Are you thinking about writing research based content for your business or organisation? Sometimes it is difficult to know where to begin, and without a clear plan in place, you can end up creating more work for yourself.
It is no surprise that 90% of B2B marketers do some form of content marketing, and there are many reasons for doing so, including brand awareness, customer acquisition and customer retention.
Research by The Write Practice shows that to drive more traffic to your blog – and thus to your website – from the search engines, you should write longer content. That is, 2,450 words and more. This seems like a lot, but fear not! Creating research based content will help you to achieve this, and this guide is going to show you how.
1. Define your topic
What are people talking about? What does it add to conversation? How is it different?
There are some great tools out there, such as Buzzsumo, which can help you look for topics and trends. We wrote a post about how to use Buzzsumo and other ways to find great content ideas. Remember that you are an expert in your field, so you probably have lots of ideas already that you can assess using tools like this.
2. Define your goals
What is the aim of this blog post for your business? Is it to promote a product or service? To present yourselves as thought leaders? To encourage engagement, or customer retention? Perhaps you are managing an ongoing link building campaign or you are generating content for digital PR.
Whatever your goals, you need to define them. This is a very important process in order to complete the next steps effectively.
3. Research, and then research some more
You have a topic and a goal, so you have the beginnings of a plan!
Next you need to research. To make it easier, I have split this into three key areas:
If you begin with keywords, it will guide the second part of your research and help you ensure you are writing the post with your target audience in mind. It will also give you the information necessary to write a keyword rich title, content and meta information later on. See our post about the best keyword research tools to help you do this.
Research, data and science
Spend as much time as possible doing this and make sure you capture your research along with any key messages, data or quotes that you may refer back to. Creating a separate document especially for research is an effective method. Don’t forget to use social media during this research process too, to find out what people are talking about in relation to your topic.
Your research will have given you a wider view of what you want to write about at this point, but you need to take a step back and evaluate how useful it is and if any of the sources can be used in your own writing. For example, you need to make sure you can cite the original source of information and that it represents the point you are trying to make. Once you have found the original source of information, how trustworthy and reputable is it? This is particularly important if you are looking at data or scientific materials. As a rule, if you aren’t sure, move on to something else.
With so many influencing factors when writing a blog post for a business, it is best practise to set a plan and structure.
I find it works best to write down a plan before starting the writing process – do this on paper if it feels better. For example, the plan for this post looked like this:
- Topic & Goals
- Research & Plan
- Draft & Edit
- Source Content
This can essentially inform the subheadings within your post, and you can jot down a few key points for each section.
Before we move on, the key thing that is often forgotten in the planning stage is how are we going to distribute this content? It is important to factor this into your plan, as it may affect the structure of the content itself. For example, are you going to feature the post on your home page for a set time period, are you planning on sharing on social media?
Personal preference dictates whether to write and edit simultaneously. Sometimes, it is best to get everything out of your head and then move on to editing afterwards. Whatever your preference, having your plan and your research at your fingertips is good preparation to get the words out of your head, while making the next step, editing, a little bit easier.
The importance of editing and proofreading must not be underestimated so make sure you leave yourself enough time for this. Sometimes this may take up to half of the time you actually spend writing, sometimes more. If you don’t have the luxury of someone’s time to proofread, try to read the post out loud to yourself, or take a break from editing and revisit with fresh eyes. During this phase you can refer back to your research and ensure you covered everything, while including the key phrases you are targeting.
Once the article feels more complete, you will have to think about writing a great headline to attract readers to your post. Arguably, this is one of the most important elements of your whole post. It needs to work for search engine optimisation but more importantly, it needs to appeal to your target audience. Read our post about writing headlines to attract more readers.
7. Create, or source content
I haven’t mentioned creating or sourcing content for a post yet, but you may have already found some during the research stage. We know that online readers consume content by scanning it, therefore presenting your post with subheadings and visual elements to break up large portions of text is a good way to ensure your post is accessible.
This could be images, graphs, screenshots or videos. Ensure visual content isn’t there for the sake of it, and actually adds something to the post, even if that means having just one or two images.
Ensure every post has a featured image, which you could use in the body of the post if you wanted to. This will make your content more shareable, as people can use the featured image if they share your post on social media. If you don’t have the facility to create your own visual content, try finding free images that you can republish. You could also use a free tool like Canva to edit your images – no Photoshop skills required.
8. Optimise, Post & Share
The final hurdle. Ensure you have optimised your post using this checklist, referring back to your keyword research:
- Is your focus keyword used in the article heading, page title, page URL, content and meta description?
- Is your meta description a suitable message to potential readers, who see your post in the search engine results pages?
- Do all images and graphics have relevant alt tags?
- Have you set a featured image?
Any final tweaks need to be made, double and triple check there are no spelling and grammatical errors or any formatting issues. If you have linked to other websites, make sure they are set to open in a new tab so people aren’t encouraged to move away from your fantastic new content.
That’s the hard work done, once you have seen a preview you are happy with you are ready to schedule or post and distribute as you planned earlier.
They say “content is king” and we have seen an unprecedented amount of businesses using content marketing strategies over recent years. To stand out from the crowd, it is important to create well thought out content that appeals to your target audience, with a defined purpose and a business goal. Creating long form, research based content is a great way to do this and gain more exposure in the search engine results pages.
Do you have any questions or ideas about writing content for your business? Continue the conversation on Twitter:
— Kym Ellis (@digital_kym) November 18, 2015