In today’s SEO landscape, the key to getting good results is creating great content that will produce links and social shares. But as many of you probably know from first-hand experience, that isn’t always easy. Creating viral content can be a very difficult task, especially if you don’t plan ahead. Here is an overview on how to do it.
This six step guide is based on a successful campaign which garnered over 137,000 Facebook shares.
1. Pick Your Short Tail Phrase
The first thing that you want to do when you are trying to create viral content is to make a strategy. Pick phrases that you would ideally like to rank for. These can be items like “unhealthiest foods,” “iPhone cases,” or other short tail phrases.
2. Pick Your Long Tail Phrases
Once you have decided on your short tail phrase, determine the long tailed phrases that you would like to rank for as well. I recommend one short tail phrase and five long tail phrases. You want your long tail phrases to be the ones that have high search volume and CPC – but also ones that you can realistically rank for.
The higher the CPC, usually the higher value that it garners, because everyone is buying the ad space. Using our previous example of “iPhone cases,” we would make long tailed phrases like these.
“Top 10 iPhone cases”
“Best iPhone cases for 2016”
“Cheap iPhone cases”
“Best iPhone cases:
“Popular iPhone cases”
One tip – you can use the SEMrush Keyword Difficulty tool to figure out how hard the keyword phrase is. If your website is a high DA (domain authority) with a large social media following, it might be easier for you to rank for phrases like this. If you are starting out, I suggest picking niche phrases that are easier to obtain.
SEMrush Keyword Difficulty Tool
3. Do Content Research
Next, make sure you do content research to find the best articles that are associated with your keyword phrase. There are many different options for this, but we find BuzzSumo to be a good choice. We use this to find the best content available around the subject.
Our goal is to find the top five articles that have been written about this topic, or ones that are trending right now.
Through our research, we can see that a lot of the content is centered around types of iPhone cases – “DIY Edible iPhone cases,” “Han Solo iPhone cases,” and more. I also sorted these by Facebook shares and didn’t find ay meaningful content from it. Therefore, we can determine that we need to make our search more specific. This is where the long tailed keyword phrases come in. Use those to find better articles.
Use Your Long Tail Keywords in BuzzSumo
After redoing the search with the long tail keyword phrases, we now have better data on the subject. We can see a YouTube video is the most popular. In this case, we can do a couple of things here. We can use historical articles, such as this YouTube video, and make a piece of content, or we can search our main keyword phrase and find past examples of articles:
As you can see in this example, most of the results are retailers selling iPhone cases. Even though this example didn’t help us much in terms of actual content, you can see the steps that you need to take to find your topic. Either use historical data, trends or even Google search itself to find the top results.
4. Make Your Content Better
After you do your content research, take 3-5 of the articles that you found and analyze them to see how you can make them better. You want to BLOW everything else out of the water. So if you found an article that did really well that was the “Top 5 iPhone Cases,” then make the “Top 30 iPhone cases.” If it is the “Top iPhone Cases for 2015,” then make the “Top iPhone Cases for 2016.” Don't plagiarize or copy, but improve upon existing ideas.
It doesn’t mean that it has to be longer – it can be shorter – it just has to be better. You can also design it and mark it up in HTML. Here is a good example of what that looks like.
5. Optimize Your Content
Now that you have written this incredible piece of content, you want to make you it is optimized for search engines! You want to make the title something that will grab the readers' attention, but still have your main keyword phrase left hand side most. Here's what I would use for “iPhone cases.”
- “iPhone Cases - #1 Review of Top and Most Popular Cases”
- Meta Title – Repeat the title to “iPhone Cases - #1 Review of Top and Most Popular Cases”
- Meta Description – “Check out our ultra in depth #1 review of the most popular top and best iPhone cases known to man. You don’t want to miss out on this!”
You want to include attention grabbers, like “#1,” “you don’t want to miss out on this,” “in depth #1 review.” Also, make sure that your URL on the page is short, like example.com/blog/top-iphone-cases.
Your H1 tags should repeat the title and then make sure that you have your keywords that you selected in the first paragraph of the content. You also need to interlink the content to different pages on your site, such as categories and products, so that you can share the authority throughout. You also want to link to a couple other authority sites as well. Google doesn’t want you to horde the links.
6. Promote Your Content
Now that you have your ultra-awesome piece of content created, published, and optimized, it is ready for prime time. Here is where you need to spend 3 times the amount of work that it took to make the content. You have to promote the heck out of it. How do you do that? Well, here are a few of our favorite strategies:
First, get a tool like Pitchbox or Buzzstream, that allows email outreach. Using these tools, you can find other websites that have written similar content. Then, promote your content using an email template. Honestly, email outreach could be a whole separate article, so if you want more information, here is a good starting point.
Similar to email outreach, you can look at past articles and find their links using SEMrush. Once you find out those links, you can email promote the content to people who have linked to similar articles in the past. Asking for a link is not always the best strategy, but it can work, especially if they link to an old article. You want to convey to them that you have created a much better piece of content and instead of linking to an article that is old and outdated, they should link to yours.
Social Media Promotion
Another strategy that you can use to promote your content is social media. Using your Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest/Twitter advertising tools is a great way to get your content out in front of people. You shouldn’t have to pay too much if it is truly a great piece of content.
One thing to note of: promoting your content can take time. Maybe you send it out via email, and they get your email and article, but plan on linking to it down the road when it makes more sense for them. Patience is key here. With the right email outreach and social promotion, you should be able to get some really good results, if it is truly a better piece of content than everything else.
Creating viral content has no guarantee. But by using these tips, you have a much better chance of creating amazing content, making it viral and giving users better content.