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4 Post Headlines that are Guaranteed to Get Readers Excited

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.

Excited reader

Image copyright Andres Rodriguez - Fotolia.com

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.

Imagine this…

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.

ProBlogger Examples:

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.

ProBlogger Examples:

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!

ProBlogger Examples:

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.”

ProBlogger Examples:

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.

Infographic: Is it Time to Consider SEO Automation?

This guest post is by William Tyree of SEO for Salesforce.

Is it safe for bloggers to stop caring about SEO yet? Can we all just install an SEO plugin for WordPress and focus on creating quality content?

If you read some of the problogger.net articles this year about how Google’s Panda updates sent some bloggers looking for a life boat, the answer is unfortunately no.

In terms of risk mitigation, we all need to be savvier about the way search engines perceive and rank our sites.

We also need better strategies to maintain a competitive edge. For better or worse, online advertisers and PR firms are getting smarter about distinguishing between sites that reach vast, highly engaged audiences and those that connect with smaller communities. When companies send out invitations to lucrative industry blogger events, they have to choose between you and other bloggers.

Relationships play a factor, but so do the sizes of your web traffic and social media reach. Increasingly, advertisers are using independent measurement sites like Compete.com and Klout to verify the size of your impact.

We all know our audiences intimately. But what few of us have is the luxury of time, or the budget, to hire an SEO agency. That’s why experimenting with good SEO automation tools may be a wise bet. SEO automation can’t create great sharable content for you, or define business objectives. But it can help with a lot of other things that you would need to clone yourself or pay someone to do.

For example, a good automation tool can identify problems with your site in a few minutes that an SEO firm might charge thousands to find for you. They can also auto-generate solutions and monitor the impact of your efforts. If you use a CRM to track your sales or contact lists, a few automation tools can even automatically correlate specific keywords to leads coming in from your blog contact form and eventual revenue.

That kind of information makes it possible for you to make smart choices about what niche topics to blog about. For example, if you’re a tech blogger, and you find that every time you blog about 3D TVs you get above average numbers of page views, and many more leads from advertisers, then that might have a strong impact on your content strategy.

This infographic illustrates how using automation tools to handle time-intensive SEO chores helps free up time for web publishers to focus on strategy and content.

William Tyree is VP of Marketing for DemandResults, an evidence-based marketing company and creator of cloud marketing products SEO for Salesforce and RingDNA. He has contributed his stories and thought leadership to Harvard Review, The Atlantic, Japan Inc, YouMoz and elsewhere. He blogs regularly for EvidenceBasedMarketing.net.

The Right-brain Thinker’s Guide to Beating Blogger’s Block

This guest post is by Neil Patel of KISSmetrics.

In his 2009 book A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink explained that the new world of business is a great place to be a right-brain thinker. Right-brain thinkers are the creators and the empathizers. If you’re a blogger, you are probably a right-brained thinker … and you probably deal with blogger’s block on occasion.

What is blogger’s block? It’s what happens to all bloggers as they try to crank out new, original posts day after day: they eventually run out of ideas. Ever struggle with that?

However, have you ever thought about using your very own creative quirks to generate blog post ideas? Following is a list of qualities that right-brain thinkers have and tips on how you can use these qualities to break those moments of blogger’s block and kick out some great blog posts.

Right-brain thinkers are impulsive

Some of the really great bloggers are those who are quick and impulsive when it comes to blogging. Think of Robert Scoble’s comment that if you aren’t at least apologizing once a month, then you are probably not doing anything interesting. He did it in a big way with Twitter. It’s good to catch hell on your blog every once in a while.

To overcome blogger’s block, just throw caution to the wind and see what happens. I know I probably ruffled some feathers when I wrote Why You Should Get Drunk – The ROI of Partying or You don’t have to be smart to be an entrepreneur.

But I stand by what I wrote and I think I provided a lot of people with some good ideas. All the comments I got and tweets suggest I did something right.

Right-brain thinkers question authority and rules

Another great idea for blog posts involves just challenging current rules or asking why certain rules exist.

For example, SEOs are always wondering and challenging why Google is doing certain things. Aaron Wall wrote a great post called Google Aggressively Enters Make Money Online Niche where he made a list of all the listings in the SERPs for a certain term and pointed out how Google products dominated the results. He’s challenging authority, and so should you.

Right-brain thinkers are unlikely to read instruction manual before trying

Ever just get tired of the same old thing? Ever feel like you don’t want to do things the traditional way? If so, that’s great!

Sometimes breaking blogger’s block involves just ignoring the best practices and creating something that breaks the mold. That’s exactly what Smashing Magazine did with The Death of the Boring Blog Post.

Listen, I give you permission to break all the rules. Just forget about the rules and just write! Keep in mind not all of your ideas may work. Be patient and don’t give up, because failure is a great way to improve your blogging skills.

Right-brain thinkers process multiple ideas simultaneously

Good right-brain thinkers can hold more than one idea in their head, even if the ideas are totally different and contradict one another. So, one of the best ways to get creative and break blogger’s block is to bring together two very different ideas.

Austin Kleon takes the idea of creativity and criminality to come up with a very original blog post called Steal Like an Artist. He combines images, drawings, and photos with commentary that leads you down his list of ten things he wishes he’d known about creativity when he started out.

Right-brain thinkers write things down or illustrate

Sometimes it just helps to get your ideas down on the screen. That’s usually what I do once I’ve gathered enough information about the topic I want to write about. And don’t forget: just write as quickly and carelessly as you can! Tell that editor in your head to “shut up,” and just write.

Another way to break writer’s block is to draw. Hugh MacLeod is the superstar in this area, but there are other great drawer/bloggers out there. Just take Organizational Chart of Major Corporations at Bonker’s World or Fake Grimlock’s Minimum Viable Personality drawing. These are two great examples of distilling an idea to its essence.

Right-brain thinkers are visual, focusing on images and patterns

When you’re looking for blog topics to write about, it helps to look for patterns in information. Perhaps you have an idea for a topic and you start to look at articles. Keep reading until some kind of pattern emerges. You might key into something that a handful of people keep saying. That could be your topic you explore.

Or you might spend some time looking at dozens of photos on Instagram, Flickr or deviantART. Any one of those places could trigger an idea for a post.

Right-brain thinkers intuitive, led by feelings

When blogging, do you tend to hide your feelings? In other words, do you try to remain objective and distant? If so, stop it! Bring out your feelings when you write. If something makes you angry, write about it. If something makes you laugh hysterically, write about it.  Besides, ranting is How to Get People to Remember Your Posts.

Right-brain thinkers see the whole first, then the details

If you tend to see how a particular blog post is going to look, like you know the headline and you probably how you are going to open it and close it, but you’re not sure what is going to go in the middle, that’s fine.

If you see the whole post first, it might help you to write an outline. A lot of the time I’ll have the headline and then I’ll work on all the subheadings. Then I’ll go through and start filling out the different sections.

What are the advantages of an outline? Here are three:

  • You won’t get lost: With an outline, you’ll have a road map for your blog post to help you stay on track.
  • You evaluate your idea early: With an outline, you can also see if you may have trouble putting your post together. An outline is like an early, simple version of your post.
  • You write with a sense of flow: Outlines help me get into my writing so I pick up momentum.

Sometimes I’ll run into a dead end as I’m writing a post. Instead of getting frustrated and banging my head, I’ll just start working on a different, easier section of the post.

Right-brain thinkers use free association

Using free association to come up with blog posts can be fun. All you do is just sit down and start thinking about something. Follow where each idea leads. Don’t stop writing until you are out of ideas or just tired.

Also, make sure you save all your ideas. Don’t throw anyway away because you’ll have a lot of ideas for future blogs posts in that one rambling, rough-draft session. Plus, look for the interesting insights or patterns you see in your writing. As Scott Myers says in Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work:

“What happens? In my experience, oftentimes I’ll hit on a nugget. Perhaps something related to the scene, perhaps not, maybe something later in the story, or an idea for something else entirely. Generally when that happens, I end my free association session. Other times, nothing seems to emerge, so I just stop.”

By the way, free association is a great way to break writer’s block.

Right-brain thinkers have no sense of time

When I say “no sense of time” I don’t mean you don’t know what time it is. What I mean is you enjoy what you do so much that you lose track of time. But you probably have to fight off the tendency to be distracted by phones, Facebook, and co-workers. Distractions can cause writer’s block.

Some bloggers I know will work on a 33-minute schedule. They’ll write focused for 33 minutes, get up, drink some coffee, check all their social media sites for about five minutes and then get back to work. It kills writer’s block and tends to be a very productive way to write.

Creative breaks for blogger’s block

Blogger’s block affects us all, whether we tend to be right- or left-brain thinkers. Hopefully the qualities of creative thinkers I described above will give you that spark you need to inspire you next time you are struggling to come up with a new blog post idea.

What things do you do to inspire you to write and break blogger’s block?

Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics and blogs at Quick Sprout.

Listen to Your “Inner Crazy Voice”

Sometimes I hear voices … they suggest I do crazy things … and sometimes they end up being the best things I’ve done!

Speaking of 'Crazy Ideas'

Okay, that’s one of the strangest first lines of a post that I’ve written but it struck me today as I was looking back over the past few years that some of the most successful things that I’ve done have often started out as a “crazy idea.”

Perhaps it is just my personality type, but I’m a prolific idea generator. Barely a day goes by when I don’t have at least one idea for a new product, blog post, or even new blog. Sometimes the ideas are simply extensions on what I’ve done previously, but occasionally I get a really crazy idea—something that is either really big, or something that makes me laugh and shake my head.

For a long time I would simply push aside the crazy ideas, but I’m learning to at least give them a second thought these days, because the ones I’ve acted upon do have a history of working.

Let me give you some examples of “crazy ideas” that I’ve had that have worked out well, or which I’m currently working on building up:

  • Bestselling ebook: One “crazy idea” that I’ve written about recently was 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. The original idea came on 30 July 2005, when I decided that I’d write a 31 day series of blog posts here on ProBlogger, each day containing homework for readers. It was crazy because I’d never done a series that long before, I’d not really given readers “homework” to do before, and because I decided to start it the following day with no promotion or planning. The idea paid off—it eventually evolved into my bestselling ebook.
  • Successful conference: Another “crazy idea” was to hold my first ProBlogger training day. I started pondering what would happen if I held a training day for bloggers in Melbourne. Again it was something I decided to do on the spur of the moment. The period from my having the idea to running the training day itself was a matter of weeks. I’d had no experience in planning conferences, had no venue, and didn’t know how much to charge or even what we’d do on the day. Again, the idea paid off—we’ve now held two training days and there’s significant demand for more (we’re planning some exciting events for 2012).
  • ProBlogger “Tour down under”: One more “crazy idea” that looks like becoming a reality dawned on me on the way home from a conference in one of Australia’s northern states (Queensland). The state has some of the most beautiful beaches and natural wonders that you’ll ever see and, on the spur of the moment, I tweeted out that I wanted to run a competition to get bloggers form overseas to come do a tour with me of some of our country’s most beautiful regions. Among the tweet replies that came in from hundreds of bloggers wanting to come on the tour were a couple of replies from Aussie Tourism boards. Those conversations continue today—watch this space to see if this was another crazy idea that might pay off!
  • ProBlogger clothing range: Lastly, a fourth “crazy idea” that I’ve had for a couple of years now, and which looks like it might come to be, is the long-awaited “Blogger Work Ware” range of clothes. Again, this started as a crazy tweet saying I wanted to develop a range of “work clothes” for bloggers: PJs, bathrobes, and so on—after all, we’re known for blogging in our PJs are we not? The number of people who responded that they’d buy a bathrobe or PJs was overwhelming. I’m now looking at it more seriously (watch this space).

Of course I’ve had my fair share of crazy ideas that I’ve not done anything with, or which have failed. But in each of the cases I’ve mentioned here, the ideas came out of the blue and, for some reason, just wouldn’t go away.

In each case, the reaction I had straight after having the idea was to either laugh or gasp. In most cases, the reaction was the same when I told those around me. I’m learning that the laugh and gasp reactions are good. They tell you that you’ve thought of something a little out of the box—something that will, at the very least, get noticed.

The other thing I did each time was to share my crazy idea with others. In some cases, it was with another couple of people who I trusted, and some cases the “test” was to share it more widely (on Twitter in the last two cases) to see if the idea had any resonance beyond my imagination.

What has been your most crazy idea that has paid off?

On the First Page of Google? Now What?

This guest post is by Keith Bishop of Online Digital Junkie.

If your goal is to publish a lot of meaningless content that doesn’t get read, then you’re in the wrong place. On the other hand, if you desire your pages to engage and help the reader take some type of action based upon what they were searching for when they found your site, read on.

With time and proper SEO practices, visitors will likely show up on your site through search by using keywords that relate in some way to your page. With that said, it only makes sense that you should optimize your off-page content in a way that promises to alleviate whatever issue led the searcher to your door.

All you have to do is consider the impact of your keywords before you use them. This is very important because the keyword you choose is actually your first promise to your potential visitor. If I were going to rank something like “why is the sky blue,” I would want to make sure my page does a couple things right away so that they click my link.

Proper meta data

A good way to digest meta data is to view it as a miniature representation of your real page, sort of like a business card. It includes a title, description, and tags. Tags are not as important to search anymore so I will focus this article on just the title and description.

Meta title

The first thing that has to be done is to come up with your title. Meta titles are the text you see at the very top of the page, on the tabs, and beside the little logos known as favicons.

They are also the linkable text that you see in the search engine results page (SERP). This means that it is the first thing your potential visitor sees in regards to organic search traffic.

You might use something like; “have you ever wondered why the sky is blue?” Did you notice that the keyword is in the page title? This is important for search engines and visitors alike. Search engines and visitors use it to help determine what your page is about. It can push you rank higher and get more clicks because it is directly relevant to your chosen keyword.

Meta description

Another must-do is to clearly let the reader know that your page will solve their problem by explicitly stating that it will do so in the description.

This is the text portion that shows up in the search results. For those of you that are not familiar with this, it is the snippet or short paragraph you see directly under each link after you search for something in Google (or other engine).

If you do not manually set a meta description for your page, Google will just use some of the text from the first paragraph of your article and go with that. This is not advisable, because it technically qualifies as duplicate content.

It also does not convert as well, since your description is the second promise you are making to your potential visitor, and there is no need to have them read the first couple of sentences twice. Instead, you might use something like the following:

“This article is in response to people like you and Bob who want to know why the sky is blue. After much research and contemplation, you can now find the answer in this article by visiting my page.”

A description like this says, “hey you … yes, you in the green shirt. You have been wondering why the sky is blue, right? Awesome! You’re not alone. And I have spent a good deal of time finding the answer for you. Come on inside and instantly solve your problem right here on my site.”

Now you have clearly set the stage with some direct promises that show confidence in your ability to deliver a solution. It can help make a difference when your content is sitting in the fifth to eighth spot on page one of Google Search, which is where many of your articles will hover at.

Don’t just rank: close the deal

There is a definite difference between ranking a keyword and closing the deal on one.

Just make sure you don’t ask for anything until you have provided the reader with something valuable first. And what you are providing is always the answer to whatever problems the reader is facing, which led them to search with your keywords in the first place.

Keith Bishop is the founder/designer at Online Digital Junkie. He also co-manages an up and coming travel nurse blog with his wife Melissa.

Why You Should Write 20 Posts Before You Launch Your Blog

This guest post is by Aman Basanti of ageofmarketing.com.

If you have not yet started a blog, stop. Write 20 to 30 posts before you launch.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but this strategy may just be the thing to help you succeed as a blogger.
Why?

It stops you from quitting

Here is the number one reason most bloggers fail: they lose the will to continue.

Anyone who has ever started a blog will tell you that it is downright demoralizing to start a blog. When no one visits your blog, no one accepts your guest posts, and advertising proves too expensive to make a viable traffic generation strategy, you feel lost and destroyed.

Unfortunately for most people, that is the end of their blogging journey. Within months, if not weeks the blog is abandoned and another number is added to the failed blogs hall of fame.

But the very mind that loses hope can be made to maintain it if you invest a lot of effort into your blog upfront. It is human tendency to try harder at and stick longer to something that you have already devoted effort to.

It helps you build and maintain momentum on your blog

Guest posting is one of the most powerful ways to build your blog. It allows you to get your name on established blogs, and gives you a taste of what it would be like to have a popular blog—not to mention attracting high-converting traffic to your own blog.

The thing with guest blogging is that you need to do it often to make it a viable brand building and traffic generation strategy. You cannot do that when you barely have enough posts to keep your own blog going. Having 20 posts in reserve can help keep your blog going while you are concentrating on pitching and writing guest posts.

Plus, once you get a few guest posts on big blogs you will get requests to write guest posts on even more blogs. And you need to be able to maintain the momentum. So the post reserves will come in handy.

It helps you get paying gigs

Finally, posting on your blog and writing guest posts for other blogs may even bring you paying gigs.

When someone is paying you good money to write posts, you need to able to deliver high quality content under tight deadlines. This means you need a lot of practise before you start. Writing 20 or 30 posts helps you build your writing ability.

This means that when you get a request for guest post or get a paying gig you can deliver high quality content quickly.

This is what happened to me. Impressed with the quality and originality of my guest posts and the posts on my blog, a company contacted me to write for them. The only catch was they needed content quickly. Luckily, I had a few posts in reserve, some of which they liked. That weekend I earned my first ever pay-check from blogging, netting around $2,000 for several posts. It was such a thrill.

So if you have not yet started blogging, wait till you have 20 to 30 posts before you launch.

Aman Basanti writes about the psychology of buying and teaches you how you can use the principles of consumer psychology to boost your sales. Visit www.Ageofmarketing.com/free-ebook to get his new e-book – Marketing to the Pre-Historic Mind: How the Hot New Science of Behavioural Economics Can Help You Boost Your Sales – for FREE.