Problogger has a great series of business case studies where they ask blog authors which were their most successful posts. Here's a quick summary of top posts and why:
Simple, but effective list
Leo Babauata from Zen Habits said his most popular blog post was "10 tasty, easy and healthy breakfast ideas." He was interviewed in 2009, and this one post received more than 500K views to date.
Another example: My daughter is doing a report on jellyfish. On Google images, we searched for a photo of a jellyfish eating a fish and used the term "jellyfish eating." The photo that came up was a blog post titled, "Ten Amazing Facts about Jellyfish."
Leo's success and the jellyfish post both echo what I've read a lot lately. Lists work.
Roundups and tutorials
Summarizing information and organizing it into a tutorial or roundup is another version of the list tactic. Vitaly Friedman from Smashing Magazine, a resource for Web designers, said his top post was "
The Search Engine Optimization tips for bloggers presentation I listened to recently, by Copyblogger's Brian Clark, said that the reason these types of posts are good is that people bookmark them. So an ideal tactic would be to create a step-by-step tutorial, or "best of" list, and then summarize all your posts onto one page for readers to bookmark, for themselves or on some kind of aggregate bookmarking service like Delicious.
Lead the pack on a timely news item
We do this in PR all the time: tie your client to a timely news hook. Duncan Riley from The Inquisitr, a celebrity news site, got more than 600K hits on his post, "Is American Idol’s Adam Lambert Gay? Is there really any question?"
In PR, we look for timely news hooks that apply to our clients. For example, I used to do PR for a bank. Doesn't sound exciting. But we always got the chief economist air time to comment on Fed announcements and other market news. News media, and now, your average Internet searcher, want to read commentary on hot news items and trends.