When a Blog Post Goes Viral—To Tweak or To Repeat?

You already know how a blog can be very helpful in marketing your business. You also know that achieving success with your blog can take time—you need to determine which keywords to use, decide which particular topics to talk about, shape your ideas into a good blog post, and create clever titles for your posts. The good news is that if you do things right, your blog can contribute a lot towards you earning a reputation as an industry authority and your brand earning the trust and loyalty of your online audience.

Now, how do you make sure your efforts pay off and your blog posts get the kind of attention you want? Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to take a closer look at what makes a blog post go viral. Of course, the specific reasons why a particular post goes viral may vary, but here are six ingredients that are generally present in viral blog posts:

1. Addressing the Fear of “Missing Out”

Are you up for a little experimentation? Create a post on “10 Ways to Make Your Blog Posts Go Viral” and another post on “10 Blogging Mistakes to Avoid.” Which of the two do you think will perform better? Our bet? The second one.

Many successful bloggers have observed that negative words like “avoid” and “stop” in headlines almost always leads to more people reading and sharing a post. It is believed that the reason for this is that most people have an innate need to find out if there may be things they’re doing that they shouldn’t be.

2. Being Easy to Skim

People have the tendency to read only about 20% of the content on each web page they visit. This is why you need to make your blog posts easy to skim through if you want people to like them. List posts are perhaps the best examples of content that’s easy to skim. Going back to our “10 Blogging Mistakes” example above, even if someone only reads three of the ten “mistakes” on your list, if they’re very interesting, then there’s a good chance the post will be shared.

3. Offering Useful Information and Practical Tips

When people read blogs, they usually expect to be entertained. More than that, though, they also want to gain some useful insights and get practical tips, preferably those they can immediately put into practice. So when you draw up that list of “10 Blogging Mistakes to Avoid,” make sure the tips incorporated in the list are all practical and readily applicable. The results of a study published in the New York Times even indicate that practical utility has the most cognitive impact. This indicates that it can be the most significant factor to cause a blog post to go viral.

4. Making Posts Shareable

Surprisingly, there are so many instances where sharing buttons are taken for granted. It seems obvious that you need to make it easy for readers to share your content if you want it to go viral that it really comes as a surprise how people can still forget to feature sharing buttons prominently before and after a post. Don’t make the same mistake!

How to Make Viral Content

If you want your content to go viral, then you have to make it easy for your readers to share to others.

5. Length of Content

Going back to the New York Times study mentioned earlier, length is identified among the most important elements that make a blog post go viral. This means you need to make sure your posts are all complete with the most important details and have great depth. But you can’t just create long posts for the sake of length. When you create your “10 Blogging Mistakes” list, make sure the last item on the list offers as much value as the first.

6. Consistency and Authority

If you’re just starting out, you may have to go through a series of trials in order to determine which type and form of content works best for you. Once you find the type and form of content that perfectly suits your style and delivers the kind of results you’re aiming for, be consistent in delivering the kind of content quality your audience appreciates. When your audience can expect the same level of quality from every single blog post you publish, you’ll be able to build a reputation for being an industry authority soon enough.

So, you now have an idea on what makes a blog post go viral. You should be in a better position to work towards the success of your blog. Now, what if one of your blog posts does go viral? What then? Should you keep creating similar posts in hopes of replicating your success, or should you enhance that post to make it even more successful? Your answers to the following questions may give you a hint on what to do next:

1. How old is your viral post?

A blog post has an average life span of about two to three years. If a post is older than that, then you should consider it dead and not worth reviving, no matter how successful it was when you published it. You’ll definitely do a lot better by fleshing out some fresh content ideas.

2. How successful was it when you published it and how is it doing at present?

Check your metrics and review how well the post did when it was published and how it is faring right now. If readership and share statistics were really huge, but has since dropped significantly, then it may indeed be a good idea to rewrite the post. However, if the post is still getting a good number of comments and shares, then minor tweaks for enhancement may be all that’s needed.

3. Are you being credited for the post?

You may not be aware of it, but someone else could be taking advantage of a post you created that has gone viral. There have been several instances where someone creates a blog post and then someone else scrapes the post, alters it a bit here and there, and gets the limelight when the post goes viral.

Content Scraping

Some people scrape someone else’s content, give it some minor tweaks, and then reap all the rewards when it goes viral.

If this happens to you, be sure to report the issue to Google (you can’t let the content thief continue reaping the rewards for something you worked hard at, can you?). You should then move on and create a similar, but completely new blog entry instead of rehashing that post. As it has already been scraped, it may never perform as well as you hope it will.

4. How long did the post take to create?

There are instances when you need to create posts from original research, which means spending hours (even days) gathering the necessary information, collating that information, creating charts and/or graphs, and then drafting and polishing your content. It could take weeks or even months for you to complete the entire content creation process. If the viral post took this long to create, it may be too much of a hassle to create another one like it. In this case, tweaking the original post may be your best bet.

However, if the post that went viral took just a few days to create and you still have loads of fresh data on hand, then it may be better to create a fresh but related post to continue your blog’s success. This way, you’ll have two (or more) posts that can earn more traffic for your site and more awareness for your brand.

5. How relevant is the post right now?

If the viral post you created discussed a current event or anything with a timeline, there may be no way for you to find another angle to the story that’ll help extend the success of the post. In that case, you definitely should forget about tweaking the post and focus instead on creating fresh yet equally brilliant posts.

For example, do you remember all the hype about “The Dress”? People were so into the debate over the real color of the dress that almost all blog posts about that dress enjoyed significant success. If you were to create a post about The Dress now, however, your efforts will most likely just go to waste. If the topic of your viral post is no longer relevant, just let it be and move on.

Perhaps the best way for you to ensure continued blogging success is to consider yourself in a back-to-zero situation at the start of each week. Bear in mind that even if one of your posts hit the big time this week, the success of that particular post won’t last forever. You cannot rely on the success of a single post for the success of your entire blog.

Remember, consistency is one of the keys to a sustainably successful blog. You need to consistently provide your readers with high-quality content. Don’t try too hard to make your content go viral. Remember that the beauty of blogging is that when you focus on consistently offering high-quality content, you actually increase the chances of your posts going viral.

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