Being a click slut, I have read plenty of articles about how to write traffic-generating web content, and the advices are endless: “keep it short”, “present the most important content first”, “spice up the title”, “use links” etc. What I have realized, though, is that there is only one thing you need to keep in mind when writing successful online articles:
Pretend you’re writing for a mentally challenged hypersexual with
the attention span of a four-year-old.
If that’s not clear enough, here are some specific measures you can take.
- Use the word “sex” in the title. If your article is not about sex, you need to change the article. If this is not possible, you need to consider if the article is worth publishing at all. Or just put “sex” in the title anyhow.
- Paragraphs = ParaZZZZzzz. Spilt your article into tiny tiny pieces. If your average reader wanted to read big blocks of text, he would go to a library or buy a newspaper, which would probably do him good, but that’s aside the point. Lengthy paragraphs will scare the reader off. If you present the article as a list, on the other hand (Five Tips to …, Three Ways of …, 7 Steps to … etc.), people will not only click on it, they might even read it. Might.
- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, TOO MUCH. Considering the mental capacity and patience of the average reader, you should always limit your lists to 7 elements. Unless they’re about sex, obviously (e.g. 15 ways to have sex in an aircraft toilet: OK. The 15 ways of declining a Finnish noun: not OK).
- Include pictures. Reading is exhausting, and not something your reader particularly enjoys. If you provide him with some photos, he can get some light entertainment in-between his second-long (felt length: eternal) reading sessions. Though, make sure the pictures are not too fascinating. If your article contains a photo of e.g. a cute little kitten, chance is the reader will never read a single word.
- Get to the point. In order to get a lot of clicks, you need your readers to enjoy the article so much they’ll share it on social media. But let’s not fool ourselves. The average reader will most likely not finish reading your article at all. This does not mean he’s not going to share it on Twitter or Facebook, it only means you have to convince him a little sooner. This is why you should keep the following layout in mind when composing your article:
Did you actually read this far? Jeez, if you’re so keen on reading, go buy a newspaper.