It is easy to understand the characteristics of viral headlines on the internet if we observe the type of words that appear in the titles of web pages that appear at the top of search engines like Google which directs internet visitors to blogs or websites that receive very high volumes of traffic.
By figuring out what makes different types of content to be so attractive to different internet audiences, one would likely end up noticing that most readers’ attraction to titles and articles could depend a lot on their feelings, emotions, level of interest, and a number of other things or factors that can’t be controlled; regardless of what they may be, the following types of words have been observed to be influential in making headlines go viral:
Words that “point” to a specific person, thought, or thing
Direct examples of these types of words include: “the”, “that”, “this”, and “a”. The attractive power of these words lies in how they “directly target particular things or objects of interest”. If you place such words (possibly in combination with other words) in any headline, readers would instantly form a specific idea about how exact (the, a), how close (this), how far away (that), or how insignificant a person, thought, or thing is. During the course of searching the internet, and up to a point of getting attracted by a headline and reading through an article, a reader will clearly conceive what they are directed to think about in order to comprehend the content that expresses it.
Words that “refer” to something, a person, or a group of persons
Direct examples of such words include: “you”, “your” and “people”. I believe that the number one target of creating content is to give useful information to any reader (person, or persons). This reason indirectly explains why viral headlines consist of these types of words. The word “you” was once ranked as the fifth most used word on the internet, while “your” was once ranked as the seventeenth most used word. What does the popularity of these words imply? It simply implies that the aim of using them is to give value to a reader or many readers. A research that was conducted by using different headline compositions observed that headlines consisting of these words (you, your, and people) were the most efficient.
Words that are used to ask for information about something
Direct examples of such words are: “why”, “where”, “what”, “which”, and “when”. One striking impact of these words is the level of curiosity and number of questions they arouse in readers’ minds: it makes them to directly conceive specific things and get a clear meaning or explanation. It has been observed that by structuring headlines to appear as questions, click rates typically increase. An inquiry into “why”, “where”, etc., is attractive to readers because it makes them interested in acquiring knowledge and learning something new in order to cover up ground in areas where they are deficient.