Blog writing can be broken down into two categories:
- Thought leadership: A topic you are an expert in
- Topic exploration: A subject that needs to be broken down through research
Both methods are valuable to your overall search engine optimization (SEO) authority. While thought leadership pieces position you as an expert in your field, writing from keyword research can yield valuable results. If you find a keyword your competitors are ranking for and incorporate it into your topic cluster strategy, you can both build trust with your prospects and beat your competitors for that top spot on the search engine results page (SERP).
If you are working on increasing your SERP rankings, you may find yourself writing about relevant keywords. You want to provide value and write for the people who will read your blog, not for search engines. You also want to avoid keyword stuffing, which could negatively impact your content. But when you’re writing about a topic (or 10) that you’re not an expert in, how do you provide value?
Typically, you start with research. However, sometimes it can be hard to figure out exactly where to start. How do you effectively look into your topic, find the value you need, and still have time to write a solid blog?
Before you learn how to balance your writing and research, you’ll need to figure out which research methodology works best for you to drive meaningful results and create a solid foundation.
Types of research for your B2B SaaS content
Before you take a look at any of the following research types, make sure you know your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and the personas you are writing for. Part of providing value in your content is speaking to the right audience, which is easier to do once you know your specific ICP. After that, it’s time to jump into the research.
Hopefully, you already conducted keyword research if you’re writing for a specific keyword. However, if you didn’t, it’s time to get in the weeds.
Using a tool like SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz will help. Some important things to note when looking at SEO research are search volume, keyword difficulty, keyword intention, and related keyword terms. A rule of thumb is to choose keywords with a high search volume and low difficulty. Additionally, knowing the keyword’s intention (for example: do people use this search term while they are in the awareness stage or the decision stage?) will help you structure your content.
For more on SEO, check out the following:
Conducting SEO research will also allow you to take a look at your competitors and what they are doing. This leads us to the next type of research.
If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at what your competitors are doing. Are they writing about this particular topic? How do they approach it? If you plug your search term into Google, what are the top 3 pieces of content that rank for your word? Take a good look at all these items before you start writing. You’ll want to note:
- Blog structure
- Blog length
- How well is the keyword (or question) addressed?
- What is this piece missing?
- What could you do better?
Competitor research is an important step to take before writing for your keyword because it gives you a good picture of what already exists. In order to rank well in Google, you want to provide your prospects value.
You don’t want to copy what’s already out there. Nor do you want to reinvent the wheel. Instead, you want to see how you can add valuable information to the content that exists.
Statistics and thought leadership
A great way to build authority is to lean on those who know the topic best. Look up statistics that relate to or back up your topic—Deloitte and Statista are good places to start. Better yet, find industry experts and include their words and knowledge in your blog to further your points.
This goes back to not reinventing the wheel. By linking to other sites, you’ll also help build up your linking strategy. You’ll also position yourself further as a trusted guide by showing your prospects that you’ve done your research and can point to experts. You’re saying “I don’t know it all, and that’s okay.”
Your existing content
The last thing you want to do is write about a topic that already exists on your website. This won’t add value and could even detract from the rankings your other content might have accumulated. Take a good look and ask:
- Have I written about this topic before?
- Has someone else?
- If the answer to both questions is yes, what did they write, what were they missing, and can I differentiate this topic enough to create a new blog?
If the topic does exist and you cannot differentiate enough to write a new blog, you’re better off sticking to blog optimizations. Add some of your research to the existing blog for more value or combine two topics into one powerful blog. Then, see if you can add any technical SEO optimizations to help increase your keyword SERP rankings.
To learn more about optimizations, check out our complete guide to on-page SEO [with a 2022 checklist].
In-house subject matter expert
If you have an in-house subject matter expert (SME), interview them. You might not be an expert (yet) on the topic you’re writing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t lean on someone who knows more than you do.
Ask them open-ended questions specific to your topic and record the conversation so you can refer back to it later. You’ll both learn more about the topic and gain helpful insight to boost your content. It’s a great way to use your resources and work smarter. Plus, the interview may highlight additional research opportunities or even new subjects to explore in a later blog.
How to synthesize it all together
As you conduct your research, I recommend creating a spreadsheet or document to compile your findings. This is a much cleaner way to keep track of the valuable information you have collected beyond bookmarking a bunch of pages. Plus, you’ll have the information handy if you ever write on a similar topic.
And if you’re anything like me, the research process often leads down rabbit holes. What you find might not connect to your current topic, but you can still save the information for the future. Before you start researching your topic, I recommend creating a rough outline of how you think the piece will go. This will help guide the type of research you need to conduct.
Then, once you have all of your information compiled, tweak your outline based on what you now know. With the bones of your blog, you can then start filling in the blanks using the knowledge you acquired while researching. After you’ve completed your first draft, I highly recommend asking your subject matter expert to review it for accuracy.
Writing content—especially for a topic you may not be as familiar with—can seem daunting. However, with the right research and organization, you’re bound to produce valuable content that both search engines and humans will love.