Estimated read time: 3 minutes
Content research matters, but what that means can be up for discussion. Pieces of it certainly are:
- the importance of outlines and an understanding of what pieces we need to cover
- keyword research
- consumer research
Another – at times unfortunate – piece of content research that I still see out there is Google research. People go to Google and see who is already ranking for topics. Others use technology to run an analysis for them. Now there’s the good and the bad in that starting point.
Content strategists google to see what’s out there on a topic and then write their own article based on what they found. They basically use the existing content as a source.
Content strategists see what’s out there and then use that to flush out their content, which comes largely from interviews with experts. This is better because we use Google rankings of the present as a guide, but we try to create unique content based on what our company and associated experts know.
That’s highly oversimplified, so let’s dive in a bit more…
Using Google for common content research
What people are doing is they are copying content from other people and they are barely making it unique. And they think that’s useful content marketing. It doesn’t work. It’s not unique.
So let’s say I’m deciding on a topic. And they then go to Google and they search for that topic.
They then get a list of results. And guess what they do? They go to those results and they just kind of respin, repurpose the content that they find there. You have to remember that those pages are already ranking high for the topic. You just found them searching for that topic.
What makes you think you can outrank them? I know there’s a strategy out there that you could write the same content and get more backlinks and then rank higher. While that might work short-term, I don’t see it as a long-term content strategy.
And then what people do is they write that up and put the repurposed/respun content on their on websites. They expect to outrank the content that already exists and that already has authority in that field.
How to actually use Google for content research
Here’s what you should be doing instead if you want to rank in Google search results. Every company has a ton of experts already. Talk to them, get the insights from them. Interview them on your podcast, then write content from that interview.
But use Google keywords to:
- prioritize topics based on search volume
- combine topics based on what you find in your research
- use the terminology that people use while searching
- optimize your content
There are a number of tools I use for this:
- Keywords Everywhere
- Google Search Console
- Google Question Hub
I also look at what other articles on Page 1 of Google Search Results Pages are covering. Maybe I can use that as inspiration for my outline. For example, if one article covers one angle, another a second angle and a third another, but related angle, I might combine each as sections in my article. But only, if I have something unique to say about it.
Then I need more meat for the story. What are my experts saying about those topics? Quoting them is an easy way to make those sections unique to our site.
At the end of the day, once industries see the value of content strategy and implementation, it will become more and more competitive. And there are only so many ways to tell similar stories. But, to truly stand out, our content has to go deep and include all the relevant information, using the words people use, and with unique perspectives.
Doing good content research and then moving forward from there with strategic writing and content creation is the way to have a shot. And that doesn’t include just copying other people’s content with some slight rewrites.