Friday, April 17, 2009

Better post titles work, and here's the proof

Yesterday was the best traffic day ever for this blog. And it wasn't even close.

Prior to yesterday, the highest traffic this blog had ever received in one day was 1,508 visitors. On Thursday, the blog welcomed 3,821 visitors. The reason why is because yesterday's post Six reasons why no one likes you online turned out to be wildly popular. To everyone that read the post, thank you.

But here's a bit of what went on 'behind the scenes' in crafting that post, and hopefully you can learn from what I did.

As I have been blogging about for years here, I suck when it comes to writing post titles. As I was writing my Six reasons... post late Wednesday, I lamented on Twitter that I was having trouble coming up with a solid title for the post. I knew that I wanted to write a post based loosely on the points I had raised in my Building Online Community session at OMBC last week. I didn't want to cover the reasons HOW to build online community as I did in the session, but instead cover some reasons why many companies see their community-building efforts fail.

So my first draft title for the post was the incredibly lame 'Building Community Online'. And I knew that title sucked, but wasn't sure how to improve it. I started talking to Tim Jackson about this on Twitter, and decided that I needed to read Copyblogger to get some ideas on improving the post's title.

After reading Brian's section on writing Magnetic Headlines, I changed the title from the blah 'Building Community Online', to the more interesting 'Six reasons why no one likes you online'. Now I don't think the post title alone was the reason for the traffic spike, I think the post itself was pretty good. But many people would have never read the post, if they hadn't been intrigued by the improved post title. I think now that Twitter is where so many people are finding interesting sites/blogs to read, that a compelling post title becomes even more important.

And to that point, the Six reasons... post has been retweeted 231 times as of writing this post.

So thanks to Brian for saving my post title. If you want to improve your writing, reading Copyblogger is a great way to do so!

UPDATE: Some people are asking how I knew how many RTs the post had. BackType has added in the ability to track this (as well as comments to the post and on other social sites) by clicking here. Just pop in the post's URL. Really great feature they have added!


Ken Burbary said...


Congratulations on such a popular post! It was well deserved, and anyone that follows you knows you reap those rewards because of the tremendous effort you put into sharing, highlighting others and providing value to your followers/readers.


Sean Platt said...

Copyblogger's the best. When I sing my song without their chorus, the tune is never as sweet.

Brian Clark said...

Glad it helped Mack!

Stuart Foster said...

Love when a small change like title gets someone the attention they deserve.

Writing titles to a certain extent is an art form. I became quite good at the practice via Digg and other social bookmarking sites that only allowed you limited information to sell a all came down to the title usually.

Leanne Hoagland Smith said...

Another future resource is Click on the headline analyzer, enter your title (up to 20 words) and then hit analyze. You will learn the emotional marketing value of your title. Even though your 6 reason title has only 25% EMV, it discusses a subject that many people are possibly feeling. Congratulations for showing the power of just Asking.

Ryan Miller said...


This technique worked for me a couple months ago, and had HUGE implications that I was NOT prepared for.

I wrote a post entitled 'Has Gary Vaynerchuk Sold Out' (my argument at the time was that he hadn't, just monetized) and I tried to use a catchy headline to peak interest. The article is here:

It worked. Not only did it get retweeted, but Gary V. himself sent me a DM and then did his own Video Blog about my post, linking to my article.

You can imagine what happened next. Way more traffic and interactions than I was used to.

Ann Handley said...

Not for nothing, but didn't I *tell* you that was a great title...? Sure, it was after you wrote it. But I'm just saying....

; )

Jamie Favreau said...

Guess this goes along with your CONTENT v. Community thing. I read a lot of content lately. I try and comment too. I think a good post title will make you remarkable and maybe it will be something people remember.

With a dull title then you are just something in which people read.

Greg Verdino said...

So true, Mack. Of course, the content should be as provocative as the title, but I find that titles that shout for attention or challenge people's status quo are among my biggest draws as well.

Headllines like "Twitter is This Year's Second Life," (vs "Is Twitter Overhyped?"), "If Twitter Were a State, It Would be Arkansas" (vs "HubSpot Releases New State of the Twittersphere"), "Are You a Middle Finger Marketer?" (vs "Do you put customer service first?") etc have not only drawn the largest audiences but also the most comments (challenging headlines beg people to chime in) and retweets.