Sunday, February 05, 2006

Steve Rubel on Getting Blog Links

Steve Rubel is a blogger I admire and closely observe. His Micropersuasion blog is a great resource for blog tips, advice, news, and product alerts.

I was amazed at all the posts he publishes and their frequency, until I discovered that some bloggers have teams who do research and even help write posts.

When you see 12 brief posts per day, you may safely assume that some intern or staff member is running around pulling URLs off the web, or they have great RSS feeds channeling post ideas and tidbits to them, or they do nothing but mess around with their blog.

"A lesson how to get blog links" is an examination of a selected post title.

"5 Things Steve Jobs has misled us about in the last 30 years"

When we examine this post title, let's dismiss the fact that it quickly got 10 blogs to link to it, according to Technorati.

This title is controversial, but perhaps it is preaching to the choir? Still, a controversial post title will attract links.

Let's just look at the title to see what makes a title effective in not just getting links, but in delivering a message on it's own, and in drawing reader traffic to your blog.

The post title is your best salesperson for your blog.

When RSS subscribers scan their list of post headlines or titles, will yours stand out?

Your post title has to instantly be understandable, relevant, and beneficial.

The title that Rubel installs in the position of emulation has only one major drawback: it does not convey what benefit the reader will gain by reading it. The only real benefit is that you will supposedly have more to hate Steve Jobs for, more to complain about, perhaps in a more informed and authoritative manner.

How would I improve this title? Easy.

MY REVISION: "5 Things Steve Jobs lied about, that will cost you millions"

OR: "5 Steve Jobs lies and how to outsmart them"

OR: "5 lies of Steve Jobs, and what he's hiding"

The last alternate title has no real benefit, outside of the implication of satisfying curiosity, but it is at least more intriguing than the original.

If you say someone lied, most will shrug their shoulders and say either "prove it" or "so what? they all do".

So you need to add some benefit in title, make the news of the "lies" more urgent or important sounding, or make the title so outrageous, people will be going nuts with suspense to read it.

For example, I often use a wild figure of speech to deliver an idea, make a point, and draw readers to the post:

"MySpace is Predator's Paradise" is somewhat more alarming than "MySpace: toilet of the blogosphere" which is a bit more shocking than "Is MySpace too racey for teens?" which is still better than the dorky "MySpace raises concerns among parents and lawmakers".

Before you title your post, ask "what words or question might a web user type into a Search Engine text entry box?"

That phrase or inquiry is the best title for your post.

Before you write your title in the Title: box, pretend I'm there, asking you: "What is the gist? What, in one sentence, is your purpose, your intention? What is this post designed to do?"

The title can be what the headline might say if this was a frontpage newspaper story. Or the chapter in a book.

"My post is about how to integrate RSS feeds into IM," you announce unexpectedly.

Then that's the post title. "How to integrate RSS feeds into IM". NOT: "a new way to use RSS" or "hot feeds for cold media".

These insightful suggestions for jazzing up a post title will come into play when you most need them, for I have metaphysically commanded them to do so.

May they be your invisible guides to help you write an award-winning blog post title, one that will be emulated and cherished for generations to come.

[signed] steven edward streight aka vaspers the grate

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