One of the most common questions in our Facebook group lately, has been how do I know what questions to answer in my blog posts? If you've been around for long, you know that both Sadie and I are constantly telling you to think about how you can meet the needs of your readers. Now, I am going to help you figure out what those needs actually are.
What Questions Should I Answer in My Blog Posts?
Blogging is all about meeting the needs of your readers. Sure, you can still have a hobby blog if you want, but most people coming here are looking for help to make a profitable blog happen.
So, you have an idea and a niche picked, but what ways can you meet a need? How do you know what to share? What questions will your blog post answer for your readers? I am going to break down some tried and true methods for making your blog posts just what the reader is looking for online.
If you haven't started blogging yet, make sure you begin with how to start a blog, then read how to write a blog post before you move forward in this post. You'll also want to check out how to promote your blog posts once you have that first one written.
Focus on Who is Looking for the Answer
In recent years, I have heard this referred to as “finding your avatar”. Many blogging gurus will tell you to start by figuring out who your target audience is before you even begin blogging. While I agree that you need to have some kind of idea of who you are writing for, it isn't really necessary to figure that out upfront.
Instead, I like to recommend you write about something you are knowledgable about or have an interest in already. That way, you have an easier time sticking with writing about the topic.
So, with that in mind, to answer questions, you need to know who is asking. This information is best found by looking at what is bringing in the most traffic, then looking at the demographics.
I turn to Google Analytics for this information first and foremost. I like to look at who is coming to the type of post I am writing, and what their demographics are so I can determine more ways to help that target audience.
Another option is to look at the topic in general. A quick Google search can tell you a lot about demographics for different niches.
Example of Google Analytics Demographics
A website that has mostly 18-35-year-old women with small children visiting, is more likely to want the answers to how to streamline a process. Perhaps showing how you can make a cake in less time, or with fewer ingredients.
A website with mostly 35-50-year-old women will likely have fewer children at home and more leisure time, so making a recipe from scratch would appeal to them more. In this instance, answering how to make it from scratch like grandma did might work better.
Example of Google Search Demographics
You have chosen to write about natural childbirth on your blog. The obvious demographic would be someone of childbearing age. Looking a bit further, you can find further information by searching more about the topic.
Upon a quick Google search, you will find that natural childbirth statistics show not just information about the baby, but also about the mother giving birth. Things like their average age, country of origin, income levels and more.
The result is more information on how best to answer their questions. A 26-year-old first-time mom is going to look at natural childbirth for herself. A 50-year-old menopausal woman wouldn't be the target audience and thus answering questions about menopause after natural childbirth wouldn't really be applicable in that post.
Share What it is Useful For to the Reader
Most people looking at your blog have an idea of what they want when they start searching. They have a general idea, but they may not truly know what they need.
This is when you can answer what is useful for your reader. Things like what tips can save time making a recipe, or what additions can be added are common.
For general posts about health, you might be answering what symptoms to look for, what medications work best, or what the expectant healing time might be for the illness.
When making a craft, you would answer what brands are best for the craft, what time it takes to complete, or what it can be used for when finished.
The answer to “what” is varied greatly depending upon the subject being written about, but the ideas above give you a better look at what could be answered.
When is Your Blog Post Information Useful?
The next thing I look at is timing. This is easy when you are writing about things that are potentially seasonal or holiday-related. It can take a little more thought when you are looking at other topics.
Think about what time in life, time of day, time of the week, or time of year the post will be applicable to your reader. Figure out how you can answer questions around those things.
- When would the recipe go bad?
- How long before a holiday would you need to make an item?
- When would someone be struggling with depression and need this information?
- At what point would they need to seek more help?
- When would they use this product?
- Does this have an expiration date?
- Is there a limited amount of time this is applicable that your reader needs to know?
Is there a Where?
Another useful question is looking at where something might be needed or become useful to your reader. If you are making a recipe, you can tell them where it should be stored. For a guide to bicycling you can give your reader information on where to find supplies.
Ask yourself where:
- it is located.
- will it be used?
- where information is located.
- is it needed in a certain location?
- where are more tips for making it work or happen?
Looking at where something is located, where it will be used, where information would be needed, and where your reader might find it can all help you to answer more questions they are looking for about the subject.
Find out a Why
Sometimes there is an unexpected “why” that you can answer within your blog post. The post itself isn't an answer to “why”, but you may be able to add information that fits under this category.
Ask yourself why:
- a different temperature would be needed.
- this would go bad in a short time.
- it might affect a younger person and not an older person.
- why hot glue is better than school glue.
- answer why you need to use heat versus cold.
- why something might not turn out correctly.
Use Answer the Public for Ideas
If you are still struggling with the questions to answer, then one of the best places to look for general answers about a topic is the site Answer the Public. This site is all about listing questions people have about a large variety of topics.
All you have to do is enter a generic topic, and it will give you lists of multiple “who, what, where, when, why” questions your readers may have. You can then look through these lists of questions to find ones you find applicable to your post and can answer questions your readers may have about the topic.
The site allows a set number of searches per day for free, or you can pay the $99 monthly fee to have access to unlimited searches. If you have a lot of editorial calendar planning happening, I recommend signing up for the monthly plan and using it consistently for a few months to gather a lot of information, then you can cancel it until you need it again.
Search Google Suggested Results
Of course, the best way to find out what readers are asking is to simply look at Google. I like to just put the keyword phrase I am writing about into Google search and then look for any questions that pop up in the search listings.
You should also be scrolling down to the bottom of the search page and looking for the related or suggested searches listed. These will also include a number of good ideas not just for including within your current post but potentially planning for future posts on the subject.
This doesn't come easily to everyone, but it can be something you learn to manage when blogging. Think of what you would want to know, and then present that information in the form of an answer to a question. Soon, you'll know exactly what to write about, and the information will come together easily for an amazing blog post that answers all questions.