Compounding Blog Posts: The Traffic-Driving Secret Weapon You‘re Not Using Enough

As a content marketer, you know that creating blog content is essential for driving traffic, building authority, and growing your business online. But here‘s the thing: Not all blog posts are created equal.

While the majority of posts provide a quick traffic boost before fizzling out, an elite class of "compounding posts" are the true workhorses of organic traffic growth. In fact, HubSpot research found that while only 1 in 10 posts are compounding, they generate 38% of overall blog traffic.

So what‘s the secret of these traffic-driving dynamos? And more importantly, how can you optimize your content strategy to create more of them? Let‘s investigate.

Compounding Posts 101: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

First, let‘s define what we mean by "compounding posts." These are the posts that generate steady, cumulative growth in organic traffic month over month and year over year – without requiring much additional promotion.

While they may not necessarily blow up with viral traffic right out of the gate, compounding posts build steam and authority over time. As more visitors find the post through search and share it with others, it climbs in rankings. This leads to even more organic traffic, more social shares, more backlinks – and the virtuous cycle of compounding growth continues.

Consider this data from the HubSpot study:

Traffic Pattern % of Total Posts % of Total Traffic
Compounding 10% 38%
Decaying 90% 62%

Source: HubSpot

Even though compounding posts make up only 10% of total posts, they punch way above their weight in traffic generation. One compounding post creates as much traffic as six decaying posts over its lifetime.

And this effect becomes even more powerful over time. While a decaying post plateaus and then fizzles out within a few months, compounding posts continue climbing. Here‘s a hypothetical illustration:

Timeframe Compounding Post Monthly Traffic Decaying Post Monthly Traffic
Month 1 100 1000
Month 6 500 100
Month 12 1000 50
Month 24 2000 20
Month 36 4000 10

Presumptive data for illustrative purposes only

Can you see the incredible power of compounding posts? While a decaying post may have an initial spike, it can‘t hold a candle to the long-term traffic potential of a post that ranks, gets shared, and keeps delivering month after month.

As Dries Cronje, Founder of Productive Insights, put it:

"One compounding post can literally change the trajectory of your entire blog. It‘s the 80/20 at work: Identify and double down on the small percentage of posts that have the potential to deliver outsized results over the long-term."

So now that we understand why compounding posts are so powerful, let‘s dive into how you can create more of them.

Deconstructing a Compounding Post: Key Ingredients for Success

Through my experience and research, I‘ve found that the most successful compounding posts tend to share a few common characteristics:

  1. Evergreen Topic: The post covers a topic that is always relevant to the target audience, not a short-term trend or news item. It has built-in longevity.

  2. Comprehensive Coverage: The post provides in-depth, definitive information on the topic. It fully answers the searcher‘s query and provides unique insights they can‘t find elsewhere.

  3. Actionable Advice: The post provides clear, actionable takeaways that the reader can implement. It doesn‘t just inform, but empowers the reader to solve their problem.

  4. Keyword Optimization: The post is optimized around a target keyword that has significant search volume, but reasonable competition. It follows on-page SEO best practices to rank over time.

  5. Compelling, Clickable Title: The title is compelling and click-worthy, often including phrases like "How to," "Why," "X Best," or "The Ultimate Guide." It makes a bold promise to the reader.

  6. Scannable Formatting: The post is easy to scan and digest, with clear subheadings, bullet points, images, and other visual elements. It provides a user-friendly reading experience.

  7. Authoritative, Engaging Voice: The writing style positions the author as an authoritative expert, but is also engaging and conversational. It builds trust and thought leadership.

  8. Relevant Internal Linking: The post strategically links to other relevant posts on the blog to provide additional value and keep readers on site longer.

  9. multimedia elements: The post includes engaging multimedia elements like images, videos, infographics, or interactive tools to enliven the content and appeal to different learning styles.

  10. Periodic Refreshing: The post is periodically updated to maintain accuracy, freshness, and relevance. This gives it an edge over competing posts in search.

When you bring these elements together in one post, you have the recipe for a compounding powerhouse that can drive serious traffic for years to come.

For example, consider this compounding post from the Backlinko blog:

Backlinko compounding post example

Source: Backlinko

This post, originally published in 2015, still drives over 20,000 organic visitors per month and has generated over 10,000 backlinks. Why? Because it comprehensively covers an evergreen topic, is formatted for scannability, and continually refreshed with new examples and insights.

That‘s the power of an optimized compounding post in action. But creating one is easier said than done. So let‘s explore a step-by-step process you can follow.

The Compounding Post Creation Process: 6 Steps to Epic Content

Consistently creating compounding posts requires a strategic approach to content planning and creation. Here‘s the process I recommend:

  1. Do Your Keyword Research: Use tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Google Keyword Planner to identify high-volume, low-competition keywords related to your business. Focus on evergreen terms with clear search intent.

  2. Prioritize Topics With Compounding Potential: Evaluate each keyword through the lens of compounding potential. Is this a topic you could cover definitively? Will it remain relevant for years? Prioritize topics that lend themselves to in-depth, evergreen content.

  3. Create a Comprehensive Outline: Build out a comprehensive outline for the post that covers all the key subtopics and answers all related questions a reader might have. The goal is to be the last click they need on the topic.

  4. Write Epic, Engaging Content: Fill in your outline with in-depth, actionable content written in an engaging voice. Hook the reader with a strong intro, deliver on the title‘s promise, and provide clear next steps. Aim for at least 2,000 words.

  5. Optimize for Search and Scannability: As you write, naturally incorporate your target keyword and related terms. Organize with H2s, H3s, bullet lists, and other formatting to break up the text. Add compelling visuals every 300 words.

  6. Promote and Refine Over Time: Once live, promote your post through social media, email, and link building to give it an initial boost. Then, make a note to refresh the post every 6-12 months with new information and examples to maintain its relevance and ranking power.

This process does require significant time and effort for each post. But that‘s precisely why compounding posts are so rare and valuable – most content marketers aren‘t willing to invest at this level.

As Steph Smith, Head of Publications at Hubspot, said:

"Compounding posts require an upfront investment in creating an extemely thorough, well-organized piece of content – we‘re talking 2,000-5,000+ words. But this depth is exactly what enables them to rise above thinner content and build compounding organic traffic over time."

So while you may publish less frequently by focusing on compounding potential, the payoff in organic traffic growth is well worth it.

Real-World Compounding Post Examples to Inspire You

To further illustrate the power of compounding posts, let‘s look at a few real-world examples from different industries:

  1. Zapier: "The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work"
  • Published: March 2015
  • Total organic traffic: 1M+
  • Backlinks: 4.3K
  • Updated: Every 6-12 months

Zapier compounding post example

This post from Zapier is the definitive guide to remote work, covering everything from tools to productivity tips to real stories from remote companies. By getting in early on a rising topic and covering it comprehensively, it has built incredible compounding power.

  1. Nerdwallet: "What Credit Score Do You Need to Buy a House?"
  • Published: September 2013
  • Total organic traffic: 2M+
  • Backlinks: 1.3K
  • Updated: Monthly

Nerdwallet compounding post example

Nerdwallet‘s post on credit scores needed for mortgages is a classic example of targeting a high-intent evergreen keyword with a clear, comprehensive answer. By keeping the data and examples fresh, it has become the go-to resource that ranks at the top of search results.

  1. Moz: "Beginner‘s Guide to SEO"
  • Published: December 2015
  • Total organic traffic: 500K+
  • Backlinks: 12K
  • Updated: Annually

Moz compounding post example

Moz‘s "Beginner‘s Guide to SEO" is the canonical resource for learning SEO basics. By putting their all into creating the most comprehensive guide on the topic, and continually refreshing it, they‘ve built an evergreen traffic machine.

Notice how these examples all follow the compounding post success formula we outlined above. They identify an evergreen topic with search demand, cover it comprehensively, and use engaging formatting and visuals. The result is an standout piece of content that compounds over time.

Putting the Compounding Post Strategy Into Practice

If you only remember one thing from this post, make it this: Shift more of your content energy and resources into creating compounding posts.

Think of your blog like an investment portfolio. Decaying posts are like day trading – they provide quick hits of traffic, but rarely pay off in the long-term. Compounding posts, on the other hand, are like investing in index funds. They may not be as sexy in the short-term, but they provide the most reliable and sustainable traffic growth over time.

Aim to make at least 10-20% of your posts compounding in nature. Invest the time to identify the right topics, create truly comprehensive content, and periodically refresh them to maintain relevance.

Over time, this compounding content will become the backbone of your blog‘s traffic and lead generation. While it requires patience and discipline, it‘s really the only way to win at organic content marketing for the long haul.

So what are you waiting for? Time to go out there and create some compounding masterpieces. Your future traffic growth will thank you.