Writing quality content is no longer enough.
You need to publish the right content types… The types of content that have shareability baked into their DNA.
One type in particular is almost guaranteed to send a tidal wave of traffic to your website…
The Crowdsourced Post.
Today I’m showing you the 5 required elements for a crowdsourced post that CRUSHES it in traffic, shares, and a first page ranking. (Don’t miss the template to build your own crowdsourced post at the end of this post!)
Trust me, I’m speaking from experience…
On April 22nd, I published a crowdsourced post asking marketers their favorite keyword research tools.
In two months the post generated over 1,200 social media shares…
Received 6,610 pageviews…
And ranks #2 in Google for the search phrase “best keyword research tool”, which gets 1,000 monthly searches…
This post gets 60-100 organic visits a day!
What is a Crowdsourced Post?
To make sure we’re all on the same page:
A crowdsourced post is a type of post featuring multiple industry experts. You’ll typically provide a compelling question or engaging topic for discussion (relevant to your target audience) and reach out to the experts asking them to share their insights/opinion.
There are three reasons why these are so powerful:
- Traffic: You can use the audience of influencers to drive traffic to your site.
- Authority: An expert will give you (and your blog) authority purely by association. Plus, content featuring well-known experts will have higher perceived value over other posts.
- Connections: Traffic aside, expert roundups are a great way to reach, and connect with, the biggest names in your industry.
Now that you’re chomping at the bit to create a powerhouse crowdsourced post… how do you do it?
You need a strategy.
There are 5 key elements to every successful crowdsourced post:
- The right topic
- The right question
- The right experts
- The right outreach
- The right structure
I’m going to show you step-by-step how to master each of these 5 elements to rank your posts and drive thousands of people to your website.
Let’s get started.
#1: Choosing The Right Topic
The first step in creating a viral expert roundup is picking the right topic.
A couple things to keep in mind…
- Don’t choose something you know everyone will agree on
- Avoid producing roundups just to rank for a keyword
If you do either of these — it will be a flop. (Been there, done that!)
Instead, brainstorm a list of topics where opinion is likely to differ and insights will provide helpful information. Think about questions you have and the things your readers are struggling with.
Perhaps you’re in the fitness niche and there is conflicting information on the best strength training exercises.
I chose “keyword research tools” because many of my readers expressed an interest in keyword research, plus people LOVE tools.
Whatever you choose, make sure it’s fresh and void of biased answers.
Here are some ways to get the ideas rolling in…
Your Email List
One of the best ways to find crowdsourced topics is to simply ask your audience what interests them, or what they are struggling with. People often get stuck on the same things.
Your autoresponder is one of the best places to start.
This is a picture of the welcome email people receive right after they sign up to my email list:
I found people were most interested in:
- Link building
- Traffic generation
- Lead generation
- Blog monetization
- Keyword research
Blog comments are another great source of topic ideas.
Look through your most popular posts and look for questions or discussion points.
Don’t have many comments?
Check out the comment sections on competitor blogs.
Industry forums are a great place to uncover topics that interest your target market.
Head over to google and type KW + “forum”.
You can see the bodybuilding.com forum comes up #1.
Enter the forum and you’ll see a range of fitness topics being discussed. Pay close attention to the number of views and replies. These metrics provide a good indication of the topic’s popularity:
For this case study, I went out to the Inbound marketing forum and looked in the “ask inbound” section for popular questions.
Look what I found:
Let your audience dictate the topic.
Head over to LinkedIn and select “groups” from the dropdown and enter a keyword related to your industry:
Popular posts/questions will surface to the top of group feeds:
This thread was posted 9 months ago and is STILL getting engagement.
Validate Your Topic
Once you have some topic ideas head over to a Q&A forum like Quora and enter your topic.
Pay attention to the number of views and people looking for answers:
Next, enter your topic keyword into Buzzsumo:
This topic consistently gets hundreds of shares — another indication it will be a popular topic that will catch fire on social media and help drive traffic to your site.
Finally, make a list of keywords around these topics.
After following the process listed above I discovered:
- People LOVE tools
- People want to know what tools the experts use
- Readers responded to my welcome emails asking which tools I use for keyword research
- I validated there was a ton of social engagement around tool related posts
Finding the Right Keywords to Target
Before you can craft the perfect question for your roundup, you need to choose a keyword you can actually rank for!
This is the key to getting long term organic (passive) traffic.
Start with the Google Keyword Planner to get a an idea of search volume and level of keyword competition:
Don’t go for keywords with a high level of competition.
Instead, try to aim for low/medium competition keywords with average monthly search volume ranging between 400-3,000. These tend to be the easiest to rank for.
This search phrase gets 1000 monthly searches and has medium competition level.
I like it!
Next, head over to Google and enter Allintitle: “your target search term”
It’s best to target keywords with less than 8,000 results. Any higher and you’re going struggle to capture any first page real estate.
Finally, search for your target keyword and run the Mozbar extension to check the Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) of the sites already ranking.:
You want to make sure there are already pages with similar DA to your site ranking on the first page.
Avoid targeting keyword where the first page of the SERP is filled with sites that have much higher DA than yours.
Long Tail Keyword Variations
The Google Keyword Planner is very helpful in quickly identifying search volume and relative keyword competition levels, but it has one flaw…
It gives the EXACT same keywords to everyone that uses it (including your competitors).
This explains why there is so much competition around many of the keywords you enter into Google Keyword Planner.
This has become my go-to tool for finding hundreds of long tail keyword variations across major search engines and consumer marketplaces.
Enter your seed keyword and select your target search engine(s) and BOOM!
FreshKey will pull all the top long tail variations straight from each search engine’s autosuggest.
You have access to hundreds of longtail keywords you (and your competitors) would not have been able to find using a tool like Google Keyword Planner.
You can also view trend data for each keyword which can help identify topic seasonality and search popularity.
Don’t worry, this works in ANY niche.
Let’s continue to use the fitness industry in our example.
You decide on a topic such as “strength training exercises”.
This search term gets 4,400 searches with low competition…
Now, when we do an allintitle: search….
We see 13,000 results…stiff competition.
Hmmm, unless you have a team promoting and building links to your content, ranking for that one is going to be an uphill battle.
Let’s go more longtail…
How about “best strength training exercises”?
And, it gets 390 searches a month. This could be a good candidate for a crowdsourced post.
The next step important piece of the puzzle is to formulate a question that makes it extremely easy for experts to respond to.
Bonus Tip: Avoid pages with lots of YouTube and Wikipedia links. These sites have insane DA and will be almost impossible to outrank.
#2: Choosing the Right Question
Experts are busy.
So, you need to make it easy, quick, and as specific as possible for them to respond to your question with the best possible answer.
In this expert roundup, my question was:
If you could only use 3 tools for keyword research, which 3 would you choose?
This question format works so well because…
- Experts don’t have to pick just ONE solution
- They don’t need to put a ton of thought into it
- Responses are bound to differ
Bonus Tip: Try to include your target keyword in the question. It will encourage experts to include the keyword (or a variation) in their response. This will strengthen your on-page SEO.
Check out how many times my seed keyword and related long tail variations were mentioned in the post:
“keyword research” 58x
“keyword research tool ” 20x
“best keyword research tool ” 3x
#3: Choose the Right Experts
Finding the right people is crucial to maximizing the potential reach of your crowdsources.
You need to find people that have a history of creating AND sharing great content.
BUT, the quality of response is not the only factor to consider.
In order to maximize the potential reach of your roundup you will need to make sure you’re including experts with large social media audiences. A handful of shares from social power influencers can amplify your content and trigger a wave of traffic to your site.
Make sure you pick people who have the audiences you want to reach.
And, create a list of at least 40 experts you’d ideally like to include (not all will be reachable or interested in being included).
I try to have at least 50-60. Make it an odd number, too. Studies have proven odd number list titles get higher CTRs.
Here are 7 ways to find the right experts for your roundup:
Head over to Buzzsumo. Select past year and the “influencers” tab.
Enter a broad search term related to your niche or the topic of your question.
In this case, my topic covers the top keyword research tools so I will enter keywords such as “SEO” and “PPC”:
Then, I will be given a list of influencers. You can sort by a number of different metrics….
You’ll notice many of these people have tens of thousands of followers and a lot of authority. These are the type of people you want sharing and amplifying your content.
One metric to look at closely is the reply ratio. This can give you a good indication of how likely it is people will respond to your outreach.
Try to add people with at least 10K followers.
Move through the list and add relevant experts to an excel spreadsheet — you’ll be using this for the outreach campaign in the next step.
- Email address
- First Name
- Last Name
Next, head over to Followerwonk, a twitter analytics app produced by the team over at Moz:
Similar to Buzzsumo, you’ll get a list of experts along with some helpful metrics such as follower count, social authority, account age and number of tweets.
You’ll find some new faces to add to your target outreach list.
Click on the blogs listed and make sure they have at least 5K followers and are actively engaged on social media.
In addition to the experts who regularly contribute to roundups, it’s a good idea to include some lesser-known low-to-mid level bloggers.
Since they don’t get asked very often, they’ll be much more likely to respond and share your content. Plus, you’ll get some fresh opinions that people may not have heard before.
Identify relevant forums using the following search operators:
“keyword” + “forum”
“keyword” + “forums”
“keyword” + “powered by vbulletin” (vbulletin is a software used to create and manage forums)
“keyword” + “hot thread with new posts”
“keyword” + “board”
Why do all the heavy lifting?
Head over to Google and do a search for “top [kw] bloggers” and find pre-curated lists of influencers. This is a great way to build your outreach list fast with minimal work.
Other bloggers have already done the heavy lifting for you.
Not all experts like to participate in roundups. So, save yourself time and find a list of experts who have already contributed to roundups in the past. These people are much more likely to respond to your outreach attempt.
Start by Googling “expert roundup + [keyword]”
Depending on your niche, you might need to search for several variations of your target keyword.
Go through the first 3 pages of search results and identify any roundups related to your topic.
Write down all the experts that participated and add them to your list.
Search for “kw” + inurl:roundup:
Do some research, look at the expert’s social engagement and audience size. If they check out, add them to the list.
These people will likely feature your roundup in their roundup.
This is an easy link and a great way to get in front of a new pool of targeted readers.
Instead of just outreaching to SEO experts, I reached out to social media and content marketing experts as well. These people are regularly conducting in-depth KW research.
By including cross-channel experts you can open your content to an entirely new audience.
An example would be Bill Gassett. He is in real estate, but is a leader in social media marketing…with a HUGE audience.
He is someone I would consider adding to my list.
Bonus Tip: Scroll to the bottom of similar crowdsourced posts. Make a note of all the experts leaving comments. Try extra hard to get these people involved as it’s likely they’ll comment and engage with your roundup.
#4: The Right Outreach
I like to use BuzzStream to scale and automate the outreach process.
However, since this is a paid tool ($19/month), at the end of the section I’ll show you – with a little extra leg work – how to achieve a similar result for free with Gmail canned responses.
To start, I recommend you send the first outreach email on Tuesday at 9am and send a follow up email (if necessary) at 2pm on Thursday.
This schedule has consistently delivered the best response rates for me across a number of industries.
First, head over to BuzzStream and create a solo account and connect your email address:
Head back over to the spreadsheet you built earlier:
You will use the column labels and tags to match up with the fields in BuzzStream.
Next, save your spreadsheet as a .CSV file.
Go to BuzzStream’s “People” tab and click “Import from Existing File”.
Then you’ll click “Match My CSV”:
Choose the CSV file you want to import and select your project:
BuzzStream will automatically match up its fields with the column labels from your spreadsheet:
Next, with the “people” tab selected you’ll select “create template”:
In the template editor use BuzzStream’s dynamic drag and drop fields to personalize your email template:
Here is an example of the template I would use for the initial outreach attempt:
Hey [First Name],
I’m doing an expert roundup on my site and I think many SEOs and online marketers would love to know your answer to this question:
If you could only use 3 tools for keyword research, which 3 would you choose?
Thanks in advance!
Oh and naturally, I’ll include a link back to your site.
The First Name will automatically be pulled from your CSV file and populated in the email.
Once you’ve saved your template, head back to your list of contacts and select all the experts:
You can either send each email immediately by clicking “Send and go to next contact” or schedule your emails for a certain time.
Be sure to set a reminder if you don’t hear back from an expert in 2 days.
As soon as people start replying the email conversations will appear in the BuzzStream Dashboard.
This is a powerful feature of the CRM that allows you to keep track of all your interactions.
Not everyone’s going to reply to your first email, so you’re going to need to do some follow up on Thursday afternoon!
If you don’t hear back in 2 days follow up with the experts….
Make sure you drop a few names of experts who have already provided an answer to entice people to get involved. A little bit of social proof goes a long way!
Subject: Interview question followup
Hey [First Name],
Just wondering if you received the interview question I sent you?
A number of your peers have already contributed, including [Expert Name], [Expert Name], [Expert Name] & [Expert Name], but it would be even better if you were involved too [First Name]!
Here’s the question:
We’re planning to publish the post on [ETA Day], so if you’d like to contribute we’d really appreciate it if you can send us your answer before [Day]!
Thanks in advance, and naturally, I’ll include a link back to your site.
All the best,
Remember — the key to making your roundup go viral and generate a ton of traffic is to get as many experts involved as possible. I shoot for 50-60.
Gmail Canned Responses
If you don’t want to pay for a service like BuzzStream you can run your outreach campaign for free using Gmail’s free canned response feature.
Open Gmail and click to “compose” a message.
Once you have your outreach message typed out select the dropdown arrow, then choose canned responses >> new canned response.
Now, when you go to type an outreach email enter the email address and select the canned response from the “insert” templates section:
This will instantly populate the outreach message.
This requires a little extra legwork and doesn’t come with the same tracking options as a tool like BuzzStream.
But, if you’re just starting out it’ll do the trick!
What if You Have No Response?
If the first 2 email outreach attempts don’t yield at least 40 responses…it’s time to move over to social media.
This is the reason we framed our outreach question the way we did.
If you could only use 3 tools for keyword research, which 3 would you choose?
Experts can literally respond in a tweet.
Next, I’ll head over to Twitter, search for the influencers who did not respond to my first two email outreach attempts and tweet the question at them like this:
After a day, if I still haven’t got a response, I’ll head over to Google Plus.
The cool part about G+ is you can get in the private inbox of an expert even if they aren’t following you.
Here’s how you do it…
In the “to” field enter the name of the expert and select their head shot when it populates:
Now, copy the first outreach template into the body and click send. The expert will then get a notification that you sent them a message.
If you still haven’t received a response following your email, Twitter and Google Plus outreach attempts, go back and add more people to the list.
(This seems like a lot of leg work but it’ll be truly worth it if you pack your crowdsourced post with experts!)
#5: The Right Structure
Now that you have your responses, you can start building your article.
There are two core components when it comes to the structure of your roundup:
- On-page SEO
Start with the headline.
This should be easy because you have limited options. You already have:
- Number of experts
- Topic from your question
Since my question was “If you could only use 3 tools for keyword research, which 3 would you choose?”, my headline would naturally be something like “58 experts reveal best keyword research tool”.
Make sure your layout…
- Clearly calls out the expert
- Makes it easy to jump back and forth from top to bottom
- Includes links to the expert’s website and/or social media profile
- Includes a summary of results at the top and bottom of the post
A clean layout that is easy to read will boost social engagement and interaction from the featured experts.
If you want to rank your roundup for a target keyword you need to have great on-page SEO.
Here is a 10-point checklist for optimizing your roundup’s on-page SEO:
Include Exact Match Keyword in URL
You want your page’s URL to be short and keyword rich. Google has stated the first 3-5 words in a URL are given more weight.
Target keyword: “best keyword research tool”
URL structure: robbierichards.com/seo/best-keyword-research-tool
Include Target Keyword at (or near) Beginning of Title Tag
Your title is the most important on-page SEO factor. You also want to pay close attention to where you are placing the keyword within the title tag.
Typically, the closer to the start of the title tag the more weighting it carries.
Include Target Keyword in Feature Image File Name
When saving the feature image for your roundup post, make sure you include your target keyword:
Include Long Tail Keyword Variations in Image Alt Text
Search engines can’t read images so you need to include your target keyword in the image alt text. This way, the search engines can tell what your image content is about.
NOTE: Don’t stuff alt text with keywords. Be descriptive, include long tail variations and write the it as if you were explaining the image to someone who couldn’t see it.
Include Target Keyword in the First Sentence
Your keyword should appear within the first 100 words of the roundup. It helps Google and other search engines quickly understand what your content is about.
You can simply add your question in the first paragraph.
Put Your Top 5 or 10 List at the Top of the Post
Including a breakdown of the results will help:
- Show Google you’ve provided an answer/solution to a problem
- Encourage sharing earlier in the post
- Give the reader a quick overview of the results
Include Jump Links
Time on page and scroll depth are behavioral signals Google is weighing more heavily in the search ranking algorithm.
By making it easy for people to “jump” straight to their favorite expert’s response, you will…
- Keep people around longer (dwell time)
- Move people further into the post
Add H2 Header with the Target Keyword Right Before the First Response
Include a long tail variation of your target keyword in h2 and h3 tags. It will have a small impact on rankings and help break up the content and help improve readability.
Include Target Keyword in H1 Header
The h1 tag is your main headline tag.
Only include one h1 tag per page and make sure it contains your target keyword.
Add Modifiers to Your Title
Adding modifiers like “best”, “58 experts” can not only help you rank for long tail versions of your target keyword, it can help increase click-through rates in the SERPs.
So… there you have it!
You need to leverage the audiences of “powerful people” to help spread the word.
If you haven’t published a crowdsourced post before, now is the time to start — and you’ll find a template to do here!
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