How to create a data driven article?

January 20, 2016 | Content Marketing

Writing an article is easy, but writing a quality data driven article is a task!

To get people to read your article and convert, you need to increase the authority of your posts and thus, the user-engagement on your blog. That is why before writing any article, make sure you are well-versed on the topic.

Start probing and digging into the content as much as you can. Conducting a systematic research is a crucial element of writing a blog post. You need facts, figures, examples, studies, research data to give credibility to your work and craft a “data driven article”!

I have compiled some steps that can ease the process of researching and drafting a data driven post!

Come up with the right Questions

Trust me, research is not as much of a problem as it appears to be  if you use the right technique. You should begin by asking the right questions.

The initial step to crafting such post is to acknowledge and understand all the questions you yourself have on that topic. This will give you a more comprehensive approach towards writing your content. But how do you find the right questions?

  • Introspect on your own thoughts

When you know a little about a topic, you most likely start by asking about the fundamentals like “what is it?”, “what is its cause?”, “how can we use it to our benefit?”. These are the introductory questions.

  • What better place than a website where people ask questions?

Yes, I am talking about Quora! You just need to research the topic for your blog post. Then, you can easily find the range of questions people are asking within this subject. A little time here will likely give you some terms, phrases, concepts, theories to continue your research further.

  • Clarify your assumptions 

Even when we don’t know a lot about a certain topic, we never fail to make our own assumptions. Use those assumptions to create questions and challenge them.
Unless you have all your answers, you should not start writing the article.

  • Know your Audience

At the end of the day, your ultimate goal is to get people to read your content. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of the pain points of your audience can give a strong edge to your blog post.

know-your-audience

(Source)

It is essential to frame your article around the keywords and the actionable goals relevant to the audience in your niche.One way to do this is by entering your keywords (in a conversational tone) in Google Keyword Planner and looking into the “keyword idea” results. This will help you get an idea of the type of questions your users are asking.

One way to do this is by entering your keywords (in a conversational tone) in Google Keyword Planner and looking into the “keyword idea” results. This will help you get an idea of the type of questions your users are asking.

Research around good keywords

If you know how to formulate your query, you can easily fine tune your Google search by type of source (videos, news, blog, discussions, forums, books etc). Do a quick search with your exact keywords and have a look at the suggestions that Google provides as you keep typing:

research-for-good-keywords

Also, do not forget to have a look at the results that Google shows you for related search terms.

research-around-keywords

Now, this practice can help you in the following ways:

  1.  You will find some additional phrases in the form of questions that people might want answers for.
  2. You can find additional content by other authors on the same topic.
  3. You might get a different approach to go about your article. Basically, the inference of all these options/questions are same, but the way people ask them is different. This approach might help you get hold of some valuable and important information.

Set up Google Alerts

Google Alerts checks the web for new and interesting content. By setting up a Google Alert, you get email notifications every time Google finds the latest results on a topic of your interest. This way, you can get fresh updates in every field/genre/topic you like.

I have currently set a few Google Alerts for Local SEO and news on politics.

google-alerts

I have been very interested in reading case studies on Local SEO lately, so I have set my Google Alert for “studies + Local SEO”.

Pro tip: You can use Google Search Operators like “OR” to get even better results.

For example: study OR news OR research + Local SEO.

For setting up an alert, go to google.com/alerts, choose a topic and have it delivered either immediately, once a day or once a week to your email address.

setting-delivery-time-for-google-alerts

I get mine daily (which really helps me with my research), but if you do not want your inbox to be overflowing with messages, you can go for once a week. Also, make sure that you have a quick look at each of the articles dropped in your mail so that you can save the interesting ones (with their respective tags) in your “read later” list.

Use Scientific Studies

Make your articles more science-driven. Incorporate academic research, studies or stats to support your arguments. Always try to include the actual graphs (if you don’t have the time to design one, you can always link back to the original source).

Now the question is where can you find relevant studies or stats for your articles? Here are some of my suggestions:

  1.  Reddit Science Results: It has a huge database of well-written, highly researched quality scientific insights. You will definitely find some good studies here.
  2. Google Search: As explained in the section for “Google Alerts”, you can perform your search by including terms like “study”, “research”, “scientific facts”. Adding these word to your query can help you get better and faster results.
  3. Google Scholar: You can find a number of scholarly research of various journals on this platform. Using it can be a little boring, but trust me it’s worth the information.

For starters, you can begin with the basic keywords, have a quick look over the results, use the keywords that those studies are using and then give another round of different keyword combinations. Thus, you can ensure that you are getting the right studies for your subject.

Also, you can refer to the number of citations a particular study has as a parameter to judge its popularity and credibility.

Write about your own Case Studies

58% companies feel that case studies help them with their conversions.

Case studies show the real life examples of how you were able to help others as well as your own business. Interview an expert, find some great quotes and customize them, include real numbers, tell the entire story, talk about a specific strategy, make it comprehensible to the different types of learners.

Read A Lot

I guess reading can be one of the synonyms of research. Go old school and visit the local library to find books and magazines related to your topic. Authors who are published have great expertise in their niche, so you might find really valuable insights. Also, you can refer to Google Books if you do not have the time to actually go to a library.

read-a-lot

Dig into the Social Media Networks

You should understand that Google is not the only source of information. Go to every important and relevant social media platform and search there too. Search for your customized queries on Quora, take help of search operators on Twitter, ask questions on LinkedIn groups. These platforms have experts who share their valuable insights, which can prove to be far more extensive than what you’ll find in your Google search results. You can also use tools like SocialMention that give you results across the social web.

Save all your Research

You should essentially set up a system to capture and collect all your notes. For me, this is the most important step, as it gives a structure to my entire research.

You might want to consider taking notes of all these important pieces of information while researching for your blog post:

  1.  Link to each piece of content
  2. Title of the content
  3. Important keywords (exact match keywords) in the content
  4. Related keywords
  5. Number of Social shares/comments/likes on each of them
  6. Each backlinks from other sites on each content

You can choose to note all or any of the above as per your needs. There are tools in the market to help you store this information. But if you are a beginner, Google Excel spreadsheet would work equally well for you.

save-your-research

You can use tools like Pocket where you can store articles, news, video or pretty much anything to read later (without even having an internet connection) or Saved.io to bookmark any web page which you might like to go back to later (do not forget to add quick notes to the links here so that it is easier to remember and get back to them).

Apart from these free tools, you could also try, Diigo where you can save and tag any piece of data or content you like on the web and get an easy access anywhere and anytime. The tool also gives you the option to annotate webpages and PDFs while browsing the internet.

You will realize that at the end, you consumed a lot of content that might not be useful to you at present. But I will suggest you to keep a track of things (ideas and topics) – it might turn out to be relevant for your next blog post!

Include all types of Content

By this stage, you have a fair idea of the topic you intend to write on, along with the specific keywords. You might also have secured some interesting content which will guide you through writing the blog post.

Now, there is a good chance that there might already be blog posts (by others) on the same topic that you intend to write. How will you make your blog post stand out from the crowd? Add more value to the readers! Go for a more detailed and longer blog post and have a variety of content within it. Have a look at the list below to learn how to make your blog post more interesting:

  1. Images and Infographics: You can find these on Google image search, Pinterest, Infographic directories like Infographic Showcase (though you will need permission for these images), stock image sites like Pixabay, Shutterstock.
  2. Videos: Search for these on Youtube, Vimeo, 99U
  3. Webinars and Podcasts: A simple Google search may do, or you can enquire about these on the relevant forum directories or websites.
  4. Presentations: Slideshare would be the best resource for this
  5. Stats and quotes: Look for these in Factbrowser (for stats) or QuotesDaddy (for quotes)

 Do not include everything

This is the last, yet very important point. You would not want to make your article look like a dump of information. You shouldn’t include every piece of data that you come across in your research. Instead, you can choose to link to the original source.

Conclusion:

Many of us often fail to validate our ideas with adequate research.

Content Marketing Institute found that 72% of marketers created more content in 2014 than the year before. But, 36% of businesses still struggle to create content that will help them convert leads.

You should understand that there is no shortcut to writing an amazing blog. It requires hard work. It requires research.

  1. Do not hesitate to clear even the simplest doubts you have about the topic
  2. Understand the pain points of your audience and talk about them in your article.
  3. Read as much as you can and once you feel well versed with the topic, then go on and start writing.
  4. The more real-time stats and facts you use, the more credible your article becomes.
  5. Mine for content on social media platforms
  6. Use more interactive content.
  7. Do not forget to save all your research – use tools to improve productivity
  8. DO NOT include every piece of your research in your article – filter it down to the most useful points.

What strategy do you use in your research? Is there any other good source I am missing on? I’d love to hear them. 

Shivangi is a person who is always in for exploring and learning new things. She uses this inquisitiveness in the art of reading and writing and is always looking forward to things with her let's-do-it attitude. Currently she is working as a Content Analyst at RankWatch

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