How to Write Content that Answers Questions

Answer questions with your content.

The internet has a ton of information on it. When researching any given topic one can find arguments for or against; one can find pros/cons of any product or business. What is your aim when creating content?

Establishing Trust AND answering questions!

As a business owner, you hear a lot about how you need to build trust with customers to develop a loyal base of regular patrons. How do you build trust? The answer is by providing solutions to difficult problems. Think about the home improvement professional who helps customers learn how to install a countertop or repair a hole in the roof.

The home improvement professional has started the journey towards earning the trust of potential customers.
Another way to build trust with your customers is to know how to write content that answers questions.

How to Find the Right Questions to Answer
Understanding the questions your content readers are asking improves your keyword research skills, as well as produce new content topics when the wheels upstairs need a little greasing. Let’s look at a few sources for finding the types of questions your readers are asking.

Yahoo Answers
Yahoo Answers established the standard for providing business operators with ideas for questions. Although overused by some researchers, the important tool from Yahoo offers an advanced search tool to fine-tune the questions you are presented by the search engine giant. Useful features include choosing a category, establishing a range of dates, and considering only open-ended questions. Your readers will not respond favorably to yes and no questions.

Use Twitter to Find Questions
Twitter offers use a pithy way to get messages across, so it should not surprise savvy content marketers the company also features a sleek advanced operator that allows you to search for the types of questions asked by your customers. You should avoid using links gathered from the search results since many links include question marks in the URLs.

Here is a sample search for the right question:
[“Does anyone know” Home improvement]

You should receive a generous amount of questions concerning home improvement topics.

Buzz Your Customers through Buzzsumo
Free tools are good and free tools that help build trust with customer prospects are even better. One such free tool is called Buzzsumo, which gives you the option to write in a topic that you want to use for answering questions. You will have dozens of popular articles and blog posts to choose from that help you answer the questions your customers want answered.

Google’s Solution to the Question Asking Dilemma

From Google's People also ask feature.

When you want to upload content that answers questions, Google has a “People also ask” feature that gives you many more options for questions to answer about a similar subject. The feature typically sits below the first two or three search engine results.

Writing Content that Answers Customer Questions
Now that you know where to search for the right questions, how should you write content that answers the questions? There are several schools of thought about this content marketing strategy. Perhaps the most popular way to answer questions with your content is by writing a listicle.

Lists Help Maintain Focus
You know that long-winded online articles and blog posts delivered in large blocks of paragraphs are a surefire way to turn off your readers. By creating a listicle, you will maintain the attention of your readers by presenting short answers to important questions. You do not even have to letter or number each question on your list. A simple heading will do the job.

To Tell a Story or Not to Tell a Story
Sharing a personal story can help connect people to you and your brand, especially if they can relate. However, if you’re trying to deliver value maybe don’t tell a story!

Say what? 

If you’ve ever visited a site that has food recipes, you have likely scrolled past a wall of text looking for that lemon pepper salmon smoothie recipe. Sometimes a story can detract from the content, especially if people are only looking for one thing. I’m a big fan of what the Wirecutter does. In their articles (like the one I linked to), they provide a quick intro paragraph and then quickly show their top-rated product from their research. If you want to get into the nuts and bolts of how they got there you can scroll down and read the rest of the content. It’s fucking brilliant!

Get Your Readers Involved
Simply answering questions on a blog might not be enough to build the level of trust you need to reach more customers. By including the names of a few of your customers in the wording of a question, you make the customers feel like they are a part of the solution. In the car repair shop example above, you could write “Steve Washington said he felt a strange pull on the steering wheel of his car. What should he do to get the car on the straight and narrow again?”

Move from Simple to Complex
Do you remember the difficult math problems we had to solve in high school? The teacher probably suggested working out the easiest part of a math problem first, before tackling the more difficult components of the problem. The same principle applies to writing content that answers questions. You want to start with the basic questions and answers concerning your area of professional expertise. After earning the trust of your readers, you can move forward to more difficult questions.

Do Not Forget About Video
Nothing is more effective at answering customer questions than by presenting a How to…” video. You can present a detailed step-by-step description of an answer to a question such as “How to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving.” Yes, videos are considered content and if you want proof of that, then look no further than the importance Google places on ranking videos in its search engine, especially videos uploaded on YouTube.

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