This guest blog is written by Ivan Serrano, an internet journalist living in Northern California. His writing niche is social media and business, and when he’s not writing, he’ll be found practicing his photography or watching his favorite sports team.

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There isn’t a website owner in the world who doesn’t want more traffic, views, subscribers, followers and engagement. After all, those factors are the lifeblood of every site. So it isn’t much of a surprise that everyone wants to “go viral.” Unfortunately, going viral isn’t an exact science and many marketers still aren’t sure what causes content to spread like wildfire. Much of going viral is luck and good fortune, but don’t give up hope. There are some ways you can improve your chances of hitting the big time.

Evoke Emotions

The best content is one that elicits an emotional response. But not all emotional responses are created equal. Research suggests that people tend to share funny or uplifting content more than more negative ones. Avoid articles that are too depressing unless you can provide an inspirational aspect to it.

Go Long

It might sound counterintuitive, but longer articles tend to be shared more than shorter ones. Of course, you still only have 15 seconds to grab a visitor’s attention, so make sure your content provides value right from the start and offers maximum readability. Some of the top content formats include:

  • Infographics
  • Top lists
  • Why posts
  • What posts
  • How-tos
  • Videos

Try out the different types to see what works best for your brand.

Write a Catchy Headline

Your headline is the very first thing people will see and will determine whether they click or not. A good headline generally includes does the following:

  • Uses numbers and interesting adjectives
  • Offers a promise to the reader
  • Appeals to the reader’s emotions
  • Has a negative slant – this doesn’t mean a negative emotion. Instead it focuses on things the reader shouldn’t do or things they should avoid.

Create Momentum

Your content can’t go viral if you don’t have people sharing it. Not only do you need to promote yourself, you also need others to promote for you by sharing your content through their own social profiles. While you can’t force people to share, you can make it easier for them by providing calls to action. One of the simplest ways to get people sharing is to provide social sharing icons on the post itself. This allows visitors to share without having to navigate away from your site and all it takes is a simple click of the button.

You can further engage people by inviting them to interact directly with you or the content you’ve produced via webinars, Google Hangouts or even a Twitter party. There are plenty of opportunities available so keep an open mind. The point is to keep people talking about you and your content.

Get Your Timing Right

Like most things in life, timing is everything. You should have a feel for the current market trends if you’re hoping to go viral. Don’t just idly press the publish button. Even the best articles will get buried beneath the billions of other content produced on a daily basis. Instead, wait for the right moment when your topic becomes relevant and then schedule your post to go live when your target audience is most active.

In the same vein, there is also a perfect time for sharing on social media. Tuesdays between 9 a.m. to 12 p.m are best for Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus while Monday at 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. are the best for Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Practice Makes Perfect

It’s likely your first dozen attempts at going viral won’t succeed, but the trick is to keep testing until you’re seeing positive results overall. Even if your content doesn’t achieve virality, ultimately these tips will help you steadily increase your traffic over time.

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