Successful content creators take each of their content assets seriously: There are hours of brainstorming and research behind each article they publish.
How do successful creators do this consistently?
The focus on research is a lot more than you’d think.
Thorough research is what distinguishes great content asset from a mediocre article.
Here are seven tools to use to do content research properly:
1. Start Your Research with Google
Google has always been my starting point in any research. By just skimming through Google’s search results, I can immediately grasp the key structure of my future article to move forward.
Search Google is a great way to create a quick overview of your future topic:
- Compile a list of questions to ask and answer in your content.
- Create a draft structure for your future article
- Brainstorm possible unique angles to brand out (and stand out)
- Come up with the draft headline
In fact, I love searching Google so much that I have put together a premium course on that. Check it out: How to Use Google Advanced Search, Twitter, Youtube, Gmail
To maximize your Google experience, here are a few more ways that you can use the platform to your advantage
- Scan through the top 10 search results for your intended topic. This can give you an idea on what’s already out there and how to stand out
- Check out the Autocomplete* suggestions as well. It can help to hone your topic subject and approach by identifying longer tail keywords.
To see the Autocomplete results, simply put your cursor back into the search box:
Speaking of auto-complete, use this tool which auto-completes your core keyword using multiple search databases:
2. Check out Buzzsumo
This is another tool that I always check out when just reviewing a content idea.
This platform was created to help with content research.
Buzzsumo is able to research topics, analyze social media for trending topics, and even allow you to search other influencers to get a detailed look at their work.
To use the tool for refining your content idea, simply type in your search term and scan through the headlines:
3. Use TextOptimizer
Text Optimizer is the tool I refer to several times in my content creation process, including content ideation and topic research.
Text Optimizer is the semantic analysis platform that uses Google’s search snippets to extract related concepts and entities that need to be included in your content for it to meet your readers’ expectations:
On top of that Text Optimizer allows you to research related questions for you to refine your topic idea.
4. Monitor Industry News
Everyone knows that influencers, well, influence. In many cases, that involves commenting or bringing to the masses newsworthy information (i.e. becoming the source).
This means that – provided your goal is to become the source in your industry – you need to keep up with all the news coming out.
Follow news sources and leading influencers on Twitter, subscribe to newsletters. You can even turn on alerts for specific topics or create a feed encompassing all the major news organizations.
My own way to keep an eye on industry news is to use a separate Twitter list including all news sources in my and neighboring niches. I use a separate Tweetdeck column to monitor my list:
You can enable desktop notifications to be the first to get notified when news breaks.
5. Collaborate with Niche Influencers
Despite our best efforts, we can’t be experts in everything. That’s why surrounding yourself with others who are is such a great idea. This can be also important when you’ve stepped into a new field, either for career or client purposes.
Whenever you lack expertise in your planned topic, reach out to those experts you’ve been in contact with. This strategy will make your content much more in-depth and better researched.
Try these few ideas to maximize your time with niche influencers:
- When you don’t know the topic well enough, reach out to the person with the appropriate knowledge base (maybe even within your company)
- Set up an interview time to meet up with niche experts. Once you take a few minutes to actually meet with them (through a video call), your relationships will become much stronger.
- Whenever you are meeting with your experts (either in person or through a video call), have a solid agenda: What is it you are going to ask them?
Influencer marketing is not just about using influencer community to broadcast your promotional message to them. Influencer marketing can also help with longer-term goals, i.e. making your content more trustworthy and better researched.
Further reading: How to Leverage Influencer Outreach to Build a Better Blog Post
6. Use More Sources and Tools
Here are more ideas for thorough content research:
- Check out Forrester Research for more. Forrester is the leading more research firms in the world. As such, you can pay to get research on a variety of topics and industries. If you’re a larger company and can afford the price tag, it is worth the investment. This is also a great way to put together a truly useful whitepaper to position your brand as a knowledge hub.
- Use Google Surveys to find answers based on best voted option. This allows you to create truly customer-centric content.
- Use Statista to find related surveys and research papers on your topic
- Search Google for [topic idea site:GOV] – this will filter results to official governmental resources for you to verify your claims
7. Keep Track of All Your Notes
I don’t think I need to explain why you should keep track of everything as your content evolves. Sometimes, you just need to get a good look at the entirety of the process. If something goes wrong, you can identify it quickly or even gain inspiration for future content.
You can use the classic pen-and-paper approach if you prefer analog. For those who want to stay in the digital age, use software like Evernote or Google Keep to have the information at hand whenever you need it. Both platforms work across media devices, so you can jot something down on your phone and have it right there when you sit down to your computer.
Another great idea is to create your own writing checklist and include all your favorite tools in it for you to run them every time you are sitting down to write your article. Here’s a nice writing checklist template to build upon.
And what are your favorite content research tools and tricks? Please share in the comments!