Once you have chosen 2 or 3 potential blog topics, and narrowed down all the topics that you are passionate about, and would be able to write an Authority Blog about, it’s time to move on to the fun part! The Research! For that, we need to know how to use a number or Keyword Tools.
If you are still at the stage of not really knowing what topic you could blog about, here is a link to: How to Choose a Good Blog Topic. There you will find information, tips and guidelines that show you how to choose a popular and profitable blog topic.
Researching Blog Topics: 1. Using a Standard Google Search
The humble Google Search Engine is a mine of valuable information for online marketers and bloggers, as well as for people searching for information, products, or answers to questions that they need answers for.
Step 1: type the name of your potential blog topic into an ordinary Google search page.
To illustrate how to research a potential topic, I’ll use the topic area of Mountain Bikes. Type in the keyword phrase (Mountain Bikes in this case) you are researching, and look immediately underneath the Google Search box. There you’ll see, in small grey type, the number of websites that Google has found, that might give me information about Mountain Bikes. That is also the the number of websites targeting that keyword phrase in order to compete in the marketing game of ‘getting the attention of people interested in Mountain Bikes’ – in this example.
A straight Google search for ‘Mountain Bike’s brings up 56 million page results for that search term – there are a lot of competing punters out there – competition is strong….but, are they Tarzans, or minnows???
In passing, you notice that there are 3 paid-for targeted ads for Mountain bikes above the search results, and 3 more at the bottom of page 1. This tells you that other people are paying money to invest in advertising and have businesses in this topic area, which is good – this is a potentially profitable market.
Step 2: Researching the Strength of the Top Competitor Sites for Your Topic.
Websites that come up on Page 1 of a Google sites are the most highly ranked, and therefore your strongest competition for that topic area. They are occupying Google’s prime real estate, but how strong are they, really?
Grab your Sherlock Holmes hats, people, we’re going in…..
The first 5 Google sites in my ‘Mountain Bikes’ search results are all high end retail outlets selling real bikes – all about the technical aspects, products and prices. They are well-established websites, and serious competition. They are real Tarzans in the Mountain Bike market, and as new bloggers, we are unlikely to compete well against them for the prime Google real estate: Top of Page 1……you would think….. But wait!….they are not targeting the Passion of Mountain Biking!
If you happen to have that passion, there is possibly a market of bike freaks out there who will want to read and follow a blog that appeals to their passion instead of, or as well as, their hip pockets. If you could potentially fill their need, you might still be able to rank well in Google – as long as your target market is not exactly the same market that is being targeted by the Big Boys of Mountain Bikes.
See How to Choose a Good Topic Area: to be successful, you should choose a topic area where you can fulfill an under-supplied need
Scrolling down, you see at the foot of page one, Google has helpfully given us more valuable information and ideas: ‘Searches related to Mountain Bikes’. These include ‘Downhill Mountain Bikes’, ‘Mountain bike reviews’, ‘trek mountain bikes’, and others.
Explanation of Why You Should Drill Down to Find a Niche
Next, you need to find ways to narrow down your broad topic area to a more specific, and focused, target audience – more of a Niche Market – a smaller slice of that big 56 million Mountain Bike pie that fewer people are targeting – a website where you and your lucky readers can find a home that is specific to your precise needs and interests.
Remember that the ordinary Google search engine finds for you, all the websites that contain content related to whatever you typed into the Google Search bar. These results do not show people looking for answers, these are bloggers trying to compete with each other (and you, as a blogger) so that their particular blog or website shows up on Page 1 of Google.
I know I’m banging on about that point, but it took me ages to sort out what the different types of Google Searches were really telling me – a classic case of….I make the stupid mistakes so you don’t have to!
There are 2 good reasons for narrowing down your blog topic into more of a niche market. Of course, there will be fewer people searching in a narrower topic BUT
- the competition is less, so you are more likely to be able to rank high (Page 1) in Google Searches – so you will be ‘visible’ on the net, and then people will find you
- the people coming to your more tightly focused topic, will all be strongly interested in the exact content or product that you provide.
That means, you will be getting quality traffic coming to your blog, not people who were really looking for something else within the large Mountain Bike topic area – something that you do not provide.
The Concept of The Long Tail Search
This narrowing down into a market to find a less highly competitive niche, is known as using The Long Tail Search. That is a fancy way of saying, making your research topic more specific by using a longer phrase – one that adds limitations, or filters, into the search results.
Chris Anderson, is a journalist and author of the book, ‘The Long Tail’. He is a well known authority on this concept. If you go to his About Page, there is a good explanation of the Long Tail concept. Below is the standard Long Tail graph that plots the number of searchers (Activity) against the amount of competing websites supplying answers to those search queries (Products).
Our aim is to drill down into a bigger market until we find something that has a smaller, but adequate, number of search enquiries, with less competition, but is still profitable – a topic in the ‘Tail’ of the search result graph, where the numbers are thinner, but more specific.
For example: by choosing a more defined topic within the broad topic of ‘Mountain Bikes‘, you could filter out, all the high-tech, bike mechanic, the ‘latest super-professional racing bikes at discount prices’ sort of people – unless that is, in fact, the niche that you are targeting.
If you were targeting that high-end market, in ‘The Head’ of the Long Tail graph, (we know that because the top Page 1 sites on Google, focused on that market – large market but strong competition), you would have chosen a Blog Topic like ‘High End Professional Bikes and Biking‘ or similar. In that case, that blog would have filtered out all the ‘I have to find a bike for Junior. But me? I’d rather catch the bus, thanks’ people, who have no interest in the super-professional side of biking.
Those Moms and Dads are a market too, but not who you are targeting if you want to sell Super Professional Bikes – there is a miss-match, and that doesn’t benefit anyone.
By drilling down into a broad topic, you can fine tune the exact sorts of people you want to come to your site. So visitors coming to your site, will be people who find your site, and who will then come back to your site again and again, as long as they can find answers to their questions, or problems, when they arrive at your place. You want them, and they want you. The rest is noise, and will be of no benefit to you, or them, or your business.
Using The Ordinary Google Search to Find a Less Competitive Market
We know that a Google Search presents us with pages and pages of websites and blogs that answer our search criteria in some way. This is valuable information when trying to find a less competitive topic area. Using Mountain Bikes again as an example:
|Google Search Term||Google Search Results|
|Mountain Bikes||56 million competing websites|
|Mountain Biking||37 million competing websites|
|Mountain Biking in Canada||17 million competing websites|
These results tell us that even if we narrow the topic area down to focus solely on Canadian Mountain Biking, that is still a big market. Our chances of competing well there, are better than choosing the broader topics, but that’s still a lot of competition. Maybe we can do OK in that market, or maybe we need to tighten the focus even more. This is just an example, so I actually don’t know the answer to that – that would require more research. More info about how to do in-depth research to assess the amount of competition and it’s strength, will be covered in upcoming articles.
With another Google search we can keep looking for smaller but less competitive markets: say “Best Mountain Trails in Canada”? that should be less competitive – oops! There are 30 million search results from competing websites!
Ok, I’ve hit a snag: I’m not quickly find a search term that returns me less than many millions of results – Canadian Mountain biking is more popular than I realized! Perhaps that would possibly be a really good market to try to get in to? That is the wonder of topic research – full of unexpected surprises, like Canadian biking freaks coming out of the woodwork!
Perhaps “Mountain Biking in Tasmania”? That query gives me back only 2 million competing websites in the search results.
That is much less competition, and therefore we are more likely to do well if we focus on that topic, and try to attract people to come to visit us – because we have a better chance of being ranked higher in the Google Search Results, where we are not buried on Page 34, where no one will ever see, or know about us.
That is the principle of how we begin to find a market where our blog has a good chance to do well – get lots of highly targeted visitors in an area where we have a reasonable chance of competing.
In the next article, I will cover the next stage of research: Using the Google Adwords Keyword Research Tool to find out if there are enough people looking for information, or products, in our potential blog topic area.
That is the other requirement for success – the other side of the equation: one side is the number of competing websites (use Google searches) which I’ve covered in this article, but the other side of the equation is, the numbers of people searching (use Google Keyword Research Tool) i.e.the potential size of our target market. Other characteristics of that target market (people) can also be found via Research, plus how to assess the potential value to you of that target market. I’ll cover that side of the Profit Equation, in the next post: How To Use Keyword Tools to Research Blog Topics Part II – watch this space. What? It’s a lot of work…….. This weekend, I promise.