Using the magic of Google Analytics, a website owner like myself can, at any time, peep at a live map of who is on which pages of her blog.
For example, right now I can see that there is a visitor to my site from Australia, and two people are reading my new baby photos article.
Seeing these stats swirl and shift is more exciting for blogging geeks like me than watching a live puppy cam!
Even more thrilling, however, is watching a post “go viral” in real-time. When an article really takes off, the entire map of Google Analytics Real Time lights up. Orange circles representing current site visitors pour over the globe, making the site owner’s pulse quicken with the delight of being READ!
But… what exactly MAKES a post go viral?
As a twist on a New Year’s “most popular articles” post, I’m going to run down my 10 most viral posts as of the start of 2014, explaining what made each take off. Perhaps this information will help you in your own publishing endeavors! Or maybe it will just be a fascinating journey into what makes humans tick, and what makes them click.
#10: Surprising tourist attractions.
My tenth most viral post, with 9,230 views by the start of 2014, was “Great Mayan Ruins of Belize.” Ancient ruins in a lush tropical jungle? Facts about a deadly sports game? A lesson on how to not get lost while walking hours on a Central American highway? So alluring to click!
#9: Shocking realities.
Humans crave seeing things they’ve been previously insulated from, like the piles of rainbow trash in “Startling Photos of Paharganj, India“ which has now been viewed 10,486 times.
#8: An “About” page.
My “About Lillie” page isn’t exactly viral, since it’s had steady clicks for years to reach 12,986 views, and “viral” connotes a post that gets thousands of views in a short time period. But on any website, the background information page is usually the second place any new visitor clicks, so all sites should be sure to have one.
#7: Getting people angry.
The article, “How to Travel With a Timeshare, But Avoid Buying“ has accumulated 14,790 views because it’s apparently enraged the timeshare sales industry so much that they’ve been sharing it out of fury. Every week I get a new screaming comment on it from a salesperson saying I’m a cheap punk… and every week I throw the comment in the trash. Hey– it’s my site, so I don’t have to publish rudeness! But rest assured I will never travel via timeshare pitch again.
#6: FOOD PICS!
As evidenced by the fact that “Photos of a Chocolate Tour to Make You Drool“ has had 15,170 views so far, people seem to like luscious dessert photos. Who knew?!
#5: Bright Colors in Nature.
Any post that makes the viewer gasp: “Such bright, pretty colors!” while looking at nature photos garners clicks. “Amazing Fall Foliage“ has received 19,131.
#4: A Guessing Challenge.
People love a challenge, especially when the answer is as funny and clever as in the article, “Why is This Wall Decoration in India Genius?“ which now has 20,319 views.
#3: Incredibly Useful Advice.
Of all the articles on this list, “4 Tricks to Never Lose Anything“ is my favorite because (if I may humbly state) it’s so darn useful. 24,869 readers seem to agree!
#2: Sunrises or Sunsets.
Photography featuring rainbow-colored skies does well online, as the 33,237 visitors to “3 Stunning Lake Sunsets in New Hampshire“ prove.
#1: Beaches or humor… ideally, both!
The absolute most viral article on this site, with 54,756 views as of now, is “Our Witty, Pretty Resort in Placencia.” It is the perfect combination of escapist vacation photography (don’t you want to dive through the screen onto that beach chair?) and the funniest hotel pamphlet ever.
Voila! Those ten characteristics made these articles go viral this year. Of course, having those elements doesn’t work every time, but they do tend to make humans click!