How to Optimize a Roundup-Style Blog Post
Have you ever read a roundup-style post?
Sure you have! They’re especially popular right about now, with seemingly every blog under the sun posting a “Top Articles of 2018” post to kick off the New Year. Another popular example of a roundup post is an “expert roundup” that lists out quotes of advice from a few experts on a particular topic.
To put it simply, “roundups” are blogs that gather together information into lists.
But I started thinking, what purpose do these posts serve?
In most cases, it’s links and social shares. Think about it. You put together a roundup post of 10 social media experts talking about their go-to Twitter tactics to use in 2019. What happens when you publish it? Well, chances are, the experts you quoted in your blog are going to share the heck out of it — we love that sort of attention! Now, not only has your post gotten some crazy amplification on social channels, it may even get you some links.
Personally though, I think this tactic is waning. People are getting tired of the “475 Experts Share Their Thoughts on SEO” posts that are clearly just amplification/link fodder. When the intent is that obvious, people (in my opinion) are less likely to share. It cheapens it.
This is why marketers can’t have nice things. We take a good tactic and over-use it (even abusing it in some cases), which quickly transforms it into something unoriginal and ineffective.
How to optimize article roundup blog posts
But what about the other type of roundup-style post - the article roundup? The purpose of these is usually threefold:
To reignite interest in an older post. Blog posts, unless they’re ranking highly in search engines for heavily searched keywords, tend to experience traffic spikes around the publish date, which then taper off soon after. Re-posting a link to the blog can spark renewed interest that gets the post more views.
To create more internal links to certain assets. I’ve actually seen some people do “Worst Articles of 2018” type posts, which is pretty genius. It’s attention-grabbing, and brings more traffic to the posts that needed it the most.
To give yourself a break on your editorial calendar. Roundup posts are easy. Easier, at least, than writing a completely original piece. You get to instead piece together information from other posts and simply intro it with a unique paragraph. Boom, done.
Article roundup posts do have a fatal flaw - they tend to suffer from redundancy. For example, if you post a “Top 5 Articles on Dog Training” (or whatever) every week, you’ve got a ton of pages on your blog that are all titled the same. Not only that, but these posts tend to get very low traffic from organic search.
Here’s how I think we can address this problem.
1. Pick a topic to emphasize
Choose the most important topic within your list and make that the focus of the roundup. Here’s a before-and-after of what that shift could look like:
BEFORE: “Top 5 Articles on Remote Working”
AFTER: “How Google Docs Promote Collaboration & 4 Other Articles on Remote Work”
Not only will this make the title of your post more unique, but it also forces the entire blog post to take on a more unique stance. Uniqueness is key to avoiding the thin content that search engines dislike.
2. Consider posting off-site
Roundups may not even need to live as separate posts on your blog! If you’re finding it difficult to make these posts unique, consider posting the roundup to your brand’s social profiles instead.
To do this, identify where your audience spends time. Are they on Twitter? Facebook? Maybe they don’t frequent social media at all but are very receptive to emails.
Knowing your audience’s behaviors and preferences will help you identify what platforms would best reach them. If you decide to go this route, you don’t even need to worry about posting these roundups on your blog anymore, which can help you avoid repetitive content that doesn’t rank well or see much organic traffic.
3. Shift your goals
It’s not always about ranking. Search engine rankings aren’t the only ways to get this information to your audience. In fact, the keywords that would comprise a roundup post don’t typically have measurable search volume (AKA people don’t type those words into the Google search bar).
For example, “top remote work articles” shows no measurable search volume in my keyword research tools. When people want information on a topic, their search behavior is more likely to look like this:
Search topic (ex: “remote work”)
Navigate to the “news” tab
Select from a list of recent articles Google has already curated on that topic
They might not even use Google for this type of information. Alternatively, they could:
Find websites on the topic that they’re interested and subscribe to receive their email updates
Set up Google alerts to receive emails whenever a new article on a certain topic is published
Follow topics of interest on Google News to get updates specific to their interests
Use social media sites like Twitter to search for topical information people are talking about
So when you want to communicate information, but that information (at least in the way you’re formatting it) isn’t heavily searched, search engines may not be the best vehicle to reach your audience.
Like we alluded to in #2, a possibly better way to get a roundup post in front of your audience would be to send it via email to your email list. The Moz Top 10 is a great example of this.
Moz Top 10 is a roundup of the top SEO articles sent as a newsletter every two weeks to people who have signed up to receive those updates. That content is exclusively sent via email and is not located as a static resource anywhere on the Moz website. Moz’s audience gets those updates directly to their inbox. Moz also promotes the articles in the Top 10 on our social media.
Here’s an example from Twitter:
Roundup-style posts can be a great way to keep your audience informed and engaged with your brand. If you want to utilize this post format, try these tips so you don’t risk redundancy.