How to Write “Anchor Posts” For Your Blog
Blogging experts talk about writing "anchor posts" or "pillar articles" -- posts that get links, rank high in the search engines, and pull in lots of traffic over the long haul.
Sounds great, but how do you write them?
Yesterday, I got a little curious. I've been blogging daily for a few months now (as opposed to twice a month, like I used to), and wanted to see how much difference it was making.
I went to Google Analytics and pulled up the report. Sure enough, page views are up by over 2.4 times. Fabulous! I thought.
Then I wondered which posts had gotten the best response (so I could write more like them). I pulled up that report, and got a surprise.
Three of the top four posts were old. Two of them were written more than three years ago. Yet they're still at the top of the charts!
You don't choose your own anchor posts
Those high-flying posts weren't just junk that I'd dashed off without much thought -- I'd put some work into them. But no more than I put into most of my posts. And I certainly hadn't planned for them to be the pillars that I'd build my blog's traffic around.
So what happened?
The public decided that they were link-worthy, which got them on page 1 in Google -- one for "ClickBank Gravity", one for things like "PayDotCom", "ClickBank PayDotCom" and "PayDotCom review", and the other for things like "how many tweets are read".
Choosing Keywords to Target
I'm not going to get into all the keyword research tools and tips that people usually cover. Instead, let's continue the story of those three anchor posts.
I went to Google Webmaster Tools today to see what Google thinks are my blog's main keywords. My idea was that if I write more about what Google already thinks my site's good for, they're more likely to rank me high for the new content.
Guess what. "ClickBank", "PayDotCom", "Twitter", "tweet"...nowhere to be found! Not in the top 20 anyway. "Twitter" shows up at #25, "ClickBank" at #37, and "PayDotCom" at #81.
Targeting the keywords Google thinks are most significant on your site may be a valid strategy. But there's not necessarily a direct correlation between those keywords and what actually pulls traffic for you.
It turns out that list is based on how often the keywords appear on your site -- not on how high Google ranks you for them. If the keywords that are bringing in traffic aren't showing up high in that list, maybe you need to focus on them a little more.
My #1 Tip For Writing Anchor Posts
You can search Google for "anchor post" or "pillar article" to find advice for what kinds of posts to write, how long to make them (you'll get a variety of suggestions), etc. So I won't go into details like that.
My #1 tip is to create unique, high-quality content on topics that lots of people are interested in. And don't give up when you don't strike gold the first time. Keep on writing.
At some point, the public will nominate one of your posts. You can look at your existing traffic and keywords for clues, but ultimately, it's not you who'll decide which posts turn into your anchors.