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How to Get Loads of Traffic from a Group Writing Project

Last week I decided to run a small experiment on the ProBlogger reader community (please forgive me for making you a guinea pig).

In my post revealing a batch of reader blog tips in the 31 day project I inserted a CrazyEgg tracking code to track what links in the post readers clicked on. The reason for the experiment was to answer a few questions to do with participating in Group Writing Projects:

  1. Are people actually clicking the links in these posts (ie – is it worth running these projects and participating in them)?
  2. How important is it to be early in the list?
  3. What makes a title clickable?

Let me share the results by tackling each question.

1. Are people actually clicking the links?

Crazy-EggCrazyEgg shows that 1550 people visited the post in question (more viewed it in RSS and on the Blog Page – these were not tracked) and that they clicked 2204 times on the page. The vast majority of these 2204 clicks were on the list itself. While the total number of clicks from RSS and the blog page cannot be known I’d say that there is a good number of clicks on the list and that it’s probably a worthwhile thing to participate in.

2. How important is it to be early in the list?

The heat map that CrazyEgg produced shows that those in the top section of the list did get more clicks than those in the bottom section. The two screen shots below show this. The first is of the first links in the list and the second is of the last links in the list.

Crazy-Egg-Top-Bottom

Obviously there’s more action in the first screenshot.

A few other observations on positioning of links

  • While the top links were clicked on more than others all but three links in the list were visited at least once
  • The top 4 links were particularly hot although…..
  • The most clicked link on the page was actually listed 12th in the list, the next two in the list were 3rd and 4th, the next was 16th and the next was 51st.
  • Other single links down the page did get higher clicks on them than others while a few links in the top section were clicked on significantly less than others around them (indicating that some other factor was at play – particularly the title)

3. What makes a title clickable?

TitlesTo the right are the top 25 links from the list ranked in order of how many clicks that they each had.

As mentioned above – where they were listed did have a play – although there were a few that appeared out of order.

A few observations:

  • ‘lists’ with numbers in them featured well
  • posts that related strongly to the audience of ProBlogger obviously did well
  • posts that were obviously ‘how to’, practical or ‘tips’ did well
  • questions featured in the list in numerous places
  • titles that showed a benefit of reading or presented a need that people had worked
  • there was a real mixture in the list in terms of post length – some were short, some were quite long
  • the use of CAPITALS in the 5th ranked link seemed to draw the eye down the page (to the 51st position) to get more clicks

Titles do matter in group writing projects.

While I won’t publicly point out the posts that didn’t get any or many clicks – in most cases they were due to weaker titles which were either vague or irrelevant.

What other things do you notice about the Top 25 titles in the list?

Take Home Advice:

If you’re going to participate in these types of group writing projects then there are three obvious factors in play if you want to generate a lot of visitors.

  • Get in Early – have a post ready to go if possible to be at the top of the list
  • Consider your title very carefully
  • Choose a topic that is highly relevant and useful to the audience of the blog that the project is on

Of course getting people to your blog is only half of the equation. There’s no point in have a post at the top of a list with a great title if your post is rubbish and you don’t draw people into your blog. Making your blog sticky then becomes the key task that you need to work on.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Henry Zeng says:

    Nice post, Darren.

    I just don’t know how CrazyEgg will work if you track a page like your blog homepage because it is dynamic as you add new posts.

  2. Interesting read! Thanks for sharing, it gives me some new ideas as to how to go about it.

  3. Neena says:

    Very interesting. It is clear that for bloggers (both new and established), a group writing project is a good way to gain some exposure. Your “take home advice” gives us a way to get more value out of the time spent writing those posts.

  4. Rhys says:

    Wayhey! Most clicks! **does happy dance**

    I did do my own analysis as well, and alas, whilst it recieved the most clicks, one of my other posts recieved the most comments

    http://www.gospelrhys.co.uk/2007/08/analysing-the-problogger-group-writing-project.html

    My reasoning behind it was that it was something like the 2nd batch of links, people were still excited and willing to participate more. As time wore on, it was natural that there’d be a bit of a drop off in enthusiasm in replying to comments.

    Well, at least there was in my eyes.

  5. Jake says:

    I also saw that on these lists you did this past month the higher I was on the list the more readers that came my way.

    Thank you once again for a great month.

  6. CatherineL says:

    Great info Darren. Numbers have always performed well in titles for me, but I never thought about using capitals. I will now tho.

  7. Yeah, I think titles with numbers definitely do better. My first post got at least 10x as many clicks as the last one, and the first one was a list.

  8. Nice post. The titles that included numbers and the how to titles were my favorite.

  9. Great analysis. I just want to back up what you said about getting in early on the list.

    I was at the top of your latest post, and after checking today, I actually got more visits from that link than from the by-line in the guest post I wrote.

    That will probably change over time, as the guest post is a little more permanent, but still, it was a bit of a surprise. :)

  10. GettyCash says:

    Great info..

    I am learning how to get traffic to my blog.

  11. Simon says:

    Wow, I’ve been “zinged”. It’s funny you should mention the capitals Darren, I’ve been playing around with their use over last few months with mixed success. I personally tend to gloss over the use of capitals, I find it a bit gimmicky Having said that the post tittles with carefully used capitals (emphasis on carefully used) do get more clicks through from RSS and other sources, such as your project. It didn’t hurt that I hot all but one of the other factors that lead to high click throughs.

    Great post by the way, I was hoping you’d break down some numbers.

  12. UltraRob says:

    I didn’t write any posts for this project because the topic didn’t fit with my topic. Thanks though are in order for the top 5 writing project in May if I remember right.

    I got some traffic but not a huge amount. I was pretty far down on the list. The big thing was the links. I got a little over 30 links from some highly ranked blogs that were relevant to my blog. I know that’s still not a lot of links but my search engine traffic increased by about 5x soon after the project. It did drop some after a while but stayed well above the previous level.

  13. I submitted 3 articles to this series and the first one got far more traffic than the other two.

    The article that received most traffic was listed in the top 10 of the list, and secondly it had a title that encouraged people to click the link.

    Thanks for posting the heatmap information.

  14. Interesting information. But, would you want everyone submitting titles in CAPITALS.?

    Somehow IT LOOKS LIKE PEOPLE ARE SHOUTING UNNECESSARILY.

    Many sites state you can’t use capitals for titles.

    It certainly draws the eye – though

  15. Interesting post – it’s interesting to see the heat map, and how the links at the bottom of the first page do surprisingly well!

  16. Brad V. says:

    Wow Darren, very interesting post! Your experiment is just as good a lesson in reader psychology as it is in writing posts that get noticed.

    But I think it’s important to point out that this experiment only confirms what you’ve been teaching all along:

    - List posts are always popular.
    - Titles DO matter!
    - Ranking can make a difference, but the above two seem to override rankings.
    - Good content that directly benefits the readers helps (but will make little difference with a bad title).

    I bookmarked that heatmap website and plan on using it in the future. Maybe I’ll do my own such experiment. Actually, it’s a good tool for any blogger to use so they can see where the “hot spots” are on their blog – and use those hot spots to maximize revenue and readership!

    Way to go Darren! Great post!

  17. doug m says:

    very interesting post darren, i’ll be sure to try this out.
    i also agree with brad, this post illustrates that your previous posts on tips and tricks contain useful information that can be seen in the numbers.

  18. Sonia Simone says:

    I’m curious–do you all find yourselves more drawn to a list that features a small number or a large one?

    When I see “99 ways to do something irresistible,” I get a little exhausted. But if I see a list like “7 ways to do something irresistible,” I’m more likely to click through. I also figure someone might have come up with 5 pretty good ideas in a list of 7, but a list of 99 is likely to be mostly filler.

    Anyone else feel the same, or is this a case of “more is more” for most of you?

  19. Jennifer says:

    I would be interested in seeing these same statistics if you broke the long link up into groups of say 5 with a paragraph separator.

    I sometimes try to read them all, but very easily loose my place in the list and if they were separated into groups of 5. I could open in a new tab a group, go check them out and then come back and easily find my next group of 5.

  20. Darren Rowse says:

    good idea Jennifer – I’ll try to remember to do that next time!

  21. Leon says:

    I’ll try to participate next time, and hopefully get to the top! I guess I should analyze my blog more instead of simply writing posts.

  22. Trula says:

    coolness, this is very interesting. I definitely need to analyze my blog(s).

  23. GettyCash says:

    That’s interesting idea, Jenifer

  24. Jenny says:

    I’ve been thinking of doing a group writing project, but I haven’t been able to come up with any ideas for it. But thanks for the info. Now I know how to make it click-worthy.

  25. Laura says:

    It’s a very interesting study. I do participate in this projects often. Typically, I participate late due to my other obligations — so this is good information.

    What do you do (as sometimes happens) when the host of the group writing project rearranges the posts (out of chronological order) for some purpose of their own? (Perhaps to put like entries together …)

  26. Hey Darren,

    Thanks for running this experiment! This is very valuable information.

    Having your link near the top is always be beneficial, but in the end if it’s not relevant then you are wasting your time. Relevant things will always get way more clicks.

    Things like capitalizing letters only serve to amplify a link’s ability to attract attention of viewers, but if what they are viewing isn’t relevant then their time is wasted.

  27. Shine says:

    Thanks for the experiment Darren. Hm, “how to” and numbers in title… Quality content needs power titles to get discovered!

  28. This article is no suprise to me, or probably for most. The early bird gets the worm!

    I will DEFINITELY have to try CrazyEgg out though. Looks like an awesome tool.

  29. Phil Newton says:

    @Sonia: I have to admit to preferring shorter lists. They’re easier to read and make notes from, and you also get the full benefit without spending hours reading hundreds of other articles.

    I can definitely recommend Crazy Egg for improving web design. I use it on my most important pages, and being able to see where visitors click and where they come from is an invaluable tool. Well worth trying out.