The results are in for my entirely non-scientific experiment with the hypothesis that using a provocative title containing popular or titillating search words such as sex, drugs, Obama, Kardashian, et al. will increase traffic at one’s blog. My conclusion: It might help in the short run, but doesn’t seem to have a long-term effect. My results show that in the week preceding my provocatively titled post, Jan 9-15, I had 9 views on my blog. The day I posted the sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, etc. post, I received 5 hits, but only the usual none, one or two hits after that, until I posted again on Jan 21 and received 7 hits. Overall for that second week I had 26 hits, but if we adjust for the extra post that week, it would be more like 20 hits vs. 9. If I even adjust down for during the first week , then the totals might be more like 15 to 9. So I can’t reasonably figure that a provocative post even generated more than a token amount of interest, especially since I’ve had many posts that got more hits in one day than the sex,drugs, rock ‘n roll post did.
The reason: my title, http://chitrader.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/sex-drugs-rock-n-roll-reality-tv-obama-mitt-kardashian-vampires-harry-potter/ contains words I thought would generate more hits from searches by individuals, but when I did a search, I found that the only way my blog leaped to the top of the search results (using Google search) was if I used most of the words in the exact order they appeared. In other words, someone would have to have done a search using “Sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, reality TV, Obama,” at the minimum, to be directed to my blog. Searching on one or two of those title words yielded no reference to my blog on at least the first 3-4 pages of search results, which is about where I estimate the searcher loses interest in further search results, or has found what he/she is looking for.
So there you have it. A provocative title still has to compete with many other website entries for the attention of the average web surfer, so if you don’t have an extremely popular website or blog, it’s not likely that provocative, current event-oriented titles will help you very much.
My supposition is that blogging regularly and building an audience is a better way to gain and keep one’s internet audience.
Have provocative or timely words in your titles boosted your readership? What other techniques work for you in building readership? Are you a generalist blogger, or a blogger who sticks to one topic most of the time?