There is an art and science to getting blog posts to travel like wildfire.
This post will look at both, based on number crunching with 281 posts, 39,000+ comments, and almost 2,000,000 click-throughs via my Twitter profile and Facebook fan page in the last six months.
Here’s what I’ve found to work well…
In this context, more than anything else, the “art” is coming up with good headlines.
I presented the above slide to a Fortune 100 company that wanted to encourage employees to blog. The problem? Their employees (mostly high-end engineers), as brilliant as they were, had no idea what to write about. My suggestion was (and always is): focus on an obsession that makes you a bit weird. Then tie it to something that interests more people.
Just invite a few friends to dinner, look at the graphic, and follow the instructions. It’s fun.
Into trapeze or German techno? Our starting headlines might be “How to Perform 5 Tricks on the Flying Trapeze” or “German Techno 101.” That’s just a starting point. Then we expand to what your wider circle of friends or co-workers might be interested in. For example:
“How German Techno Can Make You a Better Agile Programmer”
“5 Principles of Flying Trapeze for Better Hiring Decisions”
See how that works? This recipe works, and it’s a plug-and-play format for getting started, and getting traffic.
Once you’ve had a bit of practice, it’s oftentimes easier — and more scalable — to imitate what works elsewhere.
The “science” is borrowing headlines or testing them. Determining pass-along-value by the numbers.
How do you know if you have a good headline?
There are several simple ways. One indication: a tweet gets retweeted hundreds of times in less time than it would take to read what you linked to. People retweet without reading where the link leads?!? All the time. Plan accordingly.
My last five posts have been retweeted 931, 508, 343, 683, and 813 times, for an average of 655.6 times.
For clicks, the pay-off can be handsome. In my case, these retweets can often drive 10,000+ unique visitors to a post. Here are a few popular blog post titles, tracked using SU.PR [Ed. Note: SU.PR was discontinued in 2013] from StumbleUpon:
Click here for large, more readable size.
How do you learn what works? Headlines are as old as writing itself.
There are many sources, but rankings and data sets (often prolific bloggers) are what you want. The simple version is: study Digg (look at “7 Days” or longer) and Seth Godin (look at the most retweeted).
Seth is a brilliant copywriter and outstanding headline craftsman. I notice one of his repeating headline patterns appeared to be “The Difference Between [A] and [B]”, which I tested successfully with “The Difference: Living Well vs. Doing Well.”
What the hell does my post title mean, exactly?
Never tell the whole story in the headline if you want optimal click-through. “Home Prices Drop 47%, Largest Single-Quarter Drop in 50 Years” isn’t nearly as good as “Largest Drop in Home Prices Since 1960: The Reasons, Numbers, and What You Can Do.” There’s another element in the latter that makes it superior: it’s prescriptive instead of merely descriptive. People don’t want more information about their problems; they want solutions to their problems.
Piquing curiosity can be done with questions instead of statements, and my question-based post titles are some of the best performing (such as “Why Are You Single? Perhaps It’s The Choice Effect“), unless used more than 20% of the time, at which point, it appears that readers suffer “question burnout” and click-through plummets. This is a common problem with (over)use of lists (“17 Things You Can Do For…” etc.).
Would “Why Are You Single?” have worked well by itself? I don’t think so. But what the hell is “The Choice Effect”? Once again, this is exactly the point. I want that question to bother you enough that you click on the link and, most important, read the piece.
Which of these two posts from Seth’s blog do you think did best, as measured by retweets?
How long before you run out of talking points?
Which has a WTF?
The red zone, of course, which got 685 retweets vs. 392 retweets for talking points. WTF FTW! (Yes, I just judo chopped your brain with a palindrome)
But, is the headline the only factor contributing to retweets? Of course not. I’ve purposefully written bare bones posts on other experimental blogs of mine, but crafted headlines by the numbers, to prove (to my satisfaction, at least) that headlines rule in online word-of-mouth.
You can test it yourself: split test on Twitter. But… um, you can’t split test on Twitter, as much as it’d be cool to send version A to half of your followers and version B to the rest.
Or can you? Kind of — you can test headlines with time-zone cohorts who are unlikely to overlap. Huh? In simple terms, this means that I like to publish blog posts at around, say, 2am PST and tweet out the working title at the same time. I did this with “The Rebirth of Seth Godin and Death of Traditional Publishing: How Authors Really Make Money” to hit the US-based night owls.
I then like to tweet out a new version B at around 8am PST the following morning (not yet changing the blog post title itself, and I never change the permalink once published), when the night owls will be mostly asleep. I schedule this tweet in advance using SU.PR [Ed. Note: SU.PR was discontinued in 2013], as I’m also a night owl. Last, I compare results and stick with the winner.
This is how “The Rebirth of Seth Godin and Death of Traditional Publishing: How Authors Really Make Money” was switched around and became “How Authors Really Make Money: The Rebirth of Seth Godin and Death of Traditional Publishing.” You’ll notice the latter version is in the “most popular” screen shot above for the last 30 days.
It’s an imperfect process, but I’ve found the results replicable.
The exact timing of publication is less important than ensuring that most A cohorts are sleeping when you test the B version, or vice-versa. In my case, non-US/Canadian readers (Brits in particular) can throw the numbers a little, but more than 60% of my readers are from the US and disproportionately located on the east or west coast, based on Facebook Insights.
The Hail Mary Solution
Last but not least, you can always do a Hail Mary blog title. What, pray tell, is that? It’s a title that pays homage to Twitter and becomes recursive.
A good example would be “How to Create Headlines That Get Retweeted.”
Odds and Ends:
1) Is this helpful? Please let me know in the comments what you’d like to read more of.
2) Here’s a sneak peek of a goodie from the “Becoming Superhuman” book: Athletic Greens, which I’ve been using for the last year. I have no financial interest in the company or product.
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
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236 Replies to “Blogging by Numbers: How to Create Headlines That Get Retweeted”
Great post. Something we can study and apply. With stats like that who can argue that the formula doens’t work. I also like to utilize my major keyword in the title as close as possible to the beginning. Now that is an art!
Hey Tim, time to switch to the offical Twitter badge/counter instead of sticking with Tweetmeme?
Looking forward to your new book. I blew out my knee and will need surgery to replace one or more ligaments. As an active crossfitter and bjj competitor I was wondering if the book will cover surgical and non-surgical recovery or possibly your take on the best way for athletes to navigate the medical system?
Thanks for sharing your knowledge again,
Traffic driving titles is definitely something I need to work a lot harder on.
I would love to know how you research content for your blog posts, particularly:
1. How do you find such great and varied content that resonates with so many?
2. How do you research specific facts and theories, then retain and summarise all of the information?
All the best,
Ps. How is the 500 lb deadlift coming along?
Awesome post Tim, I just wanted to keep reading more, your blog is def one of the best places on the web. Thanks mate
Amazing article — This is the brilliant type of insight that seems so obvious to you only after you’ve heard someone else articulate it. I’ve been blogging for awhile now… and have struggled with headline writing from day one.
This will help – a lot. Thanks Tim, and if you ever need a guest poster, let me know! 🙂
This was an interesting read, and it got me thinking about whether the rules apply for corporate intranet headlines. I’m tempted to say they would partly apply. But I’m not sure employees would click a headline with a WTF factor, b/c they may tend to assume the post isn’t meaningful to their jobs. I think you may have to be a little bit more specific in some instances.
In the organization I currently work for, the rule that applies is: if you add an exclamation mark, your headline/story is automatically interesting. That’s just one of the myths I have to overcome with time.
I don’t know what this post was about. But I shared it on Twitter.
“”People Retweet without reading where the link leads?!? All the time.” http://tinyurl.com/23uhkrj“
Tim … I read your blog about how to tweet and write things on Facebook. Instead of telling the story today I did it in headlines:
What is The Suburban in Mtl saying about me? Go to page 4 … to find out! Go to … to see why!
So much better. Even I would click on the links to see what it’s about.
Thanks for the tip from a struggling author!
How cool is this post ? way cool…thanks so much for this valuable nugget!
Great post tim
I want to take a hiking trip to Sao Miguel for 1 week but my friends can’t find the time or money to come with me.
If you are willing to meet someone new and want to see a beautiful place that you have yet to visit (hopefully) then send me an email.
I am an honest person and I won’t ask you for any favors. 🙂
I am one of your 3000+ facebook buddies: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=838695501
Thanks for considering it.
In order to get people to read your blog posts, you just need to come up with a title that people care about and are searching for. For example… how to get more blog posts! or something crazy like “Attract 10,000 New Followers On Twitter in 48 hours”. That is what people will want to read because it spikes curiosity.
If I make a blog post and called it “Attract 10 new Twitter Followers in 2 months”, nobody would read it. Even better, “Gain 20lbs of Lean Muscle in 4 Years”.
Tim, I know this is a bit late, but happy birthday!
Here is our present to you (issue #5, the one with the Indiana Jones meets 4HWW style cover)… hope you like it: http://interestingtimesmagazine.com/download.html
It might be out in print later this year if all goes well 🙂
Loved the first book
I do NOT understand this “For clicks, the pay-off can be handsome. In my case, these retweets can often drive 10,000+ unique visitors to a post. ”
How are retweets paying for you & Seth other than book sales?
Thanks (hopefully you read this and take the minute to respond)(fingers crossed)
I just meant “pay off” in the broader sense of traffic ROI for tweet time. That can convert to income/experiences via:
– More converts to book sales
– Just more cool readers, which is ultimately what I most enjoy
Hope that helps!
I will try this one..thanks Tim.
HOLA!!!!!!!!!! TIM ¿como estas?
thanks for the tips !!!!! (gracias por los consejos!!!!!)
do you drink ice green tea? (tomas siempre te verde helado?)
is Athletic Greens better than brainquicken for you? (es mejor Athletic Greens que brainquicken para vos?) because i live in bs as and i want to use brainquicken or now athletic green.(porque quiero probar uno de los dos….y respeto bastante tu opinion)
do you know something about maca and gingko biloba? (sabes algo sobre la maca y gingko biloba?)
i want to read ¨ Becoming Superhuman” now!!!!
i love 4 hour week , i love the blog and iwant to read more about :
px method , learning method , Becoming Superhuman, and i dont know how to write this: i heard about a method that use the japanese Abacus .do you konw something about this?
thanks a lot!!!!!!!!!! Muchas gracias!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks for another great post. Actually, I have been following your blog since 2007. So, a lot of your advice has been sinking in gradually and manifesting itself throughout my life. For example, I just got back from Thailand yesterday. I was there studying a one month CELTA certificate in Teaching English as Second Language. Fantastically productive experience…
Thanks for your achievable words…
Nice work! God, I love Thailand… Ah, the nostalgia 🙂
Ha. I’ve got interested and clicked two example headlines while reading this text.
I’m inspired by you! I hadn’t heard about you until a few weeks ago. One boring thunderstormy afternoon, I came across your TED talk and thought you made sense and looked good too. So, I googled you. A few days later I was at the library looking for your book. Sorry, I didn’t buy it. Maybe next time.
I’m 50 pages through and your book has already rekindled my ‘I-am-made-to-do-something-different’ spirit, which I thought had permanently gone to bed when the world said to me “your thoughts and ideas are just illusions of grandeur”. I’m going to plough though the book, make some changes in my life and follow you on the internet to get some great ideas. Thanks and keep up the good work!
1) Yes it was insightful. Copywriting is a skill that takes time. Most are boring and generic and they do not even realize they are. Which would you rather read:
it’s my blogs birthday or
6 bits of wisdom from 6 months blogging
Google “its by blogs birthday” to see just how many people wrote that… as with anything no one starts out amazing.
2) Looking forward to the new book! The 4 hour was transformational for me.
I read a lot of personal development books, and I mean a LOT! This all to find out who I really am, and what I want to do with this one life I have.
Outcome of all this information I digested: a little bit of frustration, and a lot more questions and to do’s, before I could finally ” enjoy” life.
After reading your book, I must admit at first I was not really digging it. I thought about all the things you said about outsourcing, and how this could be very difficult in the business I am in. (playama) When time passed by I got the strong feeling you were right on various points, and that made my eyes open up.
I must say I do work more then 4 hours a week, maybe that is also a bit overdone by you, but hell I am having a lot more free time since I finished your book. It inspired me truly to make the most out of my life, really enjoy it right now.
Thanks for that!
All the best,
P.S. spoken about guest posting, how can I reach you? 😉
You should make a post on how you go about making blog posts, or what helps you with your writing, I like your writing style a lot. Unless theres already a blog post you have posted about such?
Hey great tips man. I learn something new everyday.
Tim, loved this post for the combination of art and science – and practical advice.
Really looking forward to the new fitness book! Anticipation… like a kid waiting for Christmas!
I clicked through to the Athletic Greens site, and they look good. For the past couple of years, I’ve been doing daily greens in a big glass of water to start they day – with the goal of hydrating and alkalizing. I switched from Tony Robbins’ formulation (could never get used to the taste) to “Berry Green Superfood” by Amazing Grass (I have no financial interest in the company or product). I don’t know how to measure the results directly – other than Ph. Anything you’re doing to measure results and effectiveness of greens mix?
Ingredients look similar, and I’m looking forward to hearing more about your experience with Athletic Greens.
Much like chess…
Inspiration from your outlook has changed our business model.
Have you ever traveled to Egypt?
I love the ‘packing tips’ videos, and always look forward to your recommendations for adventuring light.
I feel so dirty and used after reading the Hail Mary approach, haha. Just kidding. This actually resonated with me as I am trying to learn about the blogging world and (indirectly) writing skills.
Not the first to say, and definitely not the last – but thanks for your all work, Tim.
Well, if you spoke Portuguese, you would give me some tips about your book.
I’m reading “four hour work week” and I’m really excited to put yours advices in practice.
I’m a lawyer and working in the government. However, I’m thinking to start a new business with sales.
If you have time for this, please, contact me. I’m follow you on twitter (@monicamgo).
By the way, I can teach you portuguese if you teach me how to have time for traveling, like you.
Abraços from Brasil,
ps.: 1)I can wait until next monday, rs. 2) Sorry about my English…I’ve not spoken since 2002
Long time listener (4HWW audio book) first time reader/commenter. This post was well worth the inquiry. Thanks for the awesome info!
One thing that works for me is stating the problem, then letting people know the solution is there.
such as “Why do you smoke and how to get rid of the habit”
the How to is always a kicker for sure.
Thanks. I was wondering about getting more the “RTs.”
How are you doing? I loved this post. I have to tell you.. I have been building my business and my blog every day for a year now.. and it is just now beginning to really kick up a notch..
Very exciting, it is.. And I luckily found your book in the middle of this work.. so you, honestly, saved me so much time and agony from your tips.
I have to say, after I read this post (three times) I went into my stats. Out of my 52 posts, the ones with the most traffic or RT’s or comments, even.. are the ones that are titled… “How to…..”. and I also have to admit, they are fairly boring titles. Guess it’s my English Teacher training, keeping me on the subject and using keywords. (which isn’t always a bad thing in SEO)..
But, I certainly am going to get back in there, and change just five posts.. five posts that I knew could have knocked the socks off my FB followers.. I am going to use your formula and see.. how many RT’s I get.
Thank you for the inspiration..
You certainly know how to inspire others to greatness, which is what I am doing right now as well… inspiring others to find their greatness within.
But you also have inspired me to be myself again… and you have always been able to do that, even in middle school, just never told you.
Would love to catch up again soon. You know where to find me.
Thanks a lot, I learned a lot from this post. This improved my Twitter Skills a little more now!
How about mentioning the fact that you have … oh … 145k followers (and counting)?
You cheat, Tim.
Very … very … well.
I link to the FB/Twitter profiles in the first two paragraphs and make the numbers clear. My headlines are comparative (A vs. B) so there’s no cheating. Second, there are people with 1 million+ followers who get fewer comments and retweets on posts. Not appropriate use of “cheating”, but I suppose perception is reality.
Great tips tim, ive been trying different ways to drive traffic to my travel blog and never seem to get the right combination. Def will try the tips you gave.. and of course… retweet the article lol
Great post. I am a personal development blogger and I am trying to test out new headlines. One of my posts that got a lot of clicks was “How to be Nice and Finish First”.
Had a question:
1) How does SEO work. Does google automatically rank you higher if you have good content or do you suggest spending a couple of hundred bucks on outsourcing SEO stuff. I have been going to this cool site called seochat.com. However I feel like I am great at building relationships with people and providing great content and I am concerned that if I spend too much time on the technical aspect I wont be able to spend time on providing content.
Thanks for the help TIm.
Also check out a book called “The Power of Now”. Its amazing.
I spend zero time on SEO besides occasionally using Google Keyword Tool to decide between two or three words in a headline. That’s it. The rest of your time, if you’re using an SEO-friendly platform like WordPress, should be spent on good content and good community.
As a new blogger, I would love to know more about the process behind your posting! From Idea to Post, or The Process – A Ferriss Day Off.
James St. James
Tim, where would we be without you? Your comments are so useful, so inspiring, you have kept me going on my hour plus drive to work via your audio book!! I am struggling to break free having gone back to part time work to keep my 3 horses fed – yes I have expensive babies! I am currently working on my second book about car restoration – a 1982 Capri that I have had for 14 years and brought back to NZ with me in 2001! and lecturing in Early Childhood AND desperately faffing around with my training company! I combine ABA , psychology and my teaching experience to training horses but really it’s about training people! LOVE your stuff so much and you are truly a gem, thanks for sharing your life with us all!
If you are ever in NZ would LOVE to catch up with you!
I haven’t received an email from you about Sao Miguel. I know it’s a long shot to ask you. But if you are NOT interested can you just let me know.
Thanks for the info! I love your formula for coming up with a great title. Now if I could just figure out what weird obsession I have…
A little bit of quick research shows me 5 out of my top 7 blog posts by total pages views have “how to” in the title, interesting. My Retweet data is lacking depth as yet to meaningfully comment. Kudos on the tip to add the WTF factor in titles… kind of reminders me of the “Interest” point from the old A.I.D.A. principle… basically ask a question in the title that can’t possibly be answered unless the person reads on. Thanks for that!
PS any stats or thoughts on retweet influence on bringing all time unique visitors to your site vs returning, or are they mix of both? Basically, is it mainly strengthening your existing community or gain new visitors?
Thanks for the great info. Towards the end you got pretty deep with tracking. As a new blogger you have given me lots to consider.
Again, Thanks for all the tips.
Tim; can’t wait for the new book.
Athletic Greens looks like a soild product.
I can’t wait to see what the haters throw at you after the book launch!
Tim, thanks so much for this priceless post. It inspired my blog post title today, “How Your GPS Can Make You a Better Leader.” I am admitedly new at this, but in the last hour I’ve gotten far more response than any past post’s total!
Melissa’s right – you’re inspiring.
Great job, Lowell! Thank you (and Melissa and all) for such nice words. I’m just a normal guy with a healthy dose of controlled OCD, but thank you 🙂
All the best,
“2) Here’s a sneak peek of a goodie from the “Becoming Superhuman” book: Athletic Greens, which I’ve been using for the last year. I have no financial interest in the company or product.”
Kinda weird that the linked site https://athleticgreens.com/checkout/usalaunch/
says “secured” – yet the Popup when clicking on the “secured” image on the bottom of the page gives details on a ssl certificate for a completely different website.
Domain Control Verified
GoDaddy.com has verified that the certificate holder controls the domain http://www.idkmanage.com.
Not to worry, IDK Nutrition is the parent company.
Thanks for a great article.
We are in the process of setting up our site and getting into Twitter. It helps to do research and find articles like this that tell you “how to” in plain english.
It is crazy how much difference a title to an article can make. Before you explained your strategy I remember clicking one of your headlines just because I was a little confused and curious. I should have known it was all part of the plan.
thanks for sharing
Its impressive how many people are intresting in that what you are writing and what to do. Now if i speak with somebody who i give information one year ago about your book, then this peoople took now: this is the same what was writing in this book : )
Great post, keep them coming. I visit your site from time to time for motivation and solid tips. This post was right on time as I am beginning my blog this month as one of my “muses”. I’ll save the plug for another post…..just remember the name….greatness awaits! And I mean that in the most humble way!
You are awesome!!
All the information you share seems to have the potential for being life-changing!
You’re a god!
Ah, the eternal search for the perfect headline. My dad started doing mailorder back in the late 60’s, and this is just the modern equivalent. If you cannot grab the readers’ attention with the headline, then the rest of your message, however brilliant, will never be seen. Great piece!
So, I’ve been trying to research better headline writing techniques for a while and reading this decided to make me try and experiment.
I re-submitted an old article I posted on my blog with a catchier title (3 tip to help you find a job better) and within a few seconds, it got 30 hits. I’ll have to check the numbers later tonight but GO FIGURE.
I wish their was this much transparency in everything I need or want to know. Thank you.
I find it much harder to read long capitalized headlines. I have been annoyed over this use for some time. It really makes no sense to me. Is it is an american thing, to do this?
Tried to read all the comments for this one question. If it was asked already I apologize in advance. Curious, how did you track speed of the retweet? I’m actively using SU.PR, and have twitter and facebook fan pages but cannot figure out speed of the retweets and likes. I’m looking at traffic data in SU.PR and just not seeing that metric nor do I know how to read tweet times in twitter or facebook.
This may sound a wee bit crazy…I know from personal experience how much of an impact writing a WTF title can have. However I decided to go against this approach and stick to writing titles that gave a fuller understanding of what my article is about. Now that I’m thinking about things WTF did I not stick with what was making my articles more successful…
Nice post, very useful.
I will certainly split test some of this stuff. Seth Godin is THE man indeed!
Though I am surprised controversial headlines aren’t included here. Oh well.
Love it Tim, will be testing your advice over the next few days with my own business blog.
Tim you kind of mentioned an interesting point here in that long post titles i.e. ‘Why smiling is good for you and why it’s the No.1 technique tat being a winner in love’, are actually very popular and really work. They act like a book title and that means the reader gets great info but without the numerous pages to read. Thus they get the direct stuff that’s gonna change their life, weight or sex life etc. in a fraction of the time. And the benefits are in the title too. It’s the reverse of regular blog thinking but I’m liking it more and more!!
Very useful article Tim. I’ve been making a major study of this as I’ve been growing my blog and Personal Freedom Coaching. Inbound Marketing (Hub Spot) and A List Blogging by Leo Babauta of ZenHabits have done awesome work in the headline area too.
Nice article! I try look at headlines on the news stands for ideas and tips – Newspaper and magazine publishers have to grab your attention to get their publication off the shelf and have had years of experience in good headline copywriting.
Interesting Timbo. I’m guessing the approach changes if you want your blog page to rank higher on google? This is my priority and I just string what I would imagine someone would type into google if they had a question on mind. Ie “should I make my outdoor bootcamp competitive” (that would be my title!) I’m newish to social marketing so it would be interesting to see how you would change your approach depending on which medium you wanted your message to get across or whether a tool like twitter would help you leap frog up the google ranks (???).
On a side note. I know one person that actually uses twitter! This is probably old school inforamtion but surely twitter is much more a business tool than a social friend network tool?
Great post and I like this concept of swipe file. Another method which has been gaining popularity is inclusion of info graphics in the post.
Haven’t gotten into tweeting yet but I like this one: “How To Create iPhone Apps With No Programming Experience” 🙂
It would require some more in-depth research to prove your point, have you tried neuromarketing tools, too? – http://su.pr/81xlRc
I am impressed by your activity on the blog.
I bet you outsourced at least 80 percent of the comment management… :))
Hi Tim. I’m so glad I found your blog and this very helpful post. I’m on my way of finding solutions to bring my blog to the next level. But I could not just find a way till I read this. I am now on creating my intriguing titles and headlines. Thanks.
I will try yours advices in my new blog…
beijos do Brasil
Really like the idea of being prescriptive and stating a solution. That’s crazy that most people don’t even click through a post and retweet it. I definitely have some work to do…
Long time fan, but first time poster (simply because with this crowd it’s impossible to win an intelligence or popularity contest, and apparently my ego has a problem with that :-).
For what it’s worth though, I thought I’d pass along one headline hack that WORKS EVERY TIME–a list.
For some crazy reason, people absolutely love lists. It doesn’t matter if the list is a list of confessions, recipes, strategies, or workout routines, when we see a list in a headline we can’t pass it up. “9 Ways to Save $100 a Week”, “14 Tasty Recipes Under 300 Calories”, etc.
Something in the human mind equates lists with concrete value (as if putting a number or bullet point next to it somehow makes it a fact), and condensed packaging (don’t make me read a damn essay, I’m too American and too lazy. Just give me the bullet points, and I’ll be on my suburban-middle-class-middle-management way).
Next time you’re at the newsstand or grocery store, check out the magazine covers and count how many headlines use a list of some kind–easily 80-85%
Great post Tim!
I´m sending out to a list of 4.000 domain clients, and I usually spend loads of time preparing the post and landing page but very little time on the captivating headline. Will definetely focus more on this in the future
From my blog tracking I see a pattern about lists: lists longer than 10 items get far fewer retweets than under 5 items. Plus, 5 or less item lists get disproportionately more traffic.
This is great stuff; kudos. Lol @ WTF FTW.
I’m definately gonna be keeping that in mind next time I’m writing – I’ve always been “stuck” with titles and keep coming back to the same old boring, practical stuff. After reading this I guess it’s okay to go a bit nuts and get your readers to think “wtf does that mean?” 🙂
This is a great post- very helpful and clear. Thank you and I definitely have to think more strategically about my blog titles. I don’t think most of mine are currently wired to go viral, so– definitely an area to improve! I have a hard time being creative with titles…
I’m still a “freshy” when it comes to blogging, but I’m learning and developing all the time. Coming across posts like this though always bumps my writing up another level, so I’m grateful to you for providing me with yet another turbo boost! Nice Work!
Great insight as always. Doug Flutie would be proud of this posting…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3ykWbu2Gl0
Digital dopeness dude. Thanks!
Headlines have driven traffic to my site, but mostly due to targeted search keywords. (rarely do I get a RT)
Will really focus on attention grabbing headlines now. Can’t believe there are so many retweets without even reading the article!
Great article! There’s a lot of really helpful things in here for people like myself to think about when starting a blog. Itis always great when people share their methods of success.
great post, Tim. the internet is all about finding answers and learning new things. Teach them something new and they will retweet it or stumble it (I find is quite amazing) and soon you too will have a viral following.
aspiring for the 3 day work week
Great blog Tim. I just found your website and it’s great. Lots of informative information. I’ll definately be taking some tips from this post so I can get some retweets in the future.
I’m really interested in your posts as I’m getting ready to launch a series of eBooks and want to optimize the titles. This is about the best discussion on the topic of headline optimization I’ve found yet.
Still struggling with the details though. I understand the how you formulated the deciding factor, speed of retweet. However, with the stumble upon approach would this not require a lot of followers? I currently don’t have many followers on StumbleUpon and so I don’t know how I can decide between headlines. I had also thought of integrating the tweet / like buttons with Google Analytics. Has anybody done this?
Wow! very interesting…I’m a twitter-rookie, i’m reading joel comm’s book right now [i hope to advance quickly]. This was very helpful, thank you.
I’m anxiously awaiting your next vimeo with Kevin Rose. did i miss it?? has it been since summer?
i’m a nightowl, too, and apparently with a case of insomnia this morning…
This is my first time at your site and it truly is Fonzie cool. I’ve been in offline marketing for 20 years but researching online for 1. After all is said and done, it comes back to the simple stuff right?
If you could just document your own actions and repurpose the techniques that got you to click, buy, whatever….everything else is gravy.
Seth Godin is great and I am adding you to that list
tim, I never would have thought to develop my quirks into my marketing. It’s so true though, that what makes people interesting.
I’ve been meaning to catch up on this post. Glad I did. Funny about Seth’s versus title. I just wrote a post called, “Frugal to Survive or Frugal to be Rich?” and I received a great response. I believe it was the title and well written content. Hope to achieve that response again!
‘How to’ titles have really helped me generate consistent traffic to my blog, specifically to that post. With how things are shaping and people are beginning to search for answers on their own, articles like these or ‘101’s will be very useful to them. A lot of what Seth Godin talks about (permission marketing) revolves around this. Great tips!
Thank you for alle yours experimentations.
We can’t order Athletic green in switzerland do you have a alternative?
Thank you very much for your answer and your greet book.
I noticed that Athletic Greens contains Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol) which you and many others advise against. Any comments?
i think the most catchy titles are the ones with “how to” and “top x”… i think there have been some tests done that showed that these titles got the most clicks and it’s pretty easy to understand why 🙂 everybody likes to know “how to” do something or which are the top 10 x he can do or use..
Awesome! I’m recommending your post on my corporate blog for adventure travelers looking to expand their readership (for improving sponsorship potential, promoting causes, etc.). Even people with incredibly epic stories to tell (climbing Everest, running across deserts, rowing across oceans, etc.) cannot assume that alone will do it. In a world with way too much information, there’s just too much competing for attention to have a boring title. Thanks, Tim!
One of my best reads this week! Super useful content. Thanks, Tim! Retweeting you in about 2 seconds from now….;)
A wonderful post, Tim. I so agree with what you’re saying, that even the best content need to be tweaked and adjusted to suit the proper medium. Thank you for the fabulous insights.
Headlines are super important! haha Judo chopped my brain. FTW.
Nice post, headlines are hints to a bigger story, if you give away to much info, then the person has made hes mind up already not to read it most likely.
I agree with you 100% Tim…writing headlines really is an art AND science. Human psychology, as diverse as it is, has a lot of the same fundamentals.
When I write headlines, I am always trying to think of what would grab my attention the most. Does it create the controversy that many people are after? Would I re-tweet this to my followers?
I “borrow’ headlines all the time. I don’t necessarily copy word-for-word, but I take the concept and make it my own. I think this is key since if there was a viral headline, you don’t want to be like everyone else, otherwise people won’t re-tweet it.
Great article and thanks for some great idea’s. 🙂
Always looking for new stuff to keep my SEO posting on point. This article has given much for me to be considered. I look forward to reading your other posts.
Keep up the great work!
I agree with you 100% Tim…writing headlines really is an art AND science. Human psychology, as diverse as it is, has a lot of the same fundamentals.
When I write headlines, I am always trying to think of what would grab my attention the most. Does it create the controversy that many people are after? Would I re-tweet this to my followers?