Compounding Blog Posts: The Secret to Maximizing ROI

Compounding Blog Posts: The Secret to Maximizing ROI

By Annie ZelmJan 31 /2019

As a marketer, you probably have no shortage of amazing ideas. But you’re also looking to maximize the impact of everything you do.

While blogging regularly is still one of the best ways to drive traffic to your website, it’s getting a lot harder to do it well. Five years ago, you could write a fairly basic blog about a niche topic, and there was a good chance it would soar to the top of Google’s search results. There was a lot less competition. But now everyone else is doing exactly the same thing. Each time you publish a blog post, you’re competing with more than 2 million others published every single day.

Today, many blog posts only give you a short burst of traffic that lasts a few days, then fizzles out. Constantly churning out blog posts that garner only a few hundred views is time-consuming and incredibly frustrating.

The answer isn’t just to buckle down and write more blog posts. It’s figuring out how to apply the Pareto Principle of economics to maximize the ROI of blogging.

10 Percent of Blogs Drive 40 Percent of Your Traffic

According to the Pareto Principle, 80 percent of your results come from just 20 percent of your efforts.

And according to HubSpot, 10 percent of your blogs bring in almost 40 percent of your website traffic. HubSpot calls these compounding blog posts because they continue to bring traffic month after month, year after year. In fact, one compounding blog post is worth six ordinary blog posts.

Let that sink in for a moment.

If you could focus more of your attention on the blogs that fall into that 10 percent category, you could get six times the results while publishing fewer posts.

What Makes A Compounding Blog Post?

At Kuno, we’ve benefitted from the power of compounding blog posts for years. Several posts we published five years ago still bring us steady traffic month after month, and we update them year after year.

We took a closer look at our top 10 compounding blogs of all time to see what they have in common:


Here’s what we discovered.

  1. All have at least one keyword ranking among Google’s top search results; the majority rank for 12-20 related keywords on Page 1.
  2. Five of the 10 are “roundup” posts filled with examples, such as The 10 Best B2B Websites in 2014 or The 33 Best Digital Marketing Blogs.
  3. Three are highly tactical posts explaining a process in detail, such as 10 Steps to a Killer Lead Generation and Lead Management Process (published in 2015 and still our top-performing blog post of all time.)
  4. All are “evergreen” posts about timeless topics, even the three that include a year in the title, such as 10 Hot Digital Marketing Terms You Need to Know in 2018.
  5. They tend to be longer, with an average length of 1,330 words.
  6. The average read time is 5 minutes.

Taking the time to look at your most successful blog posts can help you refine your strategy. It will also help you identify opportunities to supercharge the posts that are already top performers using historical optimization.

Recommended: 4 Ways to Generate New Results From Old Blog Posts

How to Write More Compounding Blog Posts

Now that you have a better idea of what makes a compounding blog post, it’s time to put that knowledge into practice. Here are a few tips for writing the kind of posts that will maximize your ROI.

1. Look For Insights, Not Just Ideas

Improving your blogging strategy starts by getting smarter about which topics you decide to pursue.

I once worked for a brilliant CEO who said something that has always stuck with me.

“Don’t bring me ideas,” he said. “Ideas are a dime a dozen. Bring me insights.”

An idea is a thought that just occurs to you, often at random.

An insight is an idea based on observation or data.

Idea: We should write something about Facebook because it’s always a hot topic.

Insight: Almost every week, one of our clients expresses frustration over how few views their Facebook posts are getting. They want to know what’s going on and what to do about it. We should look into our own Facebook reach and figure out how many followers are actually seeing our posts.

2. Dig Into the Data To Validate Assumptions

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking other people will care about something just because you do.

An insight worth pursuing has widespread interest among the people you’re trying to reach. How do you know if yours does?

Check out Quora to see what questions people are asking related to the topic. Read discussions about it on social media. Ask your followers and friends what they think about it. Use SEMrush or free tools like the Google Keyword Planner to determine how many people are searching for terms related to your topic each month. You’ll also want to look at keyword difficulty. If this is a popular term, chances are, the internet is already saturated with information on it. It’s going to be really hard for your piece to stand out.

Find your niche with a new angle or keyword that’s less competitive.

A few sobering statistics to consider:

  • One-third of all search engine traffic goes to the very first result
  • Another 18% of all traffic goes to the second result
  • Ninety percent of people don’t search past Page 1 of Google
  • Ninety-one percent of all online content gets no traffic from Google

You don’t necessarily need a lot of Google traffic to get great results. But you do need some other type of validation—whether it’s a lot of engagement from your established followers, a backlink from a more authoritative website or a featured spot in a publication.

3. Determine How You Can Add To the Conversation

If you’re waiting to find that one amazing idea no one has ever thought of before, you’re going to be waiting a long time.

Instead of trying to say something no one has ever said before, look for how you can add value to a conversation that’s already happening.

First, read the results that show up on that first page of Google for the topic you’re considering. Then ask yourself if you have at least one of the following:

  • A new angle on a timeless idea
  • New data you’ve gathered yourself or compiled from a dense report
  • An incredible example or a success story related to this topic
  • A way to personalize or localize a broader trend
  • A better way of packaging information so it’s easier to digest

It may be almost impossible to think of an idea that’s truly original, but you have to think of something original to say about it.

4. Test the Waters

You’ve done some research, and your idea holds up. It’s based on insight. You have observations and data to support it.

Now it’s time to test it.

You can:

  • Bring it up in conversations with customers to see how they respond
  • Post an open discussion on social media
  • Ask for input from colleagues or others whose opinions you respect
  • Run it by someone who’s good at playing “devil’s advocate” and not afraid to point out potential flaws

5. Optimize Your Blog Posts for SEO

If you aren’t using SEO best practices by now, it’s going to be really, really hard to stand out. This SEO checklist is a great guideline for optimizing your blog posts. Assuming you’re starting with a competitive keyword, here are a few quick reminders:

  • Make sure you include the keyword phrase in the title
  • Use the same phrase within the first 60 words (or the first two sentences) if possible
  • Write a strong meta description that includes the keyword within the first 155 characters
  • Use subheads that include the primary keyword phrase
  • Use the keyword phrase frequently but naturally throughout the post
  • Use natural variations of the keyword
  • Make sure any images include alt text with the keyword phrase

6. Plan for Distribution

If you’re covering an intriguing topic and your post is well-optimized for search, you’ll have a much greater chance of ranking among the top search results, which will drive steady traffic to your website for a long time.

But you can’t count on organic search results to do all the work for you these days. You need a content distribution plan that includes a mix of paid advertising, social media and outreach to get more views and shares through quality backlinks.

Amplify Your Results: Measure Twice, Write Once

Once you have some strong compounding blog posts generating great results, you’ll have a better idea of what works. You’ll gain more insight, which will lead to more compounding blog posts — and compounding results.

Check Out Essential Content Marketing KPI - Interactive Checklist

The Author

Annie Zelm

Annie is the driving force behind content strategy for clients. She uncovers insights about what motivates buyers and uses that knowledge to shape client websites and editorial calendars. Annie brings several years of PR experience gained from working at the amusement park, Cedar Point.