If Carl Sagan were around today, he wouldn’t gush over billions and billions of stars. Rather, his focus would be on the billions and billions (and possibly trillions) of blog posts that litter the Internet. The vast majority of them will never be read by more than a few people, and that includes the writer’s grandmother clicking twice.

“They pay writers $100 per click, right? I hope so, because he’s such a nice boy.”

However, a select few rise above the rest and become viral. Half your Facebook Wall will share it, aggregate websites devoted to spreading what is already viral will latch on and spread the virus further, and the blog writer’s 15 minutes of fame will officially commence.

The common theory as to what makes a blog posts go viral is “ahdunno.” And to be fair, it does seem incredibly random and, to people who have amazing content but no readers, infuriating. Why can’t THEY win the viral lottery?

Or for that matter, the real lottery.

And in some cases, it is rather random — even blog posts that seem destined for viral greatness go nowhere, after all. However, there are a few tried-and-true routes to virality that you might want to keep in mind next time you sit down to seduce a million people you’ve never met:

Craft an Eye-Catching Clickbait Title

Since there are so, so many blog posts out there, you need to grab the reader’s attention within seconds. The best way to do so is to craft a title that will hook people immediately. An extremely popular and effective way to do so is by crafting a loaded headline that doesn’t tell readers exactly what’s in the article, but entices them enough to click and learn just what the devil the author has to say.

A classic example of this is the post “Marriage Isn’t For You,” by Seth Adam Smith. The four million-plus people who have clicked on the article since its publication in November 2013 were no doubt intrigued and curious as to why this person is saying that. Are they denouncing marriage? Who are they say it isn’t right for a bunch of people they’ve never met? And why, in the first SENTENCE, does he change the focus to “marriage isn’t for ME?”

Marriage Isn’t for the Dog, Either.

As it turns out, the title was pure loaded clickbait. Smith meant that marriage isn’t for “you,” the one person. Instead, marriage is about selflessness, considering your partner’s needs, and putting them ahead of your own. If the post’s title had simply been “Why You Need to Consider Your Spouse’s Needs,” it probably would’ve garnered a couple hundred hits, a Like here and there, and then disappear. But “Marriage Isn’t For You” hooked everybody, and the message of the piece prompted the sharing frenzy that created a viral sensation.

Publish your Post on a Big Website

If a website already has a ton of readers, having something published there will increase your chances of virality by many, many percentage points. This can happen whether or not you’re a regular contributor to the website, as many readers don’t even see who the author of a piece is before reading and sharing.

Such a thing happened recently with “Dear ‘Daddy’ in Seat 16C Flight 1850 From Philly,” a January 2014 blog written by a mother raising her autistic daughter, Kate. In the post, she wrote about how Kate started calling a stranger sitting next to them on an airplane “Daddy.” Rather than ignore the little girl or tell the mother to do something, the man chatted with and entertained the little girl for the duration of the flight. The blog post was simple a sincere thank-you note to the stranger who kept her daughter company.

However, the mother managed to get her article featured on the Huffington Post. Like them or not, HuffPo is a huge website with millions of readers. To get something on their site is akin to having the President invite you to deliver the State of the Union address. Not shockingly, the piece went viral immediately, getting Kate’s mother on the news and even prompting a reunion between her and the man who made fast friends with her daughter.

Be Featured by Someone Popular and/or Famous

So far we’ve covered a couple tips that involve effort from the writer. However, sometimes it truly is dumb luck that spreads a blog post around. A post that would normally go nowhere randomly catches the eye of a celebrity or a popular publication, gets reblogged, and suddenly scores more eyes are reading what the writer has to say.

This happened to Amanda of The Lady Okie, who posted a humorous blog entitled “10 Reasons Why Running a Marathon is Like Having a Baby” in August 2013. Despite the clickbaity title, it initially saw the same fate as many of her posts — not a whole lot. However, one day she woke up to discover her post had been read by over 4,000 people (which, compared to everything else she wrote, might as well have been ten million.)

After checking her blog’s analytics, she discovered that a popular magazine, Canadian Running, had found her post, enjoyed it, and shared it on their Facebook page. That page, by the way, had over 20,000 followers, many of whom clicked over to find out what exactly running and childbirth have in common.

Reason #1: Children have ways of making you run much less.

She had never solicited the magazine before, and almost certainly didn’t follow them on Facebook (unless Oklahomans REALLY enjoy Canada for some reason.) But one person with influence randomly saw her piece and liked it enough to share with the world. The world responded.

One thing all these viral blog posts have in common is that they were well-written and interesting. Very rarely does a blog go viral if there’s no quality behind it (that “honor” is typically reserved for horrible videos and images.) So if you want your writing to suddenly reach millions, certainly keep the above tips in mind. But also, always ensure what you put out there is the best it can possibly be. You never know when the virus might infect you, so you always need to be ready.

Jason Iannone rarely goes viral, but he does regularly go bacterial. Luckily, a little penicillin fixes that problem fast.