This is a guest post by Gregory Ciotti.
So, your content marketing and blogging efforts are falling flat on their face, are they? Your posts must be terrible. They aren’t getting shared or read by anyone, so they must be garbage…
Or maybe you just don’t know how to catch people’s attention.
When it comes to creating highly popular, viral posts for marketing and blog promotion purposes, we all know that the cornerstone is amazing content and excellent information. We also all know the importance of getting traffic to our blogs in order to convert people over to subscribers and potential customers. That’s nothing new.But did you know that there are four ways to change your posts on-site to further fuel the viral fire?
Most likely, you are already writing awesome posts, and the only reason that they aren’t getting read is because nobody is enticed enough to click through.
Without a single additional guest post or traffic generating method, you can increase the virility of your blogs posts and content marketing efforts with the simplest of changes: what you name them.
Creating headlines that nobody can resist
The biggest change you can make on-site to get your posts to go viral is to make sure people are actually clicking on them.
That sounds basic, but so few bloggers and content marketers pay close attention to post titles when, in reality, it can be the most important part of the post … at least when it comes to getting people to read it.
Your headline is your first impression, and if you don’t get it right, people are going to pass over even the most excellent of content—all because you lost them at the start. As a blogger or an entrepreneur, it is time for you to stop letting that happen.
So what are the four best ways to structure your titles to ensure your posts go viral?
1. The “intrigue” style headline
This is the headline that makes people do a double take when they read it. That makes them wonder, “What is this guy/gal talking about? How can that even be possible?”
Intrigue is one of the most effective ways of creating a viral post.
A person reads a post of yours that contains an intriguing title, and it gets them to click through.
Hopefully, you’ve backed up the post title with some really rewarding content (more on this later), and they read all the way to the bottom. Nice!
Now they share your post on Twitter. That same post title which you used to lure them in is now being spread across social networks, making followers everywhere wonder what the heck this post is about. They click through, and they read to the end.
Do you see where I’m going with this? The point is, intriguing titles generate clicks, and once they are shared, they create even more buzz and interest as people head over to your blog to see what the heck it is you’re on about.
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2. The “finality” style headline
There are a few more great styles of headlines that generate similar levels of interest, beyond the “intrigue” style headline.
One of my favorites is the “finality” style headline. These are the headlines that consist of phrases like, “The Ultimate Guide,” or “The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need.”
Again, if you can deliver once a person has clicked, you’re almost guaranteed a share or a subscriber, because you’ve already conquered a huge part of the battle: getting the reader’s attention.
Using terms like “complete”, “ultimate”, and “essential” will inform a reader that hey, it’s okay that you passed on those other posts on this subject, because here is what you need to know.
The idea that they might be able to get everything they need from only your post is one of the most powerful forms of enticement in getting readers to click on your post. Again, when they read through and share it, your post title is already so dominant that people who see it will be hard-pressed to pass it up, and you’ll be primed for your post to go viral.
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3. The “topic + hype” style headline
This is one of the easiest styles to follow, and it is probably the best one for SEO and getting ranked in search engines for tough terms.
This style is literally as it is described: put the topic first, preferably optimized for popular search terms, and then hype the post with a description.
I did this exact thing on my guide for Facebook marketing, which targets that specific term, but gets people to click by giving a detailed example (that is, how I got 6,683+ Facebook fans).
Typically speaking, you are going to catch people’s attention with the topic, then guarantee the click with an exciting, descriptive line that is magnetic for clicks.
For instance, if I wrote an article about guest blogging, I could name it, “Guest Blogging: How I Got 1,000+ Subscribers From Nothing But Guest Posts.”
This aims to rank for the term guest blogging, shows readers what it’s about, and after the colon, builds excitement: people are going to wonder how I got 1,000 subscribers from nothing other than guest blogging, and will click through to find out.
Just make sure you deliver on the hype, or you’ll leave readers disappointed!
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4. The “list post” style headline
Ah, the infamous “list post.” A huge majority of the most viral posts are list posts, and it’s no wonder why: lists posts are easily browsed, enticing to read (because they guarantee order and a cohesive list), and the most shareable type of post in the blogosphere.
List posts subconsciously promise readers that they will be able to get through the post easily, and if not, they can bookmark and come back later, because hey, it’s an easy-to-follow list!
Lists posts are powerful both as posts on your own blog and for when you pursue guest blogging, because of this accessibility.
As an example, you are obviously reading a list post this very instant! I knew that readers of the ProBlogger blog would appreciate being able to browse my post just in case they didn’t want to make the full investment to read all the way through. I wrote it in the list style to make it more accessible to readers who haven’t heard of me before.
Rounding off your numbers seems to work well with list posts, especially when you get into bigger numbers: if you can, try to hit 10, 25, or 50, and if applicable, include the +, such as “25+ Ways To Guarantee People Will Love Your Next Guest Post.”
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Over to you
What is your favorite style of post to draw attention? What types of posts do you feel have the most “viral” potential? What is your favorite type to write on your own blog? How about for guest posts?
See you in the comments!
Gregory Ciotti owns Sparring Mind. Are you using WordPress in your content marketing efforts for your blog or business? You definitely need to check out Sparring Mind, the content marketing blog that shows you it doesn’t take a tech geek to build an amazing WordPress blog with outstanding content.
Great Post Gregory, I think I like the List Post Style Headlines, I think they Work For Me.
List and how to always work great.
This is the oldest trick and still working amazingly.
Most definitely Joseph, they are great because they let people know the post will be orderly and easy to follow.
Totally agree with you. However, for the 4th pointer, I find it not as effective as couple years back.
I believe that it is being overused. Whenever i saw tweet with that kind of title, I will think about something that is being repeated all over again.
What do you think?
May be you have used it quite many times thats why you are thinking in that manner but this one is still working great
I agree Helmi, the list post isn’t as dynamite as it used to be, but it still works regardless of age. Another thing I’ve noticed is that “mega” list posts (50+) don’t seem to have been affected, as long as the post itself is informative.
People love lists, you just have to mix it up to keep things fresh.
Very good blog post to read for sure. I can related to number 4 for sure. I create a few lists type of blog pages that tend to be my highest viewed pages almost daily. Of course my job is to make sure the lists i created are continually updated or the visitors will get the feeling i don’t maintain anything on my blog.
A lot of people try to copy off other bloggers who create lists and think they will get the same amount of exposure or traffic as the original blog post. It doesn’t happen that way and of course copying someones blog post without proper linkback is just wrong. I’ve ran into this issue before and working on getting some stuff of mine removed from someones blog.
Linkbait is the way to get the viral thing going on. :p (I just woke up 20 minutes ago and need my coffee still)
Derek you know the secrets how you can keep your old posts alive even after months and years.
Many bloggers failed at this.
Copying is definitely not the way to go.
You can use other posts as inspiration, but only an original list will have a good reach, you definitely have got that right.
Great tips! My only suggestion is to add a pain point model. How (whatever you are pitching) makes (problem your audience has) go away.
That’s more of a sales letter type set up but I find those convert really well as regular blog posts. And I find that when you are pitching something that isn’t from your company it leads to a lot of subscribers. For example – I run a content writing firm but when I guest post I might talk about a tool I use or an SEO tip or something unrelated to my service. When that happens I get a lot more people interested in my service. When I don’t I get a traffic bump, but not subscribers.
Amie Can you some examples of your posts which describe your pattern perfectly
I like that Amie, something I will have to keep in mind, for sure!
Thanks for commenting.
There is definitely a big ..big reason why every one should write a better blog title…
If I were a guru … I would have taught everyone to spend as much time on writing a post title which you would spend on writing a blog post…
What is the defonition of guru according to you
If you know something and want to share than this can be a quality of guru
Most definitely Manu, posts with lame titles don’t get read.
Titles are paramount! Being a Millennial, I 100% judge a book by its cover…and title. I don’t have time in my ever-increasingly connected, digitized world for boring ass, non-intriguing titles. I have the attention span of a goldfish, so you best wow me on first glance or I’ll never click through…
Yes this is an old school formula and you will surprise to see that this is still going on strong and will.
Hahaha, great way to put it!
It’s true, magazines learned this long ago, and web writers know it now: titles matter.
My tip? Use the name of another author or book in your headline? Two of my top attention getters have been:
The 7 habits of highly effective writers
William Shakespeare’s 5 best copywriting tips
I don’t think the number has much to do with their popularity. I’m convinced their power relates to the reference to someone well-known.
I like this one and I actually use this myself, adding a big name people can related to makes them more inclined to click.
Very good uses of that method Daphne.
Interesting post. I usually give away too much post content in my heading to let people decide if they are interested as I would not want them to read a post that was not meant for them. But, I guess I might use a few more eyeballs. I will try your strategies and see if it works on my blog.
Hey Mukesh, being descriptive is definitely a good way to write headlines, but in order to generate excitement and to keep people from thinking your content has become predictable, I like to switch up my headline styles a bit.
The key with the “intrigue” style headline is to hint at the what it will be about, such as in Jon Morrow’s example above (“How To Generate Massive Traffic, Excitement, and Even Jealousy with a Hollywood Style Launch Trailer”)
We know that post will be about generating traffic via a launch trailer, but his use of terms like “Hollywood Style” and “..Excitement, and Even Jealousy” help get readers intrigued as to what he could specifically be talking about.
Good point. Clarity is always important – you hate to give people the wrong idea and leave them unsatisfied or avoid people that would enjoy your content. It’s a tough line to walk!
Fancy seeing you here, Greg. Yes, you’re right about post titles. One thing we always have to do as writers is to make sure we follow up these beautiful and eye-catching titles you mentioned, with great overall content as well. I know you do this because I’m one of your subscribers, but a lot of time bloggers (and we’ve now realised content ISN’T king – to my detriment :-)) will hook with a title, but the fish can’t bite because there’s no food at the end of the hook.
Great article on post headlines.
Good seeing you too Anne!
Great metaphor too, it’s a shame writers on the web can’t just write plain Jane and get right to the content, it’s unfortunately not really possible due to all of the competing sites out there vying for people’s attention.
Content does matter a lot though and I know you’ve got that down!
I also like titles that ask a question. On my personal blog I recently posted “How Brazilian are you?” – the content was a fun quiz about how much the reader identifies (or not) with Brazilian culture.
It’s even better if the question is “secretive” or controversial in some way: something like “Are you making these 10 rookie blogger mistakes?” – speaking for myself, I always think, “Gee, I dunno… am I??” and click on the post :-p
Feels like question-titled posts also invite reader engagement from the very beginning, since immediately upon seeing the question, the person’s brain begins to answer it, and they may be more likely to comment with their thoughts.
I like this one too, people love posts that create discussion and a post title with a question gets people thinking how they can answer it.
Great strategy Brasilicana.
I like this one too, people love posts that create discussion and a post title with a question gets people thinking how they can answer it.
Great strategy Brasilicana.
Using numbers and “How To” in the title seems to always work. But the post has to be good as-well like this.
Definitely, a “how to” let’s people know right away that they’ll be learning something (hopefully!)
I have used number 4 many times and I think it really attracts readers. Recently I used the number 2 type of headline for a collection of new free themes. However, I think the rest of them are also very good tactics of attracting eyeballs to your articles.
Thanks Faizan, glad you enjoyed the post.
Thanks for the reminder. These ideas are often forgotten even though most bloggers know them well.
The intriguing ones are my favorite. They’re made for the browser who’s just spending some time (meaning procrastinating) on the internet.
I don’t usually like hype titles because they seem like exaggeration. But I click through anyway so who cares?
Definitely love intriguing titles myself, especially when they deliver on the mystery.
Thanks for the comment Peter.
Thanks for formalizing it!
No problem Sam, glad you enjoyed the post!
Very informative post, Gregory. Personally, I use the “list post” style headline and find that it works for me the best. However, perhaps I need to try out the other options just to experiment and see how that fares for me. A good title is the key. No matter how good your content, without a good, eye-catching title, you wouldn’t have much traffic. I am actually not that good at selecting the appropriate titles, so this post should really help me ponder a bit before I select the right title for my content!! Thanks for sharing this post :)
True,Exciting Headlines is basically what you need to get people to even have an interest in whatever its is you have to say,if the headline isnt exciting,then people just move on to the next site but more importantly is having a valid solid content,cos if your headline is exciting and the content is rubbish then you get the same result,people just move to the next site,Good post.
Thanks for the comment, I think you are absolutely right on the importance of headlines.
These headlines do work, and they work very well, but I think they may be losing their impact a bit – they’re seen so often and, a lot of times, they scream “I’m SEO optimized! I’m bait! If you think more thought went into constructing me than the content of the post, you’re right!”
Like neon signs and loud music, they’ll still get attention, but people will start to automatically block them, like they already do with intrusive signs and racket.
Which is a shame, since there are a ton of great posts behind those headlines.
Interesting take Ana, and while I partially agree with you, I would ask what your take on magazine headlines are?
They’ve been using the same style of headlines for a lot longer than bloggers and writers on the web in general.
Sometimes, a totally unique headline (with incredible content to match) is going to break all of the molds and “go viral”, but I’ve yet to see people straying too far from these headlines yet (because as you’ve stated, they still seem to work).
The magazine headlines stopped working, for me at least, a long time ago – exactly because they were predictable and I knew they would be misleading or a let-down (“ONE SECRET TO THIS OR THAT WITH PEOPLE!” and when you turn the page, it’s “Don’t be grumpy. Eureka!”).
Plus, they were a once-a-month distraction, not an every day, all day, everywhere one.
I don’t know about other people but I had been buying mag A regardless of its headlines, catchy or not, and didn’t buy mag B – again, regardless of its headlines.
Magazine sales have been falling, right?
List posts are the easiest to do, but everyone’s doing them. XD
Finality is another one of my favorites.
List / Intrigue headlines convert the best for me, or even controversial, but not too much or overhyped, because then you lose credibility.
It is a great post indeed.
In terms of List headline blog-post, I have a question. I am told that people are gonna dump into the list right away, so do not bother to write too much in the first paragraph. Is it true? Don’t people want some context first, and then the list?
Thanks for these tips – I’m still learning to perfect blog titles.
Greg that was a great article. I personally am a fan of the list posts myself. I know how to do the perfect blog titles; just have to pay more attention to which posts need what type of title.
My favorite style is “Lists.” List are easy to read and write – lists help me stay organized. Thanks for the post, this is very valuable information.
Great advice. Immediately after reading the first item, I clicked over to blogger to add intrigue to my upcoming post! Here is the original title…
Pressure Cooker Recipe & Technique: Roasted Garlic
which changed to..
The Stinking Rose – perfectly roasted garlic in 20 minutes!
Wow great post .. after reading this article i got some ideas How to Blog Actually. thanks for your Valuable Post that will keep improving my blogging skill
Thanks for all that great food for thought, Gregory. I’ve been trying to use the Intrigue approach with mixed results. You’ve reminded me to keep at it. I think my most successful one so far was something like “What a simple bottle of beer can teach us about marketing measurement.” I’ll give credit to the broad appeal of beer! If anyone’s intrigued… http://bit.ly/gST74V