First, let me show you my Top Five Most Popular Posts of the last 6 months or so, defined as follows : When these blog titles went up on Twitter, the most people clicked on them. They are:
- Shakespeare's New Year's Resolutions (Guest Post)
- Harry Potter is Shakespeare
- Shakespearean Collective Nouns (A Guest Post by Bardfilm)
- The Seven Least-Controversial Disclosures on WikiLeaks
- 10 Reasons We Love Sir Ian McKellen
I like the "How many clicks did each tweeted link get" metric for a couple of reasons. Mostly because it tracks initial reaction - people see it, and then either they decide to click, or not. "Retweets", where person A decides that the link is so good they want to share it with person B, would also show up in this list. However, if I tried to recycle it and post the same link under a few different headlines, it would not -- the link would change and be counted separately.
This is very different from the organic/SEO world where how much Google traffic you get has less to do with what you wrote, and more to do with the particular keyword density that caused you to float up the page into the #1 spot. "How old is Romeo?" is not my #1 blog post because that's what the most people are interested in, it's the #1 post because I happen to have the best google spot for that, so it gets the most traffic.
So anyway, what patterns do you see in the above list?
First of all, 3 out of the 5 were written by my guest blogger Bardfilm. Thanks very much for the content, KJ! Looks like our partnership can be called a success, no?
Two of those are called out as guest posts, the third is not (the Wikileaks one is his, if you're curious). So maybe there's something to be said for the idea that guest posts bring traffic. Followers like to hear a fresh point of view now and then, it's good variety.
But do you see the other, more obvious pattern? 4 out of 5 of those posts are very clearly lists. Seven of this, ten of that. Resolutions. Nouns. People like to click on lists. Lists promise a short, well organize burst of content.
The outlier is Mr. Harry Potter, and it's probably obvious why he made the list - it's Harry Potter. :) Tweeting about celebrities will almost always get you some clicks, doubly so if you find a way to link that celebrity to your niche instead of just broadcasting generic news headlines about him. Being trendy is important - I was surprised that my Ian McKellen post did not get more traffic. But quality doesn't really enter into it, in that particular battle - comparing a Harry Potter headline and an Ian McKellen headline is like comparing a Led Zeppelin or Rolling Stones story to a Lady Gaga one. The audiences are just different.
Of course, timeliness is pretty important as well. The Resolutions one obviously wouldn't work at any time other than maybe a week before and after the new year, when everybody's in the mood for lists like that. Likewise with the Wikileaks one - if you tried to put out a Wikileaks story now I think you'll find that most folks are bored of the topic. Even Harry Potter, I'm pretty sure I tried to put that post up right around the time of the last movie. I think that was one of the problems with poor Sir Ian - he's always good. I didn't have a current event to link him to. Maybe when The Hobbit comes out I'll bring that post out of mothballs and try it again :).