Best Free Tools to Help You Write Content Google Cares About
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Best Free Tools to Help You Write Content Google Cares About

Photo by Todd Quackenbush for blog post by Bonnie Nicholls

Writing a blog post that nobody cares about is frustrating, especially when you put so much work into it.

Before you throw in the towel, however, try researching whether your blog topic is something Google cares about or will rank. Nick Slettengren, founder of Power Digital Marketing, explained how to do just that at a San Diego American Marketing Association Art of Marketing Conference.

Since he runs an agency and supports major clients, Nick probably has the budget to spend on tools that independent business owners like me can only drool over. Still, many of the tools he mentioned are easily accessible and free, albeit with limitations. Here are the best ones that I’ve tested out:

Google Predictive Search

This is probably the most familiar to you. Using the Google search field,  enter your blog topic or keywords that you think your audience will be looking for and examine the results (see Figure 1). Ignore the paid ads that show up and focus on the organic search results. Here are results for “energy saving tips.”

Image of Google search results for blog post by Bonnie Nicholls, San Diego freelance writer

If the topic is well-covered, especially by major players (e.g., large companies or popular blogs), it might not be worth your time writing about, since your goal is to appear on page 1 of Google search results.

However, if it’s a topic that’s covered by smaller players, you might have a chance to compete, especially if you take a different approach to the topic. You can also research whether these smaller companies have domain authority  (more on that in Buzzsumo below).

Also, be sure to look at the searches related to your search at the bottom of the page (Figure 2). This can give you additional ideas for your blog post.

Image of Google related search results for blog post by Bonnie Nicholls, San Diego freelance writer

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is part of Google AdWords.

It’s a free tool, but you’ll need to set up an account. You don’t have to provide any billing info to access the tools, though. With the Keyword Planner, you can enter keywords and phrases and see which ones are popular (Figure 3).

Image of Google Adwords for blog post by Bonnie Nicholls, San Diego freelance writer

The results may look confusing, but essentially it shows how many searches come up for your keyword or related keywords, whether the competition for those keywords is low, medium or high, and how much people are paying for those keywords for ads. If the competition is high, it’s probably not worth pursuing. If it’s medium or low, you might stand a chance to show up in the first page of Google search results.

Quora

Quora  is a place where people ask questions on everything under the sun, and subject matter experts provide answers.  This can help you, because your blog should ideally answer a question someone might have.

For example, say you want to write a blog post about backlinks, which are links from other websites back to your website.  You can search on Quora, “How do backlinks work?” and see how people pose this question. This will give you insight into two things:

  1. Whether people are asking this question, hence indicating interest.
  2. How to title your blog post.

If you’ve never been to Quora before, you can’t do a search on a topic until you select your favorite 10 topics. See, as I said, nothing’s free, but it’s a small price to pay for access.

Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo allows you a few free keyword searches a day (Figure 4). The results show you who ranks high with this keyword across social media sites. The results are limited; only by paying for the tool can you see complete search results. Three keyword searches isn’t much, but that’s the way it works. Use this tool only if you know exactly what you want.

Screen shot of BuzzSumo for blog post by Bonnie Nicholls, San Diego freelance writer

Moz Open Site Explorer

When you do a keyword search in Google on certain topics you’re interested in writing about, you might see the same website showing up over and over again on page 1 of search results. Why is that? Well, go to Moz Open Site Explorer  (Figure 5) to find out how much domain authority that site (and most likely your competitor) has. The website I looked at MakeALivingWriting.com.

Screen shot of Moz Open Site Explorer for blog post by Bonnie Nicholls

 

A high score for a website is achieved if its SEO is awesome and a lot of other sites link back to it (therefore indicating that site as an authority). You may realize you can’t compete against a site that will consistently show up on page one of Google search result.

Moz limits your daily searches of the site to three before asking you to sign up for a free 30-day trial. Still, it’s an interesting tool to use when you want to look up a competitor.

Bonus Tip

There may be other reasons no one’s reading your blog. Here are five reasons to get you re-evaluating your blog and making some some changes.

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Bonnie Nicholls
Bonnie Nicholls is a freelance writer specializing in thought leadership content: case studies, articles, white papers/ebooks and blog posts. She supports industries such as Agile/Scrum, defense and leadership training.