HomeBlogPredicting Blog Post Success

Predicting Blog Or Story Success

Published February 6, 2018

For some reason, people I speak with that are aware that I blog a lot think that I have some tips and advice on knowing which blog posts, articles or stories will become a big success before I write them.  The truth is, that is not the case.  I can tell you that too often blog posts or stories I publish that I think would get a lot of attentions, pageviews, visits, social shares, etc often do not and sometimes the completely opposite... Stories I think will get very little attention and shares sometimes explode and do incredibly well in terms of reader and engagement metrics.

In the past week, the topic came up twice about my abilities or lack thereof, of making such content predictions.  In fact, articles on the topic of making such predictions are wrong, at least when it comes to stuff I write. 

I was at Google Thursday to give a small tech talk, and one of the questions asked of me was what criteria do I use when coming up with what stories I will write up.  Like, what do I pick up on that I know would be a story that will get a lot of interest.  I answered honestly, saying, I don't work that way and even if I did, I would be wrong most of the time.

One example I gave them was about a story I wrote about how an upset girlfriend spammed Google images to get back at her ex-boyfriend.   When I wrote it, I thought it was cool to document the first case of a normal person gaming Google to get revenge on her boyfriend.  But it caught on, TMZ covered it, then tons of large news publications did also.  The parents of the boy called me and told me to remove the story, so I blocked it from Google in the robots.txt - the only story I ever did that with.  Point being, I had no clue it would get so much attention.

Another example is when I picked up on Google testing what they called Google Instant and it turned out I was right, which I am about most Google tests. But for some reason, that one got me on NBC's Brian Williams - before he was defamed.  I cover these tests all the time, who would have known it would have done well.

In short, I have written over 1,000 pages of content on this site, about 10,000 stories on Search Engine Land and over 25,000 stories on Search Engine Roundtable over the past 15 or so years.  And even with all that experience in publishing content, there is no science to getting stories to go viral and predicting which stories will do super well.  

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Barry Schwartz is the CEO of RustyBrick, a New York Web service firm specializing in customized online technology that helps companies decrease costs and increase sales. Barry is also the founder of the Search Engine Roundtable and the News Editor of Search Engine Land. He is well known & respected for his expertise in the search marketing industry. Barry graduated from the City University of New York and lives with his family in the NYC region.

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