Lee Odden

How To Make a Blog Post Go Viral

Mike Odden

Painting by Mike Odden

How can I make a blog post go viral?

People have been trying to answer questions like this for years: How can I make a song a hit? How can I play in the NFL? How can I become world famous?

The reality is, for the vast majority of people, this is simply never going to happen.

For the 5% of bloggers that are able to create blog posts “that go viral”, the answer is to work your ass off until you get lucky. Then try even harder to figure out what’s working and refine what you write to connect with those key elements that resonate with your audience.

Sure, you might learn a few superficial tricks from Buzzfeed and Upworthy, but how important is a flash in the pan post vs. ongoing engagement with the people you’re actually trying to connect with?

On this topic, I just have to tell it like it is: Most people asking how their blog post go viral are too lazy or impatient to do all that hard work. They’re focused on the superficial social proof that comes from high social share counts and not on creating value.

I think it was Thomas Edison who said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”.

When I look at our most popular posts based on page views vs. the posts that refer traffic to our company site that generate leads, it’s not the same at all. These three posts alone have over 16,000 social shares, but they’re not “lead gen” posts.

But… they do work together with content that is meant to convert. And that is the point of this post:  Create content that’s meaningful and package it for exposure. Don’t just make content for exposure.

Here is generally how I organize the kinds of content we publish here to capture attention and to engage.


Content intended to generate awareness. Those are the large lists posts, thought leadership posts, influencer posts, event posts, recognition posts, crowdsourced / co-created posts, and visually spicy posts are the content getting a ton of shares and creating awareness – attracting new and passively interested visitors.


These are posts that focus on answering specific questions that buyers often have, whether they are early or middle stage in the sales cycle. Examples, how to’s and lists of tactics work pretty well to create the kind of value that create confidence and inspire an interest in seeking out more information.


This type of post isn’t published very often on our blog. That’s the job of our agency website. But when we do, these are posts that explain specifically how we work to deliver certain kinds of services, case studies and particularly clever ways of solving difficult marketing problems.

Any of these types of content could “go viral” but the focus is more on relevancy to the target audience, the inclusion of our messaging and approach, packaging and promotion for exposure. “Going viral” gets you page views, but often not a lot else – unless you’re delivering value through meaningful information that is relevant to the community.

What are your objectives for blogging? Is it to get as much attention with each post as possible? Is it all based on relevancy to brand and audience? Or do you use a layered or combination approach?


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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. This –> “the answer is to work your ass off until you get lucky.” I’m with you Lee. Base hits is a far better strategy for winning more games.

  2. Avatar Emma Bartley says

    Very True – I just blog for myself, but if people enjoy it, share and comment that is a bonus. But I think that is what makes content more real, than trying to do anything to get shares etc. Which I have done I am ashamed to say !!

  3. Avatar Sanu Chakraborty says

    1. Trust the Long Tail
    2. Promote, Promote, Promote
    3. Say Something Meaningful!

  4. I enjoyed reading your post. Especially the different categories that you have mentioned. I agree that the only way is to work as hard as you can.

    Take care

  5. Avatar Ismail Khan says

    Nice and informative post.