This blog refers to an experimental series of blogs posted last week. You might want to check those out before reading this, but I won’t tell if you cheat and read this one first.
The idea for this “experimental” blog series last week came to me when a co-worker sent me a link to a site that claimed to be a link bait generator. At first we just had a laugh about the titles it came up with, joking about how they sounded so much like a lot of posts these days. If you haven’t noticed, a lot of bloggers have started to promote that sort of headline structure in order to get read and get your thoughts spread. I have to be honest, I was skeptical . . . mostly because I’ve personally stopped reading a lot of blogs in my feed that start out with “10 Great Blah Blahs to Blah.” It’s not that I doubt their credibility, or that the information won’t be interesting and enlightening, but when it comes down to it, I really like and respect variety and creativity. Apparently I’m also kind of judgmental, because the bloggers who have been following this formula were right: it really does work.
I figured I’d try it for a week; I’d take 5 randomly generated titles from this link bait generator and run with them. I got really lucky in that the titles that popped up were both (to me) hilarious and easily applicable.
Taking a look at the traffic from last week, not only did these blogs have more page views (unique and otherwise) than any other posts in the past month, but the bounce rate actually went down on the blog page in general. Also for the first and the last posts (the ones about civilization crumbling and a zombie apocalypse) had the longest average times users stayed on the page – that means they didn’t just click because of a wacky title and click away. They actually stayed to read (or to watch the “Thriller” prison video, which I will admit probably explains the 8 minutes and change time average on the zombie post . . . I know it didn’t take that long to read).
Now there are way too many variables in this experiment to say that simply the formulaic nature of the titles did the trick; however, the titles in general are largely responsible. Sure, it might not have been because I said I had “3 Ways Something or Other Could Change Something,” but it was probably because of the inclusion of words and phrases such as “collapse of civilization,” and “zombie attack.”
So what’s the moral of this story? I’d say sure, if creating a formula for your blog posts helps you organize your subjects and keep your topics specific and interesting to draw readers: go for it. But what seems much more important to me in the long run is to make sure that you find a way to make your titles stand out from the crowd. Be relevant, be informational, but don’t be afraid to be a little risky!
Based on the data I gathered, it seems that readers really might be ready for the end of civilization, or the end of blog post titles as we know it.