how to go viral on the internet

7 secrets on how to have content go viral on the internet

Take a look at this:

how to go viral on the internet-YouTube-analytics

Yes. My YouTube videos have been seen by many millions of people over the last year.

Actually, the numbers are higher.

WAY higher…

You see, I let people steal my videos as their own via my Creative Common’s license.

how to go viral on the internet-YouTube-Creative-Commons-license

Many have cloned my videos and host them on their own YouTube account.

So actually, my videos have been seen by tens of millions of people over the last year.

What is my secret?

How have I virtually assure my stuff goes viral on the Internet?

The #1 reason most people never see their stuff go viral

This has been a great year for me.

But it took me the better part of 16 years to figure it all out.

For decades, I produced many YouTube videos that have only been seen by dozens… maybe hundreds of people:

how to go viral on the internet-not-viral

Why are these videos (which happen to be some of my favorites) failing to go viral and be seen by millions?

Looking back, I made one big fatal mistake every time…

My videos were hardly seen…

Because I fell in love with a topic that never had a chance to go viral.

Here are my 7 secrets on how to make almost any content go viral

It does not matter if we blog, vlog, podcast – even write books.

We all want to have our message go crazy viral…

Seen by millions…

Loved and admired.

When the world passes our content around, it validates our efforts.

Even better, we want to do the work once, and have our message organically spread for many years to come…

Without any extra effort…

And without spending any money.

But most people fail to get even a handful of people to see their content.

Because the vast majority of content creators makes this one big mistake:

They create content that no one really cares about.

Now, there is nothing wrong with writing about our passions.

Everything I publish fulfills my curiosity.


And this is a BIG but..

Our content is not going to go viral if it is not the right content.

Here is my secret formula to have content go crazy viral

Here is the 7-part formula on how to make content go viral organically:

1) Create content that are familiar with a twist…
2) Create content that is timeless (i.e. evergreen)…
3) Choose a topic that is likely to grow in interest over the next 10 years…
4) Hijack a topic that has already gone viral…
5) Invest lots of time writing a great headline…
6) Display eye-catching graphics…
7) Hit on pain points, and end with a joyful solution.

Create content that are familiar with a twist

Revealing a magic trick almost always goes viral on its own.

Here is proof – take a look at the search for “magic” on YouTube:

how to go viral on the internet-magic

Do you see how most of these videos get lots of views?

Because almost everyone is familiar with magic.

And when a magic trick ends with a surprise, our bodies produce an instant jolt of good feelings in our brain’s reward center.

That is the twist.

When Nirvana released their album Nevermind, I believe they rose to popularity, partly because they hit a desired balance of the familiar and the unexpected.

Take the song Lithium, for example.

The song begins with the guitar outlining harmonies in the very familiar key of D Major.

The harmonies continue along for two bars in the predictable D Major key until suddenly, in the third bar, our ears are surprised with a harmonic progression way outside of D Major, specifically the progression B♭ Major – C Major – A Major – C Major.

When you hear an unexpected musical twist such as this, you experience a zing of pleasant emotion.


Create content that is timeless (i.e. evergreen)

I almost never create content that is date specific.

Because current events have a short attention span.

Sure, I could list restaurants in New York City that are open Christmas Day…

But it would not have much time to go viral.

Virality needs time.

And timeless topics have the best chance to go viral.

Choose a topic that is likely to grow in interest over the next 10 years

I ask myself, “Would this content work just as well in the future as it does the day I publish it?”

I avoid topics that need updating.

Sometimes changes are hard.

YouTube does not allow for it.

And making changes in a podcast episode is annoying.

It is easy to make changes to a blog post. But these changes take me out of my flow of always creating new content.

To help predict topics that is likely to stand the test of time, I look to Google…

Google Trends is a free online lookup tool.

It helps us discover ideas that are more likely to grow in interest over time.

For example, when I input the phrase “save money on gas“, Google (surprisingly) shows a downward trend. This is not good for virality:

how to go viral on the internet save money on gas

Yet when I input “food hall“, I know this content is likely to gain popularity over the next many years:

how to go viral on the internet food hall

Hijack a topic that has already gone viral

Lawyers in the financial industry like to claim, “Past performance is not a guarantee of future success.”

But this is rubbish.

It is merely legalese to protect companies from lawsuits.

Because just like in the financial world, a topic that has gone viral in the past is MUCH more likely to do the same in the future.

Fortunately, there are many tools to find content that has gone crazy viral…

My hand’s down favorite online virality tool is

Simply enter a topic and Buzzsumo finds the top-10, most-shared content.

For example, when I submit the theme “save money on gas“, BuzzSumo confirms that the top 10 pieces of content did not go viral:

how to go viral on the internet Buzzsumo save money on gas

On the flip side, creating content about “food hall” shows great promise:

how to go viral on the internet Buzzsumo food hall

My rule of thumb is this:

If the average top-10 results show at least 1,000 total shares, I know my content has a good chance of going viral.

Invest lots of time writing a great headline

Many studies show the words in a headline makes or breaks the virality of content.

So do the number of words.

You might have noticed my content’s title ALWAYS contains between 55 to 59 letters.

Any more (or less) dramatically stunts the pass-along factor.

Also, I start many of my headlines with one of these numbers:


Again, these numbers have been tested over and over again.

And they perform like crazy.

There are words and phrases to use in titles that help our content go viral.

They are:

– this is
– secret
– free
– in the
– how to
– the most
– what this
– people
– breakthrough
– science
– quotes
– revealed
– see
– one
– make you
– what happened to
– need to know
– is what happens when
– (video)
– it looks like a
– the reason why is
– wait ’til you see
– will blow your mind
– in the USA
– look like normal
– congratulations
– introducing

(By the way, the popular headline word “weird” is so overused, it is a big turnoff in my observations.)

If there is room (and it makes sense), I might end with an exclamation point (!).

I personally invested a ton of money testing an exclamation point with Google AdWords. And the results were stunning… I almost always doubled response.

Web Psychologist Nathalie Nahai suggests this headline formula:

Number/Trigger word + Adjective + Keyword + Promise

Display eye-catching graphics

People LOVE pictures.

Many side-by-side tests prove it.

(The exception is when the graphic has nothing to do with the topic.)

But here is the big problem with images…

Copyright trolls.

Yes, there is an entire industry that sues bloggers and YouTubers.

They go after those who unlawfully use copyrighted images.

Getting around this is easy (when you know the secret I am about to share with you).

I only use images that are tagged with a Creative Commons license.

This gives us permission to use the graphic as long as we credit the image maker.

My favorite collection of images comes from Yahoo’s Flickr.

But most of these images are fully protected by copyright.

The good news is a percentage of Flickr images have a Creative Commons license.

My favorite way to search Flickr is via

In this example, I searched for milk thistle (with the “Creative commons” filtered applied):

how to go viral on the internet Compfight milk thistle

And when I clicked on an image I liked, it pops up several downloadable options:

how to go viral on the internet Compfight milk thistle download

Finally, I copy this line of HTML:

how to go viral on the internet Compfight milk thistle attribution

And I have a fully-compliant attribution line displayed within my blog post.

(Even better, I never have to worry about displaying unlawfully-downloaded copyrighted images.)

And the best part is these graphics significantly increase the chance of having our content go viral.

Hit on pain points, and end with a joyful solution

The pain/pleasure formula of content creation has been around since the beginning of time.

Stating a common problem builds instant rapport with our audience.

And ending with a useful solution further deepens our relationship with our audience.

Believe it or not, Twitter is my go-to site to find pain points on virtually any topic.

Twitter allows us to eavesdrop into live conversations – without the need to follow anyone.

First, I visit

Next, I enter a 1- to 3-word, exact-match phrase (preceded by the word “problem” or “hate”):

how to go viral on the internet Twitter hate iPhone search

Finally, Twitter displays every “tweet” that matches…

Look at all of these pain points about the iPhone:

how to go viral on the internet Twitter hate iPhone results

This is my #1 secret way to find content to write about.

I can turn each pain point into a new-content idea.

And finding solutions is the easy part – just Google it…

Almost 10 years ago, Google closed down a hidden treasure.

It was called Google Answers.

It is like Q&A sites such as Yahoo! Answers and Quora…

Except Google Answers was a premium service.

For between $2 to $200.00, Google-trained researchers answered any question.

But back in December of 2006, Google turned off this service…

The good news is it remains searchable here.

Google does not claim a copyright on this AMAZING research…

So all of this content is open for us to steal and use as our own material.

Would you like to steal my viral content for your own benefit?

I write a daily column on my blog.

Yes, this includes weekends and holidays.

And it is easy for me to crank out content that is likely to go viral.

I allow anyone to use my content as their own.

Would you like to steal any of my content and use it for yourself?

If so, grab any of my content here – all I ask is that you link back to

Published by

Markus Allen

Family man. Truth seeker. Life hacker... more about me here...


Enjoy this post? Spread the word - share it:
share this articletweet this articlegoogle plusemail this to your friend

Feedback | Tell Markus you like this daily blog...


Click here to see my entire archive of daily blog posts...