2016 Content Recap: What to Learn from 50 Blog’s Top Posts

Will the rapid growth of online content ever end?

Hardly likely in the near future.

2016 has marked a new all-time high.

2017 will most probably top that again.

But, while the amount of each day’s written blog posts has passed the 2 million mark, engagement is declining.

People get used to having a plethora of information at their fingertips. They respond with indifference to our attempts to catch their attention.

I don’t blame them. They are suffering from the same paralysis so many of us digital marketers are afflicted with too: information overload.

Just like us, our target groups ignore the vast of information to pick only a few pieces to engage with.

Yes, we are in the middle of the advanced cherry picker era.

The value of your business seems to be solely determined by whether your content gets cherry picked or not.

That’s sort of bad news.

Good news is, there are several reliable attributes cherry picked posts have in common.

You just need to know what these characteristics are and apply them to your own content creation!


Content in terms of input and output (or yin and yang)

You can test and try a lot with your blog content.

But if you solely rely on your own “experiments,” your content is at risk to have a troublesome, longish journey into the cherry picker’s basket.

It’s way smarter to learn from other marketers and their most popular articles.

My better days of content creation started with putting my content consumption to the test.

True to the motto: your input dictates your output.

The test revealed something good and something not so good:

  • I was relieved to realize that I consumed some excellent buzzy content every day (hard to avoid as a following fan of Jon Morrow, Pat Flynn, Darren Rowse, Adam Connell, Jeff Goins and some other blogging idols)
  • I was embarrassed to see how many snacks of low-to-mediocre-performing content I added to my main meals all throughout the day


The superpowers of a strict content diet

As a result, I decided to, at least for a while, put my content input on a strict and very selective diet plan.

I made it a habit to only consume content that’s been rewarded with great results in comments and/or shares.

This delicacy-only meal plan opened my eyes in many ways:

Over time, I started to detect more and more patterns successful posts have in common, regarding the headlines, content type, lingo, storytelling, formats and design they put into place.

And not only that. The strict diet simply brainwashed me: Almost all the “could-be-working” content ideas in my head are now replaced with “proven-to-work” ideas.

The inspiration section of my brain not only has tons of excellent content examples in store now.

It also feels much easier to access them on demand. I’m so deeply familiar with tons of other people’s ideas; they almost feel like my own ideas!

Okay, I better slow down after this sudden burst of euphoria (sorry, it just came over me)! I’m afraid you get the impression that I am pretending to be the Queen of content…

I am by far not a queen of content (and not a good pretender either)!

Actually, there is huge potential for improvements in my content creation.

But other than before, I’m not in the dark about the mysteries of successful content any longer.

Today, I know exactly where I need to improve!


A very tasty diet: 2016’s most shared articles of 50 sites

In online business, we are downright spoiled with opportunities to collect and track information.

Almost any kind of data is at your fingertips within seconds.

But still, putting together a nitty-gritty high-performer content list takes a bit of time.

Since it’s gift season, I decided to do that work for you:)

I picked 50 awesome blogs (many of them are my favorite go-to resources, simply some of the best blogs to read!) to find their most shared posts in 2016.

I’ve checked out all these 50 posts, analyzed their content (and data).

The result is a list that allows you to focus exclusively on content that works (proven by thousands of shares at the top and hundreds of shares in the bottom of the list), no guesswork attached.

Whether you search for catchy headlines, proven formats, awesome intros, actionable outros… all these 50 posts offer you a fund of examples you can return to each time you need some powerful inspiration.

Of course, I’d love to encourage you to deeply engage with these 50 top posts.

If you do, you are very likely to benefit from the effects I described from my “diet” (watch out for the burst of euphoria!)

All these 50 posts will not only “brainwash” you for better content creation.

Since all the blogs in the list center around how-to-blog topics, you can improve (or refresh) your overall blogging skills as a nice side effect too.

I know, 50 posts to read is a lot to do.

But in some sessions, it’s absolutely doable. And so worth it!

So here it is, the hand-picked list of 50 blog’s most shared posts in 2016 (according to Buzzsumo):

(1) Over 100 Internet Business Ideas To Make Your Millions Online – madlemmings.com

(2) The $7,500 Blogging Mistake That Every Blogger Needs to Avoid! – livingfornaptime.com

(3) 20+ Must-Have Tools For Savvy Social Media Managers In 2016 – twelveskip.com

(4) This is The Best Infographic for Small Business Websites [50 Features] – shoutmeloud.com

(5) How to Start a Blog that Gets 1 Million Monthly Visitors – brandongaille.com

(6) Your Complete Social Media Checklist – pegfitzpatrick.com

(7) How 16 Companies are Dominating the World’s Google Search Results – viperchill.com

(8) How To Jump Start Your Writing Career as a Blogger (Infographic) – successfulblogging.com

(9) 10 Morning Writing Activities for Entrepreneurs – byregina.com

(10) 10 Top Social Media Marketing Trends To Look Out For In 2017 – jeffbullas.com

(11) 10 Free Google Tools All Content Marketers Should Use – neilpatel.com

(12) What Is a Content Marketing Strategy? – copyblogger.com

(13) Guest Blogging Strategy: How To Knock Your Next Guest Post Out Of The Park – bloggingwizard.com

(14) 6 Marketing Tasks You Have to Do Every Month – marketingsolved.com

(15) How Minimalism Made Me a Writer – goinswriter.com

(16) SEMRush Review – 68 Ways To Increase Traffic & Crush Your Competition – matthewwoodward.co.uk

(17) 1455: The windy road of Entrepreneurship is a profitable one with Dan Anton – eofire.com

(18) 99 Essential Online Business Tools I’ve Used to Start a Profitable Website – ryrob.com

(19) Webinars For Newbies (The Complete Guide To Getting Started!) – wonderlass.com

(20) 27 Time-Sucking Blog Tasks You Can Outsource [Infographic] – bloggersidekick.com

(21) How To Start A Blog And Does Your Business Need One? – iblogzone.com

(22) How to Create Time-Saving Systems for Your Business and Blog – melyssagriffin.com

(23) The Sharing Economy: 200+ Ways to Make Extra Money in Your Spare Time – sidehustlenation.com

(24) How to Not Be a Social Media Trainwreck – leoniedawson.com

(25) How to Make Sure You Follow Through on Your Goals: 2016 Edition – smartpassiveincome.com

(26) 4 Content Marketing Hacks to Speed Up Blogging Growth – basicblogtips.com

(27) How to Broadcast from your Computer to Facebook Live – iag.me

(28) How to Fall Deliriously in Love With Writing (Again) – danielauslan.com

(29) How to Get Entrepreneurial Ideas out of Your Head and Into Reality – problogger.net

(30) How to Get More Traffic from Every Post by Republishing on Medium – smartblogger.com

(31) How to Write a Compelling About Me Page To Inspire Readers – bloggingcage.com

(32) How to Find Website Optimization Opportunities – matthewbarby.com

(33) Affiliate Marketing Trends 2016: 37 Experts Share Their Thoughts On The Future Of Affiliate Marketing – nichehacks.com

(34) People Buy Stories Before They Buy Stuff – ducttapemarketing.com

(35) Infographic: 5 Growth Hacks You Should Know – dailyblogtips.com

(36) Nurture Your Pinterest Audience With These Fabulous Tools – thesocialmediahat.com

(37) How to Design the Life of Your Dreams – melanieduncan.com

(38) Lessons Learned from Losing All our Rankings after a Bad Site Revamp – seo-hacker.com

(39) How to Choose a Brand Name That Fits You like a Glove – thebrandedsolopreneur.com

(40) How Bad Emailing Can Impact Your Business – kikolani.com

(41) ?, ?, and ?? Beginner’s Guide to Emoji Marketing – trafficgenerationcafe.com

(42) 15 SEO Writing Tips To Get Content Read, Shared and Ranked – johnpaulaguiar.com

(43) 10 Time Management Tips Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know – fizzle.co

(44) How To Become A Millionaire In Three Years With Daniel Ally – eventualmillionaire.com

(45) A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating “Tweetable” Tips Article to Drive Shares and Traffic – seosmarty.com

(46) How to Make Money When Your Blog is Brand New: A Practical Guide – blogtyrant.com

(47) Top 7 Podcasts By Women For Women By @kerryheaps – sheownsit.com

(48) How to Create Your Business Vision – thealishanicole.com

(49) More Traffic VS Better Conversion Rates: How To Strike The Perfect Balance – magnet4blogging.net

(50) Blogger Outreach – How To Get On 158 Blogs In 14 Months – timemanagementchef.com

Lot’s of awesome posts, lots of directions you can take away for your content creation in 2017.

Btw: In case you still wonder what people’s advice to follow for learning the business, just take the 50 blogs from the list to be on the safe side of resources:)

Let’s make some conclusions now!


How to prepare your content for heaps of shares in 2017

After “inhaling” all these most popular posts, it’s pretty obvious what’s to expect for content quality in 2017:

The bar will be raised even higher.


As a result, fluff and jabber contaminated posts won’t be able to keep pace any longer.

Convenient to digest, ultra helpful, authentic, inspiring, compelling, practical, motivational, controversial, entertaining content cocktails will rule the content business (= your reader’s interactions).

Let’s pick some details to make it more tangible!


Powerful headlines are more important than ever

I know, headlines have to do so many jobs in so few words:

They have to be descriptive, actionable, emotional and simply too irresistible to be ignored.

Did you know that many writers spend almost as much time for crafting a perfect title as for creating all the content behind it?

They know the central role of a headline.

If it’s not a door opener, you’ve created the content behind it for nuts.

Therefore, there is no way around; you have to master headline crafting.

I’ve put some helpful tips and tools together to get you started fast. You find it here: 8 Easy Ways to Make People Click and Not Skip Your Headlines.

Btw: the 50 posts above have a title with 57 characters in average, which is way below the recommended maximum of 70 characters.

Length matters, which is very short in this case.


Confirmed again: how to’s and lists still run like a charm

I’m sorry to bore you here, but I can only repeat what dozens of people have stated before:

How to’s and lists still rock content marketing.

44% of the 50 posts are how-to posts.

30% of them are list posts.

And the 4 mega list posts are all in the top 25 positions.

To give you some more data beyond this top 50 list, I’ve analyzed the content types of nearly 15,000 articles related to blogging in Buzzsumo.

That analysis shows that infographics are the only content type that outperforms lists and how to’s in shares:

Most shared content types

Hence, a content strategy with lots of how to’s and list, riddled with some few excellent infographics, is still very promising for gaining lots of shares!


Don’t confuse extensive with wordy

It’s a result of content competition:

Extensive, in-depth posts outperform short posts.

In the case of our top 50 posts, extensity means 3,345 words on average.

And this average content length of my small 50 posts survey gets pretty much confirmed on a larger scale (based on the nearly 15,000 posts I’ve analyzed):

Most shared content length

One could say, short attention spans are no longer an excuse for writing short posts!

People love extensive posts. They love to have all imaginable aspects of one topic in one place, to scan it, to share it, to refer to it and to even read it entirely one day.

But it’s important for us to get extensive right.

It’s easy to confuse it with longish, which is richer in words, but not in value.

To survive in the content forest, our readers have turned pro in rapidly identifying the value(lessness) of a piece of content.

And they are even quicker in skipping the worthless pieces!

Therefore, whatever content you create, always make sure it adds real and helpful value to the given sources.


Don’t forget: you eat with your eyes!

Once upon a time, blog posts 500 words long, in one paragraph, with small font size, bright font on a dark background, ads and pop up’s all over the place, were not at all exotic.

Yes, not too long ago many people even tried to read these poorly designed posts.

But, in the era of the advanced cherry picker, things have changed.

The advanced cherry pickers go for well-arranged content only since there is plenty of it available.

All the top 50 posts did a great job in turning their content into visual tidbits.

Wonderfully arranged, bite-sized, easy to digest and simply pleasing to the eyes pieces of content will be standard, not the exception in 2017 and beyond!

Small paragraphs, a not too small font size, and a good spacing help a lot to make the reading part more comfortable.

Visuals, lists, boxes, (tweetable) quotes help to bring a lightsome flow and variety into the content consumption.

All these nice appealings and conveniences will help to motivate your visitors to come and stay on your blog!


Over to you!

I loved to put this list about some of the best articles of 2016 together for you. Hopefully, it gives you some helpful inspiration for setting up your content strategy for 2017!

If you want to learn even more about how to cover all aspects of turning content into share-worthy content, check out this post.

Now it’s your turn; I’d love to hear your thoughts! What are the posts that inspired you in 2016? What did your best performing pieces of content look like? How do your content plans for 2017 look like?

And please let me know if you think there are other buzzy posts I need include in this list, I’d love to add them:)

To your follower’s happy sharing,



Comments 13

  1. Kerry Heaps April 14, 2017
    • Vera April 15, 2017
  2. Fabrizio Van Marciano December 16, 2016
    • Vera December 16, 2016
  3. Mike Allton December 16, 2016
    • Vera December 16, 2016
  4. Ramsay December 15, 2016
    • Vera December 16, 2016
  5. Will Blunt December 15, 2016
    • Vera December 16, 2016
  6. John Lee Dumas December 15, 2016
    • Vera December 15, 2016
    • jumbo May 15, 2017

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