What if you had a way to peek inside the minds of the people who visit your site? What if you could discover the type of content they want to find when they arrive? That would give you an incredibly potent edge on your competition. After all, with that kind of intel, you could create articles, blog posts, white papers, and other content that perfectly meets your audience's needs.
Visitors would remain on your site rather than looking elsewhere for the content they want. That means your bounce rate would drop, sending a signal to Google that your site is giving folks the information they're looking for. As ranking factors go, that's becoming increasingly important to Google.
The challenge is, how can you anticipate the type of material your visitors crave? Believe it or not, it's as easy as asking them to tell you. We'll give you a quick blueprint below for putting a system in place to make it happen.
Go Directly To The Source: Ask Your Visitors
Companies have used surveys and questionnaires for years to learn more about their customers. You can do the same thing. In fact, it's a lot cheaper and easier to survey your site visitors and blog readers since you'll be doing everything online. The entire process can be automated.
There are a couple of ways to run a survey. You can use an online service, such as SurveyMonkey.com. There are plenty of other free and for-fee services, most of which will organize the responses for you. You can also build a simple html form that asks specific questions and provides text boxes for people to leave their answers.
Limit your survey to four to six open-ended questions. Your goal is to get people to tell you exactly what they want to learn, or know more about. For example, suppose you run a site in the golf niche. Your questions might look like the following:
1. What specific type of golf-related information would you like to find on our site?
2. What general types of information would you like to see covered here in the future?
3. What type of golf content would motivate you to tell your friends about our site?
4. Do other golf sites do a particularly good job of covering specific types of information? If so, please share their web addresses below.
Notice how the above questions give your visitors an opportunity to tell you about the type of content they want to see. That removes a lot of guesswork on your part. You can instead use that time and energy to create content your visitors love, and Google rewards you for.
4 Ideas For Reaching Your Target Audience
Once you've created a short survey, how do you make sure your visitors know about it? Here are four quick ideas, all of which are easy to put into action.
#1 – Pop-Up – When people visit your site, use a pop-up to let them know about your survey. Include a simple call to action, such as "Tell us the type of content you'd like to see!" Then, provide a link that sends them to a landing page, or to the service you're using to host your survey.
#2 – Email Newsletter – If you have an email list or newsletter, include a link to your survey in the messages you send to your subscribers. Don't hide the link at the bottom of your emails. Place it near the top, where your subscribers are more likely to see it.
#3 – Social Media – Let your followers and fans know about your survey on Facebook and Twitter. Encourage them to share the link within their own networks.
#4 – Forums And Discussion Boards – If you're a regular contributor to a forum in your site's niche, place a link to your survey in your "signature." Your forum signature displays with every post you make. Keep in mind, every forum and discussion board has its own rules. Make sure you are familiar with them before linking to your survey.
Organize Responses By Popularity And Ease Of Creation
Once you start receiving responses to your survey questions, you'll notice certain topics are especially popular among your visitors. Using our golf site example, a lot of your visitors might want you to create a detailed tutorial explaining how to align their shots to fix a slice. Or, they may need help with the mechanics of putting, hitting long-range tee shots, or mastering chips. The point is to let your visitors tell you the type of content you should create.
You'll also notice that some topics will be easier to cover than others. Assuming they receive the same search volume, go for the low-hanging fruit first. That way, you can populate your site with a lot of in-demand content more quickly, and deal with the tougher subjects when time allows.
Create Content That Dominates Your Competition
Ultimately, this method of "reverse engineering" the content people want you to create will give you the information you need to control the top search listings in your niche. Google continues to tweak their ranking algorithm to prioritize top-notch content and user satisfaction. By going straight to the source to learn what your visitors want, and delivering it, you can improve your site's rankings. Over time, you'll see your site jump over your competitors who aren't taking the time to survey their visitors.
That's a great way to become an authority in your niche.
What are some of the methods you've used to get ideas for your site's content? Have any of them proven to be especially effective? Have they brought more visitors to your site, reduced your bounce rate, and resulted in better positions in Google? Enquiring minds want to know! Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
About the Author: Tara Geissinger is an SEO and content marketing expert by day and triplet mom by night. As Co-Owner of the online visibility firm, SEO Content Solutions, and online press release distribution firm, Online PR Media, Tara has helped thousands of businesses get more visibility online. From helping Macy's optimize their product descriptions to working behind-the-scenes with some of the largest SEO and marketing firms in the world, she is one of the best kept secrets in the online marketing niche.