While there are numerous ways to generate traffic to your site, the most powerful tool to driving traffic is effective titles. In a world where people are constantly browsing through their various content feeds (Twitter, Facebook, RSS, etc), titles are one of the most powerful ways to stand out.
In Search Of Traffic
For the longest period of time I wasn’t able to grow traffic to AllFacebook. While the audience was technically expanding, my daily numbers were pretty consistent for six months or longer. When you have few ways of measuring your audience outside of Google Analytics, trust me that you want to see those numbers go up. Analytics becomes the source of motivation for most online publishers.
As I searched for ways to boost my traffic I started reading up on copywriting, and more importantly, Copyblogger. It became a valuable resource for me as I tried to come up with ways to improve my writing, hoping that better writing would have an impact on traffic. While titles alone were not responsible for the site’s explosive growth, one title literally transformed my life: 10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know. (Mashable was even “clever” enough to steal and remix the title in a post earlier this year).
Millions of people have visited that article and it literally resulted in me obtaining multiple national television interviews (Fox News, CNN, etc). Granted, the content of the article is critical and should not be downplayed at all. Yet there are countless sites that suffer a much more tragic problem.
Great Content, No Traffic
People will take the time to write comprehensive articles that are incredibly insightful but for some reason they can’t get traffic to them. The primary reason that the article fails is that the title sucks. There are numerous sites that now thrive on finding content which didn’t get the attention it deserved because of weak titles. HuffingtonPost, Gawker, AlleyInsider, and others, will literally take another site’s content and write a more compelling headline.
HuffingtonPost is probably the king of this as they actually split test their titles to see which ones generate the most clicks. They start the tests by linking to external sites from sub pages and testing whether or not users click on the titles. If users do click, they’ll slowly move the content further up the page. If the article continues to attract content, they’ll rewrite the article on their own site and promote it via the homepage. While they’re the most methodical at testing titles, they are not alone in implementing such aggressive content strategies.
The reality is straight forward: weak titles do nothing to differentiate your content in an endless ocean of information, whereas a powerful title can literally change your life. Even if your content is awesome, the title is what convinces the reader to give you valuable seconds of their own life.