Proven Ways to Make your Content More Viral

Content is king. It’s also expensive and cumbersome to produce at a high-quality standard.

And if you’re like the rest of us, every word, and every article needs to count for as much as possible, driving new traffic, and converting visitors. When you spend your time and money on good quality, relevant content, you have the secret to keeping your website affordable.

The ultimate goal, as always, is to have those articles go viral and spread like the plague (but in a less hazardous more beneficial way). And while spreading like wildfire is the goal, getting users to take action and actually aid in the process is easier said than done.

In this article, we’ll explore data-backed ways to enhance the virility of your content, drive more traffic, and earn you natural backlinks like clockwork!

And yes, while there is no “magic” button, going viral is as much of a science as it is an art, with everything from readability/visibility, to layout/presentation and even how you write your title impacting the chances and extent to which your content (article, video or otherwise) will go viral.

Your Headline

It all starts here folks. And yes, there are a couple of nifty and quite frankly dirt simple ways to get the most out of that crafty and engaging headline your copywriters wrote.

Incorporate a Number

“How to XYZ” and the like are fun headlines that focus on “intent” based searches (i.e. Rankbrain), but data suggests that using a number in your headline can increase CTRs (click-thru rates) by as much as 2x more than those without numbers.

So consider changing that headline to “How to XYZ in 10 days” to double clicks to your articles.

But, don’t Just include any old Number…

In a study that looked at over 150,000 headlines, a clear trend was found. Headlines that used ODD numbers (i.e. 1, 3, 7, etc) received an additional 20% increase in CTRs than their counterparts that used even numbers.

Using [Brackets] in Your Headline

Hey we told you these were SIMPLE to incorporate : )

Don’t take our word though, Outbrain (a content discovery network serving over 200 billion consumers monthly) ran a study. After analyzing more than 3 million headlines they found that those using [brackets] in their headlines experienced on average a 30% increase in CTRs!

On-page seo service

Image Type and Placement

We all know images are a great multi-media tool to enhance the user experience, break up the monotony of blocks of text, and live up to Google’s content quality standards.

What you may not have known is that image placement is key.

Using a colorful image above the fold and breaking up large blocks of text (i.e. every 300 words or so) can increase time spent on page, and increase the visitors’ likelihood of actually reading the article by up to 80%.

That is HUGE. Not only will your visitors be 80% more likely to engage with your content, but the reduced bounce rate and increased time spent on the page are BIG rankings, USABILITY, and QUALITY signals to Google.

Descriptive URLs

Like the title says, URLs accurately “describe” what the page is about. These URLs get up to 25% higher CTRs than their non-descriptive counterparts.

This is partially due to a trust factor that is instilled when someone sees the keywords they were looking for in the URL vs a bunch of numbers, letters, or some generic category.

So for example:

Good URL:


Bad URL:

Short URLs

In general, shorter URLs tend to have higher CTRs. While this isn’t always possible with organic URLs in the SERPS (due to the proper use of keyword strings in the URL), it is an option when sharing or promoting content on other platforms such as social where you can use link shorteners.

How much of an impact can this have? Well, a Marketing Sherpa study showed that short-domain CTRs are up to 2.5x higher.

Short Sentence Structure

Research has demonstrated that visitors of blog posts only read about 28% of that post. Why? Well, people are busy and looking for answers FAST. As such, they tend to skim. Even worse, if the content is bulky (long paragraphs, no image breaks, etc.), they may skip the post altogether. Yes, people are that lazy.

This means you need to get the reader’s attention…and fast.

An easy way to do this is to use short engaging sentences, especially early on in the blog post. One study demonstrated that using shorter sentences can boost readability by as much as 78%.

Strategic Use of [professional] Images

We all know images are an important addition to content. But did you know that posts with at least one image generated up to 94% more shares on social media!

In one study, high resolution and professional images garnered 121% MORE shares on Facebook than their semi-professional counterparts.

And in yet another study, one conducted by Claremont Graduate University demonstrated that using an image (any image) increased the perceived credibility of the post.

Try to use a nice colorful image above the fold, a thumbnail for the post, and an image every 300-400 words when possible.


While “how to” posts with written content still work well, condensing that information into a visually appealing infographic can boost social shares by up to 2.3x according to Buzzsumo!

Publish Times

A study by Shareaholic showed that up to 27% OF ALL SHARES on social media occur between 8 am and 2 pm EST. So if social is one of your marketing/distribution channels (and it should be), post during prime hours.

Share Button / Widget Placement

This one seems like a no-brainer, but now we have the data to back it up. Social share buttons and widgets placed above the fold (i.e. the portion of the display screen visible to viewers without having to scroll) result in up to a 58% greater interaction than when placed lower on the page.

Hashtag Containing Tweets

Despite their overuse (and abuse), using hashtags in your Tweets is still a key viral factor, generating up to 55% more “re-tweets” than Tweets without hashtags.

Content Structure (skimming)

Make use of headings, subheadings, bold titles, bullet points, and numbered lists to make your content more readable and improve your page’s readability by up to 47%.


A recent study revealed that highly practical articles/posts were 34% more likely to go viral. For example, articles that addressed a specific concern, issue, or problem and how to resolve them, or “how-to” articles and posts.

Reference Influencers & Authoritative Resources

Mentioning, referencing, or using citations of authoritative resources in your posts not only lends credibility and trust to your content but also sends “authority” signals to Google for SEO and instills your audience’s trust. Both of which lead to more shares and more traffic.

Furthermore, mentioning and then notifying “influencers” in your niche of the post/tweet, etc can occasionally result in them sharing or re-tweeting the content with their audience, thus increasing the chances of virility.

Sometimes it’s as simple as an “ask”

Include a personal call to action (CTA) at the beginning and end of your posts. If possible, try to make it personal and appeal to emotion or a sense of community.

Research conducted by Hubspot showed that an “ask” of “share these weight loss tips with your friends” outperformed a generic “share this post” by 42%.

Take a Page from Adwords

Adwords ad copy is designed to do ONE thing extremely well….generate qualified CLICKS. Many SEOers forget that meta descriptions and titles ARE indeed ads for your posts.

Make sure that these are optimized as such and use this “ad” space to entice your audience, generate interest and call them to take action (i.e. click).

Leverage the Press

Quality online press releases are a GREAT way to syndicate your content across thousands of sites, reaching an audience of millions within seconds. While press releases may not be cost-effective or appropriate for every post, they are a great marketing channel for new product/service offerings or other newsworthy company events.

About Salterra Digital Services

Salterra was started in 2011 by Terry and Elisabeth Samuels; nothing fancy and nothing pretentious. Quality work at a fair price. Starting with a web design focus, they both quickly learned that while having an amazing website to highlight your business is a great start, marketing is intrinsically foundational for our clients. When several clients were not seeing results through the search efforts of other companies, Terry took it to the next level. While digging into SEO and marketing, he found something he was very passionate about. His inner geek pushed him to focus solely on the data and analytics side of the business while Elisabeth built on her creative and visual strength and expanded the design side. In the industry, it is not always common to have both designers and digital marketing so closely connected, but to them it made perfect sense. Salterra’s World Headquarters is in Tempe Arizona

Terry and Elisabeth are the Hosts of Roundtable SEO Mastermind Series and SEO Spring Training Conference.