Case Study: How a Headline Made the Difference Between 100 and 5000 Visits

Want to attract thousands of visitors? If you are a blogger struggling to succeed on the social sites, this post is a must read.

Up until three days ago I hadn’t been able to get much traffic from any of the social sites (Digg, Reddit, StumbleUp, etc.). I’d been frequently submitting to all of them but nothing stuck. I wasn’t sure why. I knew my content was good, but for some reason people weren’t going for it. I finally made a break through, and I’ll tell you exactly how it happened.

The Stats

On Friday, January 26, I wrote a post titled “The Two Types of Cognition”. I posted it to Reddit, StumbleUpon, and Del.icio.us and attracted a grand total of 100 visitors in the next two days.

The average time spend on the post (6:11) was great, so I knew the people who read it liked it. The problem was people weren’t seeing it.

On Saturday, my friend Greg came by and told me he liked the post and that I should try to promote it. This planted the seed of curiosity. On Sunday I decided to make an effort to promote the article.

I realized that my original headline sucked. I’m new to copywriting, so I normally want to use headlines as labels. ‘The Two Types of Cognition’ is a perfect description of the post and it includes the main keyword, but it doesn’t give the reader any incentive.

My breakthrough was galvanized by the discovery of Steve Olson‘s post, “How This Blog Attracted 100,000 Visitors in the First 30 Days“. Through Steve’s post I discovered “5 of Your Headlines Remixed” by Brian Clark. If you want traffic READ THIS POST.

After reading Brian’s article and some of the other links from Steve’s post I resolved to concoct a new headline and resubmit to the social sites.

I came up with “Learn to Understand Your Own Intelligence“. A bit more provocative isn’t it? I submitted to all the same sites, made it up to the second page of Reddit and got a few del.icio.us tags and stumbles. Reddit brought in some good traffic, but it really took off with StumbleUpon.

As of this moment that article has attracted 4,930 unique views. Not bad for a site that normally averages a couple hundred visitors a day. As a bonus, people started stumbling one of my other pages, leading to even more traffic.

Here is a chart depicting how rewriting a single headline has affected this site’s traffic.

I didn’t write this post to brag. Many other people attract many more visitors over the social sites everyday. I wanted to point out that content is not always the biggest issue. The EXACT SAME ARTICLE had drastically different results all because of a headline. And it isn’t even that tough. Read the posts I linked to earlier, take the lessons to heart, and start putting a lot more effort into your headlines and opening paragraphs.

Don’t let your great content go to waste.

141 Responses to Case Study: How a Headline Made the Difference Between 100 and 5000 Visits

  1. Steve Olson says:

    John,

    You are correct my freind.

    Great content may go unread because of the title and the first paragraph. Those elements are critical. I’m happy to hear of your successes.

  2. Ken Savage says:

    A friend of mine who owns a bicycle shop had a similar brick-and-mortar problem.

    No one came into the show room to even look at his bikes. He invited a few local pros to come down and give a 1 hour talk about how to be a better bike handler. Now he advertises the same ads in newspapers and phone book but with the tagline “home for racing pros.”

    he can’t keep up with the bike builds anymore.

  3. John Wesley says:

    You’re absolutely right Ken. Good marketing applies to any business endeavor.

  4. Katie says:

    Thanks for the perfect model of the power of presentation, John.

    Your point is one I certainly need to develop. I appreciate it!

  5. s says:

    A great post John and I have experienced the stumble effect as well. It’s definitiely in the packaging and the title sucks the reader in.

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  8. Chris Byrne says:

    Excellent John.

    There is an interesting free headline analyser tool available that measures the “emotional marketing value” of your headlines here: http://www.aminstitute.com/headline/

    Sadly, when I tried your headlines it said the opposite. However I think Brian Clark over at copyblogger still wins the day.

    Chris

  9. John Wesley says:

    That makes sense. My headline isn’t really very emotional at all. I think it worked because it’s intellectually compelling.

    Interesting tool though, I’ll have to check it out.

  10. jennifer says:

    Great post and fantastic blog! For a real newbie in the world of blogging I totally appreciate the info! Thanks a bunch! Jennifer

  11. Brian Clark says:

    Good work John, and I’m glad the article helped. I don’t even think that’s one of the most instructive ones I’ve done on headlines, but it is helpful via “live” demonstration I suppose. I should do more of those. 😉

  12. John Wesley says:

    Thanks for stopping by Brian. I agree, that certainly wasn’t the only article that helped me. I think I read the entire ‘Magnetic Headlines’ series. But that was the one that really prompted me to get serious about writing great headlines. Keep up the great work. I can’t wait to put more of your copywriting ideas into action.

  13. Daniel says:

    I’m just happy you’re submitting your own content yourself and not getting flamed for it. The Internet needs more people like you — people who have their own opinions and thoughts and want to share them.

    Congrats.

  14. Tammy says:

    “Your Own Intelligence” is indeed compelling – you were talking about me!

    Now that’s a way to get people reading what was great to begin with… tell us what we might not know about ourselves.

  15. It gave me a wonder how the topic suddenly changed, but I can see now what you did. Experimenting and testing out different methods is the key to finding optimal solutions. I know. 😉

    This is great advice.

  16. phatz says:

    Interesting element to these comments and the people leaving them. lemme guess…

  17. ggwfung says:

    digg ain’t the goldmine it once was. Steve Pavlina rode it to immense success, but I don’t think any others can depend on it.

    It’s good thinking to look for alternatives – and reddit and stumbleupon are certainly two options.

    In a way, I think reddit has that exciting vibe that digg had 12 months ago.

    you’ve made immense strides in a month John. Congrats.

    ggw

  18. Vikas says:

    This is a good post. Now its time to learn how to write better headlines.

  19. Hans says:

    Thanks for the tip John.

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  22. Hey John, a very inspiring post! I pick up new tips just about every day; this one sounds like one of the best yet. Can’t wait to try it out.

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  24. Liara Covert says:

    You make some great points here John. Your hard work has paid off in great dividends. I’m thankful to you for sharing some of your worldly wisdom. What goes around comes back.

  25. TerryG says:

    I recently read a site became the featured blog site because of the headline Why Do Women Show Their Breasts. Spot on with your headlines article here and there is proof that it does work. Now all I have to do is think of a headline. Great article.

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  29. Hi John,

    Great case study! Food for thought… Thanks for sharing.

    All the best,
    Francois du Toit
    http://www.money-maker-advice.com

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  32. Marsden says:

    THanks for sharing your discovery. Guess I will have to relook at my headlines…

  33. Having a cachy title is always important. But the content is the king. If your content will fresh and unique, it will automatically attract visitors to your site. So, build more and more relevant content to your site. Content always wins.

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  35. Arshad says:

    yo !

    Great job, this discovery will make posting even easier for others if they crack this code :)

    Arshad .S
    Seo Analyst

  36. meg says:

    im on a yearbook staff at my high school and honestly my assignment was to come up with headlines. and its 11 pm and thats what im doing …using the advice from others to juice my brain. =D

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  40. rexsky says:

    Great content ,thanks for your share~~
    :)

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  42. Great case study. I knew that a good headline is very important but never thought it could mean getting 5000 visits instead of only 100. Many thanks for sharing. Time to review my headlines…

  43. Dick says:

    I got to your sites through a headline, which shows that it is indeed important. Thanks for the info!

  44. Pferderennen says:

    Very good article, thanks a lot!

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  46. Another top post.
    Really enjoying what you do here.

    Thanks

  47. wmwebtr ödüllü seo yarışması
    thanks you.

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  50. adult forum says:

    Great job, this discovery will make posting even easier for others if they crack this code
    umut very good
    Seo Analyst

  51. alternatif says:

    very good thanks

  52. Nikhil Jain says:

    This info is really very helpful….I am a newbie,I think after reading this I will definitely be able to achieve the traffic which I thought was not possible for me.

    Thanks
    Nikhil

  53. Great comment guidelines. I think you’re on the right track here. Some of those comments should go somewhere else.

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  62. Great tip to having success on social media sites,
    THINKING OUT OF THE BOX!

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  64. Hey John, what a terrific post, every time I come here I pick up something good, keep up the good work.

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  69. Thanks for providing the required push with your post!

  70. Jennifer says:

    Hello,

    Thanks for writing such a great post. I was looking for this from a long time. where i can find the proper way to promote my blog on social book marking sites.

    Regards,
    Jenni

  71. Tariq says:

    Thanx for your extra-ordinary writing. I was wondering how to get traffic since last 2/3 months, but didn’t get any way. Tried social bookmarking sites, but failed. But I had some good contents to share.
    You relieved me from this pain.

  72. Thanks for a well-written article. It is a challenge, however, to make the titles of software and hardware tutorials catchy without looking schmaltzy!

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  74. Jackson says:

    do not underrate my intelligence. stranger!

  75. mathan raj says:

    I got the secret of your traffic from site. Thanks for posting this article.

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  77. I would say that just having a good knack for writing seems to work.Looking at blogs and social sites I wonder how people come up with some of these lines.
    Anybody have any help for the people who just do not have any knack for writing at all.

  78. I recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

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  82. Renato Rener says:

    I read this post, I also looked on reccomended sites.
    Since I do affiliate reviews, it is very important to write a catchy headline, to get more traffic.
    You helped me,
    thanks!

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  84. I never raised money for a start up but did raise around 250k to grow a business I satrted in my early twenties. More specifically to fund payroll for a large commericial contruction project. I secured the contract and THEN went about my capital quest. I think that made all the difference in investors dolling out the cash.

  85. Thanks for sharing I never have that kind of success with social bookmarking.

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  89. James Brooks says:

    yes i agree your post nice post.

  90. vio says:

    Multumesc pentru partajarea Niciodată nu am acest tip de succes cu social bookmarking.

  91. rakesh says:

    good nice post..liked it..

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  93. Thank you! Share so good article

  94. Very good article!!!!!!!!!!

  95. revoseek says:

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  97. alopex says:

    the post by Brian Clark really helped me too! thanks for sharing

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  100. Suhel CDN says:

    Really an informative post. And quite excited to see some interesting and informative post….

  101. Suhel CDN says:

    Good case study. Thanks for sharing this informative as well as interesting post with us. Your post will definitely help us to save our time, effort as well as money as it provides us very true information related to title writing for social bookmarking.

  102.  

     

    Good case study. Thanks for sharing
    this informative as well as interesting post with us. Your post will definitely
    help us to save our time, effort as well as money as it provides us very true
    information related to title writing for social bookmarking.

  103. Table Linens says:

     Wow, 100 to 5000 that’s amazing, I had no idea a headline was this important… many thanks for the info.

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  105. this is a great post, but article marketing sounds like a lot of work, lets say you not “all that” in writing articles and you just looking for a way to get traffic with less work, what do you do?

  106. Well, I think that post is the turning point for your blog. Nice share! I landed to this post by a link from copyblogger.

  107. Muhammad Anas Abbas says:

    That’s great. I really now belief the head line really is the ignition to make your content more visible..

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  109. Clark Hayes says:

    Wow that’s enlightening. I normally just throw keywords. in there like you did, but this will make me think twice. I’ll spend some extra time working on my headlines from now on. Thanks.

    My blog: http://www.jobunlocker.com

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  114. Neal Noyce says:

    How to understand your own stupidity . I wonder if that would of gotten more hits?

    http://www.vitalherbs.co.uk/website/uk-governments-attempts-at-stifling-mass-awakening/

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  122. yourpcuniverse says:

    i am inspired and will defiantly use this trick.
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    Blogs for Communication technology related to information Technology.
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  125. Daryl says:

    Thanks a lot. You’re article will give me a lot of help tomorrow when I must make an article :D. Hope get the same result as you..
    Thanks for your share ^^..

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  126. Yes I agree with you on Headline of Article or any salescopy. It should catch viewers mind to click on it to explore more. Tks.

  127. james says:

    Thanks for the post. I came to know some tips from your site. This will be helpful for me to increase visitors to my site http://www.greaterlondonwebdesign.co.uk

  128. Robert Roundtree says:

    I’ve had almost similar results on our blog that we manage for http://www.floridamarijuana.net we were amazed at the difference the headline made on a post about the efficacy of marijuana treatment on Alzheimer’s. Our spike wasn’t near the magnitude of yours but there was still a significant difference in visitors with the exact same content.

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  131. cynthiacol says:

    Wow- that’s a major improvement!

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  133. john says:

    this is a great post. order books online

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