How To Better Crowdsource Your Next Post

Crowdsourcing interests me for many reasons, not the least of which is that it’s a great way to get multiple people to promote content (yes, I’m always thinking about that.) Some of my favorite evergreen content pieces have been crowdsourced and I’ve noticed that when I search to see what’s recently been said about specific topics, those pieces still appear at the top of the SERPs.


With that in mind, I thought I’d ask a few SEOs to fill out a quick survey, with the questions being listed below:

1. What are your thoughts on crowdsourced pieces? Does it make you think that the author is being slack and taking a shortcut by asking everyone else’s opinions, or do you think that it adds more value to what could be a one-sided post?

2. What factors do you take into consideration when deciding which people you’ll ask to contribute?

3. What causes YOU to contribute to a crowdsourced post request?

4. What would cause you to immediately reject the chance to contribute?

5. What’s your favorite crowdsourced post and why?

For my people of interest, I grabbed a quick list of SEO contacts that I trust and took a small random selection of them to email. Since I love crowdsourced pieces (both contributing to and consuming) I thought I’d get a quick overview of how others feel about them. The results were exactly what I was hoping for.

44.4% of respondents love crowdsourced pieces. No one hates them or thinks the author is just being a slack ass (I was honestly worried about that one.) 55.6% think they add value to what would have been a one-sided piece.

What makes a person decide whom to ask: 100% said that they’d ask people who are subject matter experts. Only one person said they’d ask a person just because he or she participated before.

What causes you to accept the offer to participate: 76.9% said that they’d do it if the person asking was nice. Only 15.4% said they’d do it just for the link. 46.2% said they’d accept if the subject matter was interesting, 30.8% said they’d do it if the subject matter was controversial, and 46.2% said they’d do it if the topic had not been covered to death. 23.1% also said they’d do it if they had nothing else to do. (I like those guys. Boredom is a great motivator.)

What would cause you to say no immediately: 58.3% said they’d decline if the person asking “is an idiot.” Good. That’s my main reason for declining. 25% said they’d decline if they didn’t know the person asking, and the same amount said they’d decline if the subject had been covered to death recently. 16.7% said they’d decline if there were either typos in the email and 33.3% said they’d decline if the person addressed them by the wrong name. I’d add my two cents into those two reasons myself.

Favorite crowdsourced posts: got multiple votes also got multiple votes (I’d add my vote here as well)

The interesting bit about the favorites though? Most people didn’t remember one or didn’t have the link to hand. What does that say?    Obviously bias will be a factor and all of those three posts mentioned contained responses from my survey respondents. We may pay closer attention when we’re a part of something, no?

My absolute favorite crowdsourced piece is Rae Hoffman-Dolan’s annual Link Building With The Experts series. As a link builder, it’s awesome to read what everyone has to say each year, as these are serious experts and I am humbled to have been included this past year. As I said, I also added my vote to Jon Cooper’s piece (and I’ve used it in a presentation as well) because it’s massive, it’s fascinating, and it is full of responses from people that I respect the hell out of. Alessio’s music piece was fantastic because it was DIFFERENT, and because I’m obsessed with music. The chance to see what everyone else listens to was quite cool even though Bill Sebald did list “Cherry Pie” by Warrant and I find that almost completely unacceptable. Sean’s interview piece was incredibly well done (like all his stuff) and quirky. Gaz’s post was mentioned for the reason “because of the sheer scale of it.” As you can see, these posts have something in common: they’re different from all the other stuff out there. They include both industry “names” and people who aren’t as well-known (yet.)

So based on this how can you better do crowdsourced posts?

1. Be nice, as people are more likely to respond to you if you’re not an asshole or an idiot.

2. Make your topic interesting/controversial/not-totally-overdone.

3. If you’ve never interacted with someone, don’t expect them to immediately rush to participate. I’m not saying that you should only ask your friends of course, but generally speaking, if your first interaction is “hey can you do something for me?” it’s not going to go well.

4. Make sure you’re addressing the correct recipient or you could do what I did, which is lump them all into “People of Interest” which, thank God, didn’t seem to offend anyone. Check for typos. I might answer some questions for a post about the best rarebit but not about the best rabbit. Well…I might answer that one too actually. It’s Blazer Taco, MY rabbit.

Blazer Taco, rabbit of destruction

5. Time it so that you’re asking people when there’s not a lot going on. For example, if Google has just unleashed another crippling algorithmic update and people are crying online, don’t send them an email asking if they want to answer 10 questions about their favorite Moz post from last year. Actually don’t ever write a post asking that question.

Thanks to everyone who contributed. I’m not sure who you all are as I can’t see who responds, but thanks.





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7 Responses to “How To Better Crowdsource Your Next Post”

  1. Alessio says:

    Thanks all who voted the #seomusic post! proud of it! :)

    I mean, yeah…some people really listen to bad music , but what could I have done? not publish them? :D

    When it comes to music the important thing is: listen to it. No matter what (I mean, it matters if we have to become friends but still….)

    thanks again for this!

  2. Julie Joyce says:

    You could have listened to Cherry Pie and realized it was not fit for public consumption, but then you’d be a snob and that isn’t you…so you did the right thing. Bill should be ashamed though.

  3. Gaz Copeland says:

    Hey Julie,

    Thanks for the mention in this post, the “SEO in 2013″ post was the first crowd sourced piece I’d done on my blog since it was launched in Jan 2012. I really wanted to sign off the 1st year with something epic and (by my standards) I think I totally achieved that thanks to the 30 people who gave up their time to respond.

    I actually learned a who lot in going through the process, first off all it’s no short cut! I never would have realised how much time goes into putting something like this together, after all it’s just a copy and past job right? Wrong! I probably spent 10 – 12 hours on it in total. Plus Shelli who put the images together spent quite a bit of time doing that too.

    I still think Jon was is the crowd source king actually and he and Alessio were definitely an inspiration for me to have a go at doing something myself.


  4. Alessio says:

    Thanks Gaz.

    I like to inspire people. Actually you can call me “inspirator” or “inspirer” it depends from which part of UK you are.

  5. Steve says:

    I love crowdsourcing content! It is a great way to start to generate interest in your website, especially when you are starting out.

    You’ve got some great ideas in here Julie! Consider it shared!

  6. [...] A face in the crowd. Sometimes the best way to move your business forward lies with your audience or customer base. The people who buy your product or use your service are probably best equipped to tell you what they need next. Blogger Julie Joyce suggests this same crowdsourcing approach can work well for creating your content and telling your company’s story. Here Joyce takes a poll to see what other Search Engine Optimization professionals think of crowdsourcing content. SEO Chicks [...]

  7. We’ve had some good successes with crowdsourced posts, and I respond to a lot of them (when I have time — although I miss an equal amount because I just can’t respond by the deadline).

    A couple of thoughts:

    (1) I’m much more likely to bookmark such a post and refer to it, if it is on a really useful topic and is actionable. Such as best Twitter tips, best unusual linking tips, best free publicity tips, etc. Favorite music … not so much.

    (2) Make it a really long list – like 50 or 100. There are so many list posts today, that I’m no longer impressed by 7 or 10. A shame, really, that list post “inflation” has kicked in so badly.

    (3) Turn it into a PDF, also. People will download it for years. For some people that is an easier way to keep track than via a link.

    - Anita

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