Before you start writing a blog post, it's important to do your research first. In fact, research is an integral component of any great blog post.
In order to use your blog content to position your brand as a thought leader within your industry, you have to back up your ideas with credible facts, stats and examples.
The research process can be a long one, especially considering the amount of information that's available at your fingertips and that you must sift through.
Below are tried and tested tips to streamline and organize your ideas when researching topics.
Organize Your Note-Taking Process
Researching a blog topic generally begins with Google, but it can take you many places. As you're finding content, and jumping from resource to resource, it's important to keep track of your findings in one easily accessible place. An Excel spreadsheet is always reliable, and so are tools like Google Keep and Evernote.
When taking notes on a piece of content that you've found, always include its title, link and associated keywords (what you searched to find the content).
Include a section for why this content is relevant to your topic and how you plan on using it.
It can also be helpful to indicate how the topic is presented, whether it's a video, infographic, etc.
Pick Your Target Keywords During the Research Process
Keyword research is just as important as topical research. Pick your targeted long-tail keywords now so that they can guide you through the rest of your research. You can type them into Google, YouTube – where ever your research takes you – to find the most relevant content to your topic.
Getting this out of the way before you start writing will make it easier to find ways to fit target keywords into your blog post later on.
Use online keyword tools, Google Trends and take a peak at Google's "Related Searches" to find keywords that will drive people to your blog post by measuring search impressions and click-through rates.
For detailed keyword research tips, check out: Keyword Research: How to Build a List of Relevant, Traffic-Driving Terms & Phrases.
Find Out What your Target Audience Wants/Needs
Blog research is more than just information gathering on a particular topic. It also includes finding out whether your target audience will want to consume what you're about to create – and how they'll want to consume it.
If your topic is a popular one, look for successful examples of how it was presented. Success can be measured by checking out engagement metrics. Does a particular post have a lot of social shares? Or a healthy comment count? If so, make note about why a particular piece of content did better than others on the same topic. Maybe readers were more responsive to a podcast than a traditional blog?
Also scope out your competitor's content to see if they've posted anything on your topic. If they have, figure out how you can do it better.
Have a look at conversations on social media too. Enter your keywords into Twitter and Facebook to see if anyone is talking about your topic and what they're saying. You may find that your target audience is expressing a common pain point on Twitter. If so, you can use your blog post to address their problems and answer questions.