Become a Top Blogger Tips By Mary Jaksch Do you know what your readers really want to read? So let’s say you want to write a piece that will knock the socks off your readers. How can you find out if they’ll be interested in the topic you’re keen to write about? Here’s a quick quiz: Which way works best to find out what your readers really want to read? Keep your fingers crossed as you write the piece Ask your Auntie Dotty whether your readers will like it Consult the IChing Ask your readers Find out what thousands of people want to know about OK. So, it’s definitely uncomfortable crossing your fingers while writing (I’ve tried it) – and it may not have much effect. As to Aunt Dottie’s advice – she may not be in tune with your readers. And the IChing is difficult to interpret. Here’s the kind of cryptic answer you get when consulting this ancient book of predictions: “To be powerful in the cheekbones brings misfortune” (honestly – I didn’t invent that!) As I said, it’s hard to interpret…or does that tell you what kind of piece to write? The other two options work but – which one is best? Option 1: Ask your readers This is where the power of blogging comes into play. Because as a blogger you can consult your readers and ask them what they would like to read. You can do that by using a free survey tool like Surveymonkey.com or you can ask them in a post. Either way, you’ll get some feedback. Actually, you’ve already asked your readers. After all, blog comments are answers that your readers have given. If you look carefully at blog comments, you can get a good sense of the kind of topics they like and will respond favorably to. The drawback with this method is that you’re only looking at your present pool of readers. If you want to reach out to new readers, it’s better to do some research to see what people out there really, really want to know. Option 2: Use keyword research What do you do if you want to know something online? Most likely, you’ll search for an answer on Google or on other search engines. That’s what most people do. And if you want to know what your readers really want to read, you can do the same. Whatever your niche is, there are a huge number of searches going on all the time. It’s like a huge, hungry stream of traffic just waiting to find a post or video that can answer particular questions. In the past, I’ve taken no notice at all of all this search engine activity. I would simply write what came into my head. In fact, if someone mentioned ‘keyword’ or ‘SEO’, I’d run screaming from the room. But these days, I’ve turned into a SEO Ninja. Weird, eh? Why is this keyword thing so important? Because over time, more and more blog traffic arrives from Search Engines. When you start out with a new blog, there’ll only be a trickle. But over time this trickle can turn into a flood. All you need to do in order to direct t to particular blog posts, is to know the keywords that people use in order to search for posts like yours. How to find keywords that generate huge traffic The trick is to find keywords that many people are searching for – but where there are few competing websites. Let’s put it to the test. Imagine that you write a blog about health and fitness. You’re keen to write a post about fitness, but you want to make sure people really want to read it. You’re faced with a group of possible topics that revolve around the following keywords: What is fitness? Exercises and workouts Exercises workout Health and fitness Which do you think would be the best choice? (Quickly choose one without peeking below…) Of course, you could ask Auntie Dotty. But you could also use a keyword tool to find the answer. Here is a screenshot of the keyword tool I use, called Market Samurai. (Click here to get a free version.) You can glean some crucial information here. If you write a post about ‘health and fitness’ you’ll be up against huge competition: over 79 million websites target this particular keyword phrase. Not good. However, if you write about ‘what is fitness?’, or about ‘exercises workout’, the competition is a lot lower. (It may still look high at first glance, but most of the competing websites may only mention a particular keyword or keyphrase in a forum, or in some obscure place.) The important thing is that over half a million people are searching for the phrase ‘what is fitness’ each and every day. That’s huge traffic! Through doing some keyword research, you’ve not only found a great keyword phrase that will bring traffic to your site, you’ve also come away with inspiration. After all, “What is fitness?” is a lovely topic to write about. You can easily see that if you had chosen, say, ‘health and fitness’ instead of ‘what is fitness’, your post would have no chance of appearing high up in the search engines. That’s why it’s important to become a bit of a keyword ninja. Your blog will thank you 🙂 In order to optimize your post for a particular keyword phrase you can get a free plugin, called WordPress SEO which helps you to use the keywords you’ve found in all the right places. For full SEO (Search Engine Optimization), you should use your keywords in the title, in subheadings, in the text itself, as well as in the image tags. Here are an easy YouTube tutorials which explain how to do keyword research: Tip: go to Bestkeywordtool to download a free version of Market Samurai. Remember, I’m not a geek. So if I can learn to use a tool like this, so can you. In fact, learning how to do keyword research has been one of the major breakthroughs for me as a blogger. I just wish I’d learned how to do it when I first started out. What’s your sense of keyword research? Should writers bother with it or not? How do you find out what your readers really want to read? Please share your thoughts in the comments.