There’s nothing quite as lonely as writing a blog no one reads. After all, a blog is supposed to spark conversations, debates, and social shares, and if you’re not getting those things, you’re essentially talking to yourself (some might consider that a tad weird). But, besides being lonely and perhaps a little odd, having a blog with no, or little, readership is bad for business. Your blog is one of the main ways to attract people to your brand, to increase your rankings in search results, and to get your name known on social networks. So, having one of value is vital for success.
What Makes a Blog Valuable?
Essentially, a valuable blog is full of stuff your audience wants to read, watch, and look at — it’s really that simple. You know your blog is valuable when you get consistently strong traffic and people are engaging (sharing socially, making comments, clicking on links, etc.). Business blogs usually focus on providing information, but they can also be for entertainment purposes or a combination of the two.
How to Create Value?
The first step in creating valuable content is to truly understand your audience. You’ll never amass a significant following if you’re writing content only for yourself (that’s called a journal), or if you’re trying to appeal to everyone (you won’t relate strongly to anyone).
So, take the time to analyze the readers you’re trying to target. The good news is, these people are probably the same as your target customers, which means, if you’ve done your market research, you should already know a great deal about them. If you haven’t researched your audience, well, there’s no time like the present.
Write down everything you know about them and search the net to learn everything you don’t know about them. Of course you should pinpoint their age, gender, socio-economic status, and other broad details, but even visualizing seemingly minute characteristics like what type of clothes they like to wear, what annoys them, or what keeps them up at night will make it easier for you to direct your writing to a “real” person instead of just a vague notion.
Coming up with Worthy Ideas
Even when you feel like you know your audience inside and out, it can still be difficult to come up with blog ideas they really want and need. However, meeting their needs should be your mission — you should become their go-to source for everything related to your industry. Because, keeping them engaged and coming back for more is the best way to lead them down the trail to conversion.
Here are some ways to find out what type of blog content they’re interested in:
- Ask Them: There’s no need to guess what subjects your readers are interested in when you can just ask them. There are plenty of free survey-making tools online that make it easy for you to embed a simple survey directly on your blog. Why not post a monthly survey about possible blog ideas and have people vote on what topic(s) they’d like you to cover. Most folks like putting in their two cents (especially when they only have to click a button).Besides a survey, you should also pay close attention to your comment feeds. You may find some follow-up questions or responses could be answered in a whole new post. If you aren’t getting many comments on your own site (yet), look at a competitor’s and take notice of any neglected questions and answer them on your blog.
- Focus on Keywords: If you’re asking your readers to submit topic suggestions(in written form) or getting ideas from comments, you’ll undoubtedly find yourself with a lot of people asking similar questions or proposing the same ideas — except they are phrasing them in slightly different ways. In such cases, try to pick out any words or phrases people are commonly repeating as they will likely be good candidates for keywords.Then run your proposed keywords (and variations) through a keyword tool and through Google Insights to see how popular and competitive those search terms are online. This will give you an idea if people are actually searching for those terms and if the competition is at a level where you can realistically compete.Using the best keywords will make it easier to rank highly in search engines and to connect with users interested in your content.
- Be Innovative: When analyzing keywords through Google Insights and similar tools, pay attention to search terms that are rising in popularity as opposed to strictly looking at top searches. Often times the rising searches are great topics to write about as you can be one of the first people to cover a subject before it becomes mainstream. You’ll appear cutting-edge and your readers will enjoy getting fresh content.
- Track Your Keywords Online: A quick and easy way to uncover relevant topics related to your keywords is to track how they are being discussed in other content throughout the web. A tool like Google Alerts can make the process simple as it will send you a daily update about where your keywords were mentioned (news articles, blog posts, tweets, etc.). This will help you stay current and should inspire new material.
- Don’t Answer a Question — Blog It!: Of course, you should always try to answer the questions your visitors ask, but if the same query consistently pops up in your site’s comment boards or email, don’t keep repeating the answer — blog about it instead. It’s obviously an issue that interests much of your audience, so creating a blog post will give you the opportunity to respond thoroughly.Also, even if you’re only asked a question once, if you think the rest of the crowd could benefit, go ahead and turn it into a whole posting as there’s likely other people wondering the same thing.
- Browse Q&A Sites: Q&A sites like Quora, LinkedIn Answers, and Yahoo Answers are full of questions people want answered (naturally) but, unfortunately, many of the responses are quite pitiful. You can do it better! Look through questions that relate to your industry, pinpoint a few with sub-par replies, and cover them in a blog post on your site. No doubt there are plenty of searchers looking for more accurate/thorough answers and will flock to your page for better information.I personally prefer Quora. Here are a couple of examples of questions I could blog about that I found on the very first page:
- Look at FAQs: Perhaps a few topics in your FAQ section warrant a little more discussion or need to be updated. You can answer these questions in blog form and simply link to them in your FAQ section. Also, look at your competitor’s FAQs to see if you can answer any of them better or from a different perspective. You may also want to approach the topic from a different medium. For instance, if someone else only wrote about the subject, consider covering the topic in video form (or vice-versa). People like getting their information in different ways, so it’s worthwhile to create options.
- Don’t Assume things are “Common Knowledge”: Finally, keep in mind you shouldn’t talk down to or above your readers. Granted, this is sometimes hard to do since, even though your followers all have an interest in your topics, they may be approaching them from different levels of understanding. A good way to accommodate everyone is by writing a few posts which cover the basics (stuff newbies need to know). Then you can always insert links back to those topics in subsequent posts (those who need more info can follow the links, and those who don’t just keep reading).
Do you have any other tips for creating a valuable blog? Share below.