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The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Website

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It’s a top list. Please don’t sigh if you’re read about them on here before, because my most recent one just got a whole load more awesome, and there’s plenty that YOU can learn from it. I’ve written in the past all about how to write an awesome top list which will get lots of people talking about your website, but until a couple weeks ago, it had been a long time since I’d written an effective one. With my IncomeDiary hat on, I produced a new top list, and tracked the progress that my website and fan page has made since the release. Here is what I’ve found…

Here’s a few statistics. It’s been 12 days since I published the post and since then it’s had over 20,000 pageviews, which is now the most popular article on my website. To put that into perspective, it currently accounts for 4.26% of all the pageviews on my website to date. There’s also been a change in my social media too, I’ve also had an increase of fans on Facebook too, which is now up by over 500 more than before I posted it.

How it Works

The only reason that top lists work is because people want to share the posts with other people, whether it’s the people featured who are doing so, or fans of theirs. You might not personally share something like this, but there are always people who will, and if you want to encourage this, I would suggest making sure that you have a plugin such as sharebar installed so that it makes it easier for them.

When you release your top list, which you should have made to be pretty awesome looking, you need to contact the people that you have mentioned. The majority of these people or sites will have a Facebook page, so you go into your own fan page, like their page, and then write on their wall telling them about it. I generally experience about a quarter of the people reply to this, thanking me, or telling me that they will share it. Telling them yourself does two main things to help: firstly, it informs them of their listing, and encourages them to share it, and secondly, they start to recognise you and your website as an authority.

In my latest list of 20 different people, around five of them shared them in one way or another, and this is actually a fairly good result. The idea of the post is to create viral content that massages the ego’s of the people listed, so that they will want to share it, but the fact of the matter is that not everyone wants to gloat about it, not everyone is actively using their fan page, even if they do have a large following, and not everyone is even that interested by being listed in the first place, especially if they’re down towards the bottom of the list.

Lets have a look at some of the reactions I got from people who shared and liked my post, which will reveal some details about why they shared it, and who was sharing it. Firstly, lets have a look at the response I got from posting on people’s walls. Brooke below was number 3 on my list, and although she relies, and posts very frequently to her Facebook, she never shared it.This leads us on nicely to other people what will share it for her, and other people like her. Even though I had posted on her wall about it, a few hours later someone else did the same. Not only did they do the same, but they god a few likes on it too. Have a look below to see what I mean. If enough people are sharing it for them, then it can be just as effective. In my experience, if enough people start to share the content on a person’s wall, that person will ultimately end up sharing it themselves. I experienced this with another post I wrote last year, and I reckon that this is because they start to deem it more acceptable to share content, if everyone else is already doing it.

The ultimate goal with a top list is to want the people who you’ve listed to share the post, because they will likely have a very large following. This may influence your order somewhat when you’re putting the list together, but I would suggest exercising caution. If you order people purely by the size of their following, then this is going to be very obvious to anyone following your post, and they no longer think that you really have any authority on the subject. It just so happened that the person I listed as number 1 on my list also had the largest following, and even thought it was coincidental (I was aware), I still received comments about it, so watch out for that. The person I listed at number 1 had around 100,000 fans, whereas the person listed at number 4, had just 1,000. Remember that not everyone bothers with social media.

A great way to keep track of the people that are sharing your website, is to make sure that you like them on your fan page, and then go in once and a while and check the news feed. You’ll start to see posts pop up similar to the one below. Before long, your posts are going out to thousands of people, and driving lots of traffic to your website. The two girls below have a combined 45,000 fans. 

Facebook is constantly updating their site, which most people hate at first, but then grow to love. One of my favourite updates that they’ve done recently had blurred the line between a fan page and a profile, and that has been the ability to subscribe to people. You may have noticed that you don’t receive updates from certain pages you like on Facebook and that’s because Facebook has recognised that you don’t interact with them anymore, so they’ve stopped showing you them. This also happens when the page hasn’t updated in a long time. Subscribing to someone’s page is like becoming their friend; unless you remove them from your news feed, you’re going to see what they’ve been sharing.

This top list was my first experience with someone sharing this way, and it was with the number 1 spot on my list. The man who had over 100,000 fans had shared my content, not through his fan page, but to his subscribers, of which there were 13,500 of them. This got a great deal more attention than if he had just shared it on his fan page, as you can see below.

Website Traffic

Lets have a look at how the traffic has changed on the website, since I posted the article. I was already having a pretty good week to begin with before I it, and I was averaging 1,081 visits each day, compared to 1,342 visits I’ve had each day since the popularity of the post has gone down significantly. The extra 500 fans has definitely helped this, and even though I’ve posted less tutorials than I usually would in this time, the website has done really well. These sorts of posts constantly attract people’s attention, and will continue to do so for months, if not years to come. When we had a look back at last year’s traffic, we notice that all but one of the top 20 posts were written in the years before. Time does a lot of favours to your content.

Statistics like time on site and pages per visit are important to tracking the quality of your visitors, but that’s now what the focus of a top list is about. It’s all about bringing more people to your website in the first place, and then converting them into fans who may want to revisit and learn from your site again. The good thing about the subject that I chose – young photographers – is that the majority of the fans aren’t potential clients, but similar young, aspiring photographers, who are looking to learn. The trick is to find a post that will work like this for your website.

Now we’re going to look at the amount of traffic that I received from the post, when it came to me, and where it came from. The day that I posted the article, I recieved 5,342 pageviews, from 5,820 different visitors. This post, on the first day of being released, managed to beat my personal record for number of visitors in a single day. Something that I’ve found to be quite common, is that the following day usually results in more traffic. This is likely down to the rate at which people browse website, and the fact that I’m in a different time zone. On the second day, that short lived record was broken once again, with 6,085 pageviews, from 6,235 visits. Different people shared this at different times, and that has helped to consistently send me traffic. As you can see from below, I was still receiving 2,600 and 4,000 visits the following two days. Bearing in mind my website is just 9 months old, this is very good.

Lets have a closer look at the days with over 2,000 visitors each, which is five days, from the 6th, to the 10th. My top 4 referrers are Facebook, Reddit, Twitter and a photography forum. The Twitter traffic died down by a huge amount by the second day, so it may not have provided me with the most traffic, but it is a direct market of people who are interested in what I’m saying. The same goes for the photography forum, but a lot of those click were on different posts, because it’s harder to promote content on there.

One thing people expect to see an increase in is AdSense earnings for traffic like this, but unfortunately its’ not that simple. If you really want to earn money with AdSense, then you need to be mostly appealing to your top referrers, and for my site, that’s just not Facebook. Obviously, I’m receiving more visitors, and that’s making me more money, but nothing substancial compared to a good day of traffic from my top referrer. I talk about this in more detail here if you’re interested.

Search Traffic

If you’ve read the summary of my website that I wrote 6 months ago, you’ll know that posting a top list can have a huge effect on your search engine traffic, because sites like Google start to recognise people sharing your content, which leads them to think that ever more people would be interested. Here’s the image that I provided when I wrote the post – notice the correlation between traffic and Google traffic.This is what a boost in traffic from a top list can do for your website, and it’s perhaps one of the biggest improvements that you can make, because of the long term implications. My Google traffic came into some problems shortly after this because of some spam that was hosted on the website without my knowledge, but we got back in, and it fluctuated after this. In the past 3 months, my search engine traffic has increased by over 10 times the amount it used to be, and it’s continued to grow even further since the success of this top list.

Tips for Writing a Top List

There are definitely certain steps that you should be taking to write a top list, and I’ve detailed them all here in this comprehensive guide. The majority of what you need to know is there, but there is one more thing that I would like to add/stress. Don’t chicken out and call it ’20 Best…’, you have to call it ‘Top 20 Best…’ and then order them 1-20, so that everyone has a rank. The reason that you do this is because people are going to disagree with you, and they’re going to be much more likely to comment and share it at the same time. It sounds a little bit twisted, but I assure you, it really does work. For every person that doesn’t agree with you, there’s going to be 10 others who are happy to just see the content.

Top List Ideas

Enough already with the excuse as to why you can’t, or haven’t written a top list, I’m going to help you come up with one.

Anything related to people and websites work best, so that could be anything from the top 20 bloggers/blogs, to the top 20 rap songs of 2011. So long as it’s niched, and lists people, then there’s a good chance that you’ll get a response, even if you’re a website that no one has ever heard of before.

You may think if you’re in the fitness niche, that writing about the top 20 fitness blogs would be a bad idea, but you’d be wrong. I wrote about the top 20 photography websites as my first post, and even though it sent people away from my website, it send even more people towards it. List your competition; it’s a good way to get noticed by them.

Product posts are good, because you can make money through Amazon Associates, but they’re typically not that popular with people, because there’s less of an incentive to share them. Write one by all means, it’s always good to have the links on your site because you’ll start earning a passive income, but you won’t start seeing real money until you have a strong following.

Make sure that you list the top 20, rather than the top 10, because the list will appear to be more comprehensive as you’ve gone through more people to reach the final 20.

Finally, prepare your website for an influx of visitors. Make sure it’s looking good, and that there’s lots of other links to content they might also like. Throw in a few adverts if you want to make some money, and don’t be afraid to mention yourself, or what your website has to offer inside the list.

Call to Action

In 7 days time, I want YOU to publish a top list. Tuesday is a great day to post them because people are into their weeks, and paying attention to their computers again. Have a brainstorm now about what you can write about, whether you know the subject matter or not. I’ll be honest with you, my three most popular top lists, I knew very little about. That’s photography websites, photography bloggers and young photographers. I had a handful of names that I wanted to include, and the rest just came from extensive research.

It just goes to show that you can write an awesome top list, with just some hard work, and a little bit of knowhow. So what’s stopping you? Remember to include images for each, a good description, and to number them 1-20. Good luck, and let me know how it goes – link me.

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Comments

  1. Mary Ann Smith says:

    Thank you for posting this information. This is very helpful information for getting you up and going.

  2. Kenny Fabre says:

    Josh

    toplist ae very fun to read, Ive read many top list in my days, they are basically keeping us informed, and keeping us updated on certain stats o status of things or people

  3. Great post. Do you hire someone to write your Top lists? If so, what company do you use? I have heard Michael talking about hiring a company to do the research, but he never mentions what company he hires. If not, where do you find the information? Are there internet website databases that can provide information to make top lists such as like IMDb?

    • Josh Dunlop says:

      No, I do all of the work myself, and I put together some really good lists. Like I said, I wasn’t really an expert on a lot of what I was writing about at first, but I soon became one because it took so much time to get there. I may spend 3-4 days researching and writing, but that time spent is nothing compared to the results I see.

  4. Estevan Montoya says:

    Great content, like always. I am launching a new niche site, and this was a great reminder of several things I need to be aware of. Thanks again!

  5. Sheyi Shobayo says:

    Josh, you always come up with great content here. Yeah, I’ve also published top lists (after reading much about it from you) and i’m happy I did that.

    Sheyi

  6. Thanks for the article. Sounds like a good plan.

  7. DavidSkysummer says:

    Hi

    I understand now and had begun to stack a list of suggestion to wrote for a top list. But I believe writing a top 20 list not only consume time for research but also energy to drain from photoshopping the images that suggest the list.

    Would you recommend churning out tone of top list then how tos for a beginner blogger?

    Regards
    David

  8. Sounds really interesting, Josh.
    Certainly a lot of work, but ultimately it is always a course in its own alcove to be successful and to see how they treat the subject.
    Regards
    JP
    von JULPE.COM

  9. Great point Josh
    You guys do a lot of these and just looking at the sharebar next to all your “top posts” proves the point.
    Cheers
    Mark

  10. Amit Shaw says:

    Nice article. Thanks for sharing with us.

  11. Michelle DeMarco says:

    As always a great, informative post. I already have some top 20 lists brewing in my head!