We’ve put our Daily Feed archive online on our blog: http://feedjit.com/blog/ In general I’ll be emailing the newsletter around 3am pacific standard time and we’ll post it later each day or the following day on the archive. There was no issue 4 (a silly mistake of mine) and there was no issue 13 (superstition).
Yesterday I mentioned that the reason I write The Daily Feed and place it carefully in your inbox each morning is because I hope to give you the kind of strong kung-fu that you need to compete in this tough economy. By compete I mean sell online. Whether you’re selling yourself, your services, a product or an idea – knowing how to market online has become a basic life skill.
Yesterday we chatted about how incredibly effective lists are for creating link bait headlines and how they create a click-whirr response to bring the kinds of people you want to your website: People who are buyers of what you’re selling.
There is a lot of advice on writing good headlines and some of it is not good advice. For many writers of headlines the definition of success is a high click through rate. But a lot of traffic is not a good thing unless those visitors are potential buyers – buyers of your ideas or buyers of your products or services.
I recently ran across an article with the headline “15 linkbait techniques for SEO and social media”. The article’s own headline is great link bait.
Number 3 on the article’s list was “Have an argument”. Number 4: “Say something controversial or stupid.”. Number 5: “Be a contrarian”.
The article isn’t wrong. You will get a lot of people linking to you and you will get a lot of clicks. But the visitors arriving on your site aren’t going to be in the mood to buy your ideas, products or services.
Remember: Your headline and link bait should bring people to your site who are potential buyers of what you are selling. First prize is that your headline actually puts them in a buying mood.
Saying something positive will make them like you. Providing a helpful resource creates a sense of reciprocity. Posting a news item that you published first shows how well you know your subject.
That’s what I love about the list strategy mentioned yesterday: It’s hard to get it wrong. By providing a list you’re automatically providing something helpful and positive. Don’t make the mistake of creating a negative list. For example: “10 things I hate about…”. Instead create something positive, funny or useful. It will put your audience in a buying mood. Ready to buy your ideas, hire you, buy your product, subscribe to your service.
This issue is about headlines. Creating effective headlines that will inspire bloggers and webmasters to link to you and cause social networkers and news sites to shout your name from the hilltops.
The subject of this email is inspired by a great headline that was written by John Caples, an ad man at BBDO [One of the largest ad agencies in the world]. The original headline is: “To Men Who Want to Quit Work Someday.” This headline was written for a retirement income plan sold by the Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance Company and it produced 3 times more sales than 25 other headlines that preceded it. [Source: Gary Bencivenga]
Why should you care about headlines that sell things if you’re not selling anything? To answer that question I need to digress from our discussion of headlines for a moment…
Every one of you is out there competing fiercely in a tough and bloodthirsty market. You need every competitive advantage you can get. The ability to market yourself, your company, your product or your service online is now more than just an essential business skill. Marketing online has become a basic life skill. If you don’t know how to market yourself or your business online, you are at a huge competitive disadvantage. That is why I take the time each day to write The Daily Feed. It is my sincere hope that I will help you be more competitive in business and in life.
Most articles or blog posts on creating headlines focus on creating headlines that get clicks. But truly effective headlines attract not only clicks, but the kind of people who buy what you are selling and put them in a buying mood. If you don’t think you’re selling anything, let me remind you (as I’ve said before) that:
All money is made by someone selling something to someone else.
If you run a concrete business in Seattle you’re selling your services to people interested in construction who live in King County, Washington.
If you’re a traffic engineer working for the city of Redmond then you’re selling your ability as a competent and highly skilled engineer and the reason you’re selling this is to ensure your job security and to create new job opportunities for yourself.
If you are a mom who is trying to supplement your income with your photography hobby, then you are selling your photography services.
If you’re a recent college graduate applying to Harvard Business School, then you’re selling the fact that you are a future business leader to Harvard admissions officers and your peers in order to secure your long term financial future.
So when you write a headline, it’s important that you attract the people you are selling to and that the headline and content actually helps to sell them. That is how you’ll get ahead in these uncertain times and that is why you need to write headlines that not only get links and clicks but the right clicks. Clicks by people who buy what you’re selling.
So before you start writing your headline, figure out who you’re selling to. Got a clear picture in your head? Great!
I’m going to give you a technique that simply works. It is a secret that is well known by pro bloggers and is used effectively almost daily on social media sites. It is less well known among amateurs and it is surprisingly under-utilized in the world of traditional media. Ready? Here it is:
People love lists.
It’s that simple. There is something about lists that create, as Robert Cialdini the author of Influence would call it, a “click-whirr” response in our brains. We absolutely have to click on the headline because it’s a list. Don’t ask my why it works – I’m sure there is someone at Stanford medical school right now playing with an fMRI machine figuring out why this response works – but trust me that it does work.
Here are a few examples of list headlines that get clicks. I’ve left blanks for the subject:
10 Secrets that …
7 Amazing … videos
8 Things you didn’t know about …
9 … myths exposed
10 Hilarious …
Can you feel it? I haven’t even filled in the blanks and you already want to click a few of those headlines. That’s the response I’m talking about. Even though it’s well known in pro circles it continues to be effective.
Using lists you can easily craft a headline that will attract the exact people you’re selling to and get them interested in you, your product, your service or in learning more about your ideas.
Tomorrow I’m going to give you a few more tips for effective headlines and I’ll give you a few important things to beware of.
This week I’m continuing my focus on SEO and how to get quality links to your blog or website to boost your ranking in the search engines. On Monday I chatted about the 5 rules of linking, yesterday we covered the basics of link bait – what it is and I gave you a few examples of successful link bait.
Today I’m going to give you a few ideas and strategies to get high quality sites to link to you. A reminder: Link bait is a web page that is specifically designed to get other websites to link to it.
Why does link bait work?
One of the reasons link bait is so powerful is because it’s viral. If you come up with a truly killer headline and web page, people will scramble to tweet about it and post it on their blog. Social media users will rush to post it on their favorite social media site so that they can get the karma, points or votes that come with posting a popular link. Other’s will see your link posted and repost again and again.
Just to illustrate: If every time someone posts your link, two other people see it and re-post it, the cycle will look as follows: 1 person posts it. 2 people see it and re-post. 4 people see the 2 links posted and repost. Then 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512… So after just 9 cycles of re-posting you have 1+2+4+8+16+32+64+128+256+512 which equals 1023 people linking to your site.
I’m going to spend a lot more time on The Daily Feed discussing virality, viral co-efficients, viral loops and viral growth. But for now just take my word for it that viral growth is very powerful and very good provided it is growth in a desirable target market.
The other reason link bait is so powerful is because of the high quality links it provides. A single link from a major news outlet like CNN or BBC or a single link from a major government or university website is worth pure gold. If you’re able to consistently get very high quality links like this every month or 3, you’re pretty much guaranteed page 1 for several categories in your sector.
So how the heck do you write a page that everyone loves and wants to tell their friends about? Here are a few ideas:
Write an article praising a blogger. See Jason Calcanis post on link baiting him.
Build a useful web tool or application
Make a valuable resource. Lists are always popular. Write a how-to guide or a well researched historical article.
Interview someone famous
Be the first in doing something on the Internet
Expose a scam, a scammer or rant about bad service or a bad product
Disagree with an authority. I mentioned BoingBoing taking on Wired yesterday – great example.
Get a scoop on a story in your niche
Make a tool that others put on their sites and link to you.
Write an outrageous theory and back it up with logic. A recent computer science paper got over 700 votes on the popular geek website Hacker News and many other sites including Digg.com and Reddit.com. Turns out the publication may be incorrect, but it received a huge amount of publicity.
Tomorrow we’ll chat about the most important part of creating link bait: Writing a killer headline.