So you’re an entrepreneur starting a business and trying to boost your online presence. You heard that content marketing is incredibly important and are excited to get after it.

However, when it comes to actually creating blog content, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Where do you start? What topic should you write about? Who will want to read it? How will they find it? There’s a multitude of questions you need answered.

Luckily, there’s a sure-fire blog post proven to generate leads, boost your content marketing efforts, attract organic visitors, drive social shares, and even double as a content calendar. It’s called the Content Aggregator and all entrepreneurs needs this post in their publishing arsenal. Why?

The Content Aggregator post is:

  • Quick to create
  • 100% outsourceable
  • Virtually guaranteed to get shared on social media
  • SEO friendly

ALL entrepreneurs should utilize the Content Aggregator post because it’s the perfect place to kick off your content marketing efforts, as it requires very little effort and publishing experience to pull off.

About the Content Aggregator Post

Earlier this year, a few members of the Ontraport team went to Traffic and Conversion 2016 – an incredible marketing conference put on by the experts at Digital Marketer. In one of their talks, “Content Engine 2.0,” they revealed a secret weapon for any entrepreneurial blog: a high-performing type of blog article they call the Content Aggregator.

Repeatedly throughout the talk, they reiterated the unwavering success this simple blog article formula has brought them. They noted these posts are extremely flexible, take very little time and effort to create, can be used in virtually any niche or mainstream vertical, and are routinely among the top performing content across all of their blogs.

In their words:

“The Content Aggregator is about finding content that is ALREADY popular and aggregating it to create a post that is virtually guaranteed to please your audience (think social sharing) and the search engines (think traffic from Google search).”

But what’s so special about these posts? Why are they “guaranteed to please your audience and the search engines?”

Let’s take a look at a few examples and see what we can find out:

Right off the bat, what glaring similarities do you notice about these posts?

They are all highly visual, list-style posts written for easy consumption (although they are much more than a standard Buzzfeed-style post – more on this later). Most site visitors don’t have the attention span to read long articles with giant blocks of text. Content Aggregator posts are so effective because they allow readers to skim the page and quickly consume the article.

According to Hubspot who conducted a six month analysis of their content, “List posts proved to have the most reliable social traction, averaging around 21,000 shares per month.”

Digital Marketer reported even crazier numbers:

Simply put, lists are highly popular posts and the Content Aggregator post leverages that general consensus.

Another interesting thing about these posts is that the content is sourced from OTHER blogs. As Digital Marketer puts it, “Aside from a quick introduction and closing, this post requires no original content from the publisher. It is simply an aggregation of the best ‘stuff’ on the web surrounding a specific topic.”

You might be thinking, “Isn’t that against the rules? Won’t Google punish you for doing that? Isn’t that duplicate content?”

Well, as Digital Marketer and many other websites have proven, as long as you include a link to the original content, you’re in the clear. That’s the golden rule. You absolutely MUST credit the sources from which you’ve aggregated your content; in doing so, you’re rewarding them with an external link while maintaining an SEO clean sheet.

The Content Aggregator Post Framework

Every Content Aggregator post is laid out exactly the same way – there’s a proven framework.

The Content Aggregator post is a list that focuses on a particular subject and offers a number of  supporting points about that subject – all points on your list MUST relate back to the topic of your post. For example, if the title of your post is “15 Ways to Spend a Hot Summer Day In Southern California,” one of your items would likely be “Go to the Beach.”

Each point, or item, on your list includes four main components:

1. Subheader

Your subheader is what catches the reader’s attention. It needs to clearly tell the reader what the item is.

2. Description

The description quickly tells the reader about the list item and how it relates back to the main subject of the post. A short, one to two sentence description seems to be the standard, however some people like to include a bit more content in their descriptions – which is totally acceptable.

3. High Quality Image

Each item on your list needs to include a high-quality image to go with the subheader and description – it’s essential. Images liven up posts and make them more consumable. Without them, your post is just another wall of text, which can severely impact your number of social shares.

4. Link

Including a link for each item is ESSENTIAL. The all-important link is what distinguishes a Content Aggregator post (which requires no content creation on your part) from a normal list post (which you write from scratch). Why? Because the content is plucked from other websites, and thereby requires a link back to the original source. By passing credit you’re providing valuable “link-juice” to that site and better SEO to your own.

How to Correctly Find and Aggregate Content

There are three main steps to finding and aggregating content.

1. Choose a Topic

Before the hunt for content begins, you need to choose a topic that is relevant to your business. For example, if I were to write a Content Aggregator post for Ontraport, I might choose “The Top 15 Email Campaigns All Entrepreneurs Need to Effectively Scale.” While some entrepreneurs will have no trouble generating ideas for their posts, it might not be so simple for others.

It’s a common best practice to use a specific keyword you’re trying to rank for as your topic. For example, if you’re an online marketer, you might choose to write “The Ultimate Marketing How-To Post” where you aggregate content about online marketing and include items like “How to Increase Landing Page Conversion” or “How to Improve Email Delivery Rates.” The possibilities here are endless. Digital Marketer recommends you use Buzzsumo to find suitable topics, but keyword tools like Moz, AnswerThePublic, and SERPS are also great options.

2. Find Great Content to Aggregate

Now that you’ve picked your topic, it’s time to start finding quality content to aggregate and link back to in your post. Buzzsumo and Google Trends are great tools to find popular content for a specific keyword. As a fallback, you could simply type a search straight into Google and find great content just as easily. The main factor here is that the content you choose to aggregate and link to must be quality – otherwise your post will be compromised. You don’t want to send your blog visitors to lousy content, and you definitely don’t want to weaken your reputation with Google by linking to less than reputable websites.

3. Write a Phenomenal Headline

Creating an enticing headline for your Content Aggregator post is the most important part of the entire process. A remarkable headline is a must.

The headlines for these list posts usually follow a few specific formulas that are proven to get clicks by top sites such as Buzzfeed and Wordstream. Digital Marketer does a great job of laying the formulas out:

    • Example: 19 Ways To Cook a Nutritious Dinner in 15 Minutes or Less
  • X [TOPIC] Ideas That Will [DESIRED END RESULT]
    • Example: 22 DIY Projects That Will Increase the Value Of Your Home
    • Example: 5 Ways to Purify Water Without Having To Build a Fire
    • Example: 11 Skin Care Products That Will Remove Wrinkles
  • X Ways to Rid Yourself of [UNDESIRED RESULT]
    • Example: 19 Ways to Rid Yourself of Credit Crushing Debt

A final word about headlines: We really love the Headline Analyzer from CoSchedule when grading our own headlines. All you do is input your potential headline and CoSchedule will give it a score on a scale of 1 to 100 – anything over 70 is great.

Moving Forward With the Content Aggregator Post

The Content Aggregator is a great post to kickstart your business’ blogging and content marketing efforts. By leveraging great content on third party sites (while still passing along credit, of course), you can create an extensive first post on which to base all of your future content efforts. But that’s just the beginning.

Ideally, you’ll start replacing articles you’re linking out to with articles of your own. The goal is to replace the outbound links in your post with internal links to other posts on your own blog – you don’t want people to leave your site if they don’t have to. How do you do this? Create articles for each item in your post. For example, if you’re writing a post about the 20 best Italian dinner recipes, and the first item on your list is Chicken Parmigiana, then you should create a recipe post of your own, all about Chicken Parmigiana.

By replacing your external links with internal links, you’ll ultimately boost the SEO of your site. Google loves when people make it easy to find things: the easier it is for Google to “crawl” your links from page to page, the better SEO dividends you’ll collect.

As an added bonus, your initial Content Aggregator post can effectively double as a content calendar. Wondering what to write about? Start with the first item on your list, and make your way down until you’ve replaced all external links with internal links.

About Andy Reese
Content Specialist Andy Reese graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2014 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies (emphases in Sustainability and Entrepreneurship). In his short career, Andy has already written grants and media plans for several businesses and nonprofits, worked at two tech startups and the Surfrider Foundation.