This post will show you how Answer The Public can help you understand what your potential customers are typing into search engines so that you can write the perfect blog to drive relevant traffic to your site.
Before you start using Answer The Public to plan your content, you need to think about what stage people are at in The Buyer's Journey. For any content strategy, you’ll want to make sure that you’re writing content for prospects in each stage of their journey. Here's a quick run down of what that might look like...
Understanding the Buyer's Journey
In the Awareness stage of the buyer’s journey, your prospect has started to experience the symptoms of a problem they are facing (this is what’s called a “pain point”) or they’re faced with an opportunity they’re looking to explore.
They might be asking questions like: ‘Why has my website traffic dropped?’ or ‘Why am I not getting as much traffic as my competitor?’
Here, your prospects are researching whether a service or product is the right fit for them and their needs.
They might be asking: ‘SEO vs PPC’ or ‘Is SEO important for a small business?’
In this stage, your prospects have decided what solution they’re going to choose to solve their problem, but are undecided on which provider they’ll use. This is where they might think of the pros and cons of different providers, and work down these options to choose from.
They might be asking: ‘Best SEO agencies Bristol’ (it's us, FYI) or ‘Cost of SEO Bristol’.
If you’re looking for some more in-depth information on the buyer’s journey take a look at this blog here!
How does Answer The Public work?
Now, back to Answer The Public. Answer The Public is a great tool to help you find awareness and consideration stage content. It shows you what people have asked Google when they’ve been searching for information around the topic. In other words, it lets you get inside the mind of your prospect as they start Googling their problems and how to fix them.
When you start typing words into google you’ll see something like this:
Here, Google is trying to predict what you might like to know about “content marketing” (a head term), based on what other people have searched for. However, what you can see is clearly limited to 10 suggestions. And this is where Answer The Public steps in:
Screenshot from Answer The Public, displaying information as a “visualisation” (left) or as “data” (right)
As you can see in the image above, Answer The Public is a long-tail keyword tool that maps out all of the available search information and organises it under sub categories including:
Questions - e.g. “what” “when” “can” before the keyword
Prepositions - e.g. “for” “is” “near” “with” after the keyword
Comparisons - e.g. “and” “vs” “or” after the keyword
Alphabeticals - e.g the keyword, followed by every letter of the alphabet
This is otherwise known as a “search cloud” and provides a nifty insight into the questions/phrases your target audience is typing into Google. You're really getting into the mind of the customer here.
While Answer The Public doesn’t tell you the exact search volume behind the search query, it does show that the darker the green circle, the more that query is searched for so it gives you a little bit of insight.
The ‘vs’ or ‘versus’ branch (pictured above) is great for showing you comparisons; you can see what services or products people are comparing between.
Top tip! You could try plugging your company name into Answer The Public. You might be able to see which of your competitors you’re most commonly compared to (for example you might find ‘HubSpot vs Pardot’ or ‘Funky Pigeon vs Moonpig’ in this section). This might throw up some competitors that you didn’t realise you were competing against! You can then take a look at what content they’re writing and see if there’s anything you can take inspiration from.
You could also use this opportunity to login to SEMrush and put your competitor's URL in and see what they’re ranking for.
(SEMrush data on Pardot Keywords)
These are some of the keywords that Pardot rank for, and the pages that win them the traffic. Other sales or marketing platforms might choose to use this as inspiration when considering what content to write next.
Top tip: use exclusion rules to filter out the brand name of your competitors - this will leave you with more useful keywords to go after.
How to use Answer The Public to write a blog brief
Decide on the search terms you want to target
Write down a list of general, unspecific head terms that pertain to your buyer personas. Think carefully about the topics they are interested in (or will need assistance in) as well as the journey that will lead them to you.
Start feeding these terms into Answer The Public, and combing through the results.
Hopefully, you’ll start to see some really specific, deep-dive questions about the target subject thrown back at you right away. That’s great, but it also means there are probably lots of answers already out there too.
Regardless, pull out the terms that are close to the subject you’re looking for and enter those back in. You should start closing in on phrases that are getting more and more focused for the subject you’re looking for.
As you export the data from Answer The Public and other keyword tools like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush, try to collate them all into one spreadsheet. Here’s an example of what that would look like:
(Data pulled from Google Keyword Planner and Answer the Public)
Once you've stuck your search terms into a spreadsheet, read through the rows and highlight phrases that you think could be blog titles or even resources such as a helpful eBook.
You might notice a few keywords or phrases that are all around a similar topic, in which case, highlight these as potential subheadings to include in a blog around that topic.
Optimise for answerboxes
Whilst not essential, it’s really worth performing an answer box analysis at this point.
Quick outline: an answer box is a clear “box” of information (also known as a featured snippet) that appears at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) when Google deems content to be the best answer to a query. Hence, they provide a huge search advantage and are, understandably, very desirable.
(Here’s us winning an Answer Box for ‘how to get a google answer box’... how meta)
Open an incognito window and start typing each of your chosen long-tail keywords into Google. What do you see? If there isn’t an answer box there, brilliant (you can go for it!), but if there is one that doesn’t mean you should feel disheartened. There are still many ways you can beat the competition to the top spot. Read more about how to get an answerbox here.
Write the perfect brief
Here's an outline of what you'll want to include when you're briefing content writers:
Blog title, URL and H1
These should all match and be the strongest and most relevant of the long-tail queries in your spreadsheet.
Subheadings (or H2s)
These can be other keywords or phrases that came up in your keyword research that are relevant to your blog title.
Other keywords to include
Make sure to add any keywords that you found in your research that you want to be included in the copy. You should highlight the keyword or phrase you are trying to optimise for at the top and any other keywords under the various subheadings.
If you’re trying to win an answer box, Google loves a list format. After your intro put the phrase right before the list in a H2 tag so that Google knows you’re directly listing answers to that question.
The image above shows you the kind of brief you could go and give to a member of your team, or a copywriter, who doesn't have a background in SEO. This template should arm them with everything they need to write a blog which is search-optimised.
It’s important to acknowledge that using Answer The Public to optimise your content is only one stage in your digital marketing strategy. In order to measure the impact of work, you need to track your content’s performance against SMART Goals, and continue to monitor and fine-tune into the future.