Think of your favorite online publication.
Now think back to the last time you read an article.
When you got to the end of the article you probably stopped for a split second to consider what you would do next.
It’s at this point that most online publishers today will present you with a few options.
You’ve probably seen the Suggested Articles at the bottom of your favorite publications. Some of them are pretty ridiculous. They’ll have an outlandish headline with an even more ridiculous photo.
The History Of Suggested Articles
Suggested articles is a concept that’s been around for some time.
Bloggers figured out early on that once a reader was done reading that they were likely to leave the blog post. Well, it doesn’t make much sense to let that person get away.
So instead of doing nothing, bloggers started giving readers options for additional posts to read.
Say you just read an article about SEO. Well it makes sense that you might be interested in more SEO content. So that’s the type of content the publisher would put in the Suggested Articles area.
Outbrain, Taboola And Others
An interesting development the last couple years is Suggested Articles as advertising.
Services like Outbrain, Tabool and others are providers and it’s a very interesting market.
Basically, a publisher has the option of getting paid to put suggested articles on their articles.
It’s a tradeoff. Instead of keeping traffic on your site to read more articles, you send traffic to someone’s else posts or video for money.
And on the flip side, if you’re trying to build a following from scratch, you can pay for traffic to your best posts.
It’s not a bad arrangement.
The Algorithms Are Getting Better
The trouble with these services the last couple years is that the Suggested Articles haven’t always been relevant and in some cases have been offensive.
But things are getting better. Instead of humans choosing the articles, algorithms now pick what content to suggest. As more good content is added to the mix, readers have the option to see better articles.
Lessons To Learn From Suggested Articles
While some of these Suggested Articles might make you smile or even laugh out loud there are some lessons to learn.
No. You don’t want to do anything to trick people into reading your blog posts. Being tricky or misleading might get you traffic right away, but you’ll lose in the long run and business blogging is a game for the long run.
Here are the lessons to take away from Suggested Articles.
1. People Love Numbers And Lists
I looked at a few recent articles with suggested titles at the bottom. It’s always been the case and it continues to be the case. People love numbers and lists.
I can’t say anything scientific about why it works, but titles with numbers seem to do better.
People like to see how someone else ranks something. We like to read steps on how to do things.
If you’re writing a blog post, think about how you can turn it into a numbered post and you’ll get a much more attractive blog post title.
2. Images Matter More Than You Might Think
Some of the images in these suggested areas get a little ridiculous. I’ve seen a few or maybe more than a few of these images that are something like a beautiful woman in scant clothing for a title like 10 Ways To Improve The Quality Of Your Yard or something like that.
It kind of goes in an increasing quality with images for these thumbnail areas. No image is the lowest. Some kind of images is definitely better. And a really good image is the best.
I would avoid tricky and misleading images. They might work early on the relationship with a reader, but in the long run it’s not worth it.
A good image is something that isn’t confusing. It’s in the general area of what your post is about. And it has to look good in about a 150 x 150 pixel area.
These images are used all over the web now including social media when you share your articles. It’s part of your blog post title.
3. Points That Challenge Regular Thinking Get Attention
I read the local paper here in Wisconsin that covers the Green Bay Packers. There was one title suggested for an internal article about a player that was seeing less time in practice.
To me, a Packer fan, that was a point that challenged my conventional thinking.
Anytime you can take a subject that is just about written in stone and figure out a new angle you’ll find a way to attract attention. And you’re attracting the right kind of attention. You’re getting passionate people to read your stuff. But you better deliver on your point. If you don’t you’ll lose readers They’ll dismiss you. If you do, you’ll win readers and clients for life.
4. Titles Are Just Teasers
It’s important not to give away the farm with your title.
Titles are meant to be teasers. And as with all of these lessons, it’s an art. You have to write a bunch of titles to kind of learn how to do it.
There was another title about a player at the college here in Wisconsin. The title said he’s back, but maybe not for long. That’s a teaser. Local newscasts are excellent at these teasers.
They introduce the topic; one that people care about. Then they cut it off and you have to watch later.
In the case of titles, it’s about getting people intrigued and getting them to read the full article.
5. All CAPS Can Work For ONE Word Per Title
This is a new one for me. I didn’t really catch on to this one with all the articles I’ve seen that have Suggested Articles on them.
But it stood out to me in a recent one.
The topic was golf, which is right in my wheelhouse. So I was paying attention.
It was a topic about the WORST mistake you can make or something like that. And that one word stood out obviously because it was in all CAPS.
However, I think it’s important to limit the use of this technique. Try it out. Make the most important or intriguing word all CAPS. It can get your more traffic from sources like search, social media and more.
If your titles are the best they can be then you’re leaving traffic on the table. If a potential customer sees your title and turns away then it doesn’t even matter if your content is the best on the topic. You need a good title in order to get people in the door. It’s part of the whole package.
So use these lessons when you’re creating titles for your blog posts. We use them at GBW and we’re always looking for ways to improve.