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Using Commonly Asked Questions to Fuel Your Content Strategy

Writer’s block has haunted the best of us. Sometimes it can be really hard to find inspiration for what to write about.

Anyone who works in content marketing will remember having a content roadmap to produce or a post to write and staring at the dreaded blank screen, with no idea what to say.

But sometimes the question is not ‘what should I write’, but ‘what questions should I write about?’

Questions can be your untapped best friend - or, more specifically, Q&A sites and query reports can swoop in and save your strategy or post.

Question sites and query reports are basically your audience (and potential customers) telling you what content they want to read. And, in the case of Q&A sites, users haven’t been able to easily find the answer anywhere online, so they’ve had to revert to posting about it on another website, hoping for an answer.

Query reports or similar sites tell you that lots of people are searching for certain things about your topic or brand, proving there’s specific content they want to consume.

So, where do you find these wonderful questions? Lucky for you, I have the exact answer you’re looking for. Here's a handy list to start you off.

Public sources

There are two very popular Q&A sites that most people will be aware of, but might not be using as part of their content marketing strategy: Quora and Yahoo Answers.

Yahoo Answers is slightly more of a free-for-all compared to Quora - for example, whilst conducting professional research, you may come across gold like this:

Using Commonly Asked Questions to Fuel Your Content Strategy | Social Media Today

276 people have bothered to write a response about if not apologizing for farting in church is rude…

And if you don’t visit Yahoo Answers, you risk missing out on the answer to this incredibly important question:

Using Commonly Asked Questions to Fuel Your Content Strategy | Social Media Today

On a serious note, you can search Yahoo Answers by keyword to find questions that are relevant to your industry or brand, and you can then produce content around those queries.

Quora works in a similar way, in that you can search for key terms to find topics.

So, let’s say you’re a travel company launching accommodation for a new flight to Barcelona. This thread would give you 190 questions to answer with content about Barcelona.

Using Commonly Asked Questions to Fuel Your Content Strategy | Social Media Today

Moving away from Q&A sites but sticking to public data, one of my other favorite tools for finding questions people are asking is AnswerThePublic.com. This uses the auto-suggest results from Google and Bing to show you the questions people are searching for, based on the keyword you type in.

Again using Barcelona as the example, here's what we find: 

Using Commonly Asked Questions to Fuel Your Content Strategy | Social Media Today

My final public site of choice is BloomBerry.com. The tool has only just launched in beta (from the guys at Buzzsumo), but I already love it.

Again, you just type in a topic or brand to see the types of questions people ask about that subject. What’s even more clever, however, is that it scrapes tons of different sites that people ask questions on, saving you from going through them manually.

Using Commonly Asked Questions to Fuel Your Content Strategy | Social Media Toda

Private sources

Some of your own data sources may be left untapped and can also provide you with lots of information about the questions people have about your brand, product or service. These are your internal site requests and your search query report.

So long as you have it set up correctly, you can look in Google Analytics to find out all the search terms people are using in your internal site search. If you add the secondary dimension ‘Search Destination Page’, you can see what content the user ended up viewing and decide whether you think it answered their query. If not, you now know how to improve it. 

In Google Search Console, you can look in ‘Search Analytics’ to see various queries that your website is appearing for. Sort this by CTR (lowest to highest) to see the instances where people aren’t clicking on you. If any of those terms are ones you want people to click on, look at what you need to do to optimize the page or create a new one to better serve that query.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of where to find the questions that your audience have, but hopefully it’s a good starting point and helps you to see the value in researching the questions they want answers to.

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