Blog posts are an essential part of your business’s website. They inform your customers and show you as an expert in your field. So you need to make sure that each post is as perfect as humanly possible. A lot of this comes down to research.
Putting in the time to research for a blog post means that you can write reliable and high-quality content that your readers will appreciate.
So why is research so important?
I can answer that question with one word. Credibility. You want your readers to trust you, and the best way to gain their trust is by being a credible source of information.
Becoming the person they go to for the answers to their questions is the ultimate goal of business blogging, but you’re not going to get there if you don’t post reliable information. The best way to find reliable information? You guessed it. Through research.
Researching a topic means that you get all the facts before you start writing your blog post. You don’t want to start writing as soon as an idea pops into your head because you don’t know if your information is correct. Nothing kills your credibility quicker than false information on your blog.
So how do you go about researching for a blog post? Here are some simple steps to get you started:
1. Google it
The best place to start is by Googling your topic. Firstly, this is to get a good idea of the kinds of keywords that people use to find out about the topic you’re researching. The ‘auto-fill’ feature shows you popular searches based on the words you’re using, while the ‘related searches’ at the bottom of the page show you other possible keywords.
Secondly, you can check out the competition by looking at the top ranking results for your search term. Read through them and see what points they each repeat. More importantly, see what they don't mention that you might be able to put in your post. If you can give unique tips and answers to what’s already available, then you’re giving your reader’s something no one else can.
Lastly, if you need to do more in-depth or scientific research, then Google Scholar is a great place to find studies relating to your topic. If you need statistics to prove a point or a research-based study to verify something, this is the best place to get it.
(A side-note about statistics: it’s always best to try to find the original source. A secondary source isn’t always reliable as it may have misinterpreted a study or a piece of information. If you can’t find the original source then maybe it’s best not to use that particular stat.)
Google Alerts is also a great tool to find credible information. If you blog about a similar topic or industry all the time it’s worth setting up an alert for some keywords. You’ll then get daily or weekly emails with that keyword and be able to find useful information you can use in your blog posts.
2. Look it up on Wikipedia
Before you all start shouting abuse at me, no I’m not suggesting you use Wikipedia as a credible research source. I am suggesting you use it to make sure you have a basic knowledge of the subject you’re writing about.
Wikipedia is a great place to start your research because it breaks topics down in ways that are easier to understand. So if you’re blogging about a particularly tricky or obscure topic, you might need to read about it in simpler terms before trying to write about it yourself.
Most Wikipedia pages have lists of citations at the bottom of the page as well. So while the page itself isn’t always credible, you can find out where the information originally came from to confirm it (again, try to get as close to the original source as possible).
3. Read a book
You can always go the old-fashioned route and do your research through books. They can be a lot more credible than a website sometimes, but it’s worth looking into the author if it’s not someone you’ve heard of. In theory, if they’ve had a book published, they must know what they’re talking about, but it’s not always the case.
4. Talk to your customers
I’ve written before about how talking to your customers can help you come up with blog post ideas, but it’s also a great way to research the topic once you’ve come up with it.
Your blog is there mainly to inform your customers, so it’s best to find out exactly what information your customers want. Using discussion forums like Quora or Reddit helps you see what questions regarding your topic people are asking, so you can come up with the best points to make to answer them
It’s also worth looking at the comments on your own blog posts about similar topics to see if there is anything you can answer in your current post.
All these kinds of research go towards making your blog post as accurate as possible and making sure your readers see you as credible.