The cold, hard truth in the world of writing is that no matter how well you research a topic, and no matter how much passion you pour into content creation, a piece can (and will) still fall flat if there was never enough interest in the topic to start off with.
There’s nothing quite as disheartening as spending hours upon hours writing a blog post (the average one takes roughly 3 and a half hours from start to finish), only to find that it was never going to drive traffic due to minimal search volume.
Fortunately, there are data-driven ways you can validate your blog ideas before you dive into the creation process.
Take stock of these simple steps and work them into your blogging process. You’ll soon find your content marketing is performing far better than you imagined possible thanks to spending these few extra moments on validation.
Use Google to Assess The Competition
One of the most powerful tools at your disposal for validating a blog post idea is actually one of the most common: Google.
By searching your proposed topic or title, Google can give you a strong indication on whether or not you have any chance or ranking with that title and therefore whether writing content on that topic will drive traffic to your site in the long term.
Before you write a post on a given title, put that title into Google and see what comes on the first page.
Google gives preference to bigger sites with more traffic and a stronger presence on the internet generally. Therefore if you see the first page of Google dominated by the websites of big companies and global news sites, you should narrow down the topic that you are writing about.
Ideally, when you search your proposed title in Google you want to see posts on the front page of companies your own size or smaller. Having social media and forum pages on the first page of Google also confirms that you have a good chance of ranking your post, even if your website is still small.
Ask your current audience what topics are of interest to them
Another way to gauge interest in a potential blog topic is to ask your existing customers whether they care about the topic in question.
After all, the whole point of a blog is to engage with your current audience and encourage new leads to interact with your brand; what better way to find out what your customers want to hear about than to simply ask them?
There are a couple of simple ways to do this: if you have an active social media following, you can create an easy Yes/No poll asking whether or not your audience would be interested in reading about a specific topic—Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are ideal venues for this sort of outreach.
If you’re lost in the ideation process and could use some direction, send out an email blast giving your audience the opportunity to call out the topics they’d most like to hear about. You’d be surprised by how many of your followers will respond with ideas they’ve been itching to learn more about.
Another effective, yet easily overlooked way to choose blog topics with the help of your customers is to simply jot down the most common questions you receive on a daily basis and use them as inspiration for future posts.
Use forums to find “low competition questions”
Forum sites like Quora and Reddit can help with validating a blog topic idea because the presence of conversations around your topic both indicate a level of interest in that topic, as well as a lack of answers on the internet on that topic.
This latter point is particularly important. People often ask questions on forums when they have Googled a question but not found a satisfactory answer. Therefore if you see a question being asked regularly on forum sites, it is well worth seeing what comes up when you Google it.
If you feel that you can answer the question better than what is currently on the first page of Google, and that question is being regularly asked in forums then you have an excellent chance of creating a post on that topic which will bring in traffic (and leads) for years to come.
Take Note of Fruitless Searches
It’s important for every content creator to always stay vigilant for topic opportunities; that way, you won’t be found wanting when it comes time to choose a topic to write about.
One of the best ways to validate a topic is through personal experience—if you’ve searched and searched for information on a specific subject to no avail, that’s a great indication that there are others just like you looking for the same thing. There therefore may be an opportunity to fill there.
Make it a habit to write down every time you research a topic but come up dissatisfied with your results; you’d be surprised how quickly you amass a list of blog topics just waiting to be created.
The best thing about this method of validating a topic is that all of the work is done for you prior to the actual creation process since your list is already on hand, and it takes the pain out of ideation since these are all topics you’re already interested in.
In the world of modern marketing content is king, but it’s worthless without proper validation; gather data through these simple processes, and you’ll soon find that your blog posts are earning you better engagement and higher traffic than ever before.