Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Being told to produce a blog for your website is one thing, but where do you get the articles from? Daniel Warren asks the experts.
It’s all well and good to say you have to produce blogs on your website. But where do you find the content to fill that blog? Well as it turns out, it’s pretty easy to find ideas online. The tricky bit is understanding what you’re looking for, and why it’s useful for you. “I think there’s an important point to make first up,” says Mark Brown, director of Engage Content. “It doesn’t benefit you to find a press release or an article from somewhere else, and just copy it onto your site. That’s plagiarism. In a worst-case scenario, it can earn you a Google penalty. That may involve getting booted off search results (which is a bad thing).”
Having said that, he points out there is content out there on the web designed for republishing. Press releases, for example, are meant to be published in many different places. “However, you will get the best results from search engines if your content is unique, so it’s still best to stay away from syndicated content,” he says.
If you want to be unique, you need to find a regular source of relevant subjects to blog about. Then, every week or month, write up a few hundred words on a topic from one of the following sources.
Setting up Google News Alerts
Google makes it easy to set up a news alert on any given topic. Just go to the Google News Alerts page and start filling out the form. You don’t need to have a Google account. “All you need is an email address where the alerts can be sent,” says Brown.
Then, every day around the same time, you’ll get an email from Google. It will tell you any new news items that have appeared that day around your nominated topics.
“This can be a useful source of inspiration for things to write about on your blog,” Brown says. “The downside is, you will also receive press releases from American dentists who are spamming the web with PR on dental implants in Florida. Which will not supply you with useful information.”
Subscribe to dental newsletters
While your blog targets people who are not oral health experts, newsletters targeted to you can sometimes be a great source of ideas. That’s because these newsletters often come out weekly, or even more often, and are hungry for content. So among the articles about the business of dentistry, you’ll also find news reports on oral health issues. Or about government initiatives that may be worth writing about.
“Of course, I’m biased because it’s my magazine, but my favourite weekly newsletter is the one from Bite magazine,” says Brown. “You can subscribe to it by going to the website, looking for the pop up box, and filling out your details.”
Give people what they’re looking for
It would be helpful if you knew what people were searching for online, so you could write blog posts that addressed those same topics. Luckily, you can know that, Brown says, using Google Trends. “Google Trends is a free service that lets you see what topics people are searching for on the web,” he explains. “If you go to Google.com/trends, you’ll see a box you can enter any keyword or phrase into, and you can find the relative volume of searches for that term. This is useful for two reasons. One, you might want to write an article on some really obscure topic in dentistry. Checking the phrase will tell you if people are searching for it or not. Two, it will show you when people are searching for the terms, which lets you plan some theories about why they’re looking.”
Just because a phrase has no search volume, that’s no reason to stay away from it, he adds. There are many ways to create interest in your content. But you may want to produce a mix of popular and obscure content to make your site a bit unique.
“The only downside with Google Trends is it doesn’t give you absolute search volume–just relative search volume,” he adds. “That means you can’t use it to find out how many people are searching for a term. Just the relative number from week to week or month to month. But really popular search topics are probably good to steer away from anyway. They’re very competitive so difficult to get a good ranking for.”
Go to the journals
As a dental professional you get access to journals the general public don’t read. It’s not too rude to suggest quite a few dentists don’t read them either if they’re time poor. But those journals are a great source of new peer reviewed articles.
“A short report on any interesting paper you read is a great piece of content for your site,” says Brown. “It could just be a 400 word summary of why you find it interesting. Because it shows your expertise to Google, and Expertise is one of the three pillars of quality content in Google’s eyes. The other two, by the way, are Authority and Trust.
“Secondly, and more importantly, it shows your professional interests to your potential patients. If patients see your thoughts, comments and explanations on why some new paper is fascinating, they’ll learn to know and trust your knowledge.”
Since you will be explaining the content in layman’s terms, it will be different from the original paper. You will acknowledge the source through backlinking to the journal website.
Using those three or so sources will give you a good ongoing well of ideas to springboard from into some content. In fact, your biggest problem will be finding the time to write it all.