This is a guest post for the MELD Coworking blog written by Oli Graham.
Writing successful blogs can be time-consuming for business owners and professional writers alike. It is frustrating to pour hours into conceptualizing and writing posts, only to find they end up getting very few views.
If you want people to find your content via search engines, then understanding what people are looking for when they make a search is key.
Fortunately, Google itself gives you a lot of this information when you search for a potential blog topic.
Here is how to find and utilize this wealth of information to improve and speed up your blogging.
1. Use Google’s autocomplete feature to measure interest in your topic
When writing website content, it is not enough for your blog topic to be relevant to your business. It also needs to be something your target audience is interested in – as quantified by search volume.
Keyword tools are often used for this purpose.
Google, for example, has a keyword planner – however, the data you get from it is vague and inaccurate. It also is not updated very often. This makes it difficult to keep your finger on the pulse of the latest trends.
An easier and more efficient way to measure interest in any given topic is to simply begin typing your topic into Google’s search bar, and check whether Google’s autocomplete feature predicts it.
As you type, Google anticipates various completed phrases based on the volume of searches containing those terms.
This is helpful for two reasons.
First, as the autocomplete tool is based on recent search data, it gives insight into how popular the topic is overall – whether it justifies a blog post to begin with.
Second, it can help to refine your idea by shaping your title and blog according to specific search trends.
Here’s an example to demonstrate how this works. Let’s say you’re a toy-store owner who wants to write a blog post with advice on buying gifts for kids. “Gifts for kids” is therefore your core topic.
With the core of the topic established, you can then check the suggestions from autocomplete, which returns more specific queries:
Evidently, a lot of people are looking for ways to keep their kids entertained indoors at the moment – so a blog titled “The Best Gifts for Kids in Lockdown” might be a good way to go. You may want to narrow this down further, for example, “Arty Gifts for Kids in Lockdown Who Like Drawing”.
While this limits your audience in theory, you have a far better chance of ranking a post written about a specific and well-defined topic than a generic one.
By entering one core topic into Google, the autocomplete feature can give several relevant, qualified blog titles.
It is worth noting that although Google’s autosuggest is a useful tool for coming up with blog titles, it is not perfect. You should further qualify any blog topic by asking people if it is of any interest.
Coworking spaces give you the opportunity to test ideas on fellow entrepreneurs and freelancers. This can be particularly useful if you generally work by yourself and have no obvious sounding board for topic ideas.
2. Discover user intent and competition to assess your chances of ranking
Having narrowed down to a few potential titles, you now need to ascertain whether your blog post has any chance of ranking for the terms in the title.
Searching your proposed title in Google and seeing what results it delivers can give you big clues into how likely you are to rank a post on any given topic
This is for two reasons:
- It allows you to ascertain user intent on the topic
- It helps to judge how much competition you’ll be up against in ranking your blog
For the uninitiated, “user intent” is essentially just what kind of content people are looking for when they enter search terms. Are they looking for an informational blog, such as a gift guide, or do they want an online store page to buy the gifts?
Search engines are designed to give users the type of content that their search indicates that they are looking for. Aligning your content to a given search is therefore key.
Let’s illustrate this with another example.
“Where to buy great kids gifts” might seem like a decent blog topic – exploring different toy stores, and the best options depending on what kind of gift you want. However, the fact that most of the top-ranking results are online stores indicates that people who enter this term want to buy gifts, not find information on them.
Therefore, a better option for your blog title would be something like “How to choose kids gifts”. As evidenced by Google’s search results here, the “user intent” in this case is informational, so a guide-style blog fits the bill.
Seeing what pages Google ranks on the first page for any given term can also tell you what competition there is for any given topic.
Generally, bigger sites rank much more easily than smaller ones. The volume of traffic and number of backlinks to those sites gives them a huge advantage.
An example of this is evident in our second image above. There were exceptions who were able to rank even when they didn’t match the user intent of a search term, owing to their size.
So, before locking in your blog topic, type it into Google and scope the competition. If the first page largely features prominent companies and publications, you’re very unlikely to be able to rank against them on the topic.
In cases like these, you then need to get more specific. Look at the autocomplete suggestions, try combining different parts of them, and re-enter the search term.
Once you hit a combination that returns mostly smaller websites, you’re set to go.
Pro-tip: If you find a topic that frequently pops up in forums but has no authored content, you’ve struck gold. People often use forums when they can’t find relevant content in their searches, so a well-written blog on such a topic should net you lots of traffic.
3. Google’s “People also ask” tabs can help you structure your post
With the topic and title in hand, you can get into the meat of the content. This brings us to one final tip for utilizing Google in your blogging.
Type in your proposed blog title. If you scroll past the top results, you get to a section called “people also ask”.
Let’s look again at “gifts for kids”:
Now, see if you can incorporate these questions into your writing structure.
A significant benefit of doing this is that even if your blog is on a very specific subtopic (“Arty Gifts for Kids in Lockdown Who Like Drawing”) you can still include sections on arty gifts for birthdays, for different age groups, and so on.
This gives you the best of both worlds as far as SEO goes – creating in-depth content but on topics for which there is relatively little competition.
The key takeaway here: build your content based on what people are searching for.
Not only will it net you more organic traffic, but it makes the writing process far easier. It can be very difficult trying to come up with novel ideas for topics with so much content out there. Yet, novel ideas are often simply combinations of existing ones assembled in a different way.
Put differently, Google is your friend. Using these techniques, you can find out what kind of content people want, which topics are saturated, and where you can fill a gap.
About the Author
Oli Graham is the Marketing Manager at content writing Agency RightlyWritten. He believes that in the next few years marketers will shake off their bad name and be seen as producing some of the most popular content online