Do you struggle coming up with content ideas for your blog?
Or maybe you create plenty of blog posts, but they get few views and even less engagement?
If you find that creating engaging content is challenging, keep reading.
This article will identify some of the best tips, tools and tactics for creating blog content that helps grow your business.
#1: Be the resource your customers really need
What's your ideal customer's biggest problem? Your blog is not about your business, it's about your customers.
If you want to attract and engage your prospects and lead them down the sales funnel, you need to focus on them and their problems.
The more you create content that helps your prospects succeed, the more engaged they'll become with your blog.
So how do you know what your audience is struggling with?
If you've been in business for a while, chances are you already know a lot of what your customers are struggling with.
But if you're starting from scratch or you want to uncover more opportunities where you can help your customers, consider creating a survey using a free tool like Survey Monkey or Google Docs.
Extract the “keywords” that drive the questions.
Once you have a list of the problems your customers face, you'll start to notice some recurring phrases.
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Maybe it's “public speaking,” or “college admissions” or “dating advice.” (If it's all three, you may want to narrow your focus.)
Grab one of those phrases, brainstorm a few alternatives and head on over to Google's Adword Keyword Tool.
Plug your phrases into the box, choose “exact match” and hit “search.”
Google will return your keyword phrases plus a number of related phrases. It will also show you how many people have searched for each phrase in the last 30 days, and how competitive those phrases are (at least in the pay-per-click arena; a good indicator of how difficult it may be to rank well for these phrases).
The Global and Local Monthly Searches columns will give you insight into how much interest there is in a specific keyword. Focus on phrases that have high search volume for your blog posts.
Once you've identified your most promising keywords, go to Google Insights for Search. While there are some amazing reports you can generate from Insights, scroll right down to the bottom and look at Top Searches and Rising Searches.
Top Searches will give you a sense of what people are searching for now, while Rising Searches will give you a sense of what the next big search terms will be.
Creating valuable content before it becomes mainstream can give an incredible boost to your blog traffic. Other bloggers will tend to cite your work when they post related content (creating inbound links to your blog), and search engines will often reward your post because of its longevity.
I've seen this on my blog and website when I've written on a topic before it's really caught on. An article I wrote back in 2008 entitled How to Use Twitter for Business still attracts over 250 new prospects per month to our site more than four years after I wrote it!
Would your business benefit from getting in front of 3,000 new prospects a year who had never heard of your company before? 😉
You should also plug your best keywords into Google Alerts (that's the last Google plug, I promise!).
Every day, Google will deliver news stories, blog posts and even tweets to your inbox about your best keywords. Those are all the seeds of great content posts your ideal customer is interested in.
#2: Answer the unanswered questions
People often come to the web to seek answers and advice. Your audience is no different.
Answering their questions in your blog is a great way to attract and engage them.
It's likely that you get emails from your current customer base looking for advice.
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Stop answering them!
OK, that's not exactly what I mean. But don't answer them right away.
Instead, when someone asks you a question that you feel others are likely struggling with, that's a perfect opportunity to create a “Dear Abby”–style post.
Whether it's “Why can't I post to my Facebook page as myself?” or “How can a B2B company use Pinterest?“, you can create content that will help attract your ideal customer.
Think about it: If one person is asking you that question, how many other hundreds or thousands who don't have a resource to turn to are using Google or Bing? And Google (usually) won't answer the question, they'll just refer the searcher to an authoritative source… like your blog.
Unless it was a question about bedwetting and you used their name, chances are they'll be proud they asked such an intelligent question. Bonus: you're (re)introducing them to your blog.
#3: Find the questions your customers are asking
Next, you need to figure out what your customers want to know now. Do some research to find the questions they're asking.
Quora, Yahoo Answers and LinkedIn Answers.
These are just a few of the popular Q&A sites on the web today. People pose questions at these sites in all types of categories, from parenting to management, home repair to manufacturing.
But just because a question is asked (and even answered) doesn't mean that the topic is closed. Chances are you have a better, more nuanced or just different answer to the question.
Take the question and make it your own on your blog.
This is one of my favorite tools for filling a blog with engaging questions, whether you're a long-time blogger or just starting out.
Keyword Questions queries WordTracker's search engine partners to find questions that have been posed with your keywords in them.
I've found that using broad terms for this tool provides the best results. In other words, use “golf” rather than “golf tips.”
You remember FAQs, right? Those pages on a website that are covered in dust bunnies, having not been updated since 1997?
Your competition has left some great questions up on their site with out-of-date answers on them. Your job is to find those musty old questions, shake them off and breathe new life into them.
In no way am I suggesting stealing from your competitors! Frequently asked questions are by definition frequently asked. Tweak the question and answer it from your own perspective, based on your experience, in your own voice.
Comments on a blog post often ask follow-up questions to the original post. Unfortunately, many of these questions go unanswered. Even when they do garner a response, that answer is buried in the comments, difficult to find and share with others.
If someone asks a good follow-up question in the comment section of your own blog, consider creating a new blog post as a response and linking to it in your reply.
Also, popular industry blogs will often generate more comments than the blogger can keep up with. Check out the comment section on popular blog posts and see if there are some great questions being asked that you can answer on your own blog.
Whether you're pulling questions from emails, Q&A sites, Keyword Questions, competitors' FAQs or a comments section, you're providing a service to your audience as long as you're creating a fresh perspective on their challenges.
Plus, your blog posts will make the answers easier to find, read and share than if they were buried in a Q&A site or hidden in an email exchange.
If you want to attract and engage a loyal audience to your blog, you need to be continually creating content that is of interest to them, not necessarily of interest to you.
By researching your keywords, digging a little deeper and uncovering the questions your ideal customer is asking, you can build a blog that builds your business.
What do you think?
What tips, tactics or techniques have you used to create content that engages your audience? Let us know in the comments box below. Who knows? Maybe it will inspire you or another reader to create even more compelling content for a future blog post!
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