Fortunately, it isn’t just grumpy cats that go viral
Got a small brand that too few people have heard of? The best way to explode all over the Internet is by going viral — and we’re here to help.
SEO is a right way of climbing the rankings and getting into your customers’ minds. But it takes time, effort and money. Going viral is a much faster and affordable way of getting your site in front of thousands — maybe even millions — of people in a short space of time. And the best thing? You just need an optimized website that’s primed for some serious sharing-is-caring love.
Yup, it isn’t just cat videos that can go viral. And if your rivals can do it, so can you.
A website that doesn’t get shared is like a businessperson that doesn’t go to networking events. While their rivals are out there meeting new prospects and gaining vital exposure, the solitary businessperson is stuck at home twiddling their thumbs.
In other words, unless your website is optimized for viral sharing, you’re missing out on a huge chunk of your potential audience. Driving traffic via Google is just one way of reaching customers — going viral is quite another.
Moreover, going viral compliments your SEO efforts. Check this infographic from Inc.com who partnered up with Moz and found that it’s possible to boost your organic traffic by 123% if your site goes viral.
Also, the more you get shared, the more potential there is for backlinks. It’s a win-win.
This is key because you need to attack different fronts in the battle to get yourself in front of customers. As Neil Patel points out, SEO might even die. Do you have a backup plan?
Social media is where your website goes viral. But while social media looks simple enough on the face of it, optimizing your website for viral sharing is complex, primarily because your site has so many different elements. Your goal is that people engage with it more and more on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on.
And because social media platforms have brought people together so much more than ever, it would be rude not to go viral.
Here are five great hacks to optimize your website for viral sharing.
Create Insanely Shareable Content
Listicle article from Buzzfeed, a type of article that’s primed for viral sharing. Content is still king and always will be. As such, this is where you need to start.
When we think of viral content, a name that always comes up is Buzzfeed. It’s practically synonymous with going viral. What can we learn from how they do it?
Interestingly, one of their most-shared articles in 2015 wasn’t one of the listicles for which they’re famed. Instead, it was a 3,000-word long post.
There has been a debate raging for a long time over what type of content has the most chance of going viral – short or long form? Gary Vaynerchuk makes a convincing argument for long-form video content. But what about blog posts?
As it turns out, the 3,000-word Buzzfeed article that went viral was no fluke. Although Buzzfeed pumps out more short-form than long-form content, the data shows that long-form content performs super well.
Long-form content is a gamble for two obvious reasons:
- It takes a long time to create and might yield poor results
- Site visitors are known for their poor attention spans
However, the reason the long-form content will always have a chance of going viral is that it offers an immense amount of value to the reader.
And value will never get old. As long as you can over-deliver on the value front, there is every chance a piece of long-form content will send your website into the digital stratosphere.
Moreover, long-form content gives you the chance to pack your article with more links — inbound and outbound — which will improve its ranking.
Are you looking for the easiest way to create a long-form blog post? We’ve got some tips here. The truth is, though, there is no easy way.
But the skyscraper technique is valued highly by content marketers because you don’t need to spend ages coming up with your own ideas. Instead, you take a piece of long-form content created by someone else in your niche and make it your own — but even better. You add more links, more tips, more images, more value.
It works, too. Check out content marketer Brian Dean’s experimentation with a skyscraper article that boosted his backlinks like they were going extinct.
Naturally, we’ve not all got time to create long-form content all the time. So what else goes viral that doesn’t take a year to create?
We’re back to Buzzfeed, this time for their listless. Buzzfeed is the Kings of the Listicles, which are essentially just picture-based articles. They don’t take too long to create, but they suit the fast-paced nature of social media.
When you think about it, people go on social media to have a bit of fun and be entertained. This is exactly why listicles are shared so much.
Listicles also let us indulge in a bit of easy scanning, which our brains love to do. We don’t need to spend ages digging into the article to find what we want — a quick scan during a two-minute break at work will be quite enough.
Infographics also have incredible potential to go viral, with 55% of B2C content creators saying that creating visual content is now a priority of theirs. Like listicles, infographics are easy to digest, straight-to-the-point and visual in nature – which is what people in a hurry love.
Add Eye-Catching Images
Images make your content look visually appealing. They attract attention, help your reader understand your content more, and they stay in mind longer than words.
Moreover, the right image is capable of making a reader feel a certain way.
Check out this feel-good image below:
Just looking at an image like this can be enough to change the way a person is feeling. If you can alter their mood just like that, you’ve got a better chance of them sharing your article.
There are a few things you need to keep in mind when selecting images for your site. Make sure that your images:
- Have been compressed (if an image is too big, it will slow down your site speed)
- Have been optimized for Google (add keywords to the alt-tags and descriptions)
- Suit your brand
- Are relevant to the page and article
It’s important to use professional-looking photos for your website, as these will further encourage shares. The safest way to find good-looking, polished images is by signing up to a stock image library such as Shutterstock.
Once you’ve got images on your page and in your articles, double down by repurposing them for social media to encourage even more shares.
Use Clickable Social Media Buttons
A social media button is sometimes all you need for your website to go viral. A user sees a colorful Facebook button next to a blog post, hits it and shares your page with their friends. Their friends see the article in their newsfeed, read it and enjoy it, and also give it a share. Et voila, you’re all over the Internet (kinda).
Et voila, you’re all over the Internet (kinda).
However, as simple as that sounds, there are a few things you need to consider as you look to get the most out of social media buttons.
Placing your social media buttons at the top of your page sounds counter-intuitive. After all, why would a reader share something before they’ve even read it? Remarkably, however, studies have demonstrated that site visitors have no problem sharing a post without reading it first.
What can we take from this? Your headline needs to be strong (we’ll return to this later) enough so that it alone encourages rapid-fire shares.
Naturally, you should add social media buttons to the bottom of your post too so that users can share them once they’re done reading through. You could also implement a floating bar to the left of your article that stays in the same position while the reader scrolls through the post. Mix and match — why not?
Another thing to keep in mind is the size of your social media buttons. If they’re too small, you run the risk of them going unnoticed.
Lastly, if your site has been shared a good number of times, there’s no reason not to use share counters. Share counters can validate your website and demonstrate social proof. On the flipside, if you’ve got barely any shares, it’s better that you don’t include share counter.
Make Your Headlines Stand out
Ever lamented that key issues sometimes get buried beneath the rubble of often-pointless “news” stories? It’s often because the headlines don’t make the same connection with the readers.
As mentioned earlier, a strong headline can be enough to convince someone to share your website before they’ve even read the whole article.
You might have seen similar evidence of this yourself on social media. Ever noticed how a new post by a popular figure on social media gets a tonne of engagement just seconds after it’s been posted? It’s impossible for anyone to read a whole article that quickly, which means they aren’t responding to the copy body — they’re being driven crazy by the headline.
To go viral, headlines need to be catchy, direct, short, punchy and compelling. Depending on what your goal is, they should either arouse curiosity or promote a benefit — or both.
There is a certain psychology behind what makes us click on a headline. Because our brains are hardwired to survive, we have a natural inclination to seek out negative news. Why?
So that we know how to defend ourselves from such-and-such a thing happening to us. As this study shows, our brains consequently enjoy surprises — even nasty ones. If you can surprise people with a headline, you’re well on your way to grabbing their attention and encouraging shares.
For example, just like “awesome,” “massive” and “best” might work, so too do their opposites, such as “worst,” “avoid” and “stop.”
Questions in a headline work, too, because they create curiosity rather than destroy it before people have even clicked the article.
This is important, because the less someone knows about something and the more they want to know is essentially what compels kids to push buttons, adventurers to open secret doors — and Internet users to click articles!
Your headline doesn’t have to contain a question, but it needs to provoke a tingle of excitement and curiosity in the reader with just a teeny tiny bit of info.
Lastly, you can’t neglect the classic “How To …” headline.
Why does this headline work? Because people want to be learn something. They want to become smarter by clicking your article.
Integrate Facebook Comments to Your website
Lastly, by integrating Facebook comments to your website, you’re giving people the chance to see their friends comment on your posts. Once this happens, they might be inclined to read the article and comment themselves.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to integrating Facebook comments to your site. It won’t take long at all, is totally free and will expose your page to lots more people on the Internet. Moreover, it’s also a lot simpler than adding your own comments section.
Not convinced this will work? On average, sites that are integrated with the social media giant Facebook boost their external traffic by 300%.
Also, the more users interact with your page via Facebook, the more “earned media” your brand will get. In other words, the more branded mentions there are of your page, the better your ranking will be.
Buzzfeed integrates Facebook comments on their website
To wrap up, it isn’t just cat photos that can go viral and become known as the “single greatest achievement of the year.” Social media has connected us more than ever, and it’s high time that you optimized your website so that you’re ready to catch flame upon flame when someone lights the match.
Remember to focus on crafting catchy content with eye-catching images and standout headlines while pushing those big colorful social share buttons in our faces. And when you need some extra help, check out these social media marketing resources that will boost your performance.
On that note, we’d love to go viral, too. Care to give us a share?