How To Research For Easy Blog Writing
The best writers know that 80% of content creation is research and planning.
Why? When you have a thorough outline with quality information, writing the words flows smoothly and easily. You spend less time with a blank page, stuck in the abyss of writers’ block. You already know what you want to say and how you’ll say it.
Blog research saves an immense amount of time and energy writing and rewriting your piece, because you already have a starting point and end destination before you even start writing.
If you want to spend less time pouring over the structure, flow, consistency, and purpose of your articles, you need to start with a strong research platform.
Why do you need blog research?
Research makes your content credible. According to a study by Baesler and Burgoon, “statistical evidence was found to be more persuasive than story evidence.” This means that even though you need to create a strong narrative that will engage your reader, you also need the statistical proof to back it up.
Your audience will better relate to your piece if you back up your claims.
A well-researched article places your company in the industry conversation. You are commenting on something that’s going on in your market, introducing a new opinion or idea, or teaching your audience something about your industry.
Whatever the purpose of your article, it puts you in the middle of a larger discussion. This can help boost your brand awareness, visibility, and exposure to your market. This is accomplished through pieces that are directed at the market’s audience through industry data, facts, trends, and conversations.
Doing the blog research before writing an article can help improve the structure and overall flow of the piece. You already know what you need to say and how you will say it, so when it comes time to write, the words can flow naturally. Your research has already defined the outline and purpose of the piece for you. It helps you make a promise to your reader and deliver on that promise.
You have all of the information you need for consistency, structure, and tone. All you need to do is put it together.
A structured, well-researched piece is easier to read and understand. Readable content attracts engagement and improves conversion.
How do you collect blog research?
There are a variety of research methods out there including studies, articles, statistics, personal essays, how tos, and more. If it provides you with information and insight, it can be used as research to build your own content.
But how do you find quality research that will add value to your piece?
1. Set Google alerts.
If you work within a given industry or sphere, the first thing you should do is program Google Alerts. You can pick what to include, the frequency of alerts, and the types of alerts you want to see. Google will deliver news related to those keywords straight to your inbox. This is an ideal way to get your blog research handed to you on a daily or weekly basis. You’ll be able to find new articles, ideas, and inspirations just by opening your email.
2. Bookmark everything.
When you find something useful, bookmark it. Create a folder in your internet browser called “Research,” where you can store all of the pieces that are relevant to your industry. Save everything—you never know when you’ll be looking for that article again for a future piece.
3. Do keyword searches.
When you’re finding blog research for a specific topic, start with a keyword search in Google and other search engines. Look at the first ten results. This will give you your content competition for that keyword.
You can then use those top pages as preliminary research for your own piece. What are the main points of their topics? What sources do they use? Where do they get the most traction?
Most importantly, where is their content lacking? What could you add to make it better?
Never copy your competitors, but you can use their content as a jumping off point.
4. Expand your keyword searches.
Look at the Google “suggestions” at the bottom of the search results page. This will help you see related keywords that might be applicable to your topic.
With that in mind, always do more than one Google search. Search the keyword for which you’ll be optimizing (if any), as well as other key phrases as well. Adding even just one word could drastically change the results you get.
Pro tip: If you want to find high-quality research using the keyword technique, add the words “study,” “research,” or “data” to the end of your key phrase. These will come up with related pieces with high credibility and legitimacy.
5. Read books and listen to podcasts.
The more you know about your industry, the easier it will be for you to write about that field. Keep yourself updated with information by reading and listening to relevant content. If you want to be a great writer in your industry, you need to hear from other great thinkers and writers.
Fill yourself with knowledge in order to share informational value with your readers.
6. Follow bloggers.
Who are the key bloggers and influencers in your industry? What do they bring to the conversation?
Although bloggers tend to write more about personal experience, don’t discredit their research. Oftentimes, great bloggers will have also performed their own reputable investigation. You can read their opinions and information and look at their sources and links for further reading.
Pro tip: Link back to bloggers’ posts that are similar to yours. Backlinks to influencers are necessary for optimized SEO.
7. Look on social media.
Social media groups can help you find out what people in your industry are talking about. People in networking groups will often share reports and white papers as well, which can give you credible information to utilize in your piece.
Social media is also a great space to learn about your audience and get inspiration for future topics. Check out LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter to find readers and experts sharing research related to your field.
Pro tip: Post your content in these groups as well. Maybe your piece could end up as “research” for another writer’s article!
8. Hold interviews.
Interviews are the best way to gain unique research that no one else in the industry will have. Interviews can also create a personal touch with fresh ideas that your readers will be interested in.
Make sure the person you are interviewing has experience and relevance to the topic at hand. The more expertise they have, the more credible your piece is.
You can hold interviews in person, video conferencing, over the phone, or even via email.
If not in an email, ask the interviewee if you can record the conversation as they speak. This will allow you to revisit what they said to ensure you didn’t miss anything.
Use direct quotes and opinions to amplify the effect of your piece.
9. Host surveys and polls.
Similarly, you can survey your readers and followers. This is an opportunity to conduct your own research in a way that is highly targeted for your audience.
Keep in mind that this will only work if you have a large enough applicant pool. You should have at least 40 responses for legitimacy.
How do you determine the quality of research?
So you’ve started collecting a blog research from a variety of sources… how do you know if it’s legit?
Always be skeptical of information that you find. There’s a lot of incorrect info on the Internet because anyone can post about anything. You don’t want to be one of the misinformed or misguided. To avoid losing credibility and readers, it’s crucial that you know how to separate the reputable sources from the not-so-reputable ones.
Here are some questions you should ask to determine the quality of your blog research:
Does this source have its own research sources and links?
Can I back-up the information from this source with at least one other source?
If it’s a study, how large is the population of the study? Who is the population? (A small or specific group should be relevant to your topic.)
Is the author an expert or well versed in the industry?
Is it a reputable source?
Below we’ve included some reputable databases to get you started:
NCBI/PubMed (science and health research)
CQ Researcher (political and social issues)
ProQuest Research Library (need an account)
Web of Science (account needed)
Access WorldNews (account through library needed)
Government sites that end in .gov
Educational sites that end in .edu
How should you use your blog research?
So you’ve found a stockpile of research you can use for your blog… now what? How can you utilize your blog research for ultimate impact?
A. Back-link to reputable sources.
Use blog research to your SEO advantage. Back linking to reputable sources not only provides credibility to your reader… it also shows Google that your piece is legitimate. Linking out to education and government sites are the easiest ways to optimize your page for search engines.
B. Ask the questions your research proves.
You want your research to be relevant to the topic at hand. In this way, you should literally ask the questions that your research and piece will help prove. You can also ask those questions that contradict your research. Sometimes disproving works even better than proving as a key differentiator in your market!
C. Structure around your research.
Condense your blog research down to a readable, writeable outline. Take the most important points of your research and turn it into the outlined topics for your piece.
How can the key findings of your blog research be used as headers in your piece? How will additional research back up each of these headers?
The quickest and easiest way to use your research is to compact it in an outline… and then start writing.
D. Use the inverted pyramid of research.
At the top of the pyramid is the lead. This is the topic that you’ll be discussing. It reveals the who, what, when, where, and how of the piece. It then goes into why the topic matters to your reader. This intro is where you ask the question that the rest of your piece will prove.
Then come the facts. This is the research and information that proves your lead. What sorts of facts and findings prove or disprove your claim?
The third tier includes quotes and opinions. This is where you further explain the research in a way that creates a unique, differentiated spin on the content. Include experts, interviews, and your own viewpoint.
The final tier is the conclusion, which should work as a summary and call to action.
E. Start with a fact.
What is the most potent fact from your data that relates to the topic at hand? Start there. Beginning with a startling fact, statistic, or opinion instantly hooks your reader and establishes credibility.
Sumo research found that the number one priority for creating amazing content that gets readers is a strong opening paragraph. In a world where people can easily click away from your post if they lose interest, you need to grab and hold their attention from the very first line. As discussed earlier, numbers, statistics, and unique viewpoints are the key ways to engage a reader’s brain. Put these in the intro and you’re set up for success.
F. Narrate the facts.
Don’t throw information at the reader. They don’t want a list of statistics, facts, and figures. They want a narrative around that research. Your blog research should be explained and utilized to generate a larger purpose of the entire piece. The point you’re trying to make should be clear and concise; the research should then back up that claim.
Additional blog research tips
Go to the source. If you read someone’s opinion about another source, find that primary source yourself. Oftentimes, bloggers and writers (even credible ones) might twist the truth of the primary source to meet the needs of their article.
Compile your research in one spot. This will help you stay organized, so you can later write your piece with more efficiency. We like Evernote because you can easily organize and reference articles and your own personalized notes.
Build a research-based outline. Create an outline that surrounds the research to help you better understand the overall flow of the piece.
Don’t get bogged down in research. You just need to research enough to share something new and insightful with your target audience. As you practice, research will become easier and faster.
Focus on the topic at hand. Only use research that relates directly to the question posed in your headline (your thesis). If you find interesting information that isn’t directly related to the topic, bookmark it for the future.
Start writing. Once you have a preliminary amount of research as the foundation of your piece, get writing. This will help the words flow better and allow you to understand what research might be needed to further enhance your piece.
Don’t include all of your research. Only keep those sources that provide the most value. Remember that you don’t need to directly attribute to all the research—only facts and quotes. Research is about familiarizing yourself with the topic and building your own knowledge and opinion to generate a differentiated piece.
Never copy and paste. This could end you up in a lot of trouble. If you quote or use a statistic, be sure to attribute and link to the original author.
Make a list of reputable sources that are applicable to your industry. This will provide you a quick and easy list to reference when you begin writing a piece. Which methods of research are most applicable to your type of writing? Can you find any sources worth bookmarking?
What does your research process look like? Share this article with your own blog research tips and tricks!