I like what Neil Patel said about blog posts and word count.
Neil preceded that statement, though, with something important. He said that it’s not all about word count.
And that’s really true. That’s what we believe and practice at Ghost Blog Writers. We like to focus on the questions the target audience is asking and then try to provide the best answers to those questions with blog content.
Sometimes the best answer is short. Sometimes it’s long. Sometimes it’s something in between.
But long is usually better.
And in the case of a long blog post there are some important things to consider including your research process.
Here are some important tips to consider for researching your next long blog post.
Tip #1. Assess The Competition
Perhaps the best place to begin, after you have an idea, is to assess the competition.
You can do this with a simple Google search.
Let’s say you’re idea is to create a long blog post on the topic of finding the right restaurant when you’re traveling in a new city.
You would search for something like:
- how to find a good restaurant
- how to find the best food while traveling
- travel restaurant tips
Things like that. There are a number of varieties and you’ll want to do about 6-12 searches. And all the while you’ll want to assess the top results.
Usually you’ll want to look through the first page.
Look at the type of content that’s ranking.
Are they mostly:
- blog posts and articles
Just because a video is the top result doesn’t mean that you can’t create a blog post that will rank better.
Next you’ll want to click through to a few of the top results for each search. Assess the quality, in your opinion, of the content. If you feel that what you’re seeing is sub-par then you’re probably on to something. There is an opportunity here. There is a value gap that people probably want filled.
You’ll also want to assess what’s already been said and what has been left out. You can create a great long blog post with entirely you’re own thoughts and tips on a topic. You can also do a mix. If something has already been said and it’s a great tip then you can include it and link to the source.
But you want to look for the gaps. Look for ways you can take a topic further.
Tip #2. Search For Studies
The next step I like taking is to search for studies.
Studies are great for a long blog post for a number of reason.
First, when you cite a study you take on the role of messenger. You’re not just making claims. You’re citing studies that have proof that what you’re talking about is valid.
When you can cite something like:
50% of marketers plan to use live video this year.
Your long post about live video has more merit and relevance.
Finding studies can also help you to frame the context and direction of the post you’re going to create. You might have thoughts and insight based on your experience and knowledge. And that’s important.
But it’s still good to see what the data says. It’s good to read case studies. It’s good to find all you can about the topic so you can present the best possible answer to readers.
Plan on finding more studies than you think you’ll need. Perhaps a dozen studies for a 2,000 word post. And you might end up only citing 3-6, but you’ll be well prepared to create a great post.
Tip #3. Outline Your Thoughts
Building on the last tip is the idea of outlining your thoughts.
When you come into an idea you’ll have your thoughts on the topic before you even begin researching. You’ll want to consider these, maybe write them down as you start the post.
Then as your research begins you’ll gather more information.
This is when you want to begin outlining the post. Maybe tweaking the title, making sure you have a key focus for the post where you provide a specific answer to a specific question. You don’t want the post to get off topic.
You’ll begin filling in possible sections that you can create with headings or sub-headings.
You’ll have seen the content others have created. You’ll have found gaps that you can fill in. You’ll have studies.
But you might still find gaps in what you want to say. This is when you can go back to searching Google.
Tip #4. Search For Complementary Content
Now the search begins for complementary content you can use in your blog post:
- blog posts
This type of content includes things that complement what you’re explaining or trying to say. It won’t be a replacement for your post, but something that helps make your post better.
Let’s go back to the idea of creating an ultimate post to help travelers find the best restaurant.
You might find a video on YouTube via Google of someone describing how to choose the best seat in a restaurant. That’s a great tip. It’s great content. It relates to what you’re doing and you can use it to enhance your post.
You’re giving the ultimate guide to finding the best restaurant. That can include the other person’s tip on how to find the right seat once they’re in the perfect restaurant.
Tip #5. Hone The Focus
The final step when researching for a long blog post is to hone the focus.
We’ve kind of discussed this throughout the tips above, but it’s worth its own point.
Through all your research you’ll come across a lot of information. If you’re not careful that can lead to your post losing focus.
Before you begin organizing the post or if you’re finished you want to go back and make sure you’re keeping things focused. You don’t want to confuse the reader.
If they’re searching for tips on how to find the best restaurant when they’re traveling you want to make sure that by the end of the post that they know how to do that. Without distraction.
Walk them through the process.
Long blog posts are some of the best types of content you can create. It’s a myth that people want short content. You might hear that about Millennials and all that kind of stuff.
But long content is more popular than ever.
Use the tips above to begin and follow through on your research for blog posts. It’s a process I use for many posts and it seems to work well to deliver value to the target readers.