(Sorry about the cheesy title. The idea for this post came from my (winning!!!) submission to Glen Allsop’s headline challenge over at ViperChill. If you haven’t already read his post on writing attention-grabbing headlines, open the link in a new browser tab and then go read it as soon as you’re done with my post 🙂 )
So yeah, cheesy tie in to kittens aside, I believe the concept in the title is sound – which is why I decided to turn my hypothetical headline into an actual post…
But first, some background info. If you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last five years and don’t know what I mean when I say “LOLCats”, I apologize in advance – I’m about to turn you on to one of the biggest time wasters on the web…
Open the following website and read through the first page (and the first page only!) – I Can Haz Cheezburger
At first, it doesn’t look like much – just some funny pictures of cats with goofy captions. But that’s just how it starts…
Before you know it, you start to understand this “foreign” language. You begin to hear it in your mind, and you begin to crave more of those cute kitten pictures. Heck, I’m not so proud that I can’t admit that I’ve wasted damn near a full day’s time reading through the archives of that blasted site…
So it’s clear that any site that has that kind of pull is on to something when it comes to traffic generation. Now, I Can Haz Cheezburger (and the rest of the Memebase sites) has a pretty distinct business model, and it’s not necessarily something that you should try to emulate with an affiliate marketing niche site. But there are some lessons you can pull from this example on how to build a site that attracts tons of excited visitors every day.
Basically, here’s why the kittens of LOLCats get tons more traffic than your site (and how you can reap some of the benefits yourself)…
1. Create a Sense of Community
I Can Haz Cheezburger was one of the first sites on the internet to introduce “LOLCat speak” – the butchered, grammatically-incorrect captions that accompanied each cute kitten picture. At first, it’s difficult to read, but over time, it takes on all the characteristics of being a separate language of its own.
That’s actually pretty powerful stuff right there. Regular LOLCat readers are part of the “inside circle” that understand this language – they feel special and included when they visit the site, as if they’re part of a “members-only” club that not everyone has access to.
N0w, I dizzon’t rec0mmed tryin 2 st@rt ur 0wn language (see why? :)) – but there are other things you can do to make your visitors feel like they’re part of a special community.
Opt-in email lists that offer a good value freebie in exchange for an email address are great way to make people feel included, while benefitting you – the marketer – as well. In addition, forums, private content and membership programs are all easy ways to create this “in crowd” feeling that results in more loyal, excited visitors.
2. Post Frequently Updated Content
Another major contributor to the success of the LOLCats is the fact that the site is updated every day with fresh content. Nothing stinks more than visiting a site that hasn’t been updated in weeks or months.
If you think about it, web surfers are always making a conscious decision on how to spend their time. If a site isn’t updated regularly, it becomes less reliable in visitor’s minds, making it less likely that they’ll risk spending their time visiting a site with no new content.
Now, this isn’t to say that you need to have several new posts each day like the Memebase sites do, but if you aren’t committing to posting to your site at least once or twice a week, you’re probably losing visitors.
Having trouble coming up with all that new content? Writing new content doesn’t have to be difficult, but why not take a page out the Memebase book and have other people do the heavy lifting for you?
Much of the content on the Memebase sites comes from visitors who submit their own content. While this obviously isn’t a great solution for most niche sites – especially those where you’re positioning yourself as an authority – you can still look to things like guest posts or modified PLR to take some of the burden of creating original content for your site off of you.
3. Develop a Clear Purpose
The purposes of the Memebase sites are simple – post funny pictures and get people to look at them. Sure, there are a few other aspects to the sites, like monetizing the sites with products based on site pictures, deploying “build your own LOLCat” tools and encouraging sharing on social networks, but their overall goals for their visitors are pretty simple.
There’s no confusing navigation, no hoops to jump through and no mixed messages that tell you to do different things all at once. The Memebase team knows that when people arrive on their sites, they want to see funny pictures, and they want to see them right away – which is why they’ve structured their sites so that these pictures are immediately visible.
The Memebase sites have a clear path of action for their visitors, but can the same be said of your websites? Setting up a clear purpose for your site and developing your site around this vision requires a little foresight and business planning, but it’s important to do.
To get started, identify the one, single action you want visitors to take when they arrive on your website. It might be opting in to an email list, reading a featured article or even clicking away from the site via an Adsense ad – or something else entirely depending on your goals.
Now, try to construct your site (or modify an existing site) so that this desired path of action is immediately apparent to new visitors. To confirm whether or not you’re on the right track, ask a non-internet marketer friend or family member check out your website and tell you exactly what they’d do upon arriving. Adjust according to the feedback you receive.
Keep in mind that this process takes time and may require several revisions to get right. The important thing isn’t that you get everything 100% right from the get-go – it’s that you invest the time to consistently evaluate and improve upon your site.
Before you know it, you’ll be reaping the traffic benefits that these LOLCat lessons have to offer 🙂
Can you think of any other lessons that we can learn from the LOLCats when it comes to traffic generation and successful websites? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!