Viral Content Reverse Engineering

Before plunging into the details of viral content reverse engineering itself, I intend to clear a few things first. As content writers, we are always striving to improve. We try to learn different strategies of writing. We raise the quality of our context by renewing the way we structure our concept. We may as well think up of new ideas as well. These are all good. However, never lose focus on your goal: to express yourself in the most purest, honest and sincere way possible.

Sarah Peterson is one name I came across today who fueled that fiery passion within me after reading her 2nd most shared article (2015). She is worth mentioning as she has proved that it isn’t that challenging to actually become one of the most competent writers of all time!


“I’ve cracked the code on massively popular content with no previous notoriety or special ability. I started my business in 2015, and almost immediately it was profitable. Within months, I was able to make a full time living from it and I attribute almost all of my success to content.” (Sarah Peterson)


So that we have gathered our gear, which is the motivation and commitment to push to grow further; let’s take a look about what content reverse engineering actually is.


Content Reverse Engineering

I know. The term sounds too big and fancy. But trust me. There isn’t much to it. Content reversing engineering is about creating your own content by taking a sneak peak on something already made. You are rebuilding a concept framed around your original style of writing. I like to call it art.

We all have the same ideas. However, we tend to paint a picture majestically with our own little magic paint brush. And this is what makes our content beautiful that attracts our target audience! We often draw from ideas, structures, and strategies that have already demonstrated success on the web and blogosphere.

This technique is immensely advantageous. Not only does the new viral content help to build traffic to a website/blog, it also leads to an influx of new backlinks which help our sites even higher in the search engine result pages.

Now let’s walk a bit deeper into this mysterious cave that will lead us to mastering this content reverse engineering strategy. Grab your flashlights, because here we go!


Step 1) Do Your Homework!

By homework, I mean research. It doesn’t make much of a difference as both include gathering qualitative and quantitative data to formulate an effective article. The concept of content reverse engineering is pretty simple when you get the hang of it. It’s actually fun!

To start, we find one or more topics that are trending rapidly across the search engine results pages and social media networks (like Facebook or Twitter). Then we write content that relates everything back to the website we’re working on.

When I start writing my articles, I have like 6 tabs opens on my search engine. I take a quick glance at all of them and then start typing away. The trick is to NEVER RELY ON THEM. This will extinguish any sparks of originality and the flow of your content will break. It’s like trying to make incompatible pieces of a jigsaw puzzle to fit. Yes! IT WILL LOOK MESSY!

For example…

Chester Bennington’s suicide has been discussed a lot on social media. This is where content writers like us are sought for to write the most attractive articles we can so that maximum audience is reached. Next, we’ll combine a few of these events with topics that are relevant to our niche from within the industry we’re targeting in order to produce a blog post that’s likely to get picked up and shared through social media. This happens pretty often!

Now I am using the word ‘plagiarism’. Ask yourself honestly. What was the first thought that popped in your head after reading this? Let me tell you mine. “I don’t, ughh don’t go there.”

The thing is, people who rely too much on other’s works WILL plagiarize and then use a paraphrasing tool so that they won’t get caught. If you tried to open the hyperlink, you will notice that it doesn’t open. This is the result of modest attempts to set us writers and other people on the right track. IT’S ALL IN YOU!

So, the gist of this section is that you have to be mindful of the 2 R’s: ‘research then recreate’. If you get the hang of this, I assure you that will run towards you with its own feet!

To use the content reverse engineering technique on your websites, you’ll need to start by identifying the trending topics that will generate the most interest for your content.  Here are some common tools that might come in handy!


Now there are 4 things I want you to do while you are doing your research:-

  • Check for popular publications related to your niche and topic area. The top 5-10 that appear in your search engines are commendable.
  • Use BuzzSumo to gather information on popular topics.
  • Poke your nose in the comment sections on Quora.
  • Copy paste your findings in a document and imitate writing styles and good words that you can use.

Moving on, let’s work on the second step.


Step 2) Selecting a good title

If you have worked with web developers on WordPress, you probably have learned the importance of keywords and Meta descriptions. Let me tell you fun trick.

Close your eyes, and visualize your title in a search engine along with its Meta description. You can even do this manually on a word document. Ask yourself a few questions after doing this:-

  • Does it look attractive?
  • Does the title/description include hint towards the gist of the content?
  • Will the target audience read your content by looking at your title?
  • Can it be improved it anyway?
  • Is it short and to the point?

You can also use StumbleUpon! To make this process work on StumbleUpon, start by creating an account if you’re investigating topics for a client’s site. Then set your interests to include topics related to the business niche and start ‘stumbling’ with the Stumble button and keep a look out for articles to come up and look undeniably amazing.

Copy the URL from your browser and then paste it into the search field at

It’s better to reword your title a couple of times until you think it will attract the estimated attention. When you have done this, you are good to go!


Step 3) Study about your competition

By ‘study’, I actually want you to study. You know, people like me think that we shouldn’t care what the others in our field are doing. As content writers, we probably have been asked billions of times to snoop around a little about our competitors.

Taking people in the food safety business as example, the folk at Checkit commonly dig in to Partech’s most recent articles and product managing schemes. So let me fill you in about the catch. You see, as mentioned in the first section, it is indeed clever to ‘research then recreate’. A simple analogy can be taken from our daily lives. Does the variety of cars on the road amaze? Why not buy any car? They are all basically the same thing anyways. No, they are not.

If I return your attention towards the food safety business example…

You might notice that both have common goals. But which one will be more successful?

  • The one with better ideas.
  • The one which stands out more with clever advertisement and teamwork with other companies.
  • The one with reliable products that fulfills the customers’ needs.
  • The one which is able to form a strong connection with the customers.

Now try to apply this concept in content reverse engineering. The number of readers and appreciation your article gets relies on (1) how much it stands out and (2) the extent to which s the readers are given what they are seeking.

For this, you have to struggle to improve. Add something fancy like gifs and funny pictures in your articles. Reverse engineer something dull and boring into something that makes your readers go ‘wow’. If you are lucky, readers will share it for the ‘wow factor’ to get carried on!

The more you study, the more it helps. When you see an article that’s achieved a high number of social shares through various networks, make a note of it – keeping in mind that the trends leading to generation of maximum traffic will vary with time and industry. Try to identify any similarities between these successful articles and use the conclusions you’re able to draw when creating your own viral content using content reverse engineering.

For example, if all of the top rated articles you come across follow a list post format such as “100 Steps to Viral Content Reverse Engineering – The Ultimate Guide” that would mean that this the format to follow to attract attention.

Similarly, if you notice a tone or point of view that is implemented by most articles, don’t hesitate to imitate! This will improve your chances of success.

So here is what you need to remember from this section:-

  • Imitate the tone used in the majority of online content.
  • Instill the same format.
  • Use call to actions.
  • Link with already published articles.

Step 4) Add meaningful content

We have crossed a whole lot of steps, huh? We have covered 3, to be exact. I bet you are tired reading this as much I am tired writing. Or is it the opposite?

The thing is, we writers should and I assume ‘lack the ability’ to write less. We love gathering juicy stuff and merging it into something awesome that we can present to our target audience. However, there are some people who get stuck in the middle and start asking themselves ‘what should I write next?’

First, go to your chosen website and find the articles that have been voted up the most in the categories that are related to you or your client’s business. Glance through them quickly and look for content structures that you could modify for use on your own site. For example, if you come across popular tutorials in your niche, consider that these types of information could be just as valuable written in your own words on your own website. This is mainly what Viral Content Reverse Engineering is about!

Similarly, when you find content on these sites that have a lot of social media shares or a lot of Diggs, Stumbles and so on (google Digg, Reddit and Hackernews); you can write your own articles modeling the same format and style in order to increase your chances of your articles shared virally.

Here’s another fun tip that will trick your mind into easing up a little. Be a good host for your audience!

Let me explain…

I have a friend who is an actor/director/script writer in the making. And if you have confidence issues, let me mention how this friend is currently 18. So, when I call him up on the phone, I notice that he is mostly doing all the talking. And I LET HIM. He has good, meaningful stuff to say and he packages it all with decent comedy. This way, it’s easy for him to go on and on (and for me to listen to all of it as well). It seems leisurely for both the ‘listener’ and the ‘speaker’.

Point is, you have to glitter up your content while making sure it is fulfilling the ‘purpose’ of your context.

As mentioned in the previous section, it’s clever to add call to actions and a lot of hyperlinks. This makes your content seem more content. Add statistical date too where needed but don’t forget to link them as well! There has to be evidence for what you are saying. (This is why nobody has proven if the chicken came before the egg or not. NO EVIDENCE!)

It’s fun to make a rough checklist to make things easier. Try to answer questions like:-

  • Is the content focuses?
  • It is purposeful?
  • Is it fun to read?
  • How can I gain more traffic (with/without tossing around a few bucks)?
  • If it is persuasive content, does it look like it will succeed?

And so on…

After you have formed your content, you should be going like ‘wow!’


Step 5) Become a Psychic!

You’re doing great. Good news, there is just one more step after this. So hang on! Focus on learning how this step is related to content reverse engineering.

Well it’s simple. You have to get into your audience’s mind. Of course, it might seem a little tricky, but it can be done. It is a skill actually. You have enough foresight to write exactly what your audience wants from you. This will help you with your clients as well that won’t settle for anything but the best.

This has happened with me often. I have messed up millions of times as I often lose track of what I’m trying to convey. Be careful. Your content should swirl around a central point which is the premise of your entire context. Just to remind you, these 6 steps are here for you to understand how to apply reverse engineering practically. This is an example.

When you write, you might get technical niches like ‘crowd-funding’ (never liked those). This is where you will have to do extensive research (refer to step 1). After that, visualize!

  • Are the readers learning anything?
  • If you are writing a review on a product, is it compelling enough?
  • Is the statistical data accurate and useful for your audience?
  • Has anything been missed out that the audience would have liked?

After visualizing, re open your eyes and snap back into reality and start writing!


Step 6) Proofread

Remember what we talked about in the start? Anyone can be a good content writer! You honestly don’t require bizarre grammar and language skills. What matters is the information you are presenting.

Imagine yourself as a bakery chef. You have baked a wonderful cake! You taste a small bit of the icing and it seems completely delectable and enticing. You chose the best ingredients you thought were needed you decorated the cake skillfully with icing.

Now let’s return to content reverse engineering while keeping this scene in mind. You have written an eminent looking article. You proof read, and find small grammatical errors. You remove them using grammarly or another website. You cross check if everything is according to the flat plan. You insert suitable images, value added items, references and downloadable content like templates, e-books and checklists.

When you have done all this, you are officially done with content reverse engineering!

So this is how the reverse engineering strategy slingshots you towards fame. Your content gets circulated as you snap your fingers and voila! You have reached your goal as a writer.

Just before you click ‘close’ on your screens, I would like to suggest that you read about famous names author Jeff Goins to really get you pumped up and ready to embark on your writer career. There is more to all of it than fun techniques like reverse engineering. You have to fall in love with your work to make produce something spectacular. Try to walk towards the direction that your heart leads you too.


Good Luck!

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