How to Scientifically Identify Content that's Perfect for your Blog

Upward GraphEvery day I seem to come across articles giving advice on finding content for bloggers. Finding inspiration, beating writers block, the usual. Some tips are obvious, some less so. They all seem to have a common theme though, go out there and find something that interests you and hope it also interests your readers. It’s a tried and tested technique that really works, yet it carries a large amount of risk. Just because you think a subject is interesting, what makes you think your readers will? What we need is a more scientific, accurate, and most importantly idiot-proof way to predict what our audiences want. Below, I’ve listed five techniques that I use regularly when the ideas factory is running a bit dry. The intention is to take the guesswork out of writing content.

  1. Ask them – Obvious, I know, but you’d be surprised how many people completely overlook this simple strategy. If you are lucky enough to have a regular readership, take advantage of the bond you’ve already formed with them ask what they want to hear. At least then you will know 100% that you will be providing the sort of content they are interested in.
  2. Similar Pages link in GoogleFind related content – If you tend to post within a category or two, you can always dig deeper into the subject area until you hit something that interests you. This isn’t something you have to do alone though, try the Overture Keyword Suggestion Tool or the “similar” links that appear next to Google Search results (i.e. search for your own blog and see what Google thinks is similar). At the very least, this will allow you to find others in your niche and identify areas of demand.
  3. Keep your eyes and ears open – Blogging often forms a conversation with many different people. When you post an entry, it can be commented on using your blog, linked to, track-backed-to and just generally discussed. If any of this happens to a particular post, why not have a look at the source, the other people taking part in the conversation. They are obviously interested in the same subject as your blog, so take advantage of it. If you want to see a good example of this in action, have a look at Trevor Hampel’s blog. He wrote a post on why Blogging Carnivals are a good idea and received questions relating to the actual participation in carnivals themselves. He has now put up a new post answering the questions he received. Readers get the answers (i.e. content) they were looking for, and the blog gets/retains readers. Everyone’s a winner!
  4. Be thankfull for bad search engines – Search engines are funny beasts, and search engine users are even stranger. On many occasions a user will arrive at a page, through a search engine, that has little relevance to their original search criteria. We can use this to our advantage in two ways. Firstly, we know what they were looking for through the criteria that appears in the referring url (most analytical packages will automagically extract these search criteria and present them to you) and secondly, the odds are it’s at least partly related. An example is a post I wrote a while ago on OSX. I mentioned the word Automator and it started receiving hits from the search engines with the word Automator in the query. That lead me to write a further post focusing more on Automator, and I’ve got another in the pipeline. Automator probably isn’t a subject I would have seriously considered until I realised there was demand out there for it. The HitTail service can partly automate this process for you, but can be hit and miss. Like most things, if you want a job done right, best to do it yourself.
  5. Steal and borrow -Lots of these guides will point you in the direction of other blogs in your niche, which is a good idea. The only problem is, you may end up creating uninteresting semi-duplicated content. A better approach, I think, is to scour the comments on blogs that relate to your content. Concentrate on the number of comments and the salient points. You can then pick up on these while the other blogger is being neglectful. If you’re particularly cheeky, and you find an unanswered question on another blog, why not post in that blogs comments saying you answered the question. The same principal can go for forums as well, just be aware of rules in forums regarding promoting your own sites.

I hope you enjoyed those five tips. Why not add your own techniques in the comments, or let me know what you would like me to cover next. If you did like this post, why not subscribe to our feed, it’s completely free and ensures you get the latest content as soon as it’s available. Or you check out why I think Stikkit is an excellent blogging aide and a way to reduce bounce rates on your blog.