This is a guest submission by Philip Kluedgen
Maybe you have tried to build your own site before and failed.
Same for me.
The one thing I was always missing was traffic.
I tried everything from blog commenting and forum posting over distributing free eBooks and finally all the way to SEO.
Success was below mediocrity so to say.
I asked myself what was the one thing that held me back from making lots of money online over the last few years?
It was a combination of low content quality (Amazon niche sites), lack of consistency in posting fresh articles and finally missing knowledge about marketing and networking I guess.
Then I saw a blog post on Viperchill about viral news sites and it hit me.
When I realized that this was possible I decided to start over again.
This time I wanted to build a viral authority blog in my favorite niche which is WordPress, Marketing and all that stuff.
(You can learn the lessons of a viral blog as Jawad has shown here.
Here's a blueprint how I built the blog and received over four thousand visitors in my first three weeks.
Follow my journey to success and I guarantee you it will work.
(P.S. If you'd like to download a free checklist of 31 blog traffic secrets click here or the image below)
What You Will Learn About Viral Sites
- How to find and define your niche
- What kind of theme to use to set up your WordPress website for viral success
- The plugins you need to go big fast
- How to get masses of REAL social shares immediately for free
- Promotion methods that do not depend on Google and work for real
- How to use the traffic and build your blog into a real authority resource that spits out money
How To Find The Perfect Niche
There is no such thing as a perfect niche.
That's the fantastic thing about this tactic, we simply don't care how crowded or competitive the niche is.
For example the niche I chose is Internet Marketing and WordPress. Obviously two of the most competitive niches out there. Do I care? Nope.
Here's the secret:
Pick a niche you really enjoy or would like to dive in.
Okay, got it? Now we need to develop our content strategy to make this boring competitive niche a VIRAL niche.
I did some research what kind of content gets shared the most (Read on to discover the exact types of posts I use to get that kind of social traffic):
- Be positive about things
- Surprise your audience
- Cause curiosity
- Create an amazing headline
- Use many many I mean MANY images
You also should choose your angle carefully which means you can always adapt trends.
The most shared topics on social media are:
What does this mean for us?
Of course we'd like to take advantage of this knowledge.
And so did I.
Despite the fact that I wanted to create a marketing blog, I registered the domain restaurantCoverings.com.
It was an expired domain with a clean link profile and some authority already, BUT it was related to the restaurant industry.
So what I did was adapting my topic to the domain e.g. Food niche!
As mentioned above Food gets shared most so I wanted to leverage this for my marketing.
I decided to created a website that helps with marketing and WordPress related questions for restaurant owners.
This way I could combine images of food with my articles and get a more unique and more shareable angle.
One of my most popular examples is the article 7 delicious Onpage Optimization Fails and What You Can Learn From McDonalds which has over 300 shares.
I struck a nerve with this one, because it is:
- Food related
- Makes visitors curious what they could learn from McDonalds
- Speaks directly to the audience through the word "You"
- Relates to my blog topic of Webdesign
- Uses good old list post tactic
As you can see, this is one way to make a viral post out of a boring topic.
Just choose the topic you love, no matter how broad or narrow it is and then go out and adapt a viral style to each post.
This means you don't need to worry about your niche as long as you're passionate enough to write about it (or have a good writer who can do it for you).
Combined with the promotion methods further down in this report you will be set up with a foundation for success within your niche.
The Exact Kind Of Theme You Need To Use For A Viral Website
Again we could discuss this, but in my eyes many themes would fit this type of site.
Let's see what the core points of a viral theme are:
- Easy customization options
- Fast load times, clean code
- Post thumbnails enabled
- Widget areas included, maybe even flexible to turn on/off as needed
- Visual page builder (for anybody who doesn't know HTML)
Now that you know the fundamental elements it's easy to choose a good theme.
There are free themes available, I personally prefer to spend some money for premium theme with good support.
Some suggestions for you to check out:
- Divi by Elegant Themes (paid, I use it)
- Iconic One by Themonic (free, amazing fast)
- True Pixel by MyThemeShop (paid, it's the original Viral Nova theme)
- Viral Press by Hot Clone Themes (paid, it's an Upworthy clone)
- Virality by WP Dev Shed (free, kind of Pinterest like)
You need to have as many options as possible to display advertising, related posts, images and all those other visual content you need in a viral site.
The themes above support that, but you could also modify any other template you prefer.
My Secret Plugin Setup To Explode Your Traffic
Now you have the basic WordPress installation in addition to the right theme in place, but something is still missing. The plugins to do the magic, of course.
I won't go into detail which plugins are needed to run a blog, because that would go far beyond the idea of this post.
I will just tell you which ones are important for the social sharing aspect. Beside that you still need to optimize your side for fast load times, search engine optimization, email optins and so on.
I use it to display article thumbnails below every post or page and also in my sidebar widget area. This helps to increase page views and also makes your site more visual.
In my case I used some custom CSS to make it look nice, that's quite easy to do when you use it in combination with Elegant Themes.
This is my current weapon of choice to show share buttons on image hover. I display Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter on all my images on single pages and posts.
This is a paid plugin I use to show those Mashable like buttons above each post.
I no longer use the Mashshare plugin, because it caused issues with my CloudFlare CDN.
I have set it up to show only Facebook and Twitter to make the choice easy for my visitors and it works quite well. This plugin also has the option to do what Frizzly does, but I didn't like the available settings so I kept Frizzly.
This is the service which powers my floating share bar and also the fly-in related posts widget and my social follow buttons.
I decided to paste the code in my header, but there is a free plugin available to do the job. Currently I only use the free version of this.
Again I could have achieved a similar effect with Monarch alone, but then I had to have the same social sharing options in the Mashable buttons and the floating bar which isn't something I wanted to do.
Another free plugin I use to lazy load images on my site, which is quite important for such a visual viral website. I recommend using it together with W3 Cache and quality hosting.
This is a little gem I recently found. This plugin scans your site and displays a list of all unused images like old thumbnails in sizes you no longer need, images from deleted posts and so on. Definetly a great help!
Get more tweets by pre-populating the tweet with custom text. All your visitors need to do is click to tweet. I like it very much in combination with infopgraphics: Just let them tweet some of the included facts.
Last but not least another favourite of mine. This is a free plugin, but I use the premium version because of the extra features.
It helps you specify images to get shared on Facebook, sets up your Twitter cards and much more to make shares look amazing on any social network.
Get Lots Of Real Shares In No Time
You need to know (and accept) that it's very rare for a piece of content to go viral on its own.
Especially on a brand new site that has been online for less than a month and was written by a person nobody knows.
Truth to be told, no matter how fantastic your content might be you have to promote it to get the ball rolling.
There are several ways to promote your content I will share with you down the road, but I discovered one method to get the initial shares on my content immediately after publishing it:
Image Source: Viral Content Buzz
These sites were created by other bloggers for bloggers.
Maybe you have heard the name Ann Smarty before, she's quite active on Twitter @seosmarty.
She is the co-founder of ViralContentBuzz.com which is my place to go for social shares.
An alternative I did not try until now would be Just ReTweet in case you need more options.
I also tried kingged.com, but found the site to be very slow and not so user friendly to work with.
Kingged didn't work for me, but maybe you'd like to look at it.
For me it resulted in only 8 visitors until today.
There's also Bizsugar, but I didn't find the time to give it a shot.
Viral Content Buzz works like an exchange marketplace.
You need to share other peoples content on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or StumbleUpon and in return they allow you to submit articles to get shared.
If you use a free account (I do) it will take a few hours to get any post approved, but once it is you start getting shares.
The site works on a point system, so you need to assign points to your projects and add more when they're empty.
My recommendation is to start with forty points per article and bump in thirty more every time you need to.
For thirty more points it gets pushed back to the homepage for more shares.
The interesting thing is that these shares can go a long way and lead to more shares, because of our viral site setup.
This WP Plugin makes your site go guaranteed viral, click here to see it in action.
Additional Promotion That Does Not Rely On Google
I guess you have read several previous posts about traffic generation all over the web and if you followed Stuart for some time you know he offers a great range of traffic generation advice on this blog.
Let's think again about our goals with this site. We're not talking about SEO traffic right now, because we just started out and Google takes its time.
We're also not talking conversions right now, because although email optins and sales are great, what we want is just some momentum going right now.
(I will tell you at the end of this post how this momentum is going to help you!)
So what can we do to promote our blog and receive some viral traffic?
Maybe you already got at least some traffic form Viral Content buzz, but that's not enough.
Here are the two essential steps to get the basics right first:
1. Publish the Right Posts
This means you have to ensure that each and every post on your blog is highly shareable.
Here's what I recommend to post early in your journey on a new blog without traffic or if you want to leverage existing audience and get more traffic than ever before.
- List posts with many beautiful images (minimum 7 items per list, the more the better)
- Video posts (increase time on site, get views on youtube, use nice looking video thumbnails)
- Infographics (no need to create your own, just share other peoples work and give credit)
- How to - indepth tutorials (for tech stuff, DIY and so on)
- Quotes (choose related to your industry and post a list of quotes or put them into other articles and "click to tweet")
- Expert Roundups& interviews (the experts will share their own stuff and you get even more shares)
Those are the main post types I recommend, because these are prove templates for any niche.
Once you get the initial shares this kind of viral content will help you to take your message further.
2. Publish Enough Posts
Again this sounds simple, but it is important.
I'm not talking about that SEO wisdom to post regular etc., but post enough.
Once visitors are on your page they need to have the option to click on related posts and share more articles so give them material to share!
In my case I have around five to ten articles on my blog right now with about half of them written and half filled up with infographics or video.
I also post twice a week to keep returning visitors happy and increase the traffic further.
Working Promotion Methods
My goal was to get as much traffic as possible, but I hadn't planned to spend a lot of money and I also didn't want to diversify to much.
If you try to be everywhere you get lost and traffic doesn't come.
Your brain starts spinning after running a Google search for anything like blog traffic, backlinks, viral websites or similar keywords.
What I found was Brian Deans article about the Skyscraper Technique where he explains how to create great content and reach out for backlinks.
That's where I added a twist and found my way.
I didn't care about backlinks at this time, I wanted traffic and this could be one way.
If that's the Skyscraper technique, here comes...
The "Fly High Technique"
One of my goals was to get noticed by influencers so they could send traffic my way.
I've done this successful before and wanted more. This time I used a method similar to the one Brian recommended.
- First I produced an awesome piece of content including 101 free stock photo sites, so I knew many web developers would be interested in this. You can do something similar with list posts in your niche.
- Then I pimped it with CSS and some functions my theme includes to make it look gorgeous
- I added the Twitter image summary card and a custom featured image
Now comes the interesting part.
If you made it to this point, congratulations here comes your reward.
1. Head Over to Keyhole.co
And search for your main keyword.
Make sure you search for at least the last thirty days and tweets only.
This will result in a perfect list with influential people who tweeted about your topic before.
2. Simply Go Through All Listed Tweets
And hit the reply button.
Here's the template I used:
Hey, I just published 101 Free Photo Sites and thought you might like or share it http://resta.co/1sOL5cv
I did this over and over again and it resulted in loads and loads of tweets and retweets, to be exact right now the post is at 174 tweets.
Not to mention Facebook shares in the hundreds and Stumbles in the thousands.
This can result in shares like this:
— AJ Ghergich (@SEO) November 4, 2014
The account @SEO has 43.7K followers.
That's what I'm talking about man!
And it also got retweeted seven more times from this tweet alone.
I think this was the biggest fish I caught, but there were several other nice tweets from accounts with thousands of followers.
It's hard to measure this traffic, because some of it will be "direct traffic" in analytics and you can't exactly find it.
It's always a good idea to know where your audience hangs out.
In my case for this post it was the webdesigner niche and I found them on Layervault.com and also on Inbound.org where I submitted my post.
This resulted in some additional traffic although not ground breaking. I don't care, all those small streams add up to a big river.
It doesn't matter what industry you're in, there are niche communities for everything.
Just search for Forums, resource list articles and connect with other people.
And if you REALLY put the effort in and din't find a single community: Hey, you're an entrepreneur?
That's your chance.
Go out and create one!
I know you don't want to hear that anymore, but yes it does work.
Blog commenting is a great way to connect with influencers (like I did myself with Stuart on this blog to gain interest for my guest posting request) and it also can send serious traffic your way.
First you need to go out and find the top blog in your niche that allow comments and get loads of traffic.
A free tool called Drop My Link can help you to do so.
It's a search engine for all kind of blogs including .edu and commentluv enabled sites.
Once you found some influencial blogs set up a Google Alert to get notified every time this blog posts a fresh update.
Check your emails every day or connect them to your mobile and leave a valuable comment there immediately after they published a new article.
I did this on one blog and until this day it sent me 53 visitors from two comments.
Not bad isn't it?
Post on Reddit
I never really did this for any of my other sites, but Reddit really has some serious power.
The traffic isn't really the best quality, but for volume it will work.
So don't expect many email sign ups or sales from these visitors, but it helps to make your statisitcs look great ;-).
All I did was post my thread in a matching subreddit and pay someone on Fiverr to give some upvotes.
This only works if your content is really fantastic, otherwise Reddit will ban the post or you will not get more upvotes and traffic.
In case of my 101 Free Stock Photo Sites Article I submitted and paid someone on Fiverr for five upvotes.
Here's the result on Reddit:
As you can see in the end it got 204 upvotes which is quite amazing. It also brought me many visitors and combined with StumbleUpon and direct traffic I got over 800 unique pageviews on the best day alone.
Post on StumbleUpon, Facebook and Twitter
You can always share stuff on your own fanpage or social media accounts.
I have a Facebook page where I share my stuff together with industry related articles from other blogs.
StumbleUpon was only done through ViralContent Buzz (and brought me amazing amounts of traffic), because I don't use an account there - only for the paid promotion, see below.
I only have fifty fans on Facebook, so this didn't really gain any traction.
That's why I promoted the post later down the road. On Twitter I'm very active posting stuff and answering peoples questions etc. so I've got over 8000 Followers there.
These people followed me over the last few years, so this are real followers and no fake accounts.
My Klout score is over fifty and I guess this brought me at least some attention and traffic too.
This is another blogging community relying on Twitter and free to use.
Just create an account there and curate interesting stuff to get a following.
I'm not sure how well this works, but this platform allows you to suggest content to influencers and they can decide to share it on popular accounts.
That's what I tried, but they declined and I got nothing.
Afterwards I stopped thinking about this site.
Then I saw a pingback in WordPress and followed to the source:
Two days later one of my visitors (I don't know who) must have submitted another article of mine, an Influencer shared it and sent me additional fifty visitors!
Now you should have reached a point where you might get at least some traffic.
This can help you to get valueable insights to refine the strategy.
Where does the traffic come from?
I hope you installed Google Analytics or any other tracking program right from the beginning.
Have a look into your analytics and check where the traffic came from.
Very likely you will see one or two traffic sources dominate in the stats.
For me this was Facebook and Stumbleupon in the beginning and Reddit later down the road.
This means I knew where to focus my efforts and here's what I did:
- I added a reddit button to my floating bar after discovering traffic from this source so it could easily multiply
- Paid $10 for StumbleUpon ads to get the viral wave going after seeing the article did well there.
- Again paid about $30 in Facebook ads to promote my post and get a few hundred shares ($0.05 per action)
To make this a clear point...
At first I promoted only through free methods and only after seeing success on a special post in a special network I paid a few dollar to get most out of it.
This is totally optional, but for me it worked quite well.
Viral Traffic - A Summary
All in all these are the main techniques I used to generate a noticeable amount of traffic to my brand new blog.
Don't forget that it's not only about the amount of promotion, but also about your content quality.
I've put many hours into producing and designing my content the best way I could.
And yes I work a full time job and have a wife and a little daughter, but I just needed to take action to be able to quit my job.
Not yet, but maybe some day.
Now Back To The Main Question:
Hey Phil, why should I get so much traffic from sources that don't convert?
Let's have a look at my results:
- First of all you will get some conversion no matter how low quality this traffic might be. For example, I got 26 new email subscribers and I'm okay with that because my blog isn't even perfectly optimized for that yet.
- Depending on your ads you might earn some dollars from AdSense or other advertising options. I earned $3.75 through Afteroffers.
- Not all traffic is junk. From the batch of people visiting your site some will come back, stay longer and enjoy your blog. have a look at the comparison returning vs. new visitor:
- Be a case study. You need to test stuff and that's what I did. And yes I learned interesting things that might help me in future blog marketing.
- Write a blog post about your experience it might help other people in your audience.
And Finally The Main Reason I Did This:
In the niche I'm in you need to show some success stories or nobody will read your posts.
To get excepted as a niche expert you need to have some track record and that's what I created.
It's an interesting story that help me to get published on Stuarts authority blog and build my reputation even further.
That again might help me to score more guest posts on other blogs or to work further with Stuart.
Do you get it?
It was a good old marketing trick.
And it worked.
Now go out and do it yourself!
(P.S. If you'd like to download a free checklist of 31 blog traffic secrets click here or the image below)
Ready to create your own simple viral site?
You can automate the process with this WordPress Plugin, click now to see it work.
Philip blogs at RestaurantCoverings.com where he regularly shares tutorials in the WordPress space, web design tips and insider marketing knowledge.
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