Researching Blogs to Reach Your Future Search Engine Audience

By Andy Beal

Do you ever wish you could peer into the future and see what it holds? I’m not talking about a time-traveling DeLorean or space-leaping Tardis. But, when you sit down and look at your search marketing campaign – the hundreds of keywords you spent hours researching on Wordtracker – do you ever wish you could get a jump on your competition and take a peek at what products will be the most searched over the coming months?

Well you could be like Napoleon Dynamite and strap an electrified cap to your head, or you could simply (and less painfully) plug yourself into the blogging community and get a glimpse of what keywords might soon show up in a keyword database.

Bloggers Don’t Bite

There’s no need to be afraid of bloggers. As a blogger myself, I can assure you that we’re not scary, and usually follow a topic of interest with a zeal not seen outside of a Star Trek convention. If you take the time to get to know us, you soon realize that we can help your business to understand its industry, products, potential customers, as well as the reputation-pitfalls to avoid. In fact, if you spend enough time looking at what bloggers (covering your industry) have to say, you’ll be able to spot future trends that can help you adapt your search marketing campaign now, before the data starts showing up in your competitor’s Wordtracker report.

According to Technorati, there are an estimated 14 million-plus bloggers currently spewing forth their regular thoughts on just about every topic. The key for search marketers is tapping in to those bloggers that cover your specific industry and using the resulting information to enhance your search marketing efforts. Sifting through those thousands of daily blog posts needn’t be a laborious task if you use the right tools.

Don’t Come to Me, I’ll Come to You

The first step is to sign-up for an RSS reader/aggregator. There are many great RSS readers out there but two popular ones are Newsgator.com (annual subscription) and Bloglines.com (completely free). An RSS reader effectively brings the blog content to you, as it’s posted, without you having to go to each blog web site and look for new posts. It saves a lot of time and allows you to peruse interesting blog posts without having to actually visit each individual web site (unless you want to).

Once you’ve decided on an RSS reader, you’ll need to start finding those great blog posts that are relevant to your company and start adding their RSS feeds to your reader. The easiest way to do this is to go to one of the numerous “blog search engines� and enter a search query that is relevant to your business, its products or its services.

If you sell digital cameras and want to know what bloggers have to say about the latest cameras, you’ll want to go to Feedster.com, Technorati.com, or IceRocket.com and type the phrase “digital cameras� into the search box. What you’ll get in return will be a complete list of blogs (and maybe just a pinch of spam) that has any posts that mention “digital cameras�. From here you can pick out the sites that interest you, and look for the “RSS� or “XML� button indicating the place where you can add their RSS feed to your RSS reader. Technorati offers a great tool that makes the process even easier by allowing you to search for blogs (not just posts) that are focused on a particular topic (see technorati.com/blogs).

If you really want to keep track of anything that mentions a key phrase of interest, most blog search engines will allow you to subscribe to the search results as an RSS feed. What does this mean in English? Any time your favorite blog search engine discovers a new blog post that contains the search term you are tracking, it will automatically appear in your RSS reader (they say it’s the magic of RSS technology, but I still believe the “blog fairies� put it there while you’re sleeping).

It’s Not What You’ve Got, It’s What You Do With It

One you start getting all of these targeted blog posts popping up in your RSS reader, what do you do with them? You can do so much, but the easiest thing to do first is just read them. Read what the blog poster has to say about that latest digital camera from Canon. Read whether that respected technology blogger likes the new laptops from Toshiba. See if your competitor just announced a new service or product that you need to react to.

Bottom line, the information coming in will be targeted to your company’s business and by reading what bloggers have to say now, you’ll get an idea of what products to stock for the upcoming holiday shopping season or what new service you should consider offering in the New Year. Bloggers tend to be very much tapped into your industry and can often start or end a trend by their praise or criticism. Your RSS reader will allow you to spot new trends and indeed new keywords that you might want to add to your search marketing campaign now.

Spotting a New Trend

If you’re hesitant at this stage, there are some other tools you can use to see if a newly observed trend is for real or if it’s just a lone blogger who had too much Red Bull that particular day. Before you start changing the keyword emphasis for your web site, you’ll want to take a look at two cool tools that give you a glimpse of whether a new trend is actually forming. At Blogpulse.com/trend or trend.icerocket.com you’ll be able to enter up to three different key phrases and take a look at how popular those phrases have been over the past month. Granted this is “past� data, but the resulting graphs will show you whether bloggers have been talking more about that phrase or less over the past month. With bloggers being on what some call the “lunatic fringe� of new trends (leaping straight past “cutting edge�) you’ll learn more from those trend charts than a regular keyword research tool. (Should you want to combine trending data with a more robust keyword research option, Trellian’s KeywordDiscovery.com does an excellent job of combing regular keyword research and trend data.)

As bloggers continue to breed like bunnies, they have become the largest, free market-research tool available to business owners. Never before could you so easily tap into the needs and desires of your potential customers. If you commit just 30 minutes a day to reading and researching what bloggers have to say about your business, you’ll learn what products or services you should start targeting with your search marketing efforts. By getting a step-ahead of your competition, you’ll likely see your web site sitting unopposed at the top of the natural search results, or your cost-per-clicks on the paid search results will not likely be involved in a bidding war.

If you’d like to learn more about using blogs to enhance your search marketing campaign, simply visit www.FortuneInteractive.com and request a copy of our “Understand Your Future Audience Now� seminar.