17 Content Formats That Make Building A Content Strategy Easy-ier

I unpack 17 content formats that will make building your content strategy easier. Using them will cut through confusion during planning. Applying them to any broad topic will help you rank faster.

By Ryan Carruthers

March 16, 2024

I love the Formats Unpacked newsletter. People share interesting series they come across, like The Boiler Room dance parties and the Is It Cake? phenomenon.

It made me think, “What formats do I have in my content marketing work?” 

The classic SEO articles all follow well-known formats.

  • “Top 10 tips for X”
  • “5 Best Practices for Y”
  • “Checklist for Z”
  • Need I go on?

We all know them. 

Using these formats will make it easy to quickly spin up content clusters for whatever topic you’re trying to rank for. 

Also, making these content formats explicit made me think of more advanced formats for brand-building content.

Let’s dig into both.

Want To Grow Traffic, But Not Sure What To Write? Use These 17 Formats

In any SEO content strategy, these are the most used formats:

Basic Formats

Format Title


Example Title

Ultimate Guide

Complete coverage of a topic, serving as a comprehensive resource.

"The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing Strategies"

Tools/ Software

Insights on specific tools/software, detailing features and benefits.

“Top 10 Photo Editing Software”


Clear explanations of key terms or concepts to ensure understanding.

"What Is Blockchain?"

Importance/ Benefits

Discussion on the significance and advantages of a topic, emphasizing its value.

"The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership"

How-to Guide

Step-by-step instructions for achieving a specific task or goal.

"How to Start a Successful Blog: A Step-by-Step Guide"

Differences (X vs Y)

Comparison between two or more things, highlighting distinctions.

"Differences Between SEO and SEM"

Best Practices/ Strategies

Proven methods and recommendations for success in a specific area.

"Best Practices for Project Management"


Real-world instances to illustrate concepts, aiding comprehension.

"Examples of Investment Strategies"


Exploration of different categories within a subject to understand variations.

"Different Types of Renewable Energy Source"

Mistakes to Avoid

Identification of common errors or pitfalls to prevent costly missteps.

" Common Grammar Mistakes to Avoid in Business Writing"


Generation of creative concepts or solutions related to a topic.

"10 Innovative Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses"

Stages/ Cycle

Description of phases involved in a process, often in chronological order.

"The Product Development Cycle: From Ideation to Launch"


Highlighting current or emerging patterns or developments within an industry.

"Technology Trends Shaping the Future of Healthcare"

Studies/ Statistics

Presentation of research findings or statistical analysis on a subject.

"Climate Change: Recent Studies and Statistics"


Identification of obstacles or issues in a field.

"10 Remote Work Management Challenges and How To Overcome Them"


Provision of items or tasks for completeness or compliance in a context.

"Event Planning Checklist"

Template/ Sample

Offering pre-designed formats or examples for various tasks.

"Resume Template: Crafting Your Professional Profile"


These formats are the building blocks of your content strategy

Take whatever topic you want to rank for— be it mentorship or grant writing— and generate titles based on each of these formats.


Let’s try it using the mentorship example


Example Title

Ultimate Guide

"The Ultimate Guide to Effective Mentorship Programs"

Tools/ Software

"Exploring Mentorship Platforms: Features and Benefits"


"Mentorship Defined: Understanding Roles and Responsibilities"

Importance/ Benefits

"Unlocking Potential: The Benefits of Mentorship in Career Growth"

How-to Guide

"How to Find and Build a Meaningful Mentorship Partnership"

Differences (X vs Y)

"Group Mentorship vs. One-on-One: Choosing the Right Approach"

Best Practices/ Strategies

"Implementing Mentorship Programs: Best Practices for Success"


"Mentorship Success Stories: Learning from Real-Life Examples"


"Exploring Different Models of Mentorship: From Traditional to Reverse"

Mistakes to Avoid

"Common Mistakes in Mentorship and How to Overcome Them"


"Virtual Mentorship: Leveraging Technology for Remote Guidance"

Stages/ Cycle

"The Mentorship Journey: From Introduction to Graduation"


"The Future of Mentorship: Adapting to Changing Work Environments"

Studies/ Statistics

"Mentorship Impact: Research Insights and Statistical Trends"


"Addressing Challenges in Cross-Cultural Mentorship"


"Mentorship Program Checklist: Ensuring Program Success"

Template/ Sample

"Mentorship Agreement Template: Formalizing Mentorship Terms"

Boom. Here’s your content calendar for the next month. Create and link all that content together, and you’ll have a fair shot at ranking in this domain. 

That’s what I did at Together Software, and it 5X’ed their traffic


Create a content cluster for each topic you want to rank for

By linking them together, I mean building a content cluster.

Content Cluster from formats
Create articles for each content format and then link them all to the "Ultimate Guide."

This may seem elementary, but when you’re tasked with creating a content strategy, this will give you a good place to start.

Which Formats Should You Prioritize?

I’m glad you asked. 

If you’re trying to rank for a broad topic, you may need all of them. 

But if you find a nice low-difficult-high-traffic keyword in your SEO tools, you may need only one. Most often, a simple “Definitional” post will work for really low-hanging fruit on the keyword tree. 

But if you have limited bandwidth, start with the topics that are more likely to make you money— or conversions.


The money-making topics

Of the 17 formats shared above, the bottom-of-funnel ones are:

  • Tools/software
  • Checklist
  • Template/Sample
Create the bottom-of-funnel content format first as it will be the content that actually converts
Create the bottom-of-funnel content format first as it will be the content that actually converts

These topics will be the ones that get you leads (by downloading your checklist, templates or samples) or drive to your product pages (by seeing your tool at the top of the tool/software list).


Educational Topics

Creating conversion-focused content is a great start, but it won’t generate a lot of traffic immediately. 

While you’re waiting for that content to rank, start creating educational content. This content includes:

  • How-to Guides
  • Best Practices/Strategies
  • Examples
  • Types
  • Mistakes to Avoid
  • Studies/Statistics

This middle-of-funnel content will educate your audience and give you an opportunity to redirect readers to your conversion content.

Educational content is more middle-of-funnel. It may not drive conversions, but it will drive traffic.
Educational content is more middle-of-funnel. It may not drive conversions, but it will drive traffic.

Once you create the educational content, tackle the rest of the topics (if you think you need to in order to rank) and then wrap it all up into one large Ultimate Guide

Then, spend an hour creating all the internal links, and you’re ready!

Bonus: Are There More Formats— Thought Leadership, Perhaps?

Ah, yes, I did mention advanced formats for brand-building content in the introduction.

At Instrumentl, we covered all the bases in our content marketing. In doing so, we wanted to expand beyond these foundational formats to things that were more creative.

To do that, I had to think creatively.

So, I read the whole archive of the Formats Unpack newsletter. And with that inspiration, I came up with this list.

Advanced Formats

Report Findings

Highlights a specific finding from a report, emphasizing its significance or implications.

"Unlocking the Future: Key Insights from a Tech Report"

Industry Changes

Discusses evolving trends within an industry and positions the entity as part of the change.

"Adapting to Digital Transformation: Trends in Retail"

Feature Spotlight

Showcases a particular feature on a platform, detailing its functionality and use cases.

"Enhance Your Workflow: Spotlight on Collaboration Tools"

Team Insights

Shares insights from internal experts on industry trends, challenges, or opportunities.

"Insights from Our Tech Team: Navigating AI Trends"

Guest Field Notes

Presents guest posts as field notes from industry experts, offering valuable perspectives.

"Field Notes from a Marketing Maven: Mastering Digital Marketing"

Unsolicited Consulting

Provides case studies on notable businesses, offering strategic recommendations.

"Transformative Strategies for Sustainable Growth: A Case Study Approach"

Platform Data Dive

Investigates interesting data from a platform, presenting insights or trends to the audience.

"Exploring User Behavior: Insights from Platform Analytics"

Web's Top Reads

Highlights must-read articles from the web relevant to the audience's interests or profession.

"Tech Enthusiasts' Reading List: Top Picks of the Month"

Strategy Breakdown

Analyzes successful business strategies through case studies, offering insights and lessons learned.

"Deconstructing Marketing Success: Strategies That Worked"

Strategy Quiz

Develops a quiz or assessment for readers to evaluate their business strategy knowledge and skills.

"Business Strategy Mastery: Test Your Knowledge with Our Quiz"


Presents information visually in an infographic format for easy understanding and retention.

"Visualizing Data Security: Key Components Infographic"

Myths Busted

Debunks common myths or misconceptions about a topic, providing accurate information.

"Demystifying Cloud Computing: Common Myths Debunked"

Expert Interview

Conducts an in-depth interview with a subject matter expert, providing valuable insights.

"Inside the Tech World: Interview with Industry Guru"

Community Survey

Conducts a survey within the community and shares the results, fostering engagement.

"Tech Enthusiasts Speak: Results of Our Community Survey"

Success Story

Narrates the journey of a business's success, inspiring others with lessons learned.

"From Idea to Market Leader: How One Startup Succeeded"

Report Findings

Highlights a specific finding from a report, emphasizing its significance or implications.

"Unlocking the Future: Key Insights from a Tech Report"


These formats are harder to pull off, and many don’t have an explicit keyword targeted behind them.

But they can be interesting topics to explore when you want to make a splash through your social channels or communities. 

Will You Use These Formats?

Listing out these content formats helped me prioritize my content strategies. Let me know if they helped you, too. 

And if you have any other content formats to share, you know where to find me.