How to Write Better Posts By Uncovering Reader Needs

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Are people coming to your blog and leaving within a few seconds?

If so, you have a “relevance” problem.  You can publish well-written, literary masterpieces, but readers will still ignore them if they aren’t relevant to their immediate needs.

Solving the relevance problem comes down to good old-fashioned research with an online twist.

Why You Should Go Native

I’m convinced that blog writers use jargon and buzzwords because they don’t know what their readers and customers really want.  The buzzwords are camouflage for poor detective work.

You can sidestep this problem by devoting time to finding where your readers hang out and listening.  Listen for questions.  Watch for answers that spark conversation and follow-up questions.  Look for people who seem to have a knack for creating irresistible and authentic content.

Going Native means understanding your readers needs and desires at a fundamental level.  You’ve succeeded when readers swear you are reading their mind.

For example, I spend a lot of time reading Jermaine Griggs’ work at   Jermaine is obsessed with understanding his readers and customers.  His posts answer questions that I’ve been mulling over for months.  Others have similar experiences, making Jermaine one of the most influential marketers in his space.

I’m sure you have someone that you follow that has similar powers.  Your goal is to assume this role with your readers.

A Few Easy and Free Online Research Tools

I’ve listed a few of the tools and sites I use to uncover reader needs.  They are simple to use and powerfully effective.

I suggest mastering one tool before moving on to the next.  I’ve helped you out by listing these in order of effectiveness.

Google Keyword Tool:  
Google’s free keyword tool will show you the actual keywords and phrases used by your readers to research your subject.  The Keyword tool will also show you search volumes and even what time of year generates the most searches.

Tip:  Add “How To” to your search query to get a list of targeted reader questions.

Access It Here: Google Keyword Tool

There are videos covering almost any subject on YouTube.  Search for your topic and look for videos that have a high number of views and comments.

Watch these videos and pay attention to the words and questions discussed in the video. The best videos are optimized for keywords that “regular” people use to do research.  Look at titles and video descriptions to get ideas for keywords to plug in to the Google Keyword tool.

Get More Info On YouTube Research Here: 4 Tools for Conducting Keyword Research on YouTube

Q&A Posts:
Write a post to invite your readers to ask questions about your topic.

You can keep the process simple by instructing readers to write their questions in the comment area.  You’ll learn more about your reader’s questions and get the chance to demonstrate your expertise through your answers.

Google+ Communities:

Google recently added Google+ Communities to their Google+ platform.  Communities are quickly growing around specific subjects.  Many of these communities are reader research goldmines.  Join them and watch for specific questions and key phrases that you can use to target your posts.

Access Google Communities Here: Google+ Communities

Tip: Once your there, stop by the PS Google+ Community to ask questions about this post!

Using Research In Your Posts

After arming yourself with relevant research, use your information in the following areas:

  • Headlines:  Work popular questions into the headline of your posts.  Many of my readers want to know how to “Write better posts”, you can see how I worked it into the headline.
  • Post Lead:  The first paragraph of your post is the “lead.  Use reader questions and “insider” phrases to create rapport.  Try to adopt the same conversational tone you’ve seen on YouTube or Google+ Communities.
  • Call-To-Action:  Using keyphrases in your blog’s call to action is an effective way to get more comments or subscriptions.

For example, if ferret owners are interested in “cage cleaning” then the call-to-action could be…”Share your best cage cleaning tips in the comments below.”  This seems “too simple” but it works extremely well.

Make Research A Habit

Research becomes easier with practice.  Schedule time to update your reader research at least once every three months.  Also revisit your research when creating Expert Content and building your editorial campaign.

I have to confess that I’m a research tool addict.  I’m adding more options to the PS Mastermind that I will be launching shortly.  You can peek at free content by registering here.

In the meantime, comment with your favorite reader research tools.

Photo Credit: Shandi-lee

About Stan

Stan Smith is the Managing Director of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

10 thoughts on “How to Write Better Posts By Uncovering Reader Needs

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  4. Murray

    I think you nailed with the mention of ‘jargon’ when we bloggers speak because it’s far too easy to get caught up with that writing style because so many others do it and, since we all ready one another’s blog, we naturally pick up on it.

    I remember a time my old boss, as I was leaving to go full-time, had me give him the pitch I planned to use for my future clients. I spent a solid hour going through all of it and at the end he just mustered “okay … shut up and tell me what you’re selling”.

    The point is that I crammed the tech side of the pitch but totally missed the mark when it came to actually speaking to another human being. Now I try to keep is personal, casual tone, it may not be “professional” in the corporate sense but I feel a lot more people actually respond (at least the ones I want to work with).

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  6. Derek Fischer

    It is nearly impossible to write anything of value without at least doing some research. The most important research is focused on where the current conversation is going rather than where it is now. That is the key to writing articles that will have people thinking that you read their mind. It will also mark you as one of the forward thinking authorities within your niche.

  7. Chimezirim Odimba

    On point, Stanford — As usual! It’s important that we all understand that our posts are actually slightly better than useless if they do NOT meet the needs of our readers. And why should we make this mistake with all the tools that allow us to pinpoint what our readers really want? I guess we often get carried away by our egos. We think it’s all about us. Well, to build a successful blog it has to be more about them — Your readers.

  8. Alice

    Really good info you’ve share Stanford. I especially liked the last segment in how to incorporate the research into your actual posts. Gonna utilize that this week!

  9. Kim Court

    Great advice, as usual. Love your tips on Twitter. I’m doing freelance work for a travel company handling their social media, blogging, website, etc. and am trying to be consistent with messaging, but also conversational and fun. You’re awesome – keep up the great work.

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