Whether you have been in the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Content Marketing industries for ages or you are fairly new, you know for sure that almost every blogger starts their off-page SEO campaign using two techniques: guest posting and expert roundups.
Don’t get me wrong; both of these are great link building techniques… when they are done well.
Since my blog is still relatively new, I thought that it was time for me to jump on the expert roundup train.
However, I am in a market where everyone knows what I am doing because they are also doing it.
This led me to believe that expert roundups are not really working. Or at least, they aren’t working for me.
I have, in fact, tried to get a few roundups together and I even succeeded with one in a very boring niche.
Yet, getting answers from Bones Series fans is not the same as getting them from SearchEngineLand contributors.
The reason is very simple: SEOs and content marketers know the deal.
You can create your own expert roundup that is better than most roundups in your niche. Click here to download your checklist now!
My Expert Roundups Dilemma
Here’s the thing… Expert roundups are time-consuming in terms of outreach.
Every online marketer knows that a 20 percent positive response from an outreach campaign is as optimistic as possible.
Therefore, to include 20 experts in one article, you may have to reach out to 100 experts, maybe even more. This ultimately means finding 100 different experts and sending 100 different, personalized emails.
About 40 prospects might not even open your email; 20 will read it but won’t bother to respond; 20 will say no for whatever reason. And then you are left with 20 experts.
How much time did that take?
It could be weeks before you get all 20 answers put together. Experts are busy people.
There is something to gain of course: namely, a high number of shares across different social media.
As a new blogger, you may get excited to know that you could get thousands of visitors every day just by publishing one piece of content.
But that’s not always the case (I’ll get into that later.)
And that’s not the only issue. It is possible that every blogger you may want to reach out to knows the same deal.
It will be tough getting the right people to answer questions and share those answers with wide audiences.
Are Expert Roundups Good For A Long-Term SEO Strategy?
I will answer that question after I show you the results from my research on expert roundups.
However, I did ask this question in two of my favorite Facebook groups.
White Hat SEO
The answers in this Facebook poll weren’t surprising since it reiterates what the consensus says. Everyone who participated in this poll understands how effective they can be, especially when done well.
(By the way, White Hat SEO might as well be the most active SEO group ever! You’re welcome to join in!)
Dumb SEO Questions
However, the second poll just fed me more doubt. Contrary to the previous results, this poll shows that some people are still taking expert roundups with a grain of salt.
While perhaps not everyone who participated in the first poll also participated in the second poll, why would so many people find expert roundups to be a successful tool and still not use them?
Why Would Want to Publish An Expert Roundup?
This is a good question to ask. It will help you scale the success of an article once it is published.
An expert roundup is said to be great for three things:
The influencers that contribute to your roundup should share the article once it is published. This leads to big “shared” numbers, which results in successful brand awareness.
In other words, your expert roundup is likely to go viral when it’s published, and your blog will benefit too.
Not only those shares will make you viral, but they will send huge referral traffic your way.
The higher the number of shares, the better your chances are of getting your blog in front of more people.
With the influence of those in your roundup, you’re likely to get massive spikes in your analytics.
When you reach out to influencers for a roundup, they are more likely to link to you than anything else. Not only that, bloggers who find your roundup will link to it as well.
That way, you are guaranteed a huge number of links coming your way as soon as you hit the publish button.
Do expert roundups actually meet their goals? We’ll find out soon enough. However, if you have a long-term vision, you may want to scale success based on a few more results other than these three. (I’ll let you know more about them towards the end of this article.)
Will You Have Success Doing Expert Roundups?
Maybe. It all depends on if you can positively answer these questions:
- Are expert roundups overdone in your niche?
- Are there enough experts in your niche to reach out to?
- Do the experts you’re reaching out to have a strong following base?
- Is an expert roundup going to bring more leads?
- Can you turn the new visitors into profitable leads?
There are no definite answers. If you decide that an expert roundup is what your website needs, then an expert roundup you shall publish.
Inbounder’s Discussion: Real Talk About Expert Roundups
Part of my research for this article was asking questions in as many SEO focused forums and groups as possible. Usually, it’s all fluff out there. Too many repeated questions and very similar answers. However, on Inbound, the answers had real value to them. Down below are a few quotes and the full discussion is here.
Rebekah Scheiman, MadWire
The genius in an expert roundup is not that it’s a collection of different experts sharing their opinion on a question. Rather, it’s that it’s a creative way that someone found to deliver insane value to their customers. However, marketers tend to be quick to shift from “I want to deliver insane value to my customers” to “I want a quick hack that has given others a boost.” As soon as that mindset shifts, the metrics for expert roundups will sag.
Sidenote: Rebekah’s full answer on Inbound will blow your mind!
Brian Lang, WebDevelopersETC
Expert roundups aren’t much different than any other type of content. If the quality is good, then that’s what causes them to get repeatedly re-shared and linked to after the participants originally share it. The challenge is to create something high quality and a lot of it has to do with asking the right question and including the right people. They require more work than a typical article because you have to find and coordinate outreach, but the plus is that they can be authoritative and get a good amount of shares if done properly. Most of the roundups I see though don’t really stand out and aren’t optimized to drive SEO traffic. Roundups behave just like any article you create. If they don’t get ongoing traffic from social or SEO, people will stop seeing and sharing it.
SEO your expert roundups so that they have as much benefit as any other blog post you publish. Otherwise, they’ll just be dead weight. No one wants dead weight on their blog.
Patrick Coombe, Elite-Strategies(dot)com
Recently I started asking people not to link to my agency, I’m worried in a few years all these links are going to be devalued etc and I don’t want my agency to suffer. In the past, Google has identified types of content (footer links, guest posts, etc) and either completely devalued them (meaning the links aren’t counted) or penalized the sites that use them as a tactic. Meaning let’s say I respond to 100 expert roundup posts and in each of my answers, it says “works for Elite Strategies” with a link to my site. If Google (1, 2, 5 years later) decides to penalize them I’m really screwed. But I’m a conservative when it comes to linkbuilding for my own properties so you have to take my advice with a grain of salt.
If you can’t see Patrick’s point, you don’t know how Big G has the ability to ruin everything about we know about SEO in a second. They did that in 2013, and they are happy to do it again if it means more money to them.
Expert Roundup Research Results: Houston, We Have A Problem!
To be an actual SEO, you need to have actual data.
That’s what I decided to go for.
It is probably obvious that I don’t have the budget to collect data from millions of search keywords. Because of this, I’ll be using BuzzSumo, Ahrefs, SimilarWeb and the power of Google (since it is always free) to the maximum.
I picked the most shared expert roundups that were published sometime during the last 6 months (as of writing my draft) via BuzzSumo.
To do so, I used the keyword “expert roundup” (with the quotes as a search operator) and selected five articles from five different websites.
(I understand that not all roundups use those that keyword in their title. But I can’t be too choosy with my limited resources. I encourage you to try out new articles and analyze them. Let me know what your results show.)
I put each of them into Ahrefs to find out more about each one of them in terms of backlinks and search engine rankings.
Expert Roundup Topic Date Published (2017) Experts Included Total Shares - Buzzsumo Total Backlinks - Ahrefs Total Organic Keywords - Ahrefs Top Ranking Position - Ahref Ecommerce Hacks May 30 3.6k 19 (5 domains) 10 34 Web Design Trends June 13 1.4k 4 (2) 5 24 Growth Hacking Tools July 7 830 20 (10) 23 26 Marketing Challenges August 45 1.5k 55 (22) 10 62 Online Courses and Coding August 7 1.3k 6 (4) 14 55
It is clear that these pages aren’t showing up on the search engine results page (SERP)s’ first two pages. Their backlink profile is pretty poor compared to the number (and potential influence) of the “experts” included in these roundups.
One other thing I noticed is that all five expert roundups have something to do with online marketing and business.
This is not surprising, as most people who know about the possible pros of conducting such roundups are people who live and breathe online marketing and are all over the SEO world.
Understanding the Problem
The expert roundups analyzed might not be the best sample to determine whether this content strategy is beneficial or not. But if five articles have the same issue, we can definitely talk about a pattern that’s most likely found in others.
These pages get a high amount of shares. Therefore, we can assume that they went viral within the community not too long after they were published. After all, it’s not often that you see share numbers of 1000-plus for articles that don’t include scandals or cute cat pictures.
You can easily notice a pattern here: the traffic numbers don’t change that much after publishing an expert roundup.
The backlink profile for each of these pages is not that good either.
Then you see that these roundups aren’t ranking in the results for relevant keywords at all.
While we assume that expert roundups get large traffic numbers, backlinks and high rankings, the data we have here shows the opposite. There are no huge traffic spikes after publishing the article.
The number of backlinks is relatively small, and they aren’t ranking for any important keyword.
I’m fairly certain that they are just dead weight and they no longer drive any traffic, except if someone is actively looking for content where experts share their tips and tricks about something. Otherwise, there is probably no reason for that content to exist.
What’s the point of publishing an article on your website if it’s not bringing any good traffic?
The issue here, much like Brian Lang said above, is an expert roundup doesn’t get as much on-page optimization or link building as they should.
Bloggers feel intimidated to add any stylistic touches on their roundups because that’s not mentioned in the expert roundup blueprint they downloaded.
And they barely build any links for such content, because why would they? It’s not like they haven’t done the outreach already.
Therefore, a traditional expert roundup fails to deliver on two of three goals it tries to reach. Until you consider the following.
Alternative Motives For Expert Roundups
Going viral is good, but it only lasts a few days until the momentum dies. You need to consider other positive reasons for publishing a roundup that will benefit your online business.
If you are struggling to come up with other objectives, let me help you out:
Right out of the gate, an expert roundup is a great way to connect with people in your niche. If you have just launched your blog, you also need to establish connections with other bloggers in your niche; you want to get on their radar.
When you reach out to them to collaborate, you immediately say “I’m here to stay.”
Don’t stop at, “Would you contribute?” Go beyond that and show your interest in what they have to say.
Their answer to your roundup question is an opening to a conversation they might be willing to have, especially if you have more insight to give.
Even if you don’t have anything to say, a personalized “thank you” email wouldn’t hurt. After you publish the article, reach out and thank them again.
Further, keep them updated on your collaboration and make sure they come out as winners!
Here’s what survey participants said about staying in touch with the experts they included in their roundups:
Start branding with an expert roundup. It is important for anyone, business or individual, to think of branding as one of the most successful marketing techniques that have ever existed.
Not only that, but the recent Ranking Factors Study by SEMRush shows that brands get a slight advantage in search engine visibility. Nothing directly, but the advantage is there.
It’s important to note that the SEO community is still torn on whether Google is using branding signals as part of their ranking algorithm. There is an argument that any brand getting more visibility is due to their high rankings, and not vice-versa.
Building Your Email List
Your expert roundup will bring a lot of new visitors to your blog. Therefore, you need to make them regular blog visitors. With a few incentives (in forms of freebies), you can grow a nice email list of active readers.
More often than not, a blogger would miss out on the opportunity to add a lead magnet to their roundup. Without a lead magnet, hundreds of visitors will come to read their favorite experts’ tips and never come back.
But if you had the same roundup summarized with actionable tips on a PDF, then congrats! You have just won more subscribers.
I asked Shane Barker about one of his latest expert roundups. As it turns out, he saw a significant increase in subscribers around the time he published that post. Here’s what the survey results say so far:
Growing Your Business
Roundups don’t just attract readers, but prospective clients as well.
You’d normally be reaching out via email or LinkedIn to business owners, but if the “list of tips” post you just published is exactly what a possible client is looking for, you might have won them over without outreach.
This doesn’t mean that you’ll get thousands of clients right away. A handful is enough to get the ball rolling for a brand new website.
Actually, this could be how you land your very first clients. And with their satisfaction, gratitude, and most importantly word of mouth, your business will keep on growing.
No, not to your expert roundup.
I really don’t think enough bloggers naturally add backlinks to roundups, but they do link to other guides and helpful articles that they didn’t know existed before.
Your expert roundup shouldn’t be where a visitor stops. It’s what they landed on, but that shouldn’t be where they drop off.
With interlinking, relevant widgets and clean user experience, a blogger may decide to check out a few more of your content pieces. They can find something they’ve been looking for on your website and return the favor by linking your post.
It may be a long shot, but it’s worthwhile.
Secret Recipe For A Successful Expert Roundup
Remember when I said that expert roundups are time-consuming and chances of them actually working aren’t optimistic?
Well, there is a way around that. And apparently, it works every time!
But first, I’d like to quote Nikolay Stoyanov for what an actually good, well-thought-out expert roundup is:
“(An expert roundup is) one of the most powerful ways to get initial brand exposure, traffic, links and sometimes even leads.”
Sidenote: an expert roundup Nikolay has published about Penguin Penalty has gained a link from Ahrefs. Not too bad, is it now?
8 Important Ingredients for a Better Expert Roundup
I’ll let Gareth Daine take the wheel for this one
Expert roundups are overdone. That said, they can still be an effective strategy. If you’re planning on producing a roundup as part of an ongoing SEO and growth strategy, you have to follow some critical
practices to stand out.
Your roundup has to be the best-in-class post there is on the topic.
It has to be quality, both in informational/actionable terms, but also in how it is presented and structured
People have to leave the page thinking.
Wow! The advice and strategies outlined in that post are fantastic, and I can implement them right away.
It also has to be well-written.
Excellent grammar, spelling, copywriting etc.
2. Well-Known Contributors
If you’re going to do a roundup, make sure you get quality contributors on board. Even if this means that your roundup will be short (see point #3).
The quality and influence of the contributor are more important than the quantity of contributors.
Do you think someone like Brian Dean wants to be included and associated with a roundup full of unknown ‘experts’?
No! Of course not.
This has to be something that an influencer will want to put his name to.
It will also encourage them to share it far and wide if they’re amongst good company.
3. Manageable Length
I’ve seen roundups (and written them) where they have hundreds of contributors.
No one is going to read through 16,000 words of ‘expert’ advice.
Instead of going for quantity, go for quality.
Anywhere between 7 and 17 contributions is more than enough. Especially, if you’ve followed step #2.
4. Set a Minimum Contribution Length
There’s nothing worse than reading a roundup where many, or even a few, of the contributors, have literally written 3 or 4 words.
Set a minimum contribution word and paragraph count, and try to get a Tweetable quote from them (you can now use 280 characters).
You want substance for your contributions. Advice and tips that people can put into action.
5. Quality Images
Make sure you get quality, personal images of each contributor.
Grainy, poor quality images or logos of companies are bad.
We’ve all done it, but now it’s time to step your game up.
You want your roundup to look amazing.
6. Write an Appealing Headline
Instead of the standard ‘105 Experts Share Their Secrest to SEO Success’ type titles you see everywhere, go for something more benefit driven.
Try to capture the essence of why the user would benefit from the advice in the post. What problem does it solve?
7. Write a Quality Introduction to the Subject
You’re going to want to write a quality introduction to the subject.
You’ll need to hook the reader in the first paragraph and make them want to read on.
Why is your roundup so much better than the countless others out there.
8. Create Something New
My final tip would be to use a technique I developed called the ‘Expert Expanded List Post’.
This is a combination of an expanded list post and an expert roundup.
Write a compelling, actionable and useful list on a given topic and intersperse your contributions throughout the content.
Try to place relevant contributions next to each list item.
Back to you, Youness!
Before we move, I’d like to thank Gareth Daine for his lengthy and valuable contribution to the article! I’m sure these tips will help make you, the reader, ready to produce a high-quality expert roundup that actually brings more value to your audience.
Let’s keep going!
Don’t DIY Your Next Roundup!
You don’t always have to do everything yourself. There are people who enjoy doing the work for you! When it comes to expert roundups, there are people who will definitely get the job done for you with the maximum return on your investment.
Minuca’s track record is beyond impressive.
Chances are you have already read an expert article she put together, whatever your niche might be.
Her roundups get a maximum number of shares and traffic. She has been doing this for years now and she has your best interest in mind.
Udit recently launched his new expert roundup service to the public. While I still don’t have the best idea on the success of his launch, I know Udit isn’t a marketing expert that lets down his clients. In fact, he’s just released his own expert roundup, which includes Brian Dean among many others.
Quick plugin: I’m also part of the roundup that discusses e-commerce SEO. There is a ton of value offered for free and you should definitely check it out, especially if you are competing with a big e-commerce site.
I’M NOT AFFILIATED WITH EITHER ONE OF THEM! I only mention their services because they do work!
Final Tips from SEO and Marketing Experts:
My initial goal was to work on my own expert roundup before I dug myself into this hole. However, I still managed to find a few experts to give their insight.
In the same survey, I asked:
What is your best advice for someone working on an expert roundup today?
Sidenote: whether you have published an expert roundup, or you just want to share your knowledge, you can still participate in the survey and I may use your answers when I update this article. It’ll only take you a minute and I highly encourage you to do so. Click here to answer the questions.
Here’s what the others have said:
Marcus Svensson, Albacross
Despite a good question which will bring value and satisfy your website visitors’ needs, you should also think carefully about how to obtain a ‘yes’ from the experts for your round-up. I recommend focussing your attention first of all on those experts who have already participated in round-ups before. This will give you high chances for a positive response. But the most useful way to obtain an expert for your round-up (and not only) is building the relationships for at least a few months before even planning it. It can be following the expert on social media, develop conversations in comments, etc.
Minuca Elena, Minuca Elena
“Don’t use for outreach a template that you find on the internet. The influencers that you are contacting have received that template lots of time and are sick of it. It’s much better to be original.”
Take it from the expert!
I never advise using a set template. I understand that reaching out to hundreds of bloggers is time-consuming, and personalizing emails is an even harder task, but that doesn’t mean that you should be lazy and not customize an email.
You’re asking for 5 minutes of your contributor’s time, so spend 5 minutes on the email you send to them.
Dennis Hamming, Content Hourlies
“Connect with the people in your niche first, don’t just scrape the web and contact total strangers. This will increase the chance of them giving you a shoutout on Facebook or Twitter. Also, make sure to build a web presence first. If your blog is brand new the chance of those ‘influencers’ linking back to you is very small.”
Dennis makes a fair point, actually.
Although most bloggers use expert roundups as part of their blog launch, the success of this roundup (on a bigger scale) requires having a bigger audience already in place. Also, connecting with the contributors before and after the roundup is important.
Fred Harrington suggests commenting on their blog posts, following and retweeting them on Twitter and any other possible way that isn’t intrusive.
Udit Goenka, ExpertRoundups
“Ensure to follow your contributors on different social media platform and try to get noticed before pitching them for their contribution. Also, it’s crucial to develop a good bonding and relationship with them. Remember, if anyone says no, it means no for that time. Finally, follow up, follow up, follow up and keep following up!”
There is a reason why everyone emphasizes on building a relationship with influencers before pitching anything to them; an expert roundup is one excuse to build that relationship. Treat the expert roundup as the means, not the end.
It’s not always difficult to get experts to share their opinion. What’s difficult is making sure they do so before a deadline.
Your experts may have a lot on their plate, and contributing to your roundup is definitely getting lost in the mix.
When you follow up a few times before the deadline, you will draw more attention. I’ve mentioned above that it’ll take you weeks to get all the answers, and this is why.
Ben Sailer, CoSchedule Blog
“Focus on the value you can provide your audience. Be strategic about who you include in your roundup (and who you promote it toward). In short, be smart and do roundups because they’re the best content you can create, to get the best information in front of as many people as possible. Get that right, and the SEO benefits will come as a natural byproduct of doing good marketing.”
If this is how you work on your expert roundup, then you are creating evergreen content that’ll keep getting found online.
It’s better to do it this way rather than to just put together a roundup on whether “the dress is blue or gold.”
That cringe feeling you just got in the pit of your stomach; do you understand how old that reference is? I bet you there is a roundup about it somewhere!
Adarsh M, Blogging Ideas
“Before inviting people to the roundup, find out what type of experts you need in your roundup. If you publish the link inviting to the roundup on social media, you may not get the right experts. So, if the roundup is related to a specific topic where you need experts, then make a list of experts and outreach them via email. If the roundup is related to a general topic, you can invite anyone who is interested in the roundup.”
If you have the wrong experts, you won’t have a successful roundup.
Adarsh’s concern is with the people you attract with an open invitation roundup. Not everyone knows what they’re doing, and self-acclaimed “experts” are lurking everywhere.
Nick Leffler, The Online Presence Blog
“Get A LOT of expert feedback and weed through it for the absolute best and make sure it’s presented blended into a more cohesive story rather than just puked up onto a page with no rhyme or reason.”
The reason why I had doubts about expert roundups in the first place is because of how they are presented. As Nick says, most of the time, roundups are quotes thrown together on a list with no direction. I quickly lose interest in those!
Doc Sheldon, Intrinsic Value SEO
“Select high-interest, technical topics and only include prominent experts. Better to have 2 or 3 well-known professionals that 25-50 people nobody has ever heard of.”
While many advise to include as many experts as possible, Doc Sheldon’s perspective is quite the opposite (and interesting).
Using 50 experts means a lot of possible shares and traffic, but that also means that the two or three actual experts included in the roundup will get lost in the mix, and you can’t highlight them or you end up devaluing every other expert included.
Brandon Hopkins, DiamondLinks
“For publishing, I always like to streamline the submissions with a Google Form. That allows you to receive all of the information in a spreadsheet and format within the spreadsheet and copy into WordPress. Most of the time people don’t link to the post but many will share it on social media, myself included.”
Thank you, Brandon, for this advice. It actually helped me to get more people interested in this article while I was researching it. Too bad it was a bit later in the process, but it did help nonetheless.
Rand Fishkin, Moz
I mean, there is no way this article would be complete without including Rand’s WhiteBoard Friday. The video (linked below), which discusses expert roundups, is one of the many reasons why I have decided to work on this.
It is also one of the best go-to resources to come up with new ways of using expert roundups in a creative way.
I suggest you watch the whole video below (full transcript here) and try to figure out which of the alternatives makes more sense to you, both in terms of what you can do and what your audience deserves.
That sweet spot between the two is something to always consider, actually!
This article is not to say that expert roundups are not worth the trouble. Rather, it’s to show that we should reconsider our expectations from expert roundups.
If we look at expert roundups from a different angle, we can make ensure benefits from them more than we could before.
Let me know what you think in the comments down below!