How to build an online brand

Building your brand

How to write viral blog posts to boost your traffic


For me, viral blog posts have been devastatingly effective in getting huge amounts of traffic to my site. It’s meant that I’ve never had to pay for advertising or boosts across social media platforms.

To figure out how to get people to your blog, it’s worth looking at some of the things that you look at and share yourself online. Ultimately, the stuff you look at online could be one of many things but blog posts that do well are ones that contain a very special element.

It’s called a SHARED experience. Think about it. Look at your own Facebook page. Why are you sharing what you share? Is it because you can identify with what you’ve posted? Maybe you are hoping that some of your friends or family will ‘like’ it because it’s something you’ve shared together.

It all comes down to the shared experience. People share my WalesOnCraic stuff because they are Welsh and can connect with what I post. They can connect with the language, the places, the dialect, the things we say and the way we say them. They want to share it with their friends because they too, have that shared experience of the Welsh way of life.

You can apply that shared experience to anything that you like. Music, art, pastimes – anything that bonds you to your audience. They become part of your world and vice versa. This is why it is so critical to decide on a target audience before you start writing.

Before I dream up my next spoof news story, I sometimes try and imagine a post that someone would share with the comment ‘This is SO me’. Or if someone is going to share the post on a friend’s timeline, I imagine them commenting with something like ‘Is this you?’ I try and envisage people’s responses.

When it comes to content, and if you’re looking to get people to your blog, I find that it comes down to two categories:

Universal Content – these are the type of posts that someone could discover two years later and will still be fresh. It’s not time-specific. On WalesOnCraic, one of the most popular posts I ran was ‘10 Freakiest Towns in Wales’. Again, this post had a niche, was presented in the form of a list (always popular) and its content was genuinely funny.

Universal posts are the bread and butter of your blog – they’re the glue that holds the blog together. But if you want to go REALLY viral, and to draw huge figures to your blog, you need to post topical stuff. This is the other category.

Topical Content – These are the posts that, if done correctly, could see you having to fork out for a new server. That’s how explosive these posts can be! I’ll give you an example of one of my viral blog posts that helped get one of my websites up and running:

WalesOnCraic was launched at the back end of August 2014. At the time, our capital city Cardiff, was gearing up for a visit by the bigwigs of NATO. It was an unprecedented occasion – President Obama was the big name heading to the city.

One morning, as I was driving my wife into work in the city, we noticed a large security fence being erected up around Cardiff Castle. This was where the state dinner would take place in early September. As the days went on, the fence got longer and bigger, to the point where the city seemed as if it was under siege.

It became a real hot topic on my Facebook profile so, trying to latch onto that, I posted a post entitled ‘7 Things You Can Do In Cardiff While NATO Is On’. The gist of it was that for each thing on the list, you couldn’t do it because NATO had taken over that particular venue. It was, in keeping with the site, a tongue in cheek post highlighting that NATO was stopping us doing what we wanted as city-goers. I published the post, making sure I had NATO in the headline and it brought in a fair amount of traffic, as people could identify with the narrative.

NATO arrived – the big occasion was the state dinner at Cardiff Castle and the big question everyone was asking was what route the Obama cavalcade was going to take into the city. With Cardiff Castle trending on social media, I had to think of something amusing that would use the words ‘Cardiff’ and ‘Castle’. What I ended up with was a short ‘news’ story about a taxi driver taking Obama to Castle Bingo instead of Cardiff Castle.

An example of Topical Content, deliberately timed for maximum shares

Again, I was looking for that connection with my niche (Welsh people LOVE playing bingo) and that post, combined with the earlier one (and a few original viral pictures) saw my Facebook page light up. I also saw a huge amount of traffic to my blog. It was all about the SHARED EXPERIENCE of my visitors – most of them had experienced the ‘Ring of Steel’ fence around the castle (and its frustrations of trying to get to where you wanted) and most people thought it was funny that Obama, Head of the Free World, would have gotten into a taxi AND visited our local bingo hall. They then wanted to share it with their friends. The post helped bring in over 50,000 visits to my site that week.

You can view the original post here.

Can you see how topical posts create a perfect storm? And as well as reacting to real-world events, you can pre-empt things by looking ahead and planning posts around forthcoming events. Although viral blog posts can never be guaranteed, you can engineer every post that you write with the full intention of it going viral.


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