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The Anatomy of a Top Sweetcode.io Post

January 11, 2018 - Content Marketing, influencer content marketing, influencer management -
By: Chris Riley

Architecting and publishing great blog content is 40% art, 50% science, and 10% luck. The art, an author’s ability to speak to the nature and match the tone of the target reader, is a subjective skill that is generally enhanced by being part of the target audience. Luck has a lot to do with what is happening in the world, which is out of the publisher’s control, but can significantly impact the reception of content. In the tech space, things like major security exploits or new technology announcements can emerge at any time.

The science is the structure and the makeup of content, set up for success when art and luck align. While you can’t decide what content goes viral, you can learn a lot from content that has. Let’s look at the anatomy of four high-impact posts from Sweetcode.io and uncover the science that made them shine.

The science of the site

First, the forum where content is published matters. The science behind a media site or corporate blog has to align, and complement any content written for it. The principle of Sweetcode.io is simple—It’s 100% focused on tactics. By nature, no blatant advertising will get in the way of the site’s content. Essentially, Sweetcode.io distills the principles of good content and publishing of the content which we promote to our customers for their blogs.

These principles have shown the greatest impact in that all the content published on Sweetcode.io has a long life span. It might not go viral in one or two days, but long-tail visits occur three to 12 months into the future. There is a steady stream of traffic to all posts because their relevance is not related to recent news.

In 2017, the following four posts far exceeded average traffic, and continue to generate organic unique visits (our key measure) every month. Analysis of the posts is focused on how they are structured to succeed rather than the topic.

  1. Routing All Traffic through a VPN Gateway on Linux”: The key to this post’s success is that it has clear problem and solution language, which makes it a great candidate for a top search result on anything related to networking and Linux. This post is also appropriately shareable on other social sites where the same problem has been posted, such as Quora or Stack Overflow.
  2. Data Science from a Software Tester’s Perspective”: This post does a great job of tying two hot topics together and appealing to a real anxiety developers have—making sure they know what is coming from the world of Big Data and machine learning. This is the type of content someone won’t search for directly compared to the first example, but the topic and title are related, and interesting enough to encourage clicking to find out more.
  3. What Are All These Container Platforms, and What Do They Do?”: This post addresses anxiety and confusion the market has about a specific technology. Like the data science post, someone likely would be searching for information on containers and happen on this post which addresses a broader concern around the ecosystem of the technologies he or she is interested in.
  4. 3 Pros and Cons of Working with Docker Containers”: This post is also related to container technology, but it’s a framing post that helps technologists understand what they are getting into when embracing a new technology. Unlike a broader conceptual post, this is a post one might search for directly when wondering about the downside of Docker containers. But it’s also a post that can empower someone to enter a meeting with his or her team, and articulate concerns over and benefits of a technology.

Posts 1 and 4 share the elements of being discrete—and they discuss specific technology use cases. Posts 2, 3, and 4 are very shareable with broad audiences, and also address the conceptual as well as the tactical. They are timely and related to trending topics in the development space, but their value will last more than a few months. (As an example, “Routing All Traffic Through a VPN Gateway on Linux,” published in August of 2017, and the oldest of the four, is a top 5 post on Sweetcode every week!)

The takeaway

You can never pinpoint exactly how a blog post is going to perform, but at Fixate, we have a pretty good sense of what posts will engage more than others, because we apply a specific method that amplifies the art of the content, and follow a publishing schedule that increases the odds of good luck. All Sweetcode.io content is:

  1. Tactical
  2. Discrete
  3. Meaningful
  4. Clear
  5. Timely
  6. Relevant over time

We are proud of the success of Sweetcode as a way to demonstrate a repeatable and predictable means to run a growing blog for challenging audiences.


Chris Riley (@HoardingInfo) is a technologist who has spent 12 years helping organizations transition from traditional development practices to a modern set of culture, processes and tooling. In addition to being a research analyst, he is an O’Reilly author, regular speaker, and subject matter expert in the areas of DevOps strategy and culture. Chris believes the biggest challenges faced in the tech market are not tools, but rather people and planning.