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What Makes a Post Popular?
Posted on January 1st 2014
Noooooo! Not another year-end listicle of greatest hits. Wake me when it’s over.
But wait. It’s not quite that simple.
Oh sure, one reason I’ve created it is I believe there is a ton of value in these articles and if you missed any, I’m hoping my resurrection of them will help you learn some useful online marketing lessons.
However, I have an even more important agenda. I want to share with you my thoughts on why these posts performed so well. If I succeed in doing this, my hope is you’ll get all kinds of useful insights on how to make your blog posts and content more magnetic, earn more social shares and open more doors.
My most viewed post of 2013 speaks to why infographics are so popular and can be so valuable to your content marketing efforts. It also discusses various ways I created four popular infographics with a modest budget and moderate design skills.
The article’s headline promises a simple lesson on a timely and popular topic and the piece itself offers a tutorial, several examples of effective infographics, and a short list of what you need to create them. Readers appreciated the simplicity—and honesty—of the lesson.
This post was popular on Copyblogger and then performed great on my blog. In it, I recognize the many important components of online marketing (including a quick quiz), but explain the one thing great marketers focus on regardless of the forum or media: the customer.
Notice these top two stories offer a major superlative, “most.” There’s great magnetism in this headline style. I believe readers recognized the lesson was fundamental and common, but often misunderstood. After pointing out the need to focus on ”you,” I deliver 9 tips for doing so effectively.
“HEADLINES” was only published a few weeks ago and shot to the third spot fast. The post breaks the word “headlines” up into an acronym where each of the nine letters kicks off an easy-to-apply (and remember) headline writing tip.
Again, a superlative is at play in the headline. It guarantees success. Who doesn’t want that? The subject itself is critical to online marketers. It’s clear a lesson will be given and “cheat sheet” obviously suggests shortcuts are included, so this one fires on multiple cylinders.
Barry Feldman shares more than his top performing #blog posts of 2013. He explains why they worked.
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This piece was popular when published in May and remains popular still. I’m very glad it’s been so well received because I put more effort into it than any post I wrote this year. The article talks about how important it is to gain visibility across the web and offers a huge list of tips—beginner, intermediate and advanced—for getting your content in front of large audiences.
I credit the success of the story to its depth. I share oodles of useful “plays.” Also, “effective online marketing” is a search term I’ve targeted for some time and managed to rank high with.
This is a challenging story that flew in the face of convention. I cringe when I hear the term “thought leader” and puke when people use it to describe themselves. Now don’t get me wrong. I endorse the idea of establishing and building your authority in your area of expertise and say as much. But I poke all kinds of holes in what I feel are flawed notions and attempt to describe what it really takes to shape how your audience thinks.
Points are scored for the age-old list approach, but the real pull of this story, I believe, comes from the contrarian angle. It seems “thought leadership” is a concept people are very curious about, so it served my blog and my readers to tackle this with a “dont’s” list.
After blogging steadily (relentlessly, even), and taking in tips from the best bloggers in online marketing, I created two long lists. As the headline suggests, the piece digs deep on “why” blog and then again on “how to.”
Readers love lists. Marketers know blogging is essential. Still, few really understand it. I think this headline suggests the piece will be a helpful 101 on blogging and hopefully, it delivers too. I certainly received a lot positive feedback on it via Twitter and LinkedIn and Social Media Today.
I’m developing a series of posts that are “copywriting tips” for various media. The first three posts addressed the top 3 website pages that need to be professionally written: home, about and landing pages.
I’m not sure why the post about landing pages outperformed the other two, but no complaints. All three were well received. I believe the super straightforward headline served the story well and suspect online marketers are beginning to understand what a landing page is, what it can do for your marketing, and how vital it is to get them right.
This mega-list post simply says if you want to find the best of the best email marketers in marketing, allow me to save you the trouble. Here they are. Of course, these are my favorites, but I managed to include an immense variety and justify each one, so there’s likely to be something here for every reader.
Of the 13 posts that made this list, this one surprised me the most. It’s a very simple idea, one you’ll see daily: a list of useful resources. However, I should add this: when you highlight the great work people and companies are doing in a niche, they either notice or hear about it and then promote it themselves. Win-win-win, right?
My idea for this post was simple enough: if a click is your objective, how do you achieve it? I listed what I feel are the 10 links you most want clicked and the one you don’t: the back button. Then I found great examples of winning click-and-convert strategies to demonstrate my points of view.
“Convert” is a powerful word. “Click” broadcasts the piece is about online marketing. The “do” and “don’t” convention proved to be a winner, as it often does.
This is an infographic. People love them.
We have a nice collision of tactics here: list post; contrarian angle; hot topic; and an infographic.
I always say, “You get out of social media what you put into it.” If your goal is to build relationships (and it should be), it’ll serve you well to recognize and thank those that have been helpful to you. This is my take on recognition, the thing I feel is more meaningful than anything in the social age.
Here again, we have the “most” superlative. It works—provided you can pay it off. I’ve written on multiple occasions how strongly I feel about the “curiosity building” headline style or the “information gap.” I believe if you want your social media efforts to be meaningful, you have to read a story like this.
Recognize the title? Yeah, it’s pretty similar to the infographic post. This is because it was a blog post before it was an infographic. In fact, it was a post written for Convince and Convert. I edited it here and there and ran it on “The Point” and am glad I did.
“Top 10” lists are golden. I’ve already hit on the other magnetic elements of this headline.
I actually wrote this story for Copyblogger and it was published with a headline penned by their editors. I had to try mine too. I believe the headline suggests you’re in for a fun read.
Funny side note: Google Analytics reveals my most popular keyword this year was “slime.” Clearly, this is not a demonstration of my command of SEO, but sometimes when you experiment you experience some accidental success. My apologies to the many readers who clicked and hoped to learn more about slime. The post is slime-free.
I want to thank you for reading our blog, commenting (if you do), and sharing the content. You make it all worthwhile.
Have a happy New Year celebration and a great 2014.