Roundup posts can take one of two forms. I call them the Expert Roundup and the Content Roundup. Both are excellent for SEO, for viral traffic, for shares, and for links. It’s no wonder why, either, once you know what they are.
What Are Expert Roundups?
Roundup posts are posts that essentially just aggregate content or opinions from experts in your niche. This post is one top-tier example. The author essentially created a list of high profile bloggers and experts in the blogging niche and sent them all a question. “Name something that most bloggers and content marketers can do to improve their effectiveness when promoting their content.”
The remainder of the post is simple. It’s the responses each of those users gave, along with a headshot and short bio for the expert in question. Some people wrote a paragraph or two, some people wrote several, but they all have interesting advice for whoever reads the post.
This is what I call the Expert Roundup. The Expert Roundup is a post that directly contacts experts in the appropriate niche to get their direct contribution. It’s easy to write compared to a Content Roundup, because 99% of the content comes from the experts themselves. All you’re doing is copying it, pasting it, formatting it, fixing typos if necessary, and writing bios for the authors. It’s pretty quick to put together.
Meanwhile, it has a ton of benefits. Every one of those authors now has a vested interest in promoting your post, because doing so promotes a link to their own site and their position as an authority. Not every author or contributor will actually promote your post, but you can bet more of them will than the number who promote your normal posts.
Roundup posts bring in a ton of traffic for that reason, and they often bring in a bunch of links as well. If the author delivered what they consider excellent advice, they might link to your post to help get that advice shared. They might also promote it because some of their friends and other influencers they respect are on the list as well.
Roundup posts also boost your authority as a blogger in your niche. Readers will immediately think you’re a pretty good authority in your niche, because otherwise, why would any of those other authorities even give you the time of day? And sure, maybe a lot of them didn’t. The cream of the crop influencers tend to have incredibly busy inboxes and don’t answer every little interview pitch that comes their way. Most, though, can take a minute or two to answer a single, simple question.
Plus, you have the chance to use this as an opportunity to build a relationship with those influencers. You can follow up an answer with a thanks, you can build into deeper discussions, and it opens the door for future communication. After all, they answered once, now they can answer again. You have a contact, albeit a minor one, and that can blossom into something more.
How is a Content Roundup Different?
I mentioned that I consider there to be two different kinds of roundup posts, Expert and Content. Content Roundups are a little different. Here’s an example.
What you see here is a monthly series of content roundups in the SEO niche. The authors at 99Signals monitor the top SEO blogs every month, and at the start of the month, they publish a “top 7” list of the best content they read that month. Each entry on the list has a title, thumbnail, summary, and link to the article.
A Content Roundup post tends to be shorter and less valuable on its own, because all of the value is in the articles it links to. It’s essentially you curating the top content of the week, month, or what have you, on your own blog.
Like most forms of content curation, the value comes from reciprocal notice. You’re linking out to authority sites, and some of them will link back. Once you become a large enough authority, you can become a bit of an industry name. Think of it like the Fortune 500, only on a smaller scale and focused on blog value rather than company value. Eventually, other bloggers could use “featured on the MyBlogName Top 10” as an additional social signal and badge of honor.
Content Roundup posts are harder to write than Expert Roundups. The reason is primarily just that you need to pay attention to all of the top blogs in your industry and figure out how to pick out the top seven, top ten, or top however many you want to choose. Then you need to do all of the legwork creating links, fetching screenshots, writing summaries, and formatting the whole thing. It’s a lot more like a traditional blog post.
The benefit of a Content Roundup, which is heavily used in the 99Signals post above, is that it can be repeated indefinitely. You can set up a theme and format, and you can run with that format on a monthly basis for years.
99Signals, I think, has abandoned theirs. They only started it in November of last year and their most recent one covered April 2017. My guess is they didn’t gain much traction, and I’ll tell you why; the value they provide.
Compare the 99Signals post to the SBIB example I linked to for an Expert Roundup example. The Expert Roundup post weighs in at nearly 8,000 words of value, and I bet it took more time waiting for responses than it took to write the post. Meanwhile, the 99Signals post is under 500 words, and 60 of those are a call to action string at the end. There’s very little actual content there.
Let that be a lesson to you; if you want to create a monthly Content Roundup, feature more content and write more about each post and why you think it’s valuable. My guess is that 99Signals found that these short, low-energy posts didn’t bring in traffic and weren’t worth the effort.
Making an Excellent Expert Roundup
I’m not going to cover writing a Content Roundup in much detail, because it’s basically pretty simple. Just monitor your niche for content, find the best content, and write about it. Meanwhile, making an actual Expert Roundup post is both trickier and more effective, so I’m going to focus on that style.
The first thing you need in order to write an excellent Expert Roundup post is a good question. Generally, you’re only asking one question out of your list of experts. Any more and it becomes an interview, and while those can be valuable, it’s more of a price of entry for the experts so you’ll get less in return. You can do interviews, but they aren’t roundups, so I’m going to ignore them.
What makes a good question? Well, you need to know your audience and the kinds of questions they might have. You want to know their pain points. The larger and more persistent the problem, the more interest you’ll have when you answer it 40 different ways all at once.
You also need a good question that makes the experts want to answer. If you were to send out an email to 100 experts asking them for their finest tips on using keywords in blog meta descriptions, you’ll give a dozen answers and they’ll all basically be identical. There’s no room for creative expression in something so mechanical, and it’s something that has a right and a wrong way to do it.
Good questions are open-ended, but are easy to answer in a relatively short amount of time. The more effort the expert has to put in, the less likely they are to do it. After all, they don’t want to write a whole blog post for you, just a few sentences.
- “If you could give yourself one piece of advice when you were first starting out, what would it be?”
- “What’s your number one tip for getting the attention of an influencer you admire?”
- “What’s your favorite under-represented blogger or expert you would recommend people follow?”
- “What’s the biggest mistake you often see experienced bloggers making?”
The second thing you need to succeed with a good Expert Roundup is a list of experts. You need people who have good blogs, though you don’t need an explicit list of only the A-listers. B-list and C-list bloggers are fine too, and are more likely to answer you. You just need people who are proven to be capable of running a successful blog, otherwise what is their advice worth?
So how do you find these experts? The same way you might find influencers in your niche.
- Go to every worthwhile niche blog you can think of and start looking for the people who write for that site. For single-author blogs you’ll only harvest one name and email. For multi-author blogs you might get five or six.
- Run keyword-based searches and find the top content in your niche, even if they’re competitors. Look for anyone who has written excellent content and add them to the list.
- Run keyword-based searches on social media, particularly Twitter, and look for the accounts that come up. You can find some experts through this method that don’t necessarily show up in other places. Make sure to check out their sites, though, so you’re not citing someone who has no right to be called an expert.
I recommend keeping their names, their site names, and their contact information in a spreadsheet. You can then create additional columns for roundups you’ve written. Link to the post once it’s published, and for each expert, note down whether or not they responded. Eventually, you’ll be able to filter out the experts that never respond, so you don’t waste time sending them more messages.
You’ll also encounter the same authors numerous times when they contribute to multiple sites. Neil Patel, Rand Fishkin; people like them contribute to a bunch of different sites and will show up a lot. Just make sure not to send them multiple copies of the same question when you put your message together.
Once you have a question and a list of experts, all you need to do is craft an email and send it out. I recommend trying to get at least 20-30 experts to weigh in, though more than 50 means your post will be extremely long. You could split it into two and publish them separately if you like, for extra value, or you can just have one long massive resource.
Formatting the post is pretty simple. Include the quotes from the experts, add a headshot of theirs from their website, link to their website, and write a bio about them. You can even crib the bio from their bio on their site if you want, though it’s nice to write something a little unique. You’ll also want to write an intro, possibly including your own tips as well, so it’s not entirely content you didn’t produce directly. However, either way, you end up with an excellent, lengthy piece of value.
I recommend against doing this more than once a month at most. Expert Roundup posts can have a ton of value, but you don’t want to be known as the guy who never writes his own blog posts and just constantly asks for information from others. It can be worthwhile to divide your list of experts into sub-categories and make smaller posts on more niche subjects, to keep your contacts cycling and fresh.