Ideation Part 3: Answer the Questions Readers Care About
February 26, 2014
When people search online, they are searching for answers. Is there a frozen yogurt shop close to me? What are the benefits of using an electric toothbrush? How can I prepare my home for the winter?
The most helpful (and most read) articles are the ones that answer the very question that the reader is curious about. To write this type of article, you’ll have to know what people are asking about the keyword you have been given. Luckily, we can find posts and data that give us a hint about what people want to know. Here are some helpful sites to use:
Quora (or Yahoo Answers):
Both of these sites allow people to submit questions about anything, so other users can answer. Just search for your keyword, or a variation on the keyword, or find a category that relates to your industry. The format Quora uses is helpful because users can vote up or down depending on whether they liked a question or answer. The more upvotes, the more interested people are in that question.
Our example uses the keyword “tea kettles.” We’ve broadened the search to “tea” since people who buy tea kettles will likely be interested in the many aspects of tea. Based on the questions “How do Americans prepare their tea?” and “What tea is highest in antioxidants?” we know that people are interested in the preparation of tea in different countries and the health benefits of tea. Asking a question can reveal many interesting avenues worth pursuing and researching—and you know the ideas will be at least be somewhat engaging because someone has asked it. Don’t stop asking questions.
This website collects information from Google Suggest and other sources so you can see what people are actually searching for. Put in a basic keyword, like “dentist,” and Ubersuggest will deliver the search phrases that start with “dentist + a,” “dentist + b,” and so on. You will need to be more specific in your article, but these terms will give you a good starting point.
In this example, using the keyword “tea” resulted in other tea products customers might want to hear about. With a more specific keyword like “tea kettle,” we can see start to infer that there are actual issues around this topic that people are wanting to solve, like how to remove hard water buildup in a tea kettle or simply how to use a tea kettle. Both would make excellent “how to” articles.
Checking news articles about the industry you’ve been assigned can give you some related current events that you can mention.
These were some results that came up for tea in January 2014. Because Downton Abbey has made tea more popular, you could talk about the types of tea that are most popular in England or other locations. You could explore and discuss trends within the tea industry. Each result offers a great breadcrumb trail to follow.
Addict-o-matic is a combination of information from all over the web. Type in a keyword and find headlines, videos, and pictures from Twitter Search, WordPress, Google Blogs, Flickr, YouTube, etc.
There many other tools online that you can use for idea generation. Also, don’t ignore online social outlets. Take notice of which articles (or pictures, or people) seem to be the most popular within any given industry or search. Chances are, their popularity hinges on the quality, engagement, and readability of their posts. Here are a few we like:
And don’t forget Facebook. The news posts on your Facebook wall may very well be trending nationwide as well.
Know of other resources? Share your favorites in the comment section below!