What To Write About – Finding Ideas

In Chris’ “Learn, Blog, Earn” post, his first subheading is “Lots of people want to learn new things”. Truer words were never said, especially in regards to the Internet. So how do you figure out what people want to learn? The answer is actually a lot simpler than you might think.

If you already have a blog and are using any web analytics package, such as the free Google Analytics, there’s a goldmine of information available. What you need to do is find your referring source report. Google Analytics (henceforth GA) also provides breakdowns of each report. Start by picking the search engine or blog directory site that has given your site/ blog the most traffic. Then generate the keyword breakdown for that source. For now, focus on the top ten search terms from the selected engine.

People who used these search terms either did or did not find what they were looking for. If their search terms did not have double quotes, they may not have found what they wanted, since they didn’t use an exact search term. You have to ask yourself, have you written any post which might have any of the search phrases from the top ten? If you haven’t then you SHOULD! If you have, consider if there’s anything new that you can say about the topic. Maybe you have nothing new to say right now, but what about next week, a few weeks later, or even a few months later?

Do this for each search phrase in at least your top ten referring terms. Don’t forget that you’ll probably have a lot of similar referring terms, and over several engines and directories. Group the similar terms together, focus on the top ten, then try to figure out what visitors were really searching for.

While you do want to check your all-time referring terms, more important are your weeky top ten referring terms. This gives you a perspective of recent topics of interest. And to quote some rock’n’roll group whose name I’ve forgotten, give the people what they want.

It may take some discipline to get into a regular cycle of checking your web metrics, but doing so will give you a wonderful source of ideas for future posts. If you can get into the swing of doing this, there’s little reason you should ever have to go through writer’s block.

For those of you interested, I have a freshly-posted Google Analytics-specific version of this post on my blog about blogging.

Technorati Tags: web analytics, web metrics, writing, blog content, blogspinner, statistics, writing ideas

8 thoughts on “What To Write About – Finding Ideas

  1. Thanks Markus. CleverStat.com seems to have a few interesting tools. I’ll have to check them out in depth.

  2. Lonewacko: aah, but I wish I knew 😀 I’m still working on that aspect. The only suggestion I have is to try a two-step approach: First, check your keyword report weekly to stay on top of your own site’s most popular keywords. Second, compare the resulting list against some market research.

    To do this market research, I use a free tool called The Dowser (thedowser.com). It’s a crippled version in which you can enter keywords and phrases, then retrieve monthly search counts from several engines.

  3. No, the celeb stories are intentional. I just can’t help myself.

    Perhaps this could be a future post: how do you convert lookie-loos, or at least get them interested in coming back for other items?

  4. If you’re getting unexpected queries for your blog, it’s possible that your writing has irrelevant words and phrases.

    For example, in one of my cooking blogs, I was talking about a fictional peanut butter and banana sandwich with a “picture” of The King, “Elvis Presley”. In a post either before or after that one, I talked about “ginger” root.

    Someone did a query on one search engine for “picture of Ginger or Elvis”, or something close to that. Somehow, I ranked high for the search phrase and the visitor dropped in. It didn’t hurt that the blog’s name and URL had “elvis” in it. But I wasn’t talking about “Ginger”, the movie star character from the TV show Gilligan’s Island, nor about Ginger Rogers.

    But because of these couple of posts, I still get traffic looking for “Elvis food”. So occasionally I’ll write about food interests of celebrities. But not often.

    Do you see my point? Depending on your content agenda, you can take advantage of the terms search engine traffic brings. Or not. Or be more careful when you write.

  5. I’d imagine that the top celeb blogs are making lots of money, but I haven’t had good luck converting celeb traffic, including having adsense show PSAs. Wouldn’t that time and effort be better spent on blogging about products and other things that involve buying rather than ogling?

  6. So, what if you get a fair amount of celebrity-oriented traffic, but not anywhere near enough to be in the same category as the top celeb blogs?

    And, what if you run a serious political blog and, while you have occasional celeb posts you don’t want to be a celeb blog (at least at that site).

    Doing a spin-off might work to a certain extent, but it would take a lot of time and effort to make it worthwhile.

    And, how do you convert that traffic? Most are lookie-loos and not buyers.

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