Content Marketing – The Anatomy of Successful Content ✍️

featured image for article

Finding the right format for your articles is not always the easiest job. Mainly because there’s no such thing as a perfect blog post formula.

But nailing your content marketing strategy requires research and testing. Especially when you have to consider factors such as readability, grammar, SEO, uniqueness, value, target audience, and several others. 😱

To help you get a better look at what a proper piece of content should look like, I’ve put together this comprehensive list of the successful writing tips and articles from various industries:

Venngage – The Ultimate Infographic Design Guide: 13 Tricks For Better Designs

Start with a summary list of what you’re going to develop upon in the rest of the article:

Article content list

This will be helpful for readers who want quick tips or might just want to look at a certain piece of advice.

Reference official reports or studies for a credibility and trust boost:

report reference

Lots of media examples (infographic samples in this case):

media examples

Helpful internal links:

internal links

Social Media Examiner – Marketing Your Business on Facebook: How to Choose Between Profiles, Pages, and Groups

Clear structure with line breaks and bolded sentences for emphasis and to guide Google’s robots towards relevant keywords:

bold

Separate text boxes for different but related content:

2a705498-ed33-40ca-bf4b-9f3b5ac221e9

An engaging conclusion or CTA that asks readers to contribute:

article conclusion

But great posts aren’t always perfect. Let’s take a look at the URL of this post:

https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/marketing-your-business-on-facebook-how-to-choose-between-profiles-pages-and-groups/

While it’s recommended that you keep URLs short, this post proves that the content’s value is more important than the URL’s structure.

Shopify – How to Start a Blog That You Can Grow Into Your Business

Sometimes, the perspective of a great article starts from its title:

How to Start a Blog That You Can Grow Into Your Business

In this case, the title addresses a common problem: the need to create a blog that can help you grow a business successfully.

Use of memes to keep everything friendlier:

article meme

Note: Be careful with memes! Not all subjects, industries, or blog types are suited for memes.

Use numbered lists to help readers scan through your content:

article list

And bullet lists with a few bonus internal and external links:

bullet list

A few real-life examples paired with images. Because nobody likes examples with no pictures.

real life examples

Use of images with clear cues. Like I did for this article too. And they probably used Evernote to take the screenshots.

image cues

Quote inserts distinguishable through their style:

quote in article

TechCrunch – How Google Analytics Ruined Marketing

Some articles are created with freedom of expression in mind. That’s why readers are often prompted to read an article just because the headline is a controversial one:

How Google Analytics Ruined Marketing

Pair that with a conversational style, bold statements, and the real opinions of other people and you’ve got yourself a viral article.

viral article content

But a big chunk of this article is actually made of just words.

article chunk

Why? Once people are hooked they are more likely to just read the article regardless of its form. This is because they truly want to find the conclusion of your story.

Washington Monthly – How to Fix Facebook — Before It Fixes Us

Another interesting and debatable title and featured image to get your audience hooked way before they even click on the article:

featured image

And that’s about it.

Sometimes just the right title and image are enough to get an audience interested and willing to read the rest of the article.

I mean look at these shares if you need proof:

article shares

❌ But if you don’t have any exclusive topic to talk about, don’t even think about writing without using an engaging structure or adding media files.

Would you read this if you saw it for this first time?

just content

You probably answered with a “no”. But this excerpt is from the same article that got thousands of shares.

This is the power of exclusive content.

And if you’re still not convinced. Take a look at the comments to see the debates on the subject.

Paymo – Becoming a Project Manager – A Complete Guide

Disclaimer: I wrote this.

Table of contents with links to guide readers directly to a subject they might be interested in:

table of contents

An exclusive study with its results placed in the form of a bullet list to make everything easier to read:

study results article

Updated sections:

updated article

Keeping an article updated in terms of information and outbound links is key to maintaining your article on top:

Reach out to some experts in your industry if you need to validate your information and provide unique insights:

expert outreach

Whenever you mention a tool or website, add a link to make it easier for people to find them:

content links

John Saito – Is this my interface or yours?

Medium has been growing as a channel for posting and distributing content. And John Saito‘s article is a perfect example of how you can use this network to grow your audience and reach.

featured image for article

Use of images to make a point:

images to make a point

When I first read this article all I needed was this image to understand the author’s point. Try to imagine the article without images likes this one. Seeing an example without a supporting picture will most likely be unclear and require close attention and longer lengths of time for reading.

But how does one keep an article alive?

In John Saito’s case, one great way of maintaining readers engaged is by answering to all comments.

comment on article

This shows people that you’re interested in what they have to say and will also help you further improve the article.

And you surely know that there are so many people who click on an article or watch a video just to read the comments.

You don’t even have to scroll too much to see these engagements rates:

response rates

Kate Toon – 19 things NOT to do in a Facebook group

You don’t have to be a top media outlet or brand to create successful content. Kate Toon proves just that.

Standing at 10,000+shares, this article targets a relatively wide audience: Facebook users.

This article success lies in the fact that it talks about a common situation (Facebook group interaction in this case) by identifying usual problems and tackling them in a fun way.

facebook group discussion

Use entertaining gifs to make a point, but credit everything appropriately:

gif credit on article

We get it! People like fun content.

Still, how exactly do you make sure that people are sharing your article?

Usually, simply placing a share button bar that moves along with your page as you scroll does the trick:

facebook group share bar

But, let’s just look again at those shares:

shares blog

Notice how most engagements come from Facebook.

So I dug deeper and searched for Kate’s share of the article on Facebook but only found this:

kate toon facebook post

So what happened?

People got to the article organically. Then, they simply shared it on Facebook because it matched the channel.

Compare the 10,000+ engagements from Facebook to the those from LinkedIn:

linkedin engagement

Barely anything.

Just keep this in mind next time you write something about a social media channel.

HelpScout – The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding

Let me just start with this featured image:

featured colorful image

And so the article already makes a point.

You can reference your own brand, but do tell a story around it:

brand reference

Also, keep those pop culture mentions in the game:

pop culture reference

Send readers to your other pieces of content even if they’re just halfway the article:

other content

They got this oh so right by also briefly writing what that content is about.

Never ever forget about the POWER of a chart:

charts in use

Keep updating your article and mention this too:

updated content

Fast Company – As Millennials Demand More Meaning, Older Brands Are Not Aging Well

Some prefer to add part of the article’s conclusion right in its title:

As Millennials Demand More Meaning, Older Brands Are Not Aging Well

This makes an audience want to read more to find out how an outcome was reached.

To prove once again the importance of referencing studies and official statistics:

statistics

In this case, the author took his own agency’s stats and presented them on a media outlet that would get them more visibility.

And he kept that same method throughout the entire article while pairing vital information with a few images to make the article easier to understand:

image statistics

So if you ever have a solid piece of information that people could be interested in but you don’t really have enough readership, try to turn your data into a guest post.

The Guardian – How Lego clicked: the super brand that reinvented itself

Take a popular trend or pop culture reference and you’ve got yourself a viral article:

lego stats

The article’s structure by itself is not much. But pair a series of insightful interviews on a famous trend with a bit of storytelling and you’ve got the winning mix. 🏆

lego article

I mean, just look at those comments:

lego comments

People are more than willing to say something when they know what they’re talking about and when they interacted with a product or service before.

Moz – How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

Now Moz is an expert when it comes to SEO. So seeing their articles rank high and get thousands of shares is nothing new.

What they did for this article was to take a common problem, offer some fixes, and ensure they keep the article updated at all times. All from the title:

moz title updated

Then, they got to directly offering a solution with clear instructions and supporting images:

moz article instructions

Obviously, they didn’t forget to add a study and its results to create more trust:

moz article instructions

They also added some tips to prove their expertise, followed by a link to their own product:

moz tips

A thing that’s worth mentioning in Moz’s case is the way in which they present their images. Most of the pictures they add to an article have the same rounded border:

moz rounded border images

This helps maintain media consistency and brings a unique touch to their articles’ structure.

Bonus tip: Add a few recommended or related articles at the end of each one of your posts to guide readers towards other similar content.

Here’s how they referenced other articles at the end to keep that traffic on their website and add some internal links as well. They also added a bright CTA:

moz recommended articles and cta

Another thing Moz excels at is their comments section. If you’ll take a look at most of their content, you’ll notice that the comments section is actually longer than the article itself.

comments on article

This is mainly due to the fact that Moz is seen as a top expert in the SEO field and people are clearly looking to interact with the authors and get some more tips from them.

What’s interesting is that their comments section closes 30 days after the article is published:

comments section

But of course the author didn’t forget to ask readers to comment:

comments cta

And she shows genuine interest in what the audience has to say by replying to all inquiries:

answering to comments

CoSchedule – How to Write Emotional Headlines That Get More Shares

This article gets to the readers by stating that it will help them get to the emotions of others. And this is exactly what CoSchedule does too.

How to Write Emotional Headlines That Get More Shares

And the title is a successful one despite their own rating for it:

headline rating

This way, they support the validity of their article and their expertise by suggesting some of their other tools and resource materials:

resource materials

But notice how they only reference relevant content and links that would help readers with the goal presented in the article: appealing to one’s emotions.

And guess what? They didn’t leave out the statistics:

coschedule statistics

Instead of randomly taking a study from the Internet, they made their own research.

And the readers seem to like it:

user comment

Tip: If you ever want to find out what worked for someone else, just look at the comments section to see what their audience liked.

Compared to blogs (such as Moz) who only suggested other content at the end of the article, CoSchedule recommended other reads in the middle of the article as well:

shared article

This ensures that articles being shared only when they’re relevant to the content from a specific paragraph.

But the most important thing is that they delivered what they promised:

promised article

They also updated the article whenever their product changed to keep it accurate:

updated article

This piece of content is a perfect example of how self-promotion and readership value offerings can be mixed. ✅

Readers don’t seem to mind this:

positive comment

another comment on the article

But just keep this in mind: You won’t always be able to please everybody. Negative comments are normal but the thing is that they bring that buzz you need to keep interest in your article alive.

negative comment

Buffer – How We Increased the Readership of Buffer’s Blog to Over 1.5 Million Visits

I believe that good content is unique content.

And Buffer takes their own experience to teach you valuable lessons based on their own real story:

How We Increased the Readership of Buffer’s Blog to Over 1.5 Million Visits

Start by presenting your stats and providing proof:

buffer proof

Keep it simple. If you’ve got the right results to show and value to offer, just a few words are more than enough. The results will speak for themselves.

keep it simple

Use reporting and analysis to reference your own articles and get yourself some internal links:

internal links buffer

Give helpful tips and highlight them:

helpful tip in article

Turn your written content into visual content:

written content

visual content

What Buffer did here was to simplify the more detailed written part into a visual image.

And don’t forget about engaging with readers even after you’ve published the article:

reader engagement

But this can only happen when you ask for interaction:

blog CTA

Backlinko – YouTube SEO: How to Rank YouTube Videos in 2018

And pretty much every other article on his blog. What this guy does is to constantly update his past articles with new content and promote them again and again.

And he also makes sure to keep some of his articles updated to the current year:

YouTube SEO: How to Rank YouTube Videos in 2018

And the way in which he structures his paragraphs is just glorious:

short paragraphs in article

In addition to the clearly structured written part, he also adds cues to his images:

images with cues

This technique helps readers understand the article’s message without reading it, by just looking at the images. 👀

But don’t just stick to images. Add video files to the article whenever you can too:

video files

Provide unique data and present it in an easy-to-understand format:

video comments

Don’t be afraid to give examples from your own work and to reference your personal brand:

personal brand

Articles like this are perfect examples that show how long-length content is still preferred. The engagement and shares say it all:

shares on article

And, as always, just keep the conversation going. For several years if necessary:

conversation on article

Ahref – Find Out How Much Traffic a Website Gets: 3 Ways Compared

Invest in good design. Sometimes your featured image can tell so much about the article and its content:

good article design

Most writers tend to waste time on article beginnings that most readers won’t actually read. So get straight to the point with a clear start:

clear start

Mention your competitors when appropriate:

competitors

Skip boring images and add cues to clearly highlight your points of discussion:

image cues

This will help readers save the time they would otherwise waste on looking for something specific on an image.

Most Ahrefs articles have these engaging images. You can even come up with your own way of highlighting the essential parts of an image and turn them into your trademark.

Don’t be afraid to show your article stats and engagement results. 💪 Especially when they’re great:

article stats

And again, keep those comments coming with a CTA:

cta on ahrefs article

Omnisend – How to Do Email Marketing the Right Way: 32 Experts Weigh In

Another type of article is the expert round-up. This is a simple way of bringing valuable information from credible sources to your audience.

credible source for article

Tip: To get contributions for your round-ups, you can use Help a Reporter.

Mention the number of experts and professionals who participated from the title:

How to Do Email Marketing the Right Way: 32 Experts Weigh In

Skip the fluff.

Keep introductions simple, short, and clear:

clear introduction

To give details, use images or summary lists:

summary list

Give proper credit to all contributors and make everyone look like a superhero.

credit

Seriously!

Don’t forget to proofread everything they send and edit their contribution’s structure too:

edited contribution

Link what they mention to your own content:

linking

Shameless, but so effective. 😉

And, lastly, get people to talk even if the focus of the article is not on you:

people engagement

Buzzsumo – How Content Experts Survive When Social Shares Dive

This is another expert round-up type of post.

But this time it gets people to talk about a specific situation (decreased social shares) and provide real solutions based on their experience.

Keep the beginning simple, and if you’d like more detail, just send readers to another one of your articles:

internal reference

That’s all you need to get readers hooked.

Properly credit everyone and highlight the best parts:

proper credit

Fun tip: Make the contributions look like a conversation:

conversation

Never leave out the CTA even if you keep it very brief:

another CTA

Ryan Robinson – 60 Top Entrepreneurs Share Best Business Advice and Tips for Success

And yet another round-up post. To prove the greatness of these articles.

Always motivate why you’ve chosen a particular topic and certain professionals:

motivation

This helps you show your readers that you’re not just writing a round-up for the links.

Summarize everything for people who are reading the article for the tips, not for the people:

contribution summary

Start with your best contributors or most useful answers:

the best contributors

And don’t forget to highlight all key statements and make them easy to share. Ryan Robinson does this by using a Click to Tweet option.

Make everyone look great and try to keep the lengths of the contributions equal. This way nobody will feel like their quote is longer, shorter, better, or worse than the others.

Finally, ask people to comment and maybe even help you further develop your article:

continue article

And people will respond:

great comments

HubSpot – How to Make an Animated GIF in Photoshop

Your best piece of content doesn’t have to be based on your industry.

Take HubSpot’s example. They’re a digital marketing agency and industry leader who’ve gotten lots of buzz for an animated GIF tutorial.

This brings us to another type of content: the tutorial post.

Visually display and resume all steps from the beginning:

gif tutorial

Clearly present each step with supporting images and cues:

supporting steps

For tool tutorials, keep the exact steps and key combinations bolded:

tips on article

Just like with any other type of post, keep it updated. This is especially necessary with tool tutorials since these are often updated.

And never ever leave out a CTA or a chance to send readers to a different type of content:

updated article

For more internal links, provide related content samples:

related articles

Optinmonster – The Ultimate Guide to an Effective Guest Blogging Strategy in 2018

An ultimate guide. Something we all need but is so hard to actually create.

To show readers’ that your guide is updated, add update cues (such as the year) in your title:

The Ultimate Guide to an Effective Guest Blogging Strategy in 2018

Start with a question to engage your audience:

question on article

Don’t be afraid to use external links from the beginning. If somebody has better content than you (or maybe they just wrote something you didn’t have time to cover) just accept it and use it to your advantage:

external linking

And using someone else’s content to create a compelling guide is not all wrong.

content from another source

In fact, Backlinko calls this the skyscraper technique.

Use a table of contents to make everything easy to find:

table of contents

Keep key facts and details in a bullet list:

bullet list

And you don’t even need full sentences to explain some things:

list and image

List and images can do that for you.

Make it easy for readers to get in touch with your customer support team even when they’re just reading an article on your blog:

customer support chat

And just to show you what happens when you forget to add a call-to-action:

no CTA

Check out the comments section and see the only comment that was sent. Compare this to articles with a CTA.

But don’t put your entire faith into calls-to-action. Simply adding one to just any article won’t ensure the increase of your engagement rate.

Hootsuite – Instagram Hacks: 57 Tricks and Features You Probably Didn’t Know About

Create articles that are useful for everyone. Hootsuite’s article might seem targeted to social media marketers, but, in reality, anyone with an Instagram account can use its tips.

See the stats for proof:

stats for every reader

Oh, and by the way: Choosing a random number (like 58 in this case) allows you to add new tips whenever you want to and keep the article up-to-date.

And since you have so many tips to show, create a table of contents for them:

content in order

Add a few bonuses here and there and use them to get internal links:

bonus link

Keep in mind: Even if you’re looking to create long-length content, you don’t need to have lengthy paragraphs or sentences.

simple sentences

And you can keep the same format for all your tips to make it easier for readers to find the exact info they need:

same format for tips

Grammarly – 5 Writing Tips for Starting a Blog

Some articles don’t need fancy titles:

5 Writing Tips for Starting a Blog

And this makes SEO efforts easier.

Use your own design elements to change basic structures. Like Grammarly did here with their list numbers:

headings on content

This makes the important parts pop.

Short content can be successful too. This article, for instance, is a perfect example.

And you don’t need lots of tips to make a point. See the only 5 tips in this case.

But this strategy won’t necessarily work for everyone.

In Grammarly’s case, it went well because their own users read the article and pair the tips with the Grammarly extension to improve their writing skills.

Messy Nessy Chic – 13 Things I Found on the Internet Today

Must mention this is one of my favorites. 🥇

Briefly, it’s a simple list with extremely unique content and fun finds.

Like so:

fun fact

They are updated weekly. And the best part is that the interest for them never died. Mainly because of the fun and unique finds being shared.

Another proof that unique content works best. And it’s short content too, with the focus being on images and links to full stories:

full article link

And again, you don’t always need long-length content to make a point as long as you’ve got the right expertise to build a credible brand.

Like what Seth Godin does:

seth godin article

Yes, this is one of his articles. But just look at those likes. 🤩

And another one:

seth godin another article

And another one (but notice how Seth makes it so easy for people to share and like the article):

seth godin sharing

Don’t forget to share this article with someone who might need it and bookmark it to come back to it once I update it.

Here’s the video summary of this article:

Know any better articles? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll take a look at it. 🧐

Stay happy!

Published by Alexandra Cote

Alexandra Cote is a SaaS content writer and strategist with a passion for workplace productivity, social media marketing wonders, conversion rate optimization, artificial intelligence, and keyword research (Hooray for SEO!). Reach out to her via LinkedIn or her blog.

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