How I Got 350,000 Pageviews on My Blog in One Month

Last month (June 2013), my Patheos blog broke all previous records for page views, visitors, and unique visitors on the blog to date.

In this post, I’m going to explain how I was able to do it with the hopes of encouraging my fellow bloggers, and learning from them as well.

(1) What I Did Differently


Here’s my usual routine — the one I use every month for every post on this blog.

* I post a new blog article every day.

* I tweet the post using my Patheos Twitter account of a modest 730 (to date) followers.

* I post the link on my Patheos Facebook page of a modest 350 (to date) friends.

* Sometimes I’ll post the link on the various Patheos Facebook Channels.

* I post the link on my Google+ page (which few people actively use).

* If I write a post that I feel is unusually timely and significant, I’ll send the link to a few friends and ask them to tweet it.

Now here’s the kicker:

I do this same routine for all my posts every month. And I’ve never gotten near 350,000 pageviews.

So it wasn’t my routine.

(2) What Google Analytics Tells Me

According to Google Analytics, the post that garnered the most views in June by far and away was Bono on Jesus.

The major source of traffic was Facebook. Second was Twitter.

In June, the post was shared 45,000 times on FB, 3,000 times on Twitter, and had 49,000 overall shares.

(3) Was the Secret That I Wrote About Bono?


Why? Two reasons.

* Others have written on Bono’s more recent interview with Focus on the Family and the blogs I’ve read that treated it didn’t come near the FB or Twitter shares that my post generated. Note also that my post was from an interview that was done in 2004. The Focus on the Family interview — which I never covered — was much more recent.

* I wrote a follow up post on Bono and very few people shared it. Go figure.

(4) What Happened, Then?

Answer: I don’t have the foggiest idea!

The best I can tell is this . . .

When I asked some of my friends (less than 10 in all) to tweet my post, a few people with HUGE Facebook and Twitter platforms found the link on their twitter feed.

(HUGE = 500k to 1 million followers and/or “friends”)

These people then reposted the link on their massive Facebook and Twitter accounts.

This caused a large number of people to see the post in a short time. And many of them, feeling the post was beneficial, shared it also.

The result: it went viral.

(5) Candid Disappointment

While I’m glad the post got so much traffic — because it does contain many interesting and helpful ideas — I’ll candidly admit my disappointment.

I would much rather that any of these posts had as many views and shares because, to my mind, they are more important by far:

Sin Metrics: The Sins that Christians Condemn & Excuse

Hearing One Side of a Story

Theology Doesn’t Have to be a Bloodsport

What Does God Really Think About Women?

Warning: The World is Watching How We Christians Treat One Another

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People Online

How (Not) to Correct Another Christian

Question: Why haven’t any of those with HUGE platforms reposted any of these posts?

If you know the answer, let me know.

(6) Lessons Learned – The Bottom Line

If you want a post to go viral, I think you need four ingredients:

1. Write a post about a celebrity or a hot issue that has the nation’s or world’s attention.

2. Title it with an intriguing heading.

3. Make sure the post contains quality content – meaning, it’s unique, helpful, thought provoking, and/or controversial.

But all of that isn’t enough. The most important ingredient of all . . .

4. It must be picked up by at least one person who has a HUGE platform.

I’ve written many posts that I regard to fit the top 3 elements. But 4 is the one that determines if it will go viral or not.

So it seems to me, anyway.

Those of you who blog, what do you think about this and can you add anything to my observations?

Sneak Preview: I plan to publish a post about another well known celebrity and his views on Jesus which are little known. We’ll see how it does.

If you find this post helpful, you are free to ADD A LINK to it on your blog or website. But don’t copy and paste the post as this violates Google’s guidelines.

Subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss anything. It’s free. All Email Subscribers will receive my eBook Rethinking the Will of God (Revised) free. Also, if you are interested in setting up a new blog, click here. If you’re looking for a new hosting service or you want to buy a domain name, I recommend BlueHost, hands down.

About Frank Viola

See my About page. Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Google+

  • Frank Viola

    Exactly. That was what I was trying to communicate in point 4.

  • Bex Lewis

    I quite often say in social media sessions that power structures that work offline continue to work online, so having a known name/a reputable blog such as the BBC etc really is going to make a difference, so it wasn’t about Bono, it was about whoever picked it up and shared it. Really interesting post, thanks … will share on @bigbible!

  • Frank Viola

    Thanks for the comment. I didn’t chalk it up to “luck.” Just that I don’t know the answer as to why that was reposted and not the others I wrote that, I believe, are much better.

  • Bob Seidensticker

    Your title is a good one–quite intriguing. But I’m afraid that my takeaway from your post is that luck is the reason for this surprising success. This month, your numbers will drop back down to just about your typical, right? I mean, with so many new eyes, you surely got a few new long-term fans, but I doubt it’s very much.
    I’m eager to hear new tips, but perhaps sticktuitiveness is the primary one.

  • erikcampano

    You’ve raised a fascinating question, Frank — how did your post go viral? — and I don’t have the answer. What’s interesting about the post is that it contains very little of your own content; that’s not a criticism, just an observation. (I’m unlikely to criticize anyone who gets 350,000 hits a month.) If I read it correctly, your post is mostly an excerpt from someone else’s book, with an exhortation to buy the book.

    There’s something to the notion that if a person with a big following endorses a post, people will consider that post automatically worthwhile. It’s like a kind of social proof. It’s like the Internet equivalent of George Clooney (or some other popular public figure, whoever) getting in front of a camera and saying, “You should read this article Frank Viola wrote, it’s really great”. People will do it just because George Clooney said so.

    So maybe, following your observations, the trick to going viral is garnering the respect of some really big name people. But that’s actually not so odd. That’s how a lot of industries work — you climb the ladder by being someone’s protege or gaining favor with someone important. Of course, as you say, it’s very unlikely that someone will do that if the quality of their work isn’t good. So it’s a testament to your ability as a writer, as well.

    But as to why one post gets picked up on huge platforms, and another one doesn’t? Stumped. There may be just too many variables, too much chaos, for us to be able to pick apart that process. Perhaps there are other people in the industry who have that knowledge. If everyone had it — if it were public information — then this might double-back on the rules, and they’d change all over again. In any case, I hope you figure them out, and wish you much success in the future.