This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com - #Growing Your Business
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Whether you’re using it to drive traffic to your ecommerce site or earning revenue through affiliate links, blogging can be quite lucrative — especially in 2020, when digital content and transactions have proven to be more important than ever before.
But if you want to deliver meaningful results to your bottom line, you need to create content that your audience actually wants to read. By making an effort to discover your readers’ most pressing questions, you will be better able to write quality content that drives traffic to your blog. Here’s a five-step plan for getting started.
1. Survey your customers
If you want to know what your readers want, the easiest way is to ask. In a blog post for SmartBlogger, Linda Formichelli advises using multiple-choice and essay questions to get greater insights from your readers. Understanding the “level” they’re at in relation to your blog’s subject matter will also guide you in what you should write.
As she explains, “Let’s say you run a blog on home repair. You ask your survey respondents how experienced they are in DIY home projects and discover that the majority of them are at an intermediate level. Now you know you don’t need to explain basic terms, and can post more sophisticated DIY projects instead of sticking to basic how-tos.”
Surveys should be distributed via your website, social media channels and email newsletter. The more responses you can get, the better understanding you’ll have of your target audience as a whole.
2. Pay attention to the comments section
Your readers won’t always wait to let you know what they want to see from your blog. Comments on individual posts will often ask for more information on a particular subject. They might request that you cover something entirely different, or that you go more in-depth on an area you only briefly touched to that point.
If you write content that connects with your target audience, you’ll have no trouble generating comments. WordPress reports that its users generate 60.5 million comments per month. Add in the comments that you receive via social media, and you’ll be able to get some initial ideas of the topics your most passionate fans are interested in.
3. Evaluate data for prior content
You can’t always count on hearing back from your readers about what content they need the most. Thankfully, this doesn’t leave you out of luck, as I learned in a recent email conversation with Eduardo Perez, founder of Musician Authority, via email.
“Website analytics tools are some of your best friends when it comes to determining what content your readers want,” he explained. “Look at the posts that generated the most clicks. Identify posts that readers spent the most time with and that had the lowest bounce rate. If you use affiliate programs, you could even look at which posts drove the most revenue. All this information is at your fingertips to help you identify the content that best resonates with your readers.”
After identifying your highest-performing posts, consider related topics that you could write about next. Look for trends in headlines and formatting (such as list posts) that could also be influencing readership statistics.
4. Analyze social media engagement
Comments aren’t the only form of social media engagement that can help you identify what your readers want. Likes, shares and clicks are all indicators that can be just as important as comments. These metrics are more valuable than overall reach because they indicate that your audience connected with the blog post that you shared.
To determine which posts are the most engaging, Hootsuite recommends adding up the total number of engagements for a particular post and then dividing it by your total number of followers. Multiplying this total by 100 will give you the percentage of users who engaged with that content.
The most engaging content on social should form a baseline for future blog topics, as this will help you continue to grow your online platform.
You don’t want to just depend on your current readers to guide your blog topic selections. To grow your audience, you should be looking for topics that will draw in new readers. Keyword research isn’t just for SEO — it’s also one of the best ways to identify trending topics.
For example, entering a topic on Google Trends will bring up detailed results highlighting interest over time, as well as related topics and queries that are currently trending. This will allow you to identify popular topics within your niche. This will likely address questions your readers want answered now, giving you a powerful resource for crafting relevant blog content.
The ability to view a keyword’s popularity over time can also help you plan for seasonal trends, enabling you to plan out blog content months in advance.
No matter what your revenue goals for your blog might be, meeting the needs of your readers must always come first. Understanding what they want will allow you to produce high-quality content that interests them and addresses their questions and concerns. When you make your readers your primary focus, the results you’re hoping to achieve with your blog will naturally follow.