How to Write Amazing Content That Goes Viral and Gets Links

by / ⠀Startup Advice / November 9, 2010

If you want to write content that gets retweets, Facebook shares, Stumbleupon visits and linkbacks to your content you’ll have to write stuff that people truly want to share with their friends.  If you are looking for the secrets to going viral, all the tips and tricks in the world won’t help unless you write content that is truly helpful that people want to share with their friends.

Amazing content that gets linked to, gets social media attention and a flood of traffic will then bring hits from search engines even after it is buried on your blog.  Our goal at Under30CEO is not to be like Arrington at Techcrunch who needs to lock himself in a dark room to break news at all hours of the night and need 15 new articles per day in order to stay relevant.

Write Evergreen Content

At Under30CEO we want to create content that can be referenced for years to come.  This is the type of content that people will want to link to and share with their friends, not just the day it comes out, but forever.  Our best example of evergreen content?  A half a dozen people have set up our article 22 Little Known Ways to Make a Name for Yourself to be automatically tweeted through their Twitter streams on a daily basis!  Quite a compliment to this star guest contributor.

Write Pillar Articles

Pillar articles teach someone how to do something in a clear, concise fashion.  If you are an expert or have experience with something in your industry, build your brand and teach others exactly how to do it.  The more helpful the article, the more it will get passed along to friends and bookmarked. Don’t withhold information in these articles–this is your chance to tell people exactly what they need to know.  There must be something that you know that everyone else needs to know exactly what to do.

Think: if I was to do a presentation, what is my expertise and how can I write a pillar article about it to market myself?  How-to articles are great for this.

Create a List

One of the best ways to create pillar content is to create a massive list.  Everyone loves them because they are easily referenced, spark people to take action and spread like wildfire.  They are easy to write because you simply have to write your thoughts down in numbered order as they come to you.

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Tip: create subheaders and organize the list into sections as seen in our 59 Ways to Grow Your Credibility and Experience.

It’s All About Catchy Titles

Think to yourself: if I’m surfing Twitter or Facebook, what is it that I would want to click?  What attention grabbing headline can I come up with?  Come up with something that will blow people out of the water like 100 Things You Must Know as a Young Entrepreneur with over 500 Retweets!  Be bold!  Think of what you would see on the cover of a magazine in line at the grocery store.  Here are some examples of great techniques:

10 Secrets to Making Money with Advertising on Your Website

  • 10 tips to anything is short sweet and to the point, everyone has time to read
  • Divulge secrets! Who isn’t curious? It’s an instant must read

Best Holiday Promotions Ever

  • Why wouldn’t you read something if it was the best ever?
  • This article is timeless, yet timely. It is good every year around the holidays.

How To Start a Business with Less Money and Fewer Mistakes

  • Packed with adjectives
  • Make your how-to article something everyone wants to do
  • Classic example: “How to Do X and Y”

How to Use CNN’s iReport to Market Your Company

  • Piggyback off of a powerful brand
  • Leverage something famous that everyone wants to learn more about
  • Classic example “How to Do (something) like (someone famous)”

5 Misconceptions About Online Video

  • Know of something that people often get wrong? Explain!
  • People will automatically be intrigued because the topic is something people commonly do and get wrong
  • Classic variation of: The Best Way to (Solve a problem) and “What Everyone Needs to Know About X”

Do Your Keyword Research

If you want traffic from search engines it is imperative for you to do the keyword research.  Use the Google Keyword Tool to find keywords to become the title of your article.  If you have an idea for an article in mind, go type in your keyword and search for similar terms to pack into your title, first paragraph and tags.  You will want to find keywords to use that get between 1,000 and 10,000 monthly searches.  In general, the fewer amount of monthly searches the term gets the easier it will be to rank.  Also look for terms with lower “competition” ranking.  Next, actually Google the term and see who ranks at the top?  Is it New York Times and Entrepreneur Magazine?  If it is, you probably won’t be able to beat them for the top slot.  Make sure the first page isn’t too crowded with amazing content from huge sites.

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Write for SEO

So after you do know what keywords to use you’ll want to make sure you use as many of those keywords in the first paragraph and title of your article.  Google crawls the top half of your page with a lot more importance, so make sure to write a keyword rich introduction paragraph.  Don’t get too hung up on this, simply write your article and go back and re-word the post with more targeted keywords.

Big Bold Headers

People are becoming lazier and attention spans are growing shorter.  If you send an article to Under30CEO that is simply 5 big paragraphs with lots of text in twelve point font, it will be rejected.  It intimidates the reader who will automatically think “I don’t have time to read all this!”  People like to skim blogs, so let them know what the article is about by having titles that pop out.  It’s a great way to organize your ideas and transition between thoughts and emphasizes the important points.

Keep it Short!

It’s okay if pillar articles are lengthier if they are formatted correctly.  Especially if they tell you “everything you need to know.”  People still prefer short, so keep them between 500-800 words ideally.  Brevity is key, so take out unneeded words and get to the point!

Sexy Pictures

Every article on the Under30CEO blog has a picture sized 600 x 350 that takes up the entire screen.  It is center aligned and grabs the readers attention.  Do a Google image search for content that isn’t copyrighted or go to Flickr and sort by “most interesting”.  Make sure to re-title the picture with relevant keywords to your article.  Our article Mark Zuckerberg Prepares for Facebook Movie and IPO has driven hundreds of thousands of hits not only because we are the second image result for Zuckerberg but because he is standing with a bunch of college aged girls.

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Get Quotes from the Best

Want to add instant credibility to your article? Email the the biggest names with the biggest followings and ask them for the answer to a quick question.  People want to hear from their favorite innovators and entrepreneurs so reach out and if you are lucky they’ll even tweet about your article for you!  Don’t abuse this though, just because you get a quote from Seth Godin doesn’t mean you can throw it on a crappy article.

Develop Your Voice

When writing for Under30CEO you won’t want to write in the first person because quite simply, people don’t know you as the author.  They won’t care who you are until you wow them with amazing content.  Too many blogs are all about “me, me, me”, so give them good content with actionable steps that spread like wildfire and you’ll become well known and solidify your expertise. Don’t use the word “I”.

Call to Action

It’s time to end your content with a bang.  The best content makes your readerbase go and take action.  Ask them to send this to a friend who they think it would help or spark a debate at the end.  Asking for opinions and comments from the readers is key.  After your article is published your job is not done!  It’s time to get into the comments, answer your readers questions and thank them for their input.  There is nothing better than seeing a writer involved in the community!

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.


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