Getting Blog Topics Just Right
The best reason to write a blog is to motivate your customers to trust you, like you and think of you when their needs and your products or services match. The same is true of all your advertisements and your website as a whole, but your blog can be the real icing on the cake to show how committed you are.
The second reason to blog is to let Google and other search engines know that you are an expert in your industry. Your website goes beyond just discussing services by helping people and adding your voice to the industry conversation.
That means what you write about is at least as important as things like how often you write, and there are good and bad ways to approach topic research as you get started. We’ve written up a list of the best questions you can consider as you set out, and we’ll talk about things to avoid at the end of this post.
- What’s your message?
It’s best when all your communications and advertising tell one specific story or get out a single take-home message for your customers, and your blog is no exception. Do you want to come across as a homegrown company with local expertise, for example? Or would you prefer to be known for great sales and trendy merchandise? Maybe your goals are on a larger scale – you want to be the no.1 software solution for a particular industry. Once you understand what your message is, and how you want your audience to perceive it, you can start blogging within those parameters. You could start with a post about how you found your niche or how your business started, for example. You could also write about being excited for upcoming sales, new products or developments in your service portfolio.
- Where is your expertise?
Another weapon in your blog topic arsenal is something you already have, something you needed to get off the ground in your place. I’m talking about your own expertise, whether it be about the products and services you sell or even the things customers say they like about your approach to doing business. For example, a car dealership could get a lot of traction with a blog about the costs and benefits of buying a new car compared to a used one, or about how much mileage on a used car contributes to future maintenance costs and resale value. A dentist, on the other hand, could tell the story of how a local client never had a cavity in her life, and it was all due to daily brushing and flossing and regular appointments in the office. For an e-merchant, writing about the aesthetic and touchable qualities of your product could be a great approach — don’t be afraid to gush, because your positivity and passion are sure to be contagious.
- What are industry publications discussing?
One of the reasons to blog is to add your voice to conversations in the industry and to help your own customers better understand that industry. That makes listening to the biggest voices in your industry a good idea. If you find something particularly intriguing, compose a post with your take on the idea. Add the link for extra SEO juice. The same is true if you come upon dissenting opinions, especially since Google ranks content that represents both sides of an issue as higher-quality than one-sided ramblings. If you aren’t in the habit of reading industry news regularly, try setting up Google Alerts so that the big news simply arrives in your inbox daily or weekly. You can also try joining LinkedIn groups focused on your industry and checking topic threads every once in a while for ideas.
- What questions do your customers ask?
Another fertile ground for blog topic ideas is your customers. Think about what kinds of questions they ask you, for example. A lot of plumbing customers might wonder when they should call you compared to when they should just clean their P-traps. For software customers, they might need a walk-through of advanced ways to use your tools. For carpet cleaning, perhaps you could talk about how to care for different kinds of carpet or the costs and benefits of various vacuums.
- In what ways is your point of view unique and useful?
You’re in business because you fill a particular niche, and that means you have a one-of-a-kind perspective. Perhaps you joined the family business after getting a bachelor’s degree in chemistry – you could write about the chemical processes that occur in your work. Make it fun and interesting, and you’re sure to grab attention. Alternatively, maybe your messaging is all about your local touch. You can write about the 80-year-old woman who’s lived here all her life, or a time when your car was stuffed with cucumbers by a well-meaning neighbor. Just remember to tie everything back to your message in some way.
What Should You Avoid When Choosing Blog Topics?
We would be remiss if we didn’t talk about things you should avoid when choosing blog topics. Keep these in mind:
- Don’t copy any part of another blog, especially the title. You don’t want to seem redundant, either to search engines or to your customers.
- Don’t do all your research on Wikipedia.org, and never copy-paste from that site or any other, unless you source the information and put it in proper quotation marks. While Wikipedia can be a good place to start, make sure to check other references and sources so you never get it wrong and come across looking silly.
- Don’t slip into too much jargon. Whether you’re writing for everyday customers or for elite professionals, using too many obscure, esoteric or industry-specific terms and ideas is a turn off. Save them for your technical manuals. People like to read how they really speak, and they don’t like too much complication because when it comes to blogs, they don’t have time to reread.
- Don’t just react to those industry news sources listed above, especially not one single source. You can intersperse your commentary with your own stories and ideas to keep things fresh and interesting.
Blogging can be a great way to grow relationships with your customers and establish your expertise in addition to growing your influence online and getting noticed by search engines. If you put a little though into it and craft what is known as an “editorial calendar” or content plan, you’re sure to see the benefits quickly. Call your account manager when you have questions or to learn more about our SEO services.
We would also love to hear about the kinds of blogs you like, and the trials and successes you have found in the blogosphere. Feel free to share your experiences on our social media pages.