes starting with a working title is your default option because you’ve determined it’s what your readers are looking for. When this is the case, you may find yourself adjusting the title several times to ensure it fits the topic, supplies your readers what they want, and is competitive in search engines.
Visit a search engine such as Google or Bing and enter the blog title exactly as you’re thinking of using it. You’ll find that the search engine makes related suggestions. These suggestions indicate the exact phrases users type in when they’re looking for the topic. Sometimes you’ll find that one of the similar phrases is a much better blog topic than the one you had originally planned to use.
Conducting research for your blog posts is the best way to get them ranked well in search engines while also making your readers thrilled. To help convey authority and build trust, be sure to reference the sources you used in the article. If possible, link to the authoritative sources. This lets readers know that you are a professional and it raises the value of your website in the eyes of the search engine algorithms.
When you use offline research material such as books, list those at the bottom of your article or incorporate the information into the body of the content. You might say, “According to the 1997 XYZ Book…” and include the pertinent details. You can even choose a specific professional style guide to use for your blog formatting, and ensure each reference is formatted according to those guidelines.