Tips on how to write a popular article

Writing a popular article online is no easy task. The better you are at generating traffic, the greater your readership base, and the greater your reach.

I’ve put a list together that will help you write an article that will give you the best opportunity to generate traffic to your work.

Include a great picture

Most websites – and Student View is included – will require a great picture for your article. In fact, the image may be one of the main factors when generating traffic.

Articles will often have a featured image displayed on the host website and this image will often be used in an email campaign or on social media to promote the article. If your image isn’t good, then you aren’t giving yourself the best chance to boost your traffic.

What makes a good image?

Your image needs to be relevant. If your article is discussing an experience or a place (eg Melbourne) then your image needs to reflect that. If you’ve written a recipe, images are really important. Take a picture at each stage of the cooking process and include them all.

It’s best if your image is an original. That is, you’ve taken it yourself. Google will reward you as a result, and your article is more likely to generate traffic via search engines. Images that are original and awesome are easily picked up on social media – particularly Pinterest. We generate a huge amount of traffic (often 100 hits per day) on this article because the image is popular on Pinterest.

Quality headlines draw eyes

Everyone is time poor. For your article to stand out from the crowd, you will need to make sure it catches the eye of readers.

This is not always easy, but there are some simple tricks that can be used effectively. Try including “How to…” or “5 reasons/steps to…” before your article. The title of this article is How to Write a Popular Online Article for a reason.

Don’t forget that your headline must be relevant to your article. Readers feel betrayed when they are sucked in with a completely irrelevant or deceptive headline. You will lose trust with your readers.

Here is a resource that is very popular with copywriters and can help you create a great heading.

Short, sharp and sweet

Get to the point. As mentioned above, people are unlikely to read a padded out article. Same as any university assignment – if you’re filling space with nothing to contribute then it’s best to leave it out.

Some schools of thought encourage online writers to leave all paragraphs at a maximum of one to two sentences. Apparently it makes for easier reading.

I think this really depends on how serious the article is. If you’re writing about drug addiction and it includes a personal story or goes into detail, then people are willing to read longer paragraphs. If, however, you’re writing about Belle Knox, the short and sharp paragraphs are best.

No article should be less than 300 words (recipes are an exception).

While many articles shouldn’t be longer than 500 words, there are exceptions to this rule. Extensive articles (such as this one) providing an in-depth analysis or how to guide will perform better over time. Just remember to keep it all relevant though.

Article topic

The topic of your article will obviously be a large factor in your ability to generate traffic. Boring topics can be incredibly popular – but they need to be written well and address an issue for your reader.

Know your audience and write an article that will appeal to them. If you’re contributing to Student View, then you need to make sure that your piece is relevant to students – there’s no point writing about the benefits of certain retirement villages.

For ideas, it can be worth having a look at what other people have written about. Find other websites that are publishing for the same audience and see what articles generate comments, likes or tweets.

Article conclusion

As you’ve been taught throughout your schooling, a quick summary at the end of an article is a nice way to summarise and make things easy for any of your lazy readers. Provided you include a great image, good headline, and keep the article short and relevant, you will be optimising your traffic opportunities.

Australia's Student Newspaper, trying to Improve Student Life. We publish articles written by students from across Australia and the world!

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