Whenever a client asks me what they should talk about in their blog, my first recommendation is to make a list of questions most commonly asked by their customers. Each of these questions can be answered clearly and thoroughly in a blog post.
I know what you’re thinking. Sounds a lot like an FAQ page, right?
Well, a traditional FAQ page may have done the trick 10 years ago. Today, people want more depth than an FAQ typically provides. So does Google.
People want more than answers. They want explanations.
For example, people don’t just want to know how much something costs. They want to know why it costs as much, or as little, as it does. They expect you to justify your cost.
People don’t just want a list of a law firm’s practice areas. They want to know who you serve, what problems you solve, and how you solve them.
By answering a single customer question per blog post, in detail, you can educate prospects, earn their trust, debunk myths or misinformation, overcome obstacles to the sale, position yourself as an expert in your field, and help people feel more confident about doing business with you.
All of these things help to speed up the sales process and convert more leads into sales.
As business owners, we should be all over this trend. Finally, we have a platform for saying all the things we couldn’t squeeze into traditional ads. A blog gives us the opportunity to answer one question at a time – completely and without interruption.
This has been the best approach to developing valuable, relevant content for a long time, even when people were telling you to stuff keywords into your content to improve your search rankings.
Fortunately, it’s no longer necessary to choose between the needs of your audience and the needs of search engines.
Google wants your content to answer questions, too.
First, let’s remember why people use a search engine like Google. They want to:
- Do something, like buy a ticket to a baseball game or make a restaurant reservation.
- Know something, like the name of a song or a candidate’s immigration plan.
- Go somewhere, like an e-commerce or news website.
Google responds by displaying search results that are most likely to help the user find what they want.
When search advertising first became a thing, companies loved it because they were paying to get in front of people who were already actively looking for a specific product or service offered by their company.
Well, that’s what the sales rep told them.
Many search users are very specific about what they want. A plumber in a specific town. An electric lawn mower. A conference agenda.
But a lot of search users ask questions, hoping Google will point them in the right direction. This is why how-to blog posts are so effective. They answer a specific question.
In fact, just last year, Google introduced its “people also ask” feature. This is basically a dropdown box that appears after a search query has been entered (or while it’s being typed) and provides a list of similar questions. Each question can then be expanded to show a short answer.
The goal is to provide additional information – answers to related questions – without making users hunt for it. And Google has become very good, almost eerily so, at understanding or even predicting what a user wants.
There are two key takeaways here…
First, search users don’t just look for a specific thing. Very often, they ask a question to find out what thing they should be looking for.
If your company sells that thing, you’re more likely to show up in search results if you have a blog post or some other piece of content created for the sole purpose of answering their question in detail. This gets your business in front of the right set of eyes.
An FAQ page with a dozen brief answers to a dozen questions will likely be too cluttered to rank for those questions, and it won’t provide the depth that people demand.
Second, whether prospects find your content through Google, LinkedIn or some other referral source, they’re not looking for sales pitches and unsubstantiated claims, and they don’t care about keywords.
They’re looking for answers to their questions. They’re looking for information, transparency and value. That’s what your marketing content needs to deliver if you want to be found online or convince someone to do business with you.
Use each blog post to answer one question. It’s good for your customers, and good for Google.