By: Ryan Miller

The end of 2011 is quickly approaching, and with it comes the plethora of aggregated content touting “Best of” lists and the “Year in Review”.  If you have a website that is current events focused, whether that be local news coverage, reviews of new releases in media (movies, TV, music, video games, etc) or updates on a professional or personal field of interest you will have content perfect for compiling for current and new readers alike. 

But what lists should you start with and how can you optimize your content so that it can be found by searchers? You can find all that you need right at your fingertips from the search engines.  Using auto suggest terms via Google, Google News and Bing will provide some great topics that people may be interested in.  Start typing in “2011 Year in Review” “2011 Top” or “Best of 2011” and you’ll be presented with an eclectic assortment of ideas to get your mind tingling with content ideas. 

Don’t forget you can have a little bit of fun here as well with “Worst of” or “Bottom 10” lists, which can certainly spark an emotional reaction among your readers and is always good for sharing.  For bloggers that may publish about more personal topics or don’t fit neatly into a “Best of” review, think about compiling content that might bring newer readers to some of your older content.  If you publish a photography blog for instance, put together a selection of your best photos from the year so that readers can be exposed to your full body of work.

Once you have a few topics you’ll want to sculpt your title and content.  Make sure that your actual post headline contains the topic idea you are targeting near the beginning of the headline and as one unbroken keyword phrase, such as “2011 Top 10 Video Games”.  The summary content that you write about for each piece within this post should be unique, do not just copy and paste a paragraph from a previously published older article.  Think about adding reflective thoughts, mentioning update information that may not have been available at the time the original post was written and similar-themed ideas.  Add a link to the original content on your website if it is available so readers can find more details about your selections.  You should encourage your readers to submit their own lists in the comments, with a potential follow-up post highlighting a few readers.

As you’re writing your content, and to make your post standout from other websites that may be covering similarly compiled lists, consider giving an item that should deserve the number 1 or 2 slot a much lower ranking or leaving that choice off the list completely.  This may invoke your readers to leave comments about your choices, share the content within their online social circles and offer up some additional linkbaiting incentive.  For instance, using our “2011 Top 10 Video Games” as a reference, you could leave off the very popular Modern Warfare 3.    As a fair warning though, tread lightly in this area, as you don’t want to be seen as out of touch with your area of expertise. 

Once you’ve published your content, you can do some internal linkbuilding to help with some initial keyword targeting. Promote the content on your homepage, and go back to your older posts that are now featured in your list and add a link notating that it made your Best Of selection, using the topic’s full title as your linked anchor text. Also, be sure to get your new content into your social media channels as soon as possible.  This kind of content is ripe for sharing and can generate some great discussion on your website and your social properties!

Ryan Miller is the SEO Manager for Advance Digital, and provides best practice techniques for improving your search visibility. You can follow him on Twitter @cromiller and add him to your circles on Google+.