Let’s write articles that gets a lot of social shares and drives us tons of web traffic.
Isn’t this every content marketer’s dream?
But the thing is that writing articles that get tons of shares and tremendous web traffic is something very hard to do. Why?
Because if you want to write for social, your articles must be in top of trend, talking about what people are interested in at that moment and create emotions for them.
Social articles (the one that are written for social media) are the type of articles that people love to share because they are entertaining (create an emotion), are interesting (it makes them look interesting in their community) or are trendy (it’s something that people are talking about at that moment).
This is why many journalists are writing on different blogs like Mashable, TechCrunch and other top websites understand the power of social articles. They embarq in the trend fact and are writing about what is the interest at that moment.
For example, if Apple is launching a new iPhone, you will notice on your Facebook news feed that a lot of articles are related to Apple and their new smartphone. Articles that are within the purpose of the moment.
But then there are the articles that answer a question. The ones that Google love to make it in the top of the search results. People are looking for answers when they are using Google or other search websites. This is why you will see that articles who answer a question, give a solution for a problem or create long-form content that drive valuable information will be in top of Google.
For example, if I’m looking to learn how to start using Adobe Illustrator, to learn how to use the program so I can start doing logos and other graphic elements, I look up on Google. Here I can find tutorials, websites, blogs and forums. Things that I’m interested in.
These are the search articles that people are interested in. Or you can call them “evergreen content” that is SEO content that is continually relevant for the reader.
- How to change a wheel for a Volkswagen car
- How to make pizza dough
- What does ecological roof means
What is the difference between social articles and search articles?
Social articles – are on the trend articles that get tons of social media shares and people are sharing them because they drive an emotion.
Search articles – are the evergreen articles that are continually driving valuable information for user’s intent.
But why content marketers are so obsessed about social articles and search articles?
Because there will always be a “cold war” between social media and search engines.
Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and other social platforms where you can share your articles started to be more relevant for the industry because marketers saw that they can use them to get more people on their website. More of that, the moment when you share an article on your top social media network, you will see that your web traffic is increasing. But this is only if you have a big number of followers and fans on this website. Or if a big influencer just shared your articles on social media.
The social articles are for the short term strategy.
On the other hand, when marketers used search engines to promote their article they only hit the publish button and then wait. After a few days or even weeks, they optimize the content and then wait. Get some backlinks to the content and wait. And if Google (or the other search engine websites) thought that the article is interesting for the user intent, they move it up in the search rank. And the traffic will grow bigger and bigger.
The search articles are for the long run strategy.
But, as you can see, these two types of articles are very different.
In my research I found that it’s not impossible to write articles for search and for social too. It’s not only about how you write the article, what topic you choose and when to post it and share it. It’s a little bit deeper than this.
There are 3+1 elements that are the core points of these elements.
Elements in Search Articles
For example, if you go on Google and search for the question “How to brew coffee”, you will get 2 types of results:
- The Featured snippets results
These are the kind of articles everybody wants to write. Because there are on the zero position and have the power to drive more traffic than the other types.
Also, if you get on this position and you have a good featured image you will see that Google will allow to show to the searcher.
- The normal results
These are the kind of results you already used to to find out from Google. Here you will have to choose which one of the titles, descriptions and links you prefer to click on and read the article.
Some of these contents are very well written for SEO and others are maybe old articles that Google find relevant for the user.
This is how a minimalistic page would look like as results in google.
But if we have to look closer to this minimalistic design, what will we observe?
There are 3 main elements for every search results:
- With blue is the Headline
- With green is the Link
- With grey is the Meta Description
Now let’s move on the social articles and see what we get here.
Elements in Social Articles
I chose the top 3 social platforms where I got my news from. This is why you will see Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.
Social media is not something you want to search for unless you are that small % of the users who are using the Search Bar to look up for different news, trends and other topics.
But many users are using social media to engage with each others, socialize and connect.
Now let’s see how an article that pops-up in my feed is looking:
On Facebook, you will get this kind of article in your newsfeed. Here you can see more details that you can see on search results in Google.
This is a minimalistic design type for Facebook article that are shared.
Here are more elements. Why? Because these little elements make the user interact with the article. Not only to click on it and consume it, but also to comment on it, react on it and even share it.
But if we look closer to these elements, what will we observe about the article?
- There is a status about the article
- There is the feature image that represents the article
- There is the headline of the article
- There is the description about the article
- There is the link of the website
Now let’s look on how an article looks on Twitter.
What is really interesting for me is that it looks a little bit just like on Facebook. In fact, if they are in the same category, it’s something normal.
Now let’s design it in more minimalistic idea.
Now tell me what are the elements of this article shared on Twitter:
- A status about the article
- A feature image that represents the article
- A headline of the article
- A description about the article
- The website link
The same Facebook has, right?
Now the final social platform that I will analyze is Linkedin.
Recently, Linkedin changed their interface and it’s looking better. It makes me use it more often and give me a good experience with it.
Here is an article shared by Mashable on Linkedin.
And here is the minimized design.
What are the elements from this shared article.
- A status about the article
- A feature image that represents the article
- A headline of the article
- The website link
As you can observe, the difference between Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook is that only on Linkedin you can’t see the description of the article.
Here is a bigger view of every article elements we analyzed.
As you can see, there are similar to each other, with small percentage.
But the one that are similar on every platform are:
- Headline (Google – Facebook – Twitter – Linkedin)
- Link (Google – Facebook – Twitter – Linkedin)
- Meta Description (Google – Facebook – Twitter)
- Featured Image (Google (when it’s a Featured Snippets) – Facebook – Twitter – Linkedin)
These are the 4 elements that are common between social articles and search articles: headline, link, meta description and featured images.
No wonder that top content marketing specialists are talking about each of these at conferences, webinars and articles.
For each of these elements I will give you 5 reasons why they are important and how you need to focus on them:
Many statistics said that the attention span of a normal user is the same as a goldfish ones. This is why when you create an article and before you hit the publish button, just make a check on your headlines and answer to yourself using these 4 questions:
- How unique is my headline – will people click on it because it’s very unique and also interesting? Because you create in them an emotion and they are curious what the article is about.
- How specific is your headline – does your headline explain very simple and easy what your article is all about? Make sure that you don’t use click bait strategies to fool around an user to click on it.
- Does your headline convey a sense of urgency – when the user will see your headline on social media or even on a search engine platform, can you make him click on it because it’s so important/interesting not to lose it?
- Is your headline useful – does your headline convey a benefit? The user is interested to know what benefits will get after reading your article.
I love how David Ogilvy is talking about headlines:
“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
I know that there is a tremendous psychology on writing headlines that make the user click on them, that drive more readers of your article and also that help you convert users in customers.
Here are a few resources I recommend you to check:
- Headlines writing 101: How To Write Attention Grabbing Headlines That Convert
- How To Write Magnetic Headlines
- 55 Easy Ways To Write Headlines That Will Reach Your Readers
Writing a headline is just like writing a copy for your Facebook or Google ad.
Have a unique sense a view of the brand, be specific with it and create a sense of urgency.
You won’t write better headlines if you don’t exercise it.
So start doing it and test it.
When we talk about links, people are thinking about domain names or backlinks for their websites, landing pages and articles. But in this case I’m referring at a link as a brand element.
Every website has a domain name. Mine is robertkatai.com. It’s my name and I wanted to make it a personal blog. But there are websites like VentureBeat, TechCrunch, Gizmodo who are the top players in their industry and are acting like an online newspaper where more journalists and contributors are writing for them.
But you can also choose a domain name that is relevant for your brand.
For example, buzzsumo.com, bannersnack.com, copyblogger.com or smartketer.com are companies who have a product or a service behind these names. People heard about them and trust them because they bring value with their products and services. So when you see an article on Facebook and have the link from bannersnack.com or copyblogger.com you will trust them and click on them because it’s a trusted brand, right?
I heard many marketers who said that the domain name doesn’t count. Just choose whatever name you like and start your website. Well my friend, if your domain name is not easily recognizable or understandable, people won’t trust you. Unless you have enough patience to build your authority in your industry.
This is why every time somebody is asking me about their domain name I’m telling them these things:
- Make it simple and short – if it’s a personal blog, then use your name, if it’s an online project then use something easy to read and spell. People hate to use complicated names. Or make it good in your niche. Think about problogger.com and copyblogger.com – it goes without saying that they are talking about blogging and other related topics.
- Have patience – you won’t be the next big blogger in your industry if you don’t work hard and you won’t be patient? If you want to build a trusted website then be consistent with your content and create valuable information
- It’s your brand – think about this domain as a brand that you won’t change for the next 10 years. You will work for it (even if it’s a side project) and people will recognize you and your website as one project.
This is why, for me, a link and a domain name are always something related to branding.
To build a brand you need to invest time, energy, money and a lot of work.
3. Meta Description
Before we start diving into the importance of meta description, let’s see what is it and why it’s significant for the content marketer.
Meta description is the HTML attributes that bring concise summaries of articles/blog posts/webpages. In the search results they commonly appear underneath the blue clickable headline. Also on Facebook and Twitter they appear underneath the title, but the difference between the search results and social results is that these meta descriptions are clickables.
How long should be a meta description of the webpage? What’s the best length of it?
You can write as much as you want in your meta description but the search results only show 160 characters. So keep it long enough to describe the page but shorter than the 160 character limit.
Think about meta description as a short explanation of your articles. Even if the headlines are the first that the eyeball is seeing, there are also users who are more careful on what they click so they read these descriptions.
So why do you need a meta description of your article?
- Can increase the CTR (Click Through Rate) and can help you improve the visits from organic search or social
- It can give the people the right information in only 160 characters before they click the link (think about meta description as another hook)
Meta descriptions are not a Google ranking factor, but can be the difference between your link and your competition link.
4. Featured Image
Visuals are very important in a blog post. Even if we talk about featured image or the ones that appear in the text.
Articles with visuals get 94% more views than those without. (Jeff Bullas)
Google finds it so important that they created a 0 ranking for Featured Snippets where they show the featured image if you are the best results for the search.
For example, when we wrote the article about “How Does Banner Advertising Work?” we also designed a visual that we used as a featured image. Now when the user is searching on “how banner ads work” the first results that appears and the only with the image is from our blog post.
But if go on the social part, we will see that featured images are one of the most important factors that people are taking into account when they click the status.
Just think about the next statistics:
- Visual content is more than 40X more likely to get shared on social media. (Buffer)
- 63% of social media is made up of images. (QuickSprout)
- 74% marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing, up from 71% in 2015. (Social Media Examiner)
This means that visuals are playing an important part on social media when we talk about articles.
As content marketers, we create content not only for the algorithm on social media or for the rankings on Google. We need to make sure that we understand that we create content especially for our audience.
If our audience loves our content, also Facebook and Google will love it too.
Now let’s resume the 4 points that are important when we want to create content for social results and share:
- Meta Descriptions
- Featured Images
Now that you know what are the common points between social and share articles, let me know in comments how do you optimise your articles after you hit the publish button?