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Would You Exaggerate the Truth for a Good Story?

Because many bloggers are trying to make a living online, we can’t help but think about ways to increase traffic.

One of the best ways to get traffic is to write something interesting / controversial. If you read Digg and  Reddit, the articles that do well are often criticising some person / some institution. You just don’t get a story on the Digg home page with a title like

“Congressman does Good work, in finding a thoughtful solution to this longstanding problem”

Therefore, every blogger, (and to be fair every newspaper editor) has an incentive to sensationalise and perhaps exaggerate an initial story.

There is an interesting story picked up by Darius Monsef at Young go Getter about the dangers of exaggerating initial stories so that we end up with something completely true. via Daily Bits

(BTW – Daily Bits is a new blog by Daniel of Daily Blogging Tips – well worth bookmarking)
Basically, bloggers were up in arms about Nissand who claimed be making bogus claims about a self healing paint.

It went from:

    ‘color changing paint technology is being viewed by Nissan and other auto companies’
‘Nissan talking up their bogus but juicy claim to have developed a self-healing paint system that can actually change color based on your mood, will be on production vehicles by 2010.’

In a way it becomes rather amusing, that such an exaggeration has occured. However, it is easy to see that this kind of reporting could be alot more common that we think. How many digg type stories have a similar level of exaggeration? Perhaps we will never know.

The problem is that it is easy to ignore the costs to others of misleading claims. I think there is a lot to be said for being very cautious before jumping on a bandwagon of criticism.

At the same time of course, bloggers can raise awareness of issues, perhaps left by traditional media. But, if this potential is not met with responsibility, it is a real problem.

Also, I think there is a difference between exaggerating the facts and looking for an interesting angle on a topic. It is a careful balance to maintain though.

The Perfect Title: Try these Enticing Titles

Usually, when writing titles, it is important to choose keywords that are useful for SEO purposes. However, if you always write for search engines, your titles can become bland and repetitive. You should be willing to be bolder and stand out from the crowd. Every now and then use an engaging, challenging or enticing title. This will add a little spark to your blog.

For variety try these Title Formats:

1. Ask A Question.

The benefit of asking a question is that it encourages reader feedback and engagement. When you write a “how to post” It is like giving a lecture, in which you speak to readers. Asking a question, implies that you don’t know the complete answer. This is the kind of post that will encourage others to participate. Try titles like: “Why do readers leave your blog so quick?” “How do you get noticed by other bloggers?”

2. Top 10 or top 100.

True, this is not going to be particularly original, but, the fact is people do like them. They are easy to read, they give an air of authority. If you really want to stand out try a top 50 or even top 100. A top 100 may take a long time to write, but, it has a good chance of becoming an authority article. For example, there are many top 10 wordpress themes, or top 10 wordpress plugins. But they are all incomplete. A top 100 plugin page would have all the best plugins in one place, rather than scattered around the internet.


3. Make it Relevant

There are many articles about Google penalties on the internet. If you add another article “How to avoid Google penalties” The title is not particularly outstanding. However, if you use “How John Chow can avoid more google penalties” You have 2 extra advantages. It creates interest in those who know about John Chow. Also, the post is not just theoretical, but promises to be a workable case study. Giving personal experience creates an added interest in the article.

example: did duplicate content kill John Chow? – personally I don’t think so, but interesting research anyway.

4. How I broke technorati 2000 in 12 months.

It is one thing to give SEO tips, anyone can do that. But, it is another to actually make it work. If you can write a post like this you will definitely attract interest because people like to hear about personal success stories. The only problem is that to write a title like this you do actually need to break into the technorati top 2000. – Maybe in the next 6 months… If you do write this kind of article, maintain a degree of humility and don’t overdo them, otherwise you may put off some readers.

5. Secrets of SEO.

Everyone knows the standard SEO techniques: good content, get links e.t.c. Nobody needs another article regurgitating these old points. What people need is new SEO advice; the latest techniques and tips that not many people no about. When you write about Secrets of… It gives the impression that you have some inside knowledge, something different. Just make sure when you write an article like this you don’t start of with:

  1. Good content is important
  2. Work on getting more links to your site.

6. Be Controversial.

Generally, I don’t like creating controversy for the sake of it. I would never criticise another blogger in a post, it lacks professional judgement. However, there is no reason why you can’t go against the prevailing orthodoxy and write the opposite to what most people think. For example, when problogger suggested we write a list post. The first thing that came to my mind was “Top 10 reason lists are Rubbish.” – If these articles turn out to be non serious / humorous, even better.

7. Lateral Thinking.

Look at your niche from a different angle. How much can you write about mortgages without it getting a little boring. Try taking a new angle on the blog. It’s hardly particularly original but you could try “What can Harry Potter teach us about mortgages” I’m sure there are better examples of lateral thinking than this. However, I did get alot of people coming to the blog through searching “harry potter”

With these titles I would advise using them sparingly, if every post is about “secrets of ….” or “How my blog is doing very well, thanks very much” you just alienate readers. These types of articles are more powerful if they are used every now and then. They are a chance to write something different; if they are very good they may get picked up on social networking sites. The important thing is to try something new. Don’t just keep writing standard blog posts like “Where to put adsense” e.t.c. These posts are fine but try to mix it up with more original writing. As an added benefit, you will find writing these articles encourages you to stretch yourself, looking for new ideas and angles.

This post is a contribution to 31 days to build a better blog at problogger

Phrases for Originality

Continuing the theme of important keyphrases, I though it would be interesting to consider originality. After all, if we want our blog to be unique, we should be able to display a wide range of interesting phrases for our originality

What keywords could we use to convey ideas of uniqueness and originality?

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Cliches of money Making: Retire tomorrow!

I came across an interesting book in Blackwells coffee shop. “Words that Sell – Richard Bayan“. The point of the book is that it is good to have an extensive repertoire of key words. This enables you to say the same thing in many different ways, so that you can avoid saying the same phrase every time. Even so, I quite often groan when I come across the ones below:

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