How A Great Title Got Me A Link From The New York Times

Are you looking for proven marketing tactics to attract more readers and grow your blog? How to use a great headline to get on the New York Times

As a blogger, readers are your currency and success and survival depends on attracting and growing an audience. But in this age of social media marketing creating a blog that resonates with the social web is hard work.

But are you really surprised?

After all, the Internet is drowning in “quality” content. In fact, if you post something new today you’ll compete with over “1.5 billion new pieces of content, more than 200 million tweets and 1.5 million new YouTube videos” (source: Jeff Bullas).

Unfortunately even the most brilliant article can slip quietly under the radar because it’s not enough to simply create “quality content”.  In addition you have to figure out a way to get your posts noticed and shared.

Here’s a strategy that worked for me…

  1. First write an awesome headline that gets people sharing on Twitter.
  2. Then secure an influential link from an authority website (such as the New York Times).

Let me explain…

A Case Study from the Micro Business Hub

On Monday 15th October the Hub published How To Look Stupid in 140 Characters by Gaz Copeland. Gaz’s post went viral and has significantly outperformed everything else on our blog to date in terms of social shares, visitors and page views.

And although it’s a strong post, its quality is inline with other content on our site.

So why did this post do so well?

The secret was in the powerful headline and the attention it attracted.

1. The post got retweeted by key Twitter influencers:

Tweets by influential people like @GeneMarks, @publicityguru and @TweetSmarter sent hundreds visitors to the post. In turn, people who visited by these routes shared too which started an avalanche of website visits. The post also featured on the front page of inbound.org which also sent many new visitors to the post.

2. It also secured a link from the New York Times

In addition, @GeneMarks included the post in his New York Times You’re the Boss weekly roundup on Monday 22nd October.  In fact, it may have influenced that week’s title: “This Week In Small Business: Looking Stupid On Twitter”.

On the graphs below you can see the effect this influential link had on stimulating new visitors to the post. In fact it generated a second traffic spike a week after the post was originally published. Even now the post continues to receive hits on a daily basis.

How a great headline got me onto the new York Times

If you’d like to replicate this experience on your blog, try the following steps…

 1. Nail your headline

If you use Twitter as a blog promotion tactic, your headline is absolutely critical.

Yes it’s old advice and you’re probably bored of hearing it but so many bloggers still get it wrong. You see, unless someone is actively watching out for your fresh content, the risk of your new post slipping by in a fast paced Twitter timeline is HUGE.

And if your headline blends in, is boring or irrelevant it just won’t get read.

If you want to persuade an audience to spend time reading your blog, entice them with “power words”, the promise of an unmissable benefit or stoke the curiosity factor.

Do this and you’ll generate social traction because?

  1. More people will click through to read your post.
  2. More people will Retweet and share your content and
  3. The likelihood of influencers in your niche picking up your post and sharing it increases too.

And these factors combined could result in an avalanche of fresh traffic arriving at your blog – great news for your stats and also your blogging confidence.

2. Write for people first, then Google:

For sure you want your blog to be ranked by Google. But first and foremost you want people to notice and read your posts.

Take “How to Look Stupid in 140 Characters”. The inclusion of the word “stupid” makes this post an irresistible read. This headline not only alludes to mistakes but also niggles away. No one likes to look stupid and so when someone spots this headline, their curiosity caves in – they have to know if they are making mistakes that could have a negative impact on how other people label them.

And even better, if they find out they’re not “stupid”, they can feel relieved, congratulate themselves and then spread the word.

Also note the slightly cryptic mention to Twitter as “140 characters”. Readers would know what the post was indirectly referring to and would feel included in the “in joke”. So whilst in terms of SEO this post is not keyword rich, arguably it had more impact in the Twitter stream (and anyway you can always change the page title at a later date to make it more SEO friendly).

3. Identify and network with the influencers

The stats shared above show the huge influence a tweet or a share from the right people can make to the visibility of your posts.

The lesson here is to avoid spending all your time writing in isolation. To get noticed and to attract the type of traffic volumes you desire you need to get on the radar of the influencers in your niche. So create your short list and then use social media to engage them in meaningful conversation. In addition, add value to their blog through thought-provoking comments and of course share their stuff. This relationship building can take time, but the results are worth it.

 4. Attract links from high authority websites

As you know Google places a lot of emphasis on the links your blog has attracted. Clearly the more authoritative the source of the link, the more impact it will have on your own website. Outreach work is highly effective for building links as is the relationship building we talked about above.

The New York Times has a page rank of 9 so in addition to sending traffic direct, this link will also boost the authority of the Hub which in turn will have an impact on the organic Google traffic we receive.

What about you?

What power headlines have you used to transform the success of your blog? How has an influential link from an authority website boosted your traffic? Let me know in the comments below.

Author bio: Georgina El Morshdy is a UK copywriter and content marketing consultant at Gem Writing. You can also catch her at the Micro Business Hub where she helps busy micro business owners grow their business with ideas that work.

 

 

 

Want to Learn How to Market Your Business and Brand on Social Networks?

My book – Blogging the Smart Way “How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” – will show you how.

It is now available to download. I show you how to create and build a blog that rocks and grow tribes, fans and followers on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It also includes dozens of tips to create contagious content that begs to be shared and tempts people to link to your website and blog.

I also reveal the tactics I used to grow my Twitter followers to over 115,000.

You can download and read it now.

Comments

  • http://twitter.com/RootsWebSol Chris Dyson

    Writing click worthy and shareable titles is a real skill, as Georgina mentions the quality of the article itself is no different to the other content on her site – however what really made this post go viral was the title as it stood out from the crowd.

    The fact it was picked up by key Twitter accounts goes so far as to show the people sharing this post were compelled by the title.

    Additionally the NY Times article that linked to the post used an iteration of the title and it too was shared hundreds of times – it just goes so far as to prove the importance of great titles with social media.

  • http://www.wonderoftech.com Carolyn Nicander Mohr

    This is a great illustration of how authors should write for people, not Google. The implication that the article is about Twitter is apparent to readers, though Google might miss the connection due to the lack of the keyword “Twitter.”

    But you generated viral traffic, a link from the New York Times, and credibility with readers by enticing them with a smartly worded headline and quality content.

    Well done to you and Gaz, Georgina!

    • http://twopens.com/ Cynthia Hartwig

      Ditto what Carolyn says. It’s a great headline, AND it delivers on the promise of the headline with good information and good writing. The trifecta, in my view.

  • http://www.hisocial.com/ Hisocial

    This is good strategy, but… do you this is quality traffic? I mean, I would bet that the bounce rate from this kind of visits it’s quite high. of course i may be wrong

  • http://www.facethebuzz.com/blog Face The Buzz Marketing

    What tool did yard using that shows how influential the Twitter user is?

  • http://twitter.com/imrcorp Innovative Marketing

    A tool like SocialEars uses this methodology by indexing relevant content and social authors in a specific industry and ranking their influence against others specifically talking or writing about the topic you are writing about. Also analyzes your content to recommend the most influential authors talking about your topic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/funjobsforseniors Jennifer Cunningham

    This was a good explanation for why headlines are so important. The NY Times story really added authority to this post. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.