432 Mind-Blowing Article Titles You Won’t Believe Are By Cracked.com

Mind blown imageFile this under: silly…

I’m a massive, massive fan of Cracked.com – I have been for years. As an online marketer, I’ve always been interested – with sites like these – about how they go about their digital strategy. Given the types of titles Cracked.com tend to use for their regular articles, it’s quite clear that for them it’s all about encouraging click-through rate (a.k.a. the clickbait), particularly from social media sites.

They’re a fan of lists, so they often start with a number. Over the last few years, I started to notice another trend… In just the last month alone we’ve seen:


Do you see it? “Mind-Blowing” and “You Won’t Believe” make frequent appearances. So much so that – as I type this – there’s at least 432 pages indexed by Google containing either of those two phrases:

Cracked.com SERP screenshot 1[site:cracked.com intitle:”mind-blowing” OR intitle:”you won’t believe”]

Just “Mind-Blowing” = 152:

Cracked.com SERP screenshot 2[site:cracked.com intitle:”mind-blowing”]

Just “You Won’t Believe” = 284 (…yep, my first thought was also that 152 + 284 ≠ 432…):

Cracked.com SERP screenshot 3[site:cracked.com intitle:”you won’t believe”]

Both = 2 (+ 2 omitted):

Cracked.com SERP screenshot 4[site:cracked.com intitle:”mind-blowing” intitle:”you won’t believe”]

It’s a clever pull. “Mind-blowing” suggests to you that you will be impressed, while telling you that “you won’t believe” what you’ll read will certainly want you to find out for sure. Even the use of “you” (rather than just saying something like “unbelievable”) is more personal to the reader, as if the author is addressing them directly.

But 400+ uses of each (or both) is… a lot.

Heck… who am I to criticise? It must be working well for them, otherwise they’d use some other wording instead, obviously. And with over 600k followers and 2.3m Likes, they must be doing something right…

Oh and as a complete aside, one of David Wong’s latest articles is incredible: 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person. It even got Rand’s attention.

[Mind-blown image credit: Nina Matthews – I originally wanted to use this one but later realised that it’s not Creative Commons (sadly)!]


  • Russell O'Sullivan

    December 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm Reply

    Hey Steve

    This ultimately is the turning point of SEO’ers to become content marketers yeah? Some have been bleating on about it for a long time and after speaking to Andy Betts the other day we were musing over the fact that not so long ago he was only giving content a small piece of the pie when it came to SEO and gathering followers, visitors or other metrics you want to measure by!
    Great piece all the same… I do strongly believe though that if you start or add “mind blowing” “amazing” etc into the title, you have to deliver what it says to us fickle readership!
    Have a great Christmas

  • Russell O'Sullivan

    December 20, 2012 at 2:19 pm Reply

    I forgot to mention… you know who cracked is owned by dont you….

    • Steve

      December 20, 2012 at 2:44 pm Reply

      Thanks for the comment (and the share), Russ. 🙂

      Hehe, yeah… I remember someone tweeting about #contentstrategy a while ago… 😉 In all seriousness though, you’re right – SEO is now simply a part of a much bigger puzzle, not the puzzle itself.

      Yeah, Demand Media, isn’t it? Not really a fan of many of their other sites if I’m honest.

  • Andrew Isidoro

    December 20, 2012 at 2:32 pm Reply

    You won’t believe how much my mind is blown!

    I’ll get my coat…

    • Steve

      December 20, 2012 at 2:44 pm Reply

      I don’t believe it…

      …I’ll get mine, too.

  • Russell O'Sullivan

    December 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm Reply

    get a room you two!

  • Emma

    December 21, 2012 at 1:58 pm Reply

    Wow. Just wow. Yet, I click these titles anyway…

    • Steve

      December 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm Reply

      To be fair, their content is almost always excellent (IMO anyway)…

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