Despite the picture, I’m not talking about Allies of World War II. Nor am I talking about anything to do with the Heat or Celtics. I’m talking about a Big 3 that is way more common for most bloggers or writers.
Let’s put it in context. Here’s what used to be my method for writing a blog post:
- Come up with an idea (hardest part) or find a nice keyword niche to target
- Furiously write the first draft
- Proofread, laugh at spelling errors, edit, and get confused over what point I was trying to make in paragraph three
- Cull and cut any fluff, add in sub-headings, create some lists, and embed images to pretty everything up
- Proof again, and viola, a blog post
The gap? A serious lack of market research. Whether you are writing from an epiphany or with a keyword niche in mind, it is vital to always look at what is already out there.
Consider the digital marketing industry. The amount of articles on the same topic can be ludicrous. Just Google ‘Top 10 ways to get more Facebook likes’. You can change the number of tips, but the content is largely the same. Too often we publish without a thought for whether the post is worthwhile organically. Sure, you might want it on your blog just in case some clients are scanning through and stumble across it, but let’s be honest, only about one percent of your readers are doing this.
I came forward and admitted to being guilty of publishing-without-researching. Can you?
The Problem With Research
You may be taking too long to do it: too much scanning and browsing. By the end of it, you’ve just got more ideas and have lost your original intention. To decide if your idea is overdone, ask if the idea has been done before, been done well, and been done thoroughly
I came across this insanely handy tool the other day—Google.
What Would You Search if You Were Looking For Your Blog Article?
You’ve come up with the idea and probably done some keyword research. Now you need to actually complete the searches and see what comes up. I usually conduct about three or four searches for a few related long-tail, niche terms for my topic. Then, I open the top three URLs for each search. There they are: The Big 3.
How to Analyze Your Big 3s
After completing three to four searches and extracting the Big 3 from each you may be presented with a bunch completely different articles. If this happens, you need to look at your original searches. Are they closely related? If not, try to get more targeted. If they are, then your search engine is probably struggling to find relevant content to fill up its SERPs. Is this a gap in the market you can fill your own content with? Most likely.
However, if you’ve got a couple of articles that have appeared more than once in your different searches, then you’ve got some reading to do. Analyze these articles and ask yourself:
- Have they covered all your target topics/points?
- Do they go into enough detail about each topic in the article?
- Have they skipped a key point or potential market comparison?
Your answers to these questions should give you some idea of the direction your new article should take. Or, the Big 3 will blow your idea out of the water and send you back to the drawing board or on a completely different course. Similarly, if you see an article that you don’t think has been written or optimized well, then you’ve got a chance to jump it in the SERPs. It could be on a different topic to your original, so add it to an article queue list on Evernote or in some other document you can access easily: multitasking at its finest.
Doing these simple searches will ensure you avoid writing on a topic that has been done a thousand times over, stop you from spending hours conducting “research,” and potentially give you new ideas: all wins.
That Also Means No Over-Researching
The best bit about the above method is that you don’t over-research. This method gives you a finite amount of articles to look over before you start writing. Still spending too much time researching? Reduce your number of searches or only look at the top two results. You should also read Brian Clark’s article on freelance writing, not just for his tips on research, but for his general take on writing an article effectively and quickly.
Want to Ignore the SERPs, Huh?
Ask yourself if this piece will provide value to your business even if it brings in no organic search. The answer will quite often be a ‘no’. Instead, give an honest analysis of whether you can do better and then plan your attack accordingly.
Featured Image: Wikipedia, Tehran Conference, 1943