Add These 2 Elements to Every Post, and Your Blog Will Explode in Popularity


Did you see what I did there? Total, cheesy, off-the-charts linkbait… and it worked. You're here because I wrote a blog post title in a specific way. This is the key strategy on sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed and they've drawn millions of readers by adjusting their post titles to have just 2 key elements… curiosity and emotion.

  1. Curiosity – by mentioning 2 items, your mind is begins to wonder and the temptation to click through is just too much.
  2. Emotion – I carefully used the term popularity in the post title. Who doesn't wish for their blog to be popular?

These 2 elements in a post title are ridiculously successful but you have to use them with extreme caution. I'm already weary of the sites I mentioned above. While they often have irresistible content, I don't find value in them and often lose valuable minutes browsing pictures of cats or watching tear-jerking stories. Note: I didn't link to those sites for fear of losing your attention for the next 45 minutes.

Does that mean that you should avoid the tactic? No… but I do think you need to keep the titles from going over the top and deliver just what you said you would. I find that many of the sites that utilize these tactics simply don't meet the expectation of the title. Tone it down a few notches and you'll find it a fantastic strategy.

So… let's say you're a photographer and you have a post on 8 tips for taking photos. Instead of the standard ol' 8 Tips blog post, you could write a post like Do These 8 Simple Steps Before Taking Your Next Picture and You'll be Amazed at the Results. Curiosity (what steps?) and emotion (amazed!).

Perhaps it's not something as illustrious as taking a photo. Maybe it's checking your tires! You were going to write about tips from professional mechanics. Instead… The Professional Secrets of Extending Tire Life Without Sacrificing Safety. The post can still be about maintaining air pressure and rotating your tires… but you can transform the conversation by tapping into curiosity (secrets?) and emotion (safety!).

Don't take my word for it. Give it a shot on your next series of blog posts. If you can increase click-through rates, your articles will be seen more, shared more, and will lead to additional business. Go explode in popularity!


  1. 1

    Doug, it’s true that the linkbait “worked” in the sense that I am here. I read your post. But I didn’t read it because of the title—I read it because I knew the author and I thought that you might be able to deliver on your promise.

    You are getting a little more traffic this way, and you’re getting some engagement from me in the form of a comment, but I am actually feeling less engaged in your brand at the moment. I don’t want to share this post. I don’t feel that it provided anything I didn’t know before.

    But that might be your goal. I think sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed are trying to get zillions of people to click through because they aren’t interested in high-level engagement. They are seeking impressions for their ads and brand awareness, not people who develop a respect for their expertise and in-depth reporting.

    Is your advice valid? It depends on the goals of the marketer. If you want people who are impressed by the “secret” of rotating your tires or “amazed” by the advice to use the rule-of-thirds, then perhaps this formula is worthwhile. But I know for this consumer, I’m trying NOT to click on linkbait. I’m only here because I know you personally. Anybody else with this title would have been ignored.

    • 2

      Awesome retort @robbyslaughter:disqus – and you’ll find that I totally agree. I don’t actually use this strategy on my blog and it’s turned me off on other blogs. I do want to write better post titles, though, without going overboard by baiting folks. While this specific strategy may be over the top – I do think utilizing curiosity and tapping into emotion are key… without the cheesy linkbait. Thanks for starting a great conversation!

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