How to identify Blog Topics that your Readers Want (For Small Businesses)

Most often, we are engrossed in trending topics, news and latest developments and forget what our readers want. How should we create a content plan that will satisfy our readers? We have identified some best practices from our experience, managing a leading MBA Admissions portal.  

1) Identify your target market  

Start with broader markets: Investment, Insurance, Marketing, Internet Marketing, Education, Small Business Coaching etc.

2) Find your niche market  

If you are a small Business, it is resource intensive and non-feasible to focus on a broader market and expect to bring value to all segments. Identify niches within your target market where you can bring greater value that your competitors

3) Content Offered by Competitors

There are hundreds of tools that do competitor research. But the best strategy is to invest time reading your competitor’s articles; list down the value that they are offering with each article. Use the following attributes to classify them:

• News/General/Personality – This can be the latest information about a product(ipad app, mobile phones, cars), decision(by company, influential individual, community, country)  or about a personality 

• Informative – Anything that informs the market about a trend (Stock market growth over the past 15 years) or about how a product works (Facebook Timeline)

• Research Driven –Detailed article about a trend (Case Studies on why Brands are investing less on Facebook Ads)

• Technical – Article that require multiple reads and more attention (Technical SEO tips and Tips for Webmasters)

• Controversial – Articles that are likely to invite comments and follow up posts (How Google is replacing SERP space with Google Ads)

• Actionable Tips – Tutorials that can be easily implemented (Detailed instructions on implementing a feature in your website)

4) How can you differentiate

This is the most important question that you should ask yourselves. How can you differentiate from your competitors? We are not saying that you have to invent a different paradigm. But answers to the following questions will give you more clarity on content differentiation.

a) Are your competitors missing something? 

b) Can you bring some additional value from your experience?

c) How should you present your information? Is innovation possible in content formatting and presentation?

d) Can you think of content ideas that your competitors have not considered?

e) Can you bring in a team and offer greater value for the content creation process (experts in your industry, and bloggers with eye for detail and research)

5) Open Communication with the market

After you have answered the questions about markets and content differentiation, it is time to start communicating with your market. Follow these recommendations:

a) Identify the demographic of your market

b) Define the communication channels - social media, networking events and other conferences.

c) Network and maintain contact with them (many of them will be your early adopters)

d) Invite the contact for lunch and find the common problems that they are facing within the market. For example, if the market you are serving is stocks – find out why the investor has lost confidence in this asset class.  What are their worries? What aspects of stocks create uncertainty? Which source do they depend for research? Visit that website and find out whether the information is missing. If it is not then the problem is accessibility and content presentation. Can you innovate in content presentation?

e) The communication need not be face to face. Early visitors to your blog will interact with you through comments, contact page or social media. Take full advantage of this connection. You will get some honest feedback. Use them to for content differentiation and production process.

6) Create Master Learning List 

This should be a daily or weekly task. When you read an interesting blog or article, note down the topic in your Master learning List. The topic need not be directly related to your market, but take time to list the characteristics that made the article unique. Learn from them. Can you incorporate a similar style in one of your posts? Test them out!

After you have learned about your market and created a plan for content differentiation, it is time to do keyword research. Learn about the different search types and read this article about doing keyword research using psychographics