When trying to boost your blog’s inbound, organic traffic, there’s always a secret weapon you can unleash: a roundup post. Roundup posts can take many forms, but they all have the following benefits:
- They add high-quality content to your site
- They have the appeal of compiling ideas from popular or expert bloggers, boosting traffic
- They add to your blog’s appearance of authority
- They can build quality relationships with key influencers in your field
For these reasons, crafting a roundup post every three to six months is always a great idea. If you can build enough of a reputation, even more prestigious influencers may take notice and be willing to participate — perhaps even sharing your post and driving their legions of followers to your site.
The only catch is that your post has to be done the right way. Otherwise, you could turn off your audience and sour any potential influencer relationships that could have been made.
To increase your chances of success and add to the overall quality of your roundup posts, we created this helpful guide for crafting a roundup blog post that really sizzles.
Your Guide to Creating an Expert Roundup Blog Post
What Is a Roundup Post?
Roundup blog posts essentially take handfuls of content you haven’t written and assembles them in a logical and meaningful way. They can consist of three general categories, listed in order of the value they can provide to you and your audience:
- Content Roundup Posts — Summarizes and links to hot content that your audience would want to read. Offers interesting food-for-thought but does not contribute to your reputation as an authority.
- Opinion Roundup Posts — Takes an issue, question or concept and quotes others who have something to say about it. Getting permission is usually optional, but attribution is mandatory as these posts take from existing content.
- Expert Panel Roundup Posts — The gold standard of expert blogging. This type of roundup creates new, original content with unique value created using the sum of 10 or more experts’ thoughts on a question you submitted to them. Expert responses have the highest chance of driving traffic and usually yield the most interesting final product.
Writing the first two types of roundup posts can be a great way to “warm up” to the style of creating them while building a reputation that can be leveraged later to get actual expert opinion submissions.
Basic Structure of a Roundup Post
No matter which type of roundup post you want to write, there will always be a few basic elements that act as markers of quality.
- An Interesting Topic — Write things your audience wants to read. You can explore which topics are worthwhile using keyword research and a few other tactics we’ll outline below.
- A Killer Headline — Headlines draw people in and make them want to click, read and share. Meta descriptions and teasers help, too.
- A Thoughtful Introduction — Whether you’re linking to other stories, quoting opinions or hosting a forum of sorts for experts who submitted to you, you will want to frame the topic in a way the audience can relate to and draw them in to read further. You can try several tactics.
- Simply summarizing the issue or question at hand
- Leading in with an interesting fact or statistic
- Leading with the most interesting blog or opinion then saying, “read on for more of this…”
- Your Links or Opinions Organized in an Easy-to-Read Format — Not everyone want to read the whole post, especially when it gets long (over 1,000 words). Create subheadings, give the speaker quotes a separate font and space, or use whatever format you feel most comfortable with. Above all else, though, make the structure consistent, give the information a hierarchy and get feedback on readability before you publish.
- Bios and Headshots for Each Expert (If That’s the Route You Go) — Give people a reason for why they should care about what each expert thinks. You can condense their bios from their own content or social media. Keep it short and make it just one or two sentences. Be sure to highlight an important company they’ve worked for or notable publication they’ve been featured in.
- A Punchy Conclusion — Conclusions punctuate everything your audience has just read. They can also summarize the key takeaways while adding something new as food for thought.
- A CTA or Link to Other Content — You want to keep your audience engaged, but you don’t want to “hard sell” anything. Simply invite them to join your mailing list, check out your other blogs or find out more about your business or site.
Coming Up With a Great Topic
Your topic is the most important part of your post, the foundation upon which everything else will build. It’s got to be good! Otherwise, no one will click and few experts will respond to your request for comment.
The easiest way to come up with a topic is to choose one ready-made. Make it a habit to subscribe to Google Alerts or check out the latest news in your industry. Keep a separate bookmark folder for the most interesting posts, and take the time to assemble these into a potential content calendar using a spreadsheet or a Google Document.
If you don’t have a topic preloaded and are dying to get one, you can look to sites like Quora and LinkedIn groups or use tools like Google Trends and BuzzSumo. You can also use content-finder tools like StumbleUpon or Pinterest. Doing a Google news search or checking out interesting content-sharing blogs akin to Digg or Gizmodo can also supply topics as well as inspiration for how to structure your post.
You could also look to your own audience! Send out an email to your mailing list or request comments on your blog and social media for topics your audience cares about the most.
When evaluating your topic for quality, ask yourself these four questions:
- Is the topic relevant? — Some issues die down quicker than others. E.g.: “How is El Nino affecting cold weather clothing sales?” when 2015-2016’s El Nino is long gone.
- Is there something new or particularly interesting to say about it? — Broad topics like Big Data and Internet of Things were fair game for a while, but have been done to death by now. If you can’t add something to the conversation, don’t have it. A side option is to take a specific slant or invert the popular opinion.
- Is the issue complex? — Some topics are interesting but only elicit one or two responses. There’s no point in doing a roundup if it repeats the same two things.
The answer to these questions will help you temper and refine your topic, including how specific or broad it will be and what lenses your excerpts could examine it through.
Using Keyword Research to Refine Your Topic and Write a Headline
Aforementioned tools like BuzzSumo will tell you a lot about a topic and its value, but nothing quite matches the power of keyword research. Performing keyword research lets you know about search volume — a major source of your incoming traffic. It can also give you a clearer idea of how click-worthy audiences may deem your topic.
Lucky for you we have a somewhat-exhaustive guide to keyword research you can peruse, but here are a few pointers to heed when evaluating how you will frame or phrase your topic:
- Always lean towards the niche interests of your audience and your industry based on related long-tail keywords
- You don’t have to explicitly say your topic or question in your headline; you can tease the most interesting, click-worthy information instead. e.g: “Attorney Experts Reveal How to Find Higher-Value Clients” versus “Why Lawyers Should Network at Weddings and 11 Other Experts’ Tips for Getting Better Cases”
- You can write multiple headlines for different channels, such as making your post more “viral” for Facebook, or professional for LinkedIn
- If choosing a topic that you want experts in your field to respond to, make sure it’s a topic they will care about and feel motivated to chime in on
Getting Others to Contribute to Your Expert Roundup Post
This section assumes that you are doing a custom write-in roundup post where you send off questions to potential contributors. As mentioned before, this is the most valuable type of roundup post but also the most difficult and time-consuming to assemble.
The most important things to remember when going this route are to:
- Anticipate non-responses by asking more people than you need
- Stay organized to prevent your pre-writing process from becoming a jumbled mess
- Be polite and to the point in your request emails
- Assume that more notable experts will be less likely to respond, meaning you should have backup plans
- Follow up on any successful responses with a thank you and an indicator of when the final post will be published
- Send off a link to the finished product and politely request that the contributor might find it in their heart to share the post on their own blog
To get a solid idea of how to find key influencers and experts willing to contribute to your blog, you can read Brian Lang’s solid breakdown of the process on his SmartBlogger site or Dave Schneider’s version on SEO Hacker.
To summarize, we also pulled two of the most interesting quotes from the SmartBlogger guide:
“The best way to persuade me to participate in your expert roundup is to present me with a few questions that are obviously targeted to my areas of expertise. Unless it’s an exclusive interview, don’t throw more than three questions at me.” — Mark Traphagen, Stone Temple Consulting, courtesy of SmartBlogger
“Purposely seek out experts whose views will contradict each other. Great roundups offer different perspectives side-by-side. Some of the best have a strong yes followed by a strong no.” — Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder of Orbit Media Studios, courtesy of SmartBlogger
Organizing Your Post
Structure and organization are key to help your audience understand the piece while giving it a sense of flow.
First, make sure your introduction makes it crystal clear that you are using other people’s comments and ideas. You can also separate like-minded opinions, ideas or linked content under a few subheadings with their own brief introductions. For example, if a pool blog has several people saying “saltwater generators are worth the money” and a few who say “no way!” you can structure the opinions into two camps.
Use a different font and color for your speakers compared to your personal text. You can even separate each comment into boxes. Note that since consistency is important, you may have to take out parts of a response to prevent it from taking up too much room relative to the others.
Provide pinnable images and Tweetable pull quotes to break up your post visually and make sharing all the more likely and you can use a tool like ClicktoTweet to make the process easy. Custom images also work well when sharing the final product on social media since they grab the eye.
Your overall goal should be to make the article skimmable. Imagine someone read the entire thing, forgot where the awesome quote was and has to go back. Can they find what they were looking for quickly?
Here’s an infographic by Siege Media that has a ton of useful tips for creating great roundup posts:
There’s a lot more to say on this topic, but we don’t want to make this guide into a textbook. Your best bets are to:
- Stay organized
- Make your topic relevant, somewhat-original and interesting
- Vet your topic with keyword research and tools like BuzzSumo
- Look for a variety of content to link to or influencers to quote
- Ask more people than you need when requesting answers
- Be polite and professional to your contributors!
- Keep your piece structured and easy to skim through
If you follow these tips, you aren’t guaranteed to have a dynamite, ultra-viral, “have you seen this?!” post on the first try, but you are more likely to have a better product overall. Practice makes perfect, and looking to other blogs and influencers will show you the way.
Good luck out there!