It might not come as a surprise to you that content marketing is one of the best ways to increase your traffic, conversions and sales.

  • 70% of people would rather learn about products through content.
  • Blogging consistently will help you generate more leads, 88% for B2B companies and 67% for B2C companies respectively.
  • Content ROI kills PPC ROI.

If you do it right, content marketing can help you build an audience of loyal fans, get traffic to your website and bolster your customer base.

But not all content is created equal.

Certain content gets shared and ranks highly (even if the author has NO audience or list), while other content is destined to see less action than Urkel on family matters.

We’ve saved you the time of figuring out what types of content actually work.

If you want more social shares, backlinks and traffic, using proven content frameworks may be the most powerful change you can make to your blog. These are structures and types of posts that readers respond to by sharing and linking.

You’ll get the low-down on each content recipe, as well as tips and tricks to create your own highly performing content.

Ready?

Here’s a list of the 12 proven frameworks we’ll go over:

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What You’re up Against and Why It’s Actually a Good Thing for You

The challenge we face is that MORE and MORE content is being created.

2 MILLION blog posts are being pumped out every day. 350 MILLION photos posted to Facebook. 130,000 articles are being written on LinkedIn every week. And 3,024,000 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube weekly.

SH**

But you shouldn’t get discouraged. Here’s why: most of that content is crap and will get 8 social shares or less and ZERO links. It’s hard to produce spectacular, readworthy content because it takes a long time and a lot of work.

Actually, time and labor are the two biggest deterrents to producing amazing content according to B2B content marketers… Kinda makes you wonder why the hell they’re in content marketing then. Ugh.

Anyhow…

There’s an opportunity to stand out if you’re willing to do the work.

And you’ll have an even better chance at being successful if you use these researched and proven types of content.

List Posts

List Posts

Lists blow every other type of content out of the water. They are the most successful type of post in getting both links and shares.

Featured Example:

  • Ranks #2 for Java cms
  • 24 comments
  • 168.8k Views
While Promoting Java CMS for our client, I realized that there was not a single post that listed down all the Java CMS. Hence, I created a list of all the Java CMS - understood it & then wrote a quick summary of each CMS to create a post. The post was such a need of an hour that immediately got great feedback from the developer community.
Boni Satani
Boni Satani
Boni is the Sr SEO Executive at Panamax Inc.

How many items should be in your list post?According to a study of 100 Million articles, the ideal number to get the most social shares is 10.

I can’t help but think that there’s a bit of bias in that. My guess would be that there are more list posts with 10 items than any other number.

Aside: here’s a cool little article on why we like the number 10 so much… http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/the-pulse/80394-10-50-100-why-do-we-find-comfort-in-round-numbers
It’s a nice round number: 10 fingers, 10 toes, etc.

Anecdotally, here are the top 5 most shared pieces of content from BuzzFeed. You judge if lists work.

Did you notice that the lists generally have more than 10 items?
I did too.

Turns out 23 is the second most popular number for shares; then 16, then 24. Don’t get too hung up on the exact number of items you have, though.

If you’re going to do a list (and you should), make sure that every item gets the attention it deserves. Break down each point and add interesting info. It doesn’t cut it to paste in a link and call it a day.

If you do go with a “bare” list post that doesn’t explain much, you still may get social shares, cuz people love them some lists. But you won’t get links, and the piece won’t rank highly in Google, because your content isn’t high on the value chain.

Featured Example:

  • 314 Shares
  • 50+ hits a day
  • more than 80 backlinks
It's succesful for multiple reasons, it's extremely easy to follow (provides real actionable tips), and I've been doing plenty of pushing and outreach for it. The topic is also something which hits home with a lot of people, so every time I share to my social media, people pick it up again and again.
David Attard
David Attard
David Attard is a Product Manager at Switch Digital

Opinion/Thought Leadership Content

Opinion/Thought Leadership Content

So we’re calling this opinion content, but it’s not that simple. It's more than just giving your opinion.

For this type of content to work, it has to be helpful and valuable.
You’ll need to give new insights, or make new connections between old data and back it up with research and explain your thinking process.

This sort of content has the highest correlation of shares to backlinks. Across the sites in this Buzzsumo & Moz study the average correlation was 47.71%. This means that if it gets shared, there was almost a fifty percent chance they’d get a link.

Opinion/Thought Leadership Content

For every other type of content the correlation was weak.

Full disclosure: the study was done with a focus on news sites. So it make sense that this sort of opinion-forming journalism would have a very high correlation of links and shares.

But you can see that thought leadership pieces are very successful for links and shares outside of the journalism space.

Interview

Interview

Interviews are naturally shared by the interviewee.

If you get an influencer to do a podcast or even just hop on a phone call so you can quote them in your content, they will want to share your content.

Everyone has an ego. An interview is the ultimate form of ego stroking. Because the interviewee has a vested interest in the content, they’ll be more like to share. And remember what we said about getting even one influencer to share?

Also, if you get some good info nuggets out of your influencer, then other sites may even link to you because of it. For example, Tim Ferris’ podcast page has 633 links!

Most of them come from sites that have created their own content on “lessons learned” and “the best of”. Of course, guests also link.

Hell, Andrew Warner of Mixergy has been able to create a Big Time business out of interviews. And even teaches others how to land awesome guests and to do interviews.

But, you don’t have to be Tim or Andrew to have success with this framework.

One thing to remember: if you’re doing a video interview, make sure to get it transcribed. For your page to rank in Google, text is still a requirement.

Poster Boy

Poster Boy

This gem is from Bryan Harris of Videofruit.

The short version:
“Every business owner wants to show prospective customers that their product works. The best way to do that is to showcase their most successful customers.

Your Job: Be that story. Be the Poster Boy.”

Yes, this is a case study. But it’s a special type of case study, because you’re deliberately targeting one influencer, implementing their techniques and telling them about your success.

You’re the hero of this story. But it’s really about framing your success in a way that makes the influencer look really good. This is easier to do if you’ve had a lot of success using their techniques/program.

You can read more about Bryan's method by clicking the link or the image:

http://videofruit.com/blog/poster-boy/Poster Boy

Even if you’ve only had a modicum of success or no success at all, your job is to frame it so the influencer comes out looking great.

Here’s what I mean… Maybe after implementing the influencer’s special technique you only end up with one client.

It’s your job to turn that failure into a diamond.

Maybe it’s that you went from zero to one client. That’s HUGE.

Probably one of the biggest hurdles that an entrepreneur can overcome. You can focus on how you overcame that hurdle or on the fact that it’s only one client.
Get it?

Here you can see bryan's story featured by Noah Kagan:

Poster Boy

How else do you flip failure into fame?

This list (which is damn good) is an excerpt from a post by Colin Theriot, who runs the Cult of Copy. Colin’s group focuses on copywriting, persuasion, mind control and all that sneaky kind of stuff.

Check out Colin's group here: cultofcopy.com

  1. That's not a bug. It's a feature. Own any potentially negative attribute, and turn it into a desirable advantage and benefit. It's not short. It's fluff-free. It's not bloated. It's comprehensive.
  2. I meant to do that. If you do something that gains negative reaction, own it, and shrug or laugh it off with an apology - not for offending... But only for not delivering exactly how you hoped. Promise to do better next time.
  3. It was an experiment. Show them the results, even when less than expected. Here is what I learned. Here is what I will do differently next time. Make it a case study, which actually teases the next thing.
  4. Trash into treasure. A failed launch. Dead end? Nope. Lots of that might be reusable in other formats. Think about how to break down and profit from every bit of everything you do, multiple ways, with contingencies.
  5. Brag about the rags. No one cares about riches unless they used to be rags. Any failure can become a story of redemption once you turn it around. If you're coming from a worse hole than your prospects, all the better.
  6. Rocky Balboa. He fucking lost. But he went the distance. Finishing is still more than most people manage. Much less getting back in the ring after losing. People love an underdog who won't stay down.
  7. Life of Brian it. Always look on the bright side of life, like the closing song says. People can't help but enjoy and admire people that seem to fish diamonds out of turds. It makes them feel better about their own turds, and maybe want to follow your lead to start digging. (Sell shovels.)

Built into this formula is some major ego stroking (even if you’re not aiming for it in the copy). Plus writing a “Poster Boy” article can have a positive impact on the influencer’s business. Money and Ego, two of the most powerful share triggers around.

Case Study

Case Study

The case study is an insider post. It uses a real-world example backed by data to give people a look behind the kimono… Insights they wouldn’t normally get are revealed.

With a case study there are three main personas that you can use as your focus:

  1. yourself
  2. a successful client
  3. a successful third party (harder to do).

Insider tip: You don’t have to use a “massive success”. Sometimes a study of a minimal achievement can be very persuasive and effective. Part of your audience are beginners, and for them a massive success feels out of reach. For some case studies a small success is better, because it feels attainable.

If for example, you wrote this blog post: How we got 1 million links and 10 million social shares from one piece of content… Here’s what we did.

First of all, it sends the BS meter off the charts. And secondly, even if we toned down the numbers to 30 links and 1,000 social shares and make it seem more reasonable (partially because you’re comparing it to my example above), for a person who’s barely ever gotten 1 link and 10 social shares it still doesn't resonate. So be sure to pick case studies that apply to your target audience.

If you're targeting beginners a great twist on that article might be: How Bob got 6 links and 100 social shares building his first piece of epic content… Here’s what he did.

Massive success and lesser successes can be equally effective since they speak to different segments of your audience.

For a case study to be great, you need to get into the specifics (numbers help) and tell the whole story. It’s not all sunshine and roses. Talking about the roadblocks that you faced along the way helps make the story more relatable. Fact is your flaws and failures actually make you (and your content) more likeable.

If you’re writing about yourself or a successful client, it’s easier to get info and to see how it relates back to your products/courses and expertise.

Writing about a success that’s unrelated to you can also have major benefits, but is harder to do. The cool thing is that when you borrow authority from that person, your visitors may start associating you with that type of success (even if you had nothing to do with it). But getting access to their story and behind-the-scenes info is harder.

Send the featured person an email telling them what you’re doing. They’ll often be flattered and want the exposure. This works best if the case study is related to something they are in the middle of promoting.

Crowdsourced Content

Crowdsourced Content

Here you’re going to reach out to multiple influencers and collect a nugget of info from each one. This type of crowdsourced content has a high perceived value, because you have input from multiple A-listers in one place.

The idea is:

  • Intro
  • LOTS OF TIPS
  • Conclusion

Featured Example:

  • 374 Shares
Rich is in a super competitve industry - the T-shirt game. Attracting new designers to use his printing services is key. So this article was a big hit.
I think it was shared so much because I reached out to the "well knowns" of the industry and got them involved, using their social following to help.
Richard Nation
Richard Nation is owner of Sheeble.com. In his spare time he is an inspired blogger who enjoys researching different things and writing about them.

The four most effective places to reach influencers for us have been (in order of success): Email, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin

Typically we keep our request simple. Here's an example that you can tweak for yourself.

Subject : Question about _____
or Subject: ____ Expert roundup... question for you.

Hey ____,

We're writing an article about _____ and wanted to reach out to you.
I'd love to feature your answer to the question below on _______(site name)

The question is: _____

Looking forward to including you. Even just a couple sentences would be great.

We're hoping to publish by ____.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Cheers,
Nick

Once you get a couple influences you should mention in the email who they'll potentially be featured along side of.If you're getting unhelpful answers you may want to include a small blurb about the type of answer you're looking for.

Often I'll also include a link to a google form that they can use.Some prefer to respond to the email, some like using the form better.

Don’t forget to sprinkle in content upgrades… For this type of post a downloadable PDF version of the post works well.

If you do it well, then this type of content tends to get shared with influencer’s audiences. It also attracts links from other sites because it’s authoritative.

Best of/Awards Post

Best of Post

You know this type of content - it’s all over the internet. Just Google “best content marketing blogs”. You won’t find a shortage of articles… it almost seems like EVERYONE has done one.

But have they done it well?

The top result for my search was from Content Marketing Institute. You can see it’s literally just a list. They rank highly because of their domain and topic authority. This page only has 6 backlinks, which is weak for a framework that’s designed to be linkable.

The second result is better. It has a bit more explanation as to why you should read the blog.

But when you’re making awards posts, the primary goal is to appeal to the people you’re giving awards to. You want them to link to your post and share it with their audience. So it has to be very flattering.

Who does this EXTREMELY well?
Saveur. Their 2014 best food blog awards page has 199 backlinks and 7,600 social shares. In 2015 they did it again… 808 backlinks and 3,300 social shares.

http://www.saveur.com/blog-awards-2015-winners

Ok, so Saveur is already well-known (if you’re into food), and to bloggers it’s a big deal to get featured.

The food mag plays and has multiple posts, nominees, voting by readers, finalists and the best of. They even host an awards show for the winners, where they pull out the stops. Look how happy these bloggers are (image below). What a**hole wouldn’t link back to the site that did all of that for them? Pretty sure all of them shared and linked.

You can see that it’s a whole lot more than a list. It’s a freaking event.

How to Post

How to Post

Step-by-step, hand-holding, “over the shoulder look” type of post.
You’re going to take the reader from A to Z and show them exactly how to get a specific result.

The best posts give clear instructions and use images.

Featured Example:

  • 731 Shares
  • 108 backlinks
It's very specific and actionable and has a bit of a point of difference (around getting your site load speed down to under 1 second)
Dan Norris
Dan Norris
Dan Norris is a serial entrepreneur, award-winning content marketer, international speaker and the author of the number 1 Amazon bestsellers The 7 Day Startup and Content Machine. In June 2013 after failing at entrepreneurship for 7 years, he founded wpcurve.com, a worldwide team of WordPress developers, providing unlimited small fixes and support, 24 / 7 for a low monthly fee. After becoming profitable in 23 days, WP Curve grew to a team of 40, 850+ customers and passed an annual run rate of over $1m AUD within 2 years. With over 40,000 copies sold, Dan’s books have been translated into 5 languages and inspired thousands of people around the world to launch their businesses. Dan is also the co-founder of Black Hops Brewing, a craft beer brewery located on the Gold Coast, Australia. In 2015 Black Hops brewed the world’s first beer for the biggest entertainment franchise on earth, Call of Duty. Dan is passionate about helping people launch entrepreneurial projects. He has a paid 7 Day Startup group as well as a free Facebook group with over 8,000 members.

There are mixed feelings about just how much you should share in a “how to”.

Some marketers will say that you ONLY share EVERYTHING if you can position yourself or your product as a shortcut to what you’ve just shared. Or if they still need you for something, like showing them how to apply the knowledge effectively.

Still, others don’t hold back. Bryan Harris of VideoFruit gives EVERYTHING away in his “how to” posts.

From that he’s gotten consulting gigs and helped some big names implement his signature techniques.

Even if you go step-by-step, there’s still nuance to what you do. You’re going to know how to do it better and more effectively than a beginner. Experts tend to focus on what they’re good at, and try to outsource or hire for the rest.

So there’s not too much to worry about if you spill all the beans.

BUT the topic of your how-to is a big factor in getting those gigs.

Pro tip from Sujan Patel (behind contentmarketer.io):“Answer questions that your target market is likely to have and likely to ask towards the middle of the sales funnel.”

Ultimate Guide

How to Post

So you’re thinking about making an ULTIMATE guide?

This one’s not for the faint of heart. You have to cover EVERYTHING about your topic. Because of that, choosing the right scope for your topic is critical.

No way can you write the ultimate guide to content marketing. Though Neil Patel just did that for advanced content marketing. He’s a beast. And he has revealed that it costs him $30,000 - $40,000 dollars to produce one guide.

Unless you’re ready to lay out that sort of high roller scriller… chose a more focused subset for a topic.

This post you’re reading right now is obviously a list post, but I could turn it into an ultimate guide… “the ultimate guide to content frameworks”. Maybe that’s even too broad. Instead, I might choose to write the ultimate guide to list posts (could easily be a 10,000 word effort on its own).

These guides do take quite a bit of research. Your goal is to find and answer every question people have about your topic. A great way to start is to look in forums, Quora (Q&A sites) and Facebook/LinkedIn groups. See what people are having trouble with. Also, if there have been books written on the topic, check out the table of contents for ideas about how to structure your guide.

Make sure you go beyond answering questions and give unexpected bonuses, i.e. the most effective type of content upgrade to use in an ultimate guide post.

Comparison/Review

Comparison Post

Reviews and comparisons can be powerful, but visitors are generally wary and have their guard up… Rightfully so. Because at least 50% of the time they come across this type of post or site, it’s either an affiliate play or sponsored.

They know the author has skin in the game. And they may question what was included and why.

But people NEED this type of content. Yelp built a business around it (and is still popular, even though there’s been some controversy about if Yelp manipulates reviews).

How do you decide what services, plugins, themes, etc. to buy? Maybe through referrals. But if you don’t know anyone to help you, you google it. I do.

Seems like WordPress users don’t like to code…
The article by wpbeginner: 5 Best Drag and Drop WordPress Page Builders Compared has 5.9 K shares.

Wondering if you should buy an Apple watch?
So are/were a LOT of people. The verge created an ultimate review. It’s really comprehensive, it’s data wrapped in a story, and the design is compelling. And it was on a trending topic when it was published. It’s still really f’ing Good.
http://www.theverge.com/a/apple-watch-review

How many shares? 36,500. Damn.
377 Backlinks.

Now that’s some valuable content.

Quizzes

Quizzes

Here’s the thing with quizzes. They don’t get links. So don’t expect to start ranking for keywords in Google based on your quizzes.

However, they do get shared. Big time.
I mean, come on, 604.1K shares for the “Which shot are you?” Quiz. But ZERO links. (BTW, I’m using doNoTLink.com for this link… because I refuse to be the first backlink)

The data shows that we take quizzes and share them on social media, but 99% of the time we won’t link to them.

Still, viral content like this can still give your rankings a boost. So you shouldn’t discount it out of hand.

If you’re interested in getting into the nitty gritty of why that is, Rand Fishkin of Moz created a presentation on why viral content like this will still boost your overall traffic numbers.

It’s about a 10-minute video. I’ve give you the gist below, but it’s worth a watch if you can spare the time.

Here’s the summary of Rand’s reasoning:

You get more social media followers, email signups and blog followers from content designed to be shareable, but not linkable. Every time you send out to your list or amplify your content socially, you’re getting more eyeballs on it.

Plus with Google personalization you get searcher’s bias. Sites that you’ve visited before are given higher rankings in your personalized results. So all those people that saw your quiz… Yep, they’ll start seeing more of your content and products when they search, even though the quiz won’t move the yardstick for your overall keyword rankings.

3 key ingredients that can make or break your content framework.

key ingredients

10x Content

I’m assuming that your content is AWESOME.
No framework is going to turn crappy content into something shareable and linkable.

Got it?
Good.

The first time I heard the “10x” phrase was from Rand Fishkin. His idea (and he’s super successful) is that you have to create content that is 10 times better and more valuable than anything else out there.

Value doesn’t always mean length… Don’t think that just because there is a list with 80 ways to get more traffic, you have to create 800 ways. You could, but that’s not the only way.

Maybe it’s being able to sort the list in a better way. OR put everyone else to shame visually. How is it more valuable?

Brian Dean of Backlinko created his system called the Skyscraper Technique, which is his guide to creating 10x content. In a nutshell, you find content that’s already doing well (guides, infographics, videos) and make it even better.

How? You make it:Longer.More detailed.Add video.Add more images.Make it a step-by-step guide.
Add a personal story to it.
Do it in a different medium.

You put it inside of these content frameworks that we went over… There are lots of ways. Which is best just depends.

Write Longer, Topical Articles

That is if you want to get links and rank in Google.

The average word count of a Google first page result is 1,890 words. In this graph you can see the trend… You’re not going to make the front page if you write less than 1600 words (for the most part).

Medium found that across all articles on their site a 7-minute read was best. How many words is that? 1925. It’s probably a bit less, because I didn’t account for images. (Based on the read time calculation 275 wpm + 12 seconds per image)

Average Shares by Content Length

Bottom line is that longer posts get more links and shares, and rank higher.

As a big bonus for putting in the extra effort to cover a topic in depth, you’ll start ranking for search terms that never appear in your text.

Why?

Because Google now understands the topic of every page and site. This means that if you stick within your industry of expertise and create comprehensive content, then you’ll have a leg up in the rankings over time.

Outreach & Promotion

Outreach & Promotion

Maybe the #1 thing that sets shared and linked content apart is an outreach campaign, not the content itself.

Sacrilege, you say.
Yeah, I know, we just spent a whole 4000ish words talking about your content and how to structure it. But if no one sees it… You know the rest.

Content needs traction to start spreading.
Frameworks make getting that traction much easier.

You still want to get content in front of people who will enjoy it or get value out of it.

How do you do outreach?

For now, here’s how to start:Your first goal is to get eyeballs on your content. Then social mentions, then links. Each one of these is harder to get than the last.

The easiest no-cost way to start your outreach is to do a Twitter search and find people who have tweeted about or liked a similar topic. Then message them (tweet or email) saying you created something that might interest them.

Groove found an even better way to start that got them 1000+ subscribers in 24 hours.
Reach out before you release content. Here’s the overview of what they did:

Build an influencer list. Engage them on Twitter, comment on their blog and share their content. Send a personal outreach email to each influencer. Follow up.

Also, if you’ve quoted, used research or linked to someone in your post… make sure they know. You can use contentmarketer.io to partially automate this portion of outreach. The app will search your post, and generate emails and Twitter handles, so you can do outreach. Don’t mass message from the app. Take the time to do personal outreach.

Getting even one influencer to share has a multiplier effect.

So make sure that if you put in the effort to make killer content, you’re also putting in the effort to distribute it.

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