I’ve been writing for and managing blogs of various sizes for more than 6 years. This blog is almost 7 years old and has nearly 500 posts, and that’s only a small percentage of the thousands of blog posts I’ve written for clients over the years.
That means I get to make semi-broad statements about what does and doesn’t work – at least in my personal experience. Of course, that doesn’t mean everything I say will work for your blog.
Every audience is different. Every blog is different. Every post is different. But for my money, the following are the five types of blog posts that have the biggest engagement and share rates, and subsequently drive the most traffic.
#1 – Lists with Real Insights
Lists are popular. Always have been and always will be. But just because a list drives traffic doesn’t mean YOUR list will drive traffic. There are certain rules to follow.
More than anything, it needs to offer a unique angle that other lists don’t. Anecdotes from your life, case studies and figures backing up your claims, or creative new ideas that other lists on the same topic don’t cover.
A list of 10 ways to make money online that never goes deeper than “create a blog and write a lot of good content for it” won’t capture attention the way a list about “10 largest Internet marketing disasters and how to avoid adding to the list”.
#2 – Opinions on Controversial Topics
As I wrote a couple days ago, controversy is a big seller for any blog post. People flock to posts that they either strongly agree or disagree with. But that doesn’t give you a green light to go around poking ant hills with sticks.
Be respectful of opposing opinions, offer in-depth commentary to back up your opinion, facilitate a lively conversation, and avoid strong language. You want people to trust and respect you, not tune in just to see what you’ll say next.
#3 – Case Studies or Anything with Numbers
People love anything that actively presents a new idea or validates an old one. So case studies or anecdotes about new technologies in your niche, recent numbers about topics related to your niche, or infographics do incredibly well.
Even on a very surface level, numbers backing up a claim show a level of professionalism that most blogs never reach.
#4 – Interviews or Guest Posts from Thought Leaders
Getting thought leaders from other blogs or companies on your blog is a sure way to skyrocket to the top of the blogosphere for your niche. You will instantly create stronger connections with people that you may never have known before, be seen as a greater authority on those topics, and be spoken of in the same breath as those thought leaders.
And you didn’t have to write anything.
It won’t happen overnight. You need to follow them, read their content, comment on their posts, and build a relationship – it might take weeks or even months to do. But when you do it, you’ll reap the rewards whenever you ask for a guest post.
#5 – A WTF Headline
Have you ever seen a post with a headline like this:
11 Things Obi-Wan Kenobi Could Teach You About Content Marketing
It’s silly but instantly engaging. You want to know what Obi-Wan would do as a content marketer. You almost immediately imagine him sitting at a desk with his robes pulled up, typing away at a keyboard, lightsaber clacking against his chair.
I call these WTF headlines because the article itself is still just a list of 11 things to do with content marketing, but someone had too much fun dreaming up Star Wars references. People love to click on links to pages like this.
Of course, there are other things that make a blog post effective. Personality, funny anecdotes, and anything that showcases your expertise will have a huge impact on how well received any one post is.
And there is the marketing. Writing one of each of the five above and posting them with zero marketing will get you all of nowhere. But if you create a marketing plan, write an amazing post and get the word out, if it really resonates with your target audience, you’ll see some serious response, quickly.