Today I want to talk to you about one essential thing you need to do before creating any piece of content: content research.
Why Do Content Research?
Before you create your own piece about a set subject – preferably before you even schedule it in – you need to check what content is already out there about that topic before you even put pen to paper.
There are three major reasons for doing this: uniqueness, SEO, and competition.
Firstly, uniqueness. You can’t be unique without knowing what’s already out there. Chances are that you’ll have some singular experience or opinion on the matter at hand – even on something minor within it – that sets you apart. You may even discover that you see things in a way that flips current conventional wisdom on its head! But without knowing what information is already out there, you won’t know how to bring your own unique twist to the topic.
Secondly, SEO. Search visibility is usually a huge driver behind why companies do content marketing in the first place, so check out what existing content ranks and what keywords are most commonly used in practice to find info about your topic of choice. When you do your keyword research, note the intent behind the search terms that people use – are there any hints towards a lack of clarity or information about a given sticking point within your chosen topic? Do the keywords that people use suggest a need for additional support at a crucial time in the sales funnel? Are people using intent-heavy words like “buy”, “free”, or “download”; or are they simply asking questions and looking for info?
Lastly, competition. Checking what other information is out there is a great first step but it’s especially important to see what coverage your direct competitors are giving the subject in question. This feeds into the uniqueness factor too – you don’t want to be seen to directly parrot what anyone’s saying – but are there any areas within the topic where explanations commonly get skipped or glossed over? What gaps can you fill with your piece? Can you provide any particular insight or present things in a way that gives you a competitive edge? Do you disagree with anything your competitors recommend? If so, is there a way you can present a counter-argument in a way that doesn’t directly call them out?
There’s arguably a fourth benefit too – social. What content are people sharing with their contacts on social media about your chosen subject? What kinds of things get the best engagement? Are people using any particular keywords or hashtags to get eyeballs on their content?
Always take the time to check what your content is going to be rubbing shoulders with once it’s out there! An awareness of the current content landscape helps you create stand-out content that audiences will love.