Last week, a post comparing Ubuntu to Vista generated a large traffic spike to this blog. Technorati wasn't showing any significant inbound links to the post, so we wondered if the headline alone could be generating traffic. To test this theory, we mashed up three breaking news stories create a bogus post with the meme-rich headline (Alberto Gonzales’ Secret: Viacom, Angelina Jolie, and YouTube).
Did it work? Nope. Our "Gonzales" post generated just about no interest.
In retrospect, that's a comforting result -- web content should win traffic based on merit, not on headline trickery.
Digging deeper using Feedburner analytics, it turns the Ubuntu spike was caused by a powerful inbound link, coming to our blog from the Linux site Tuxmachines. Curious -- why didn't Technorati detect this link?
This little experiment provides evidence against the two-step "headline spurs visits" model
in favor of the four-step "headines spurs visits spurs links many more visits" model.
As nearly always online, solid content wins, tricks lose.