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If you ask anyone what makes a blog popular, they’ll say content. No matter how many clever headlines tell you otherwise, content is still king. If your content does not offer value in one way or another, people will simply not visit your site. The two steps to building a successful and popular blog are simply: writing great content and having people talk about it.
Blog’s don’t grow on their own; they grow through people sharing them. By having people “talk about” your content, I simply mean people sharing your content. This could be via word of mouth, Twitter, Facebook, or even a link from their own blog. The latter example, surprisingly (or not) is what I’m going to look at today.
What are the most popular posts on the top blogs out there? What are they writing that gets people talking and linking to them? To answer that, I decided to study the most linked to blog posts on four of the most popular blogs in the world and analyse what made them so popular. Based on the findings here, you can apply the results to your own blogging ventures and produce the type of content that you know people respond to. After all, it’s been proven to work for these guys, so why shouldn’t it for you?
Problogger is the authority website when it comes to blogging, authored by Darren Rowse. Darren has been kind enough to let me write on his site multiple times so I decided to list him first here. With over 5,000 blog posts to choose from, I was curious to see exactly what those top posts were.
1. Blogging Tips for Beginners (Link)
This is a resource post which combines all of the top blog posts on Problogger which offer advice for beginner bloggers. Everyone was a beginner once, and with over 100 million blogs out there, this definitely has mass appeal.
2. How To Market Your Blog in 2007 (Link)
A great post that shows the number of ways you can promote your website over the coming year. Interestingly, this was a guest post by a Problogger reader.
3. Top 5 – Group Writing Project (Link)
One of the most linked to blog posts on Darren’s site happens to be a competition where he is giving away $1,001 to the winner. The idea was that people write a blog post around a “top 5″ theme and they would be guaranteed to get a link from Darren himself. I’m sure a vast majority of people taking part also linked to the original post.
4. 10 Techniques to Get More Comments On Your Blog (Link)
As the title suggests, this is a list post that teaches people how to overcome a dilemma that most bloggers face at one point or another: how to get more comments.
5. 34 Reasons Why Readers Unsubscribe From Your Blog (Link)
Every blogger wants to gain subscribers but rarely do people look at the possibility of losing subscribers once they have them. This post provides a wealth of information for anyone to combat the issue.
Apart from being one of my favourite blogs, Copyblogger has established their authority via Brian Clark to tens of thousands of readers. Self defined as “copywriting tips for online marketing success” Copyblogger certainly delivers its promise with excellent content published on a regular basis.
1. 10 Sure-Fire Headline Forumlas That Work (Link)
Headlines are without a doubt the most important part of a blog post. Here, Brian shares tips to help you create headlines that people are naturally drawn t0.
2. How to Write Magnetic Headlines (Link)
Again, on the theme of helping people with the most important aspect of blogging, this “how to” guide from Copyblogger shares a list of the sites top posts on the subject collected in one place.
3. How to Attract Links and Increase Traffic (Link)
Yet another resource post of Copyblogger articles on a specific subject. This one looks at quite possibly the most important aspect to growing your blog: getting more links to your content and increasing traffic. The links here aren’t to other Copyblogger posts, however, but to posts by other posts across the web.
4. Copywriting 101: An Introduction to Copywriting (Link)
Another great resource by Brian, sharing his top tips on Copywriting. It is unsurprising that Copyblogger shares a resource on this topic, seeing as this is the theme of the site.
5. 10 Effective Ways to Get More Blog Subscribers (Link)
A great list topic on a subject that all bloggers want, more subscribers. Brian shares 10 simple but quick ways to do just that.
Guy’s blog, How to Change the World, is perhaps one of the longest running blogs I’ve come across. Guy gives his excellent, unique, and first-hand view on business life as a successful investor and entrepreneur.
1. The 10/20/30 Rule of Powerpoint (Link)
After having sat through what is probably more presentations than anyone reading this combined, Guy shares his thoughts on how presentations should really be done.
2. 10 Ways to Use LinkedIn (Link)
LinkedIn is one of the most popular social networks in the world and is focused around business networking. Guy put together this great post which shows different ways to use the service.
3. How to Use Twitter as a Twool (Link)
In December 08, Twitter was experiencing its first major growth surge as it started to attract people outside of the tech industry. Guy, with over 100,000 followers, shows how he uses Twitter as a tool to market his businesses.
4. How I Built a Web 2.0 Social Media Site for $12,107.09 (Link)
Guy shares a rare insight into how entrepreneurs build businesses online and in this case, his social voting website Truemors. It is great to see so much transparency and especially from someone in the spotlight as much as Guy.
5. The Art of the Start Video (Link)
Guy shares a long video which is his guide to entrepreneurship and building successful startups. This received a standing ovation in person, so was also received well online.
Authored by my friend Aaron Wall, SEO book is the top resource online about increasing your search engine rankings and getting more website traffic. Not only is Aaron an expert on the subject, but he is also a genuinely nice guy, allowing me to interview him for this website when I was only 16 years old.
1. 101 Ways to Build Link Popularity (Link)
It’s funny to see Brian Clark (Copyblogger) commenting on this excellent link building post by Aaron and Andy when, I assume, he was not a web celeb. This massive resource article shares excellent tips on how to build the most important factor in search engine rankings: backlinks.
2. The Bloggers Guide to SEO (Link)
Another massive article by Aaron and his Wife Giovanna gives bloggers tips on how they can improve the on-site optimisation of their blogs. Something like this was sorely missing for quite a while in my opinion.
3. New Search Engine Rankings Place Heavy Emphasis on Branding (Link)
Aaron goes in-depth on a new Google update showing a lot of figures and ranking reports since the changes. Aaron has been known for breaking content like this since writing about the Google Florida update back in 2003.
4. Track Google Adsense Clicks via Google Analytics (Link)
Here Aaron shares a handy way to find out which visitors are clicking on your ads. From there, you can try to increase the traffic from that source and thus earn more money via Google Adsense.
5. Search Engine Algorithm Comparison (Link)
Although this was written over three years ago, a lot of the advice is both useful today (if less relevant). Another monster guide from Aaron shows the differences between the top search engines and how they rank websites.
Hopefully with these 20 examples you have tons of ideas for blog posts in your industry. Although this took me hours to put together (and to find the most linked to blog posts) I believe there is more than enough value in this post to make up for it. Here are three things that really stood out for me while writing and researching this article:
1. Length Matters - What you say is far more important than how much you say, but length does matter (don’t worry, I won’t be putting penis englargement links here). The longest post had 9,334 words while the shortest only had 232. On average, however, the posts had 1,610 words.
I don’t know about you, but the majority of blogs I see don’t put 1,610 words worth of value into their posts. Maybe it’s time to start?
2. Resource Posts Get Links – This actually amazes me, but blog posts that just linked to other blog posts (on the same sites) managed to get thousands of links. Of course it helps if you have an established blog already, but I’m surprised other bloggers are linking to these pages. This is definitely something I’m going to incorporate into my own sites in the future.
3. Show How to Utilise Services – A good majority of these 20 posts were showing people how to utilise services — whether that was social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter, or stats programs like Google Analytics. If you can teach people how to get the most out of a service, it seems like they are more than happy to talk about you.
Of course, it would be best to pick something relevant to your niche rather than just the examples posted here.
So, 2,250 words later, I’ll find out if this blogging analysis has helped me write blog posts that get links.