Noah Zandan

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How to Write a Popular Blog: The Common Language Components of the 15 Most Popular Blogs

Blogging Tips

By Noah Zandan and Carrie Goldberger

January 13, 2014

You immediately know when you come across a great blog. You share the link on social media, talk about it with your friends, and subscribe to make sure you don’t miss the next post. But do you know why? What is it that drives thousands of people to read one blog, while another is seen by just a few? Is it all about the content? Great advertising? Compelling titles? Excellent writing styles? Undoubtedly, it’s a combination of many factors that leads to a blog’s success, but we wanted to learn more about the linguistic styles of successful blogs. Are there specific writing styles or patterns that will lead to more engaged readers, more page views, and better results?

To find out, we used our Natural Language Processing and Linguistic Mapping tools to analyze 15 of the most popular blogs such as Huffington Post and TMZ, each with more than 5 million estimated unique monthly visitors. We compared the language in these blogs to the language in entries from 200 bloggers found from The Blog Authorship Corpus, a collection of posts from 19,320 bloggers gathered from blogger.com, and our communication database that includes more than 24,000 communicators using over 168 million words.

What we found may not surprise you – when compared to entries from the 200 bloggers, the most popular blogs are:

  • 391% more persuasive
  • 75% more confident
  • 77% more positive

What’s interesting is the language components that make these blogs popular. Our analytics demonstrate that the extremely high persuasion scores come from:

  1. The authors speaking directly to their audiences by incorporating the thoughts and opinions of their readers into the writing.
  2. Popular bloggers also write clearly about cause and effect, an important element of persuasive writing.
  3. Finally, research from cognitive science suggests that positive language is associated with trust and reader engagement.

To take this analysis a step further, we decided to turn the spotlight onto ourselves. Using the same process, we put our own blog to the test. We analyzed the language from this particular post, benchmarked the results off of our database and compared our own language to the language of the most popular blogs.

Compared to the most popular blogs, the blog post you’re reading now is:

  • 0.4% more persuasive
  • 93.4% more confident
  • 7.4% more positive

There are great blogging lessons that we can take away from this analysis. In order to emulate the linguistic styles of the most popular blogs, write using confident and positive language, speak directly to your readers and be sure to draw clear links between all of your ideas.

Related posts

  1. What Makes Us Share? Using language analytics to predict the virality of New York Times Articles
  2. WSJ: Why Likability Matters More at Work
  3. The Quantified Valentine: The Science Behind the Language of Love
  4. The New Science of Lie Detection
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