The web is offering research and insight into what people like to do – so make use of it!
Google Trends and Google Adwords are two of the search giant’s tools any writer can use free of charge to get an idea on what people are interested in, and, if they are savvy, what phrases to use to pick up traffic to their blog or Amazon page.
Google Trends is your friend
For example, I wrote about the best books for writers when I discovered that this is an area with a wealth of search – and if you believe you have the information to help others on this then why not do so?
Google Trends can tell you what people are searching for regarding writers, along with notes on the news stories at the time. Google Adwords, by contrast, can tell you what terms people are interested in regarding writers.
Of course neither of these are substitute for your own editorial nous but they are good leads to get an idea of what you plan to write about will generate interest. Not every writer needs to know this, but feature writers, those who want their content to be found on the web, or those just looking to get an idea of what topics are of interest to readers.
Features and Google Trends
Feature writers need to sell their stories to their editors and the best way to do so is to have evidence backing up your claim that there is interest in a subject. Google Trends can help you forecast expected surges in popularity.
For example, you want to sell an article about coffee. Looking at Google Trends suggests that coffee is growing in popularity as a term in the UK and so suggests a good avenue to explore. But that is not everything.
Google and editorial judgment
In addition to your editorial sense – checking how other articles on the topic in the magazine have fared, for instance – you can breakdown what it means. Google tells you what are the rising trends and searches in the area, and doing a phrase search in Google Adwords on coffee will show you the terms.
If you specify the category of coffee you are looking for – food and drink, for instance, to exlcude searches for coffeee colour in decorating, for instance – you can get more guidance on what people will want to write about. You can also use these keywords in the article if it is going to appear online as it may boost your search.
This is a very, very brief introduction to how useful Google’s free tools can be to writers. Check out what Wired says on it, and Google is your friend in many ways – a search will reveal that there are many good and comprehensive guides to search and content planning, and feel free to ask questions in the comments.