This article was originally published on the Searchmetrics blog on February 21, 2017. Now a part of Conductor.
If you’re asking yourself, “What should I write about?” SEO can help.
Anyone asking this question might often have two answers. There are two opposing forces one must consider: “What’s happening in our business?” and “What truly matters to our customers?” We’re Unwrapping the Secrets of SEO this week to discuss this conundrum: What should you write about?
If you Google “what should I write about,” you’ll get about 532,000,000 results. But these 10 organic blue links of quizzes and inspirational quotes are not entirely helpful, let alone actionable for creating content that is valuable to consumers and profitable to your online business:
What Should I Write About?
OK, maybe we’re asking Google the wrong question. Instead, what if we asked “What should I write about that my customers care about?” Badly structured sentence aside, what you’re essentially asking in this case is what topics will afford me greater exposure and response to more customers?
To know the answer, you need data. Data on what questions your prospects are asking. Insights on what the related topics might be worth including. And intel on the seasonality of the topic at hand so that you can determine its relevance to your audience, both real and potential.
Collectively, this is the kind of data that informs your writing on topics that are interesting to your customers, and content that is a valuable use of your time to produce – especially if it’s designed to add to your bottom line. For example, let’s say you’re an editor at a review website (think IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes) and you want to bolster content around the movies section. You’ve made every top 10 list under the sun – horror movies, rom-coms, kid-friendly flicks. You name it, you’ve made it and published it.
But what happens when you’ve exhausted this approach? How do you know what to write next?
This is where data on search volume and seasonality comes in.
The Keyword Discovery area within the Searchmetrics Research Cloud is a great place to start.
What’s In a Word?
Let’s look at searches based on a mood that might be brought about in inclement weather. We see “rainy day date ideas” has a decent search volume. What’s interesting is that the seasonality of this query is fairly consistent throughout the year, indicating a fairly reliable level of interest from consumers. Very quickly, you’ll see whether this is a topic worth discussing, as well as the best time of year to do so.
What about “anger management?” No, not your boss yelling at you for researching rainy day date ideas when you should be working. You’re researching this topic, and quickly determine that search volume of 96,614 means you’re on to something. There are a bunch of comedies, (for example, “Liar, Liar”) that might fit into the top 10 list you’re creating. At this rate, you’ve identified that searches related to feelings (inspirational, breakups, fantasy sports, etc.) have a healthy search volume, which equates to a high level of consumer interest. Ostensibly, it’s a great opportunity around which to create content. With this overview, you also start to get insight into when this type of content would be relevant.
Captain, We Need More Power!
What’s that you say? The engines so far aren’t going past idle for you?
When you need competitive keyword data to help identify what kind of evergreen topics you should write about, here’s how the Searchmetrics SEO Experience can help.
To take an example from the sports world, say you wanted to write evergreen content on Tom Brady in an effort to capture search traffic from your competitors. One approach would be to use a Searchmetrics feature called the Competitive Keyword Overlap that lets you compare any two domains to understand what terms are unique to one domain versus those which they have in common. We show the data of shared keywords visually and in list format.
In essence, this feature will allow you to “spy” on your competitors rankings and pluck terms which are common to both yet would be the most relevant to your audience. In the case of our Tom Brady example, the opportunity lies in reviewing the list of Shared Keywords, finding terms that relate to the quarterback star and using that to inform the content you produce which resonates with your site’s audience and interests.
This answers the question “what should I write about that my customers care about,” especially when you can do a better job of expanding upon the intent behind those keywords. Surprised to see an interest in the keyword “tom brady wife?” You shouldn’t be but maybe you’re not into supermodels.
Still, we see the search volume data, which indicates interest based on a topic we want to create content around. So, ask yourself, “what kind of content could my domain offer that our competitor does not?” Alternatively, you could browse the list of Unique terms to determine where you might be able to take market share and organic traffic away from your competitor.
Leveraging Universal and Extended Search
Another data-driven approach to writing about topics that prospects care about is addressing “pain points” – otherwise known as the questions users type into the Google search box. This is where you can leverage the Projects section of the Searchmetrics SEO Experience. With a set of project keywords (terms that are important to you to monitor), we can see which of those keywords and their URL that rank for Extended Search or Universal Search integrations.
It’s what you might call “thinking inside the box.” By using these filters, we can see if the keywords we’re tracking have any rankings when someone searches for “disneyland tickets. ”
By applying these filters, we can begin to see some areas of opportunity where we can proactively take steps to optimize more of the digital assets like videos and images that might (or might not ) be on these pages. We can thus capture organic traffic in Universal & Extended searches for terms like “disneyland hotel,” and “hotels near disneyland.” These are search terms that carry a high level of SEO value due to their transactional intent.
Two Cents on Mobile Search Terms
Since 2012, the number of Extended Search boxes (Knowledge graph, Direct Answer) appearing in the SERP has increased. Specifically, boxes like Direct Answer and the People Also Ask are where you can garner additional organic rankings if you can succinctly address the questions being asked.
Between the two, Direct Answers are more commonly seen on desktop (10%), whereas on mobile, the opposite is true. We see Related Questions are more likely to appear (10%) on mobile. This is largely due the difference in search intent based on device; the larger desktop screen allows for longer-tail queries and more types of information boxes to be visible above the fold.
Whereas the mobile SERP is smaller, obviously, therefore surfacing related question boxes in an attempt to support queries that might only be 1-3 words. Other mobile-specific elements (such as app packs) are also more likely to be included in the mobile SERP, not the desktop.
It’s important to know that more than 50% of all web traffic is now coming from smartphones and tablets, according to Google AnalyticsQ1 2016 data. Imagine how this ratio will increase and continue to evolve in 2017. And don’t get me started on voice search; you wouldn’t believe how many times kids love saying “Alexa, tell me a joke!”
Alexa, What’s Relevant in Mobile Searches?
To get your arms around what to write about that would be relevant for mobile searches, it’s imperative to use a tool like the Searchmetrics SEO Experience, which has the capability to track and inform on rankings based on device. In this way, you can start to tailor localized searches like “find a coffee shop near me” or to adjust content to shorter, specific searches with the intent of navigating to a physical location (“meet snow white disneyland”). Having data on terms that are informational, transactional in nature AND their device preference will inform your ability to tailor content to your audience based on device preference.
Tying It All Together
We’ve all done it: Sitting in front of the computer, staring at a blank page and that blinking, almost mocking, cursor.
There is a way to write smarter when you have data behind the keywords and larger topics that are important to your audience. Data that informs you about seasonality so that your content is even more relevant. It starts with having the right information at your fingertips and asking yourself “what is helpful to my customers and how is my product or brand uniquely qualified to write about this topic.”
Let’s make content great again!