(or Matt Cutts ate my hamster and why blog posts are like salt…)
Ok, firstly Matt Cutts didn’t eat my hamster. No one has eaten my hamster. He is alive and well and (just in case you are still worried) here’s a photo of me with him taken just now.
The reason for the headline is that today’s post is all about the biggest challenge for any blogger – getting your post noticed among the crowd.
You could be the William Shakespeare of the blogosphere, writing thousands of words of beautifully crafted prose every day, but unless you can grab people’s attention then there is a good chance that no one will ever know what it is to experience the sheer joy of reading your words.
If you are reading this right now, and haven’t clicked back in disgust at my deception, (or the disappointment of not seeing the head of google’s webspam with the head of my hamster poking out his mouth), then I am guessing my post stood out. I can promise you that the second part of my title is relevant and that blog posts are (a little) like salt.
I’m going to look at one of the main social networks and biggest sources of traffic for bloggers, twitter, and what it is that makes certain posts stand out among the crowd. But first, some stats…
What Are You Up Against?
According to this post and infographic at digitalbuzzblog there are 2 Million new blog posts published to the internet every day. Within these posts there is apparently enough content to fill time magazine for 770 years. This figure was from 2012, so it’s probably even more now.
To put this into perspective, it is estimated that there are around 1 Million grains of salt in a salt shaker, so imagine 2 salt shakers full of salt and your blog post as one tiny insignificant grain. You’re going to have to be a pretty exceptional grain of salt to get yourself noticed!
Ok, I’m going to continue with this salt analogy for a bit while I talk about getting noticed on twitter, so bear with me…
How would you notice 1 grain of salt in amongst all those other grains?
Be The Biggest Grain Of Salt Out There
Lets imagine for a second that as you are pouring your salt, there is one mega grain that is about 50 times the size of all the others. We will ignore the practicality that it probably wouldn’t fit through the holes for the purposes of continuing this poorly executed analogy.
So, the monster grain of salt plonks out onto your microwaved chips and immediately grabs your attention – simply because of its sheer size.
What the hell does this have to do with getting your blog post noticed on Twitter?
Good question! Well, the first way in which your blog post will cut through the crowd is if you are already a big fish. Most of us are guilty of scanning through our twitter feed and if we see the profile pic of a blogger we already admire, particularly an A lister, then we are much more likely to click the link or retweet (sometimes because the content is good, <honesty>and other times because we want them to notice us</honesty>). So being big means you don’t have to work so hard, but how do you get big in the first place?
Stand Out From The Crowd
The next day you cook up a perfect jacket potato and, despite your slight trepidation caused by yesterday’s humongous salt episode, you pick up one of the two salt shakers on your dining table and give it a shake. It’s looking good, until… a green grain of salt pops out! Yuck! Or maybe you like green? Whatever the case, this lime coloured grain of salt has definitely grabbed your attention.
So, how do you grab people’s attention on twitter?
Well, you probably guessed from the title of this very post, but a lot of it (the vast majority) is to do with your title.
If you ask many A list bloggers they will tell you that they spend as much time crafting their titles as they do in writing their posts. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase that headlines sell newspapers and the same is true for blog posts.
Well written titles are magnetic, grab attention and invite clicks – people just can’t help it. And on twitter, you get just 140 characters (with your URL taking up 22 of them), so the title of your post and a couple of tags is pretty much all you get.
How Do You Write Magnetic Headlines?
Well, I am not going to go into too much detail on this as I believe that this series of ebooks on copyblogger is pretty much the definitive resource. You’ll need to sign up with them (free), but it should be the next thing you do after reading (and sharing 😉 this post as it will change the way you write. In the mean time I’ll quickly give you a few examples of 3 types of headline that work well.
How To Headlines
- How To Work Less And Earn More
- How To Get Six Pack Abs While You Watch TV
- How To Destroy Your Competition While You Sleep
I’ve just made them up off the top of my head, but hopefully you will see how if they were real articles they would grab your attention.
- 7 Ways You Can Work Less Hours And Make More Money
- 4 Ways You Can Get A Killer Six Pack With No Exercise
- 6 Easy Ways To Outrank Your Competitors
People like lists and numbers!
How I Titles
- How I Work A 15 Hour Week And Make $90,000 A Year
- How I Got Six Pack Abs While Sitting On My Butt
- How I Outranked All My Competitors And Bought Myself A Ferrari
Hopefully you get the idea and it has got you thinking about how you write your post titles, but for a load more examples and advice on title formats that people can’t help clicking, jump over to copyblogger.
It goes without saying (although I’m about to say it anyway) that once you have managed to get people to notice your post on twitter with a snappy magnetic title, you have to back it up with amazing content.
So, today we have learned: –
- Matt Cutts didn’t eat my hamster
- There is an exceptionally tenuous link between blog posts and salt
- Writing a catchy, attention grabbing title will get your blog posts noticed on twitter
- Once you have people’s attention, back it up with well written, engaging content
If you have any questions or feedback, then please leave a comment below. For loads more blogging tips, SEO tips, marketing advice and pictures of my hamster, you can subscribe to the blog by RSS or email, add me on twitter or seek me out in the pub, kidnap me, tie me up and force me to reveal all my secrets.
Probably best just to add me on twitter.