Every day, over 30 million pieces of content are shared online. People see thousands of article headlines that they can choose to click on and read. They see these articles on newsfeeds on social media sites and recommended links at the bottom of articles. With so many pieces of content going out every day, it can be difficult to get noticed. Here are 4 steps to make your content stand out.

The first step is getting people to click on your content. If no one is clicking, then no one is reading or sharing your article. You can achieve a higher click through rate with a strong headline and high quality cover image.

1. Writing a Compelling Headline

Use Numbers--We are all familiar with the listicle style article. 7 Ways to... This type of headline was made popular by BuzzFeed. They use this strategy because it works. People know what they are getting into before they click on the article. They know it is going to be a list that will be quick to consume.

Use Adjectives--Make sure your article headline has 1 or 2 adjectives. You want to use adjectives that help evoke emotions. There is a big difference between 7 Tools for Marketers and 7 Incredible Tools that Are Essential to Marketers.

Use Why and How--Look into using the why's and the how's. In the example above, it can be changed to--Why You Should Be Using These 7 Incredible Marketing Tools. Another option could be How 7 Tools Will Enhance Your Marketing Efforts.

2. A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words
Cover images have become a crucial part of getting people to click on your content. If the image is low quality or unappealing, then the reader associates that with the piece of content. If the image is hi-res or unique, this raises the expectation for the article.

Find a Great Stock Image--What to Look For:

Public Domain Images--These are images that are available to the public free of charge. You can use these images in any way you want.

Creative Commons--You can use these images but they have certain guidelines. Some need you to source the image and give credit to the originator. Some state that you cannot alter or change the original image.

Find a Great Stock Image--Where to Look:

Pixabay--Over 290,000 free photos and images. These images are high quality and are public domain so you can use these images without attribution.

Flikr--Flikr only has a few billion images so you should be able to find something unique. A large part of these images are under the create commons which means you can use them as long as you follow the guidelines set by the author.

Startup Stock Photos--They don't have too many images but the ones they have are high quality and they are free to use under CC. It is a great place to go if you are looking for a startupesque type photos and don't want to spend an incredible amount of time looking around.

Image Source--Image Source has really high res photos and you can search under royalty free images. They have a great filtering system as well.

Engage:

Once you get someone to click on your article, you need to engage them while they are there.

1. Use Interactive Content
Interactive Content has been made popular by sites like BuzzFeed and PlayBuzz. It is content that the reader can interact with such as a poll or a piece of trivia. This type of content will add another level of engagement to your articles. I found this new product that allows you to create many forms of interactive content--ContentTools.

How it Can Be Used--If you're writing an article about the "Top 8 Social Media Tools", add a Ranker to the bottom of the article. If you have an article about "Digital Trends in 2015″, add a poll to ask your readers what they think the trends will be. You can create trivia and quizzes and challenge your readers on a subject.

Why Interactive Content--This type of content can be used to drive traffic and collect leads. It is a great way to get your content to stand out since not a lot of sites have started utilizing this technology.

2. Use Infographics
I know this one is easier said than done but there are tools out there to help you. Infographics make content easier to consume by a reader. This is particularly true for content with many data points. Attention spans are getting shorter and looking at images is more captivating than reading a lot of text.

Piktochart--A tool to make your own infographics from supplied templates. You can create a basic infographic for free and if you want the bells and whistles, it will cost you $29 per month.

Infogram--Infogram is a tool that works great for data and live data. You can upload an excel sheet with data points and create infographics based on the data. You can also connect it to real-time data and have the infographic update as the data changes.

Upwork.com--Have some extra cash and don't want to put in the time to create your own infographic? You can find people on this freelancing website to help bring your infographic to life. Prices go from $40-$400 depending on the quality of work that you want.

Published on: Dec 30, 2014
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.