The Definitive Guide to Publishing Round-Up Posts That Generate Traffic, Links & Revenue
In my last blog post I talked about how round-up posts were an excellent component of an advanced SEO strategy. Since then, I have been flooded with emails and messages through social media asking to explain round-up posts in a bit more detail.
They are such a lucrative source of traffic and links, so I decided to write a very in-depth blog post that covers round-up posts, from A to Z. They are very popular and some businesses don’t like linking out to other websites or giving other people in a similar industry exposure.
You really need to throw that thought process out the window. If someone is on your website and your content, which in this case would be a round-up post, is deemed helpful and valuable, that person is going to credit that to your business. It’s very simple: provide value and be rewarded with happy customers that will patronize your business.
I have seen round-up posts drive thousands of visitors a day and generate $XX,XXX in revenue, and all it took was some time to put the content together. That is one of the most attractive things about round-up posts — they drive insane traffic and conversions and don’t cost a single dollar to publish. I love infographics too, but those cost money to create. For those that complain about working with a limited budget, learn how to master round-up posts.
I’ve been helping companies create these for years now, so I’m going to lay out the process in a way that’s very easy to understand.
This is how you put together the perfect round-up posts..
STEP #1: How to Put Together a Strong Round-Up:
Now, there are several types of round-up posts that you can create. The most common is an “expert” post and you then leverage the influencer of the people involved. Simply by sharing the post with their audience can drive traffic and sales.
But there are also round-up posts that highlight products, software, events, etc. You can essentially create a round-up post for anything, provided that there is an opportunity to be exposed to the audience or customers of those included.
Create a Topic that Appeals with Your Targets Customer
The most important part of assembling a round-up post is coming up with a topic that is going to not only be something of interest to your participants, but also something that your target audience is going to want to read. This takes a little bit of brainstorming to get right.
You want the participants to be very excited about the topic, because this will result in much better information shared. Then, if it’s a topic that your audience is highly interested in they will love the insight and expert opinions provided. In the end, you look like a rock star because you are providing them with valuable content to engage with.
Don’t be afraid to change the topic and pivot while trying to secure participants. If you aren’t getting many bites on your pitch, then you might have to come up with a more interesting topic to grab the attention of your target participants. If they are excited about a particular article topic then there is a good chance your audience will really love it.
Identify People/Products/Events That You Want to Include
There are three major types of round-up posts. Those that feature industry experts, products and events.
For the expert round ups, you will want to identify people in your industry that are considered to be an authority and are well respected. You want someone reading your blog to connect based on name association. It helps to build your credibility.
For products, you want to include things that have high search volumes and are things that people in your industry are interested in. For example, I could do a round-up post featuring the top 10 SEO SaaS tools. There are endless ways to structure these – it’s all about featuring things your audience is interested in learning more about.
Events are a great round-up post, especially for those that are in industries with a lot of conferences. In the SEO world, there are plenty of online marketing conferences that I could target. If I wanted to attract agency owners that might be interested in our re-seller service, then I could do a comprehensive post that details all of the conferences for the year. Something like this would perform very well on social media.
Here are the qualities to look for no matter what option you go with…
It’s very easy to quickly determine whether someone has previously participated in round-up style posts with a Google search. Search queries like “[name] roundup post” will quickly bring up results. If you see that someone is actively participating you will have a much easier time getting them on board.
In the beginning, you might have to target mid-tier authority figures, especially if your company or blog is fairly new or unestablished. The big names will shy away, but once you have previous round-up posts to show them, it will become easier to lure the bigger names. If you can show that that your last round-up attracted 50,000 visitors, then they will want to get in on that action.
Large Social Media Following
This is important. You could find willing participants in a matter of minutes, but the goal is to include people that can help drive attention to the post and traffic to your website. Social media is going to be the number one referral traffic source for your round-up posts, so large social followings is something you really need to look for.
They don’t have to be ridiculously large either. The chances of landing someone with millions of followers will be slim to none, but a bunch of people with 10K to 50K on each platform can explode your traffic stats.
Make sure you focus on the social media networks that matter. If someone has 500K followers on Instagram it’s not going to help drive traffic, because you can’t drop links in the post descriptions or comments. Twitter is great, but Facebook is the best. Not only is it the most active, but people can share the posts and really help to magnify your reach.
High Social Media Activity
Follower count alone doesn’t mean anything these days. Ghost followers and fake followers that were purchased are useless. Look at their previous social media activity, especially posts that share previous round-up involvement. If someone has 10K followers and doesn’t get any comments or shares, it’s likely the following is comprised of ghost accounts and that individual won’t be able to drive any traffic. You would be wasting your time involving them.
There are plenty of tools you can use to quickly analyze social media accounts. Social Blade is one of my favorites, and you can get a good look into any account for free. Also, if you see that they are active and reply to comments and engage with their followers you can expect a much better result. People like this tend to have loyal followers that will click on links and check out suggestions shared to them. These are people that will be featured on your company’s website, so be selective, as they will reflect on your brand.
Considered to be Influential
If someone isn’t well known, or even worse, to be thought of as a joke within your industry, then you definitely don’t want to include them. The goal is to include people that are thought of as influencers in the industry. For example, including Brian Dean of Backlinko in an SEO themed round-up post would be ideal, as he is one of the most well respected SEO professionals. He provides value, knows his stuff and isn’t a fake guru.
Now, if someone that sells $30 eBooks online all day long was included, it would be a bad look because they aren’t respected or considered to hold any influence. Consider it selfish, but you want to use the name and likeness of every participant to drive traffic and brand awareness for your business. That is why people go through the trouble of this process. Some people will say they just want to “publish great content” but that it a pile of horse shit. The real objective is to leverage the person to drive traffic.
Design a Strong Outreach Campaign:
How you approach your targets will directly determine whether or not you are able to compile a solid lineup for your round-up. If someone has any clout, they are a high target, both via email and on social media.
They get social media replies and DMs around the clock and their email inbox is more than likely a disaster. You have to get very creative, and sometimes use nontraditional methods of initiating contact. For example, sending a package to their office with a letter is something that will throw them off guard and probably improve the odds of them replying, simply because it’s something unique.
Also, pick up the phone! We have become so accustomed to email and text that we sometimes forget that we can dial someone up. Find their company’s contact number and cold call them. The more unique your approach, the better, and if you decide to go a nontraditional route it will require different tweaks depending on your industry. Getting the attention of a medical professional will require a different strategy than creatively grabbing the attention of a tattoo artist.
In order to get the attention of your target using traditional email outreach, consider these tips when putting together your outreach campaign:
Absolutely No Copy/Paste Bullshit
So many people are using shitty outreach software and not even changing the default templates that they come pre-loaded with. I’m serious. I get flooded with emails myself, and I know a template or a copy/paste job as soon as I open it. That is the quickest way to turn someone off and have them put up a barricade. They will then ignore every single email you send them in the future.
Take the time to personally reach out to every target. You want to let them know WHY you want to include them. It’s very simple. Tell them why you respect them and why you think your audience will love to hear their opinion. Your email has to be genuine if you expect a reply. Take the time to learn a little bit about the person and then craft each outreach email custom, tailored to that person, and only them. If your email lacks any personality and the person isn’t convinced it’s genuine it will hit the trash bin within seconds.
Don’t Inconvenience Them
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see people making when it comes to approaching targets for a round-up post. They assume each person is just sitting around with nothing better to do, just waiting for people to request information from them. You want to make it as easy as possible for them to get you’re their input.
The most effective way I have found, is by offering them the opportunity to send you their input via a voice memo. This allows them to get it done within minutes and without having to sit down and write and email out. They can do it at any time. Give them your mobile number and tell them to send their response as a voice message. Then, simply transcribe the message. This way they have to do very little work. It will help you close a much higher percentage of your pitch targets, especially the more in-demand people. I clean up for our clients using this trick.
Short & Sweet Buddy
Nobody is going to take the time to read a long-winded email. You need to get to the point as quickly as possible. Your target needs to be able to understand who you are, what you are offering and how it will benefit them within a few sentences max. As mentioned before, these people are in constant demand and have people contacting them around the clock. Trust me, they will respect a short email and it will greatly improve the chance of them replying.
Here is an example of a four sentence pitch that helped a client score the top influencer in his industry:
“My name is XXXXX and I own XXXXX, a blog that receives 200,000 monthly visitors. I’d like to highlight you in an upcoming round-up post to help drive brand awareness for you and push some of my traffic to your blog. Oh, and you can send me your tip as a voice memo and I will write it out. When can we get this up to start pushing traffic to you?”
It doesn’t get any more upfront and to the point than that!
Your Subject Line is the Most Important Part
You could have a great pitch that is right to the point like the example above, but it’s entirely useless if the email isn’t even going to be read. The email subject line is the most important part, because without an open you are dead in the water.
A few years ago, personalisation in the subject line did a great job at getting high open rates, but now everyone does that, even spammers. A lot of your strategy will be based on the industry you are working in. For example, if you are putting together a round-up post of top social media tips, then social media influencers are going to respond well to subject lines full of emojis, while attorney’s will more than likely ignore them.
Step #2: Components of a Successful Round-Up Post:
You can’t simply throw together a bunch of input from different people and expect it to go viral. It has to be carefully constructed and thought out. You want to include as many participants as possible, as it’s a numbers game. The more people or things you feature, the more social sharing that will be powering the post.
Your topic must be interesting enough to attract interest from the participants and then your readers, while also being broad enough to allow for a lot of different answers. If it’s not broad enough you will have a lot of repeat replies.
I would aim for a minimum of 10 people, and no more than 50. The posts that have large number of people can get very cluttered, but they do serve the purpose of driving traffic, but if you are concerned with user experience, you have to think logically. Nobody in their right mind is going to read responses from 50 people.
Headlines with a “WOW Factor
The goal of a round-up post is to drive as much traffic to your website as possible, and most of that is going to come from the effort of those that were featured in the post. The truth is, you don’t know their audience that well. So, without knowing exactly how they react, you are going to need to write a very good headline.
Not only is this the first thing that someone sees when they land on the post, but it’s what is displayed on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter in the preview. Just like a solid email subject line is vital to your outreach effort, your post headline is what will attract the person to click-through.
Some people are against click-bait titles, but they work. Since you aren’t certain how people will respond, you need to get a little crazy with your titles. If I was putting together a mega round-up post about SEO tips for small business owners that featured 25 experts, I would write a title like this:
“25 Google Crushing SEO Ninjas Share Their Best Tips for Local SEO Domination”
While it’s a little over the top, it hits major points:
- It lets the person know that this is a post packed with information since it features 25 SEO experts
- “Google Crushing SEO Ninjas” indicates that these are the best of the best when it comes to SEO and worth checking out
- Since the target is local business owners, having “Best Tips for Local SEO Domination” at the end entices them enough to get them to click-through
Tips and Insight that Helps Your Readers
A lot of people will accept any response or reply from a round-up participant and won’t even read through it. They simply post it and hope that the person shares it. That’s the wrong thought process, because if the response doesn’t offer your reader any benefit they are going to make a mental note that your blog, and therefore website, is essentially useless.
Make sure to read all of the responses carefully and make sure you only post tips and input that provide helpful information or insight that your readers are going to want to read about. Everything in the round-up post, even though it’s not directly coming from you, is a reflection of your company.
Take the time to proof everything and if you are working on a large round-up, consider hiring an outsourced proof reader or editor. The good thing about these posts are that they are evergreen, so they can be sources of traffic for several years. Spending a couple hundred dollars to make sure it’s perfectly edited is a solid investment.
Pictures of the Participants
The goal is to get everyone that participates in the round-up to share the post and drive as much traffic and awareness to it. One of the easiest ways is to stroke their ego’s. The majority of people that regularly participate in these posts love to see themselves featured. It gives them a shot of adrenaline and they feed off it.
In order to help stroke that ego, make sure you include a headshot next to each participant’s response. This helps to put a face to their name and they truly appreciate it. I like to keep a standard format throughout. Their tip title, their input, then their picture, name (linked to their Twitter or LinkedIn profile) and then company name (linked to their website).
In your initial request, you can ask for a headshot in a certain size. Most people will just send what they have and you will have to re-size it. Make sure they are all the same size to maintain a uniform post. Also, try to have them all in color. Mixing in black & white headshots can throw off the look and feel.
Link Out to the Websites and Social Media Profiles of the Participants
I mentioned ego boosting above, and while that is a main reason people partake in round-ups, they really do it for links to their site and the hope of new social media followers. It’s best to give them what they want, because in the grand scheme of things you want traffic.
Always link their company name to their website’s home page and don’t throw a no-follow tag on the link. That will just piss them off and they won’t share the post. They might even ask you to remove them. Trust me, I have done it myself. I participated in a round-up once and they set my link to no-follow and then said they would remove that and change it to “follow” if I shared it enough on social media. That is a dirty way to play, so I told them to remove me. The follow/no-follow debate is for another time, but for the sake of keeping everyone happy, make the links follow.
Also, link their name to a social media profile, but stay consistent. Don’t let them pick. You need to tell them what one it’s going to be. Twitter is the most popular option, as there is a chance they will score new followers as long as they provide solid advice and input.
Add an Irresistible Offer at the End with a Strong CTA
When you put together a round-up based on a killer topic and include the right people, you are doing to drive a massive amount of website traffic. In order to take full advantage of this you need to include an irresistible offer at the end of the post.
This can be an offer to opt-in to your newsletter by offering a free download or something of value, or a coupon code. It needs to be epic and something that they can’t find elsewhere. Since a lot of the traffic is going to be brand new to your website, there is a good chance that a large percentage of it will never return. That’s the reality, so take full advantage of every visitor and create an offer that will greatly increase your chances of collecting some information from the visitors so you can market to them in the future or at least convert them into revenue once.
Step #3: Promote Your Round-Up Post:
After all the hard work of gathering everyone’s replies and formatting the post, it’s time to put some promotional muscle behind it. A lot of people leave the promotion in the hands of the participants, and while you can expect them to drive a lot of traffic, you can’t rely on them only. There are four main strategies I focus on when I map out how I will promote each round-up.
Have the Participants Share Via Social Media, Email Lists, Video Content, Etc.
When you publish the post, you need to immediately notify everyone. A lot of people need to be told exactly what to do, so spell it out for them. You want to put together a promo email that will make their job very easy. Tell them exactly where you want them to share it and give them tools that will make it easier for them.
Also, give them incentive to share on every social network. Use a tool like Canva and create custom social media images for every person that includes their headshot and something along the lines of “I was just featured in XXXXXXX! Click the link below to read!” The custom image makes them feel good and they will be more likely to share it right away everywhere.
Share the Post Directly with Your Audience
To get the initial momentum, share it with your audience. Every social media network that you are active on, as well as your email list. This will help to get you some comments and social signals rolling. When your participants start to send traffic, you will see a much better response if they feel like the post is popular. Activity in the comment section and social share counters do a good job of painting the popularity picture.
I usually publish round-ups late at night and send it out to my list so that the post has some activity before the participants receive their promotional email. After a lot of testing I have found the response to be much better using this strategy.
Write Unique Posts for Each Participant’s Blog to Drive Traffic to the Round-Up
Aside from social media, you can pull traffic from the blogs of every participant. You don’t want them to post it, as that will give you duplicate content nightmares, and you want to be the exclusive source of the post, but you can still get traffic if you are willing to write an article for each person.
Offer to write a unique post that touches on the information that they shared in your post. Make it very interesting and then at the end work in a call-to-action that tells the reader to click-through to read more about the topic. 95% of the people will take you up on this offer. They get free content and it’s driving traffic to a post that they are featured in. It makes them look important, which circles back to the ego boost. The investment of a content writer for these posts is worth it, especially if it will sit on blog and website with high traffic numbers.
Run Paid Social Media Using the Participants Profiles
Paid social media is great and you need to run promoted Facebook ads at the least, but you can even take it a step further. Open a Facebook Business Manager account and ask for all the participants to add you as an advertiser on their Page. This will allow you to run ads on their page without them being billed for them.
Posts coming from their pages promoting your round-up get much more engagement than promoted posts from your company page. Ads that say, “Hey, check it out! I was just featured by XXXX! Click here to give it a read, I know you will love it!” do very well.
As you can see, round-up posts take a tremendous amount of time and effort to put together. Are they worth it? Yes.
They are great for pushing website traffic that will convert for you, and they also help to build solid relationships with influencers and thought leaders within your industry. These relationships can then lead to business deals, guest blogging opportunities and even being featured in round-ups yourself.
The hardest part of getting started with round-up posts is committing to starting and finishing. If you have any questions after reading this please leave them in the comments section below. If you have been suing this as a traffic strategy, then I would also like to hear about your experiences.
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