During our typical internet perusing here at Apollo Marketing we came across an awesome article by Brian Dean over at Backlinko.com. Brian’s article is basically a fact dump about their research on content marketing. Brian, Backlinko, and their data partner BuzzSumo analyzed 912 million blog posts to research and write the article. 912 million!! Then they shared what they learned.
We found all of it to be really interesting and useful in a number of different ways. What we wanted to do in this post was talk about some of Brian’s findings that jumped out to us the most.
Before we do that though we’ve listed a snippet from Brian’s article for you to take a look at that summarizes all of his findings. We’ve highlighted the ones that we find interesting and plan on talking about, but as you can see there are a bunch of other key findings as well. We definitely recommend checking out his whole article as it is chock full of awesome stuff!
Backlinko’s Key Findings
- Long-form content gets an average of 77.2% more links than short articles.Therefore, long-form content appears to be ideal for backlink acquisition.
- When it comes to social shares, longer content outperforms short blog posts. However, we found diminishing returns for articles that exceed 2,000 words.
- The vast majority of online content gets few social shares and backlinks. In fact, 94% of all blog posts have zero external links.
- A small percentage of “Power Posts” get a disproportionate amount of social shares. Specifically, 1.3% of articles generate 75% of all social shares.
- We found virtually no correlation between backlinks and social shares. This suggests that there’s little crossover between highly-shareable content and content that people link to.
- Longer headlines are correlated with more social shares. Headlines that are 14-17 words in length generate 76.7% more social shares than short headlines.
- Question headlines (titles that end with a “?”) get 23.3% more social shares than headlines that don’t end with a question mark.
- There’s no “best day” to publish a new piece of content. Social shares are distributed evenly among posts published on different days of the week.
- Lists posts are heavily shared on social media. In fact, list posts get an average of 218% more shares than “how to” posts and 203% more shares than infographics.
- Certain content formats appear to work best for acquiring backlinks. We found that “Why Posts”, “What Posts” and infographics received 25.8% more links compared to videos and “How-to” posts.
- The average blog post gets 9.7x more shares than a post published on a B2B site. However, the distribution of shares and links for B2B and B2C publishers appears to be similar.
Long-Form Content Is Ideal
According to Backlinko and their team, it appears that long-form content is much better than shorter pieces of content when it comes to generating social shares. However, anything more than 2,000 words and those numbers start to dip back down again. So content that is best for producing social shares falls in between the 1,000 to 2,000 word range.
It is shown that the same can be said for long-form content and backlinks as well. Backlinko’s research shows that long-form content gets an average of 77.2% more links than short articles. However with long-form content aimed at generating backlinks, the more words the better. There isn’t a drop after 2000 words like there is in social sharing and it seems that the bigger the article the higher the likelihood of generating backlinks.
Of course the article still needs to have a balance of quality and quantity. So adding fluff to boost your word count is a no no. Long articles designed for attracting backlinks to your site should always be heavily researched to ensure that they are loaded with good information.
In summary, word count is important. However, your writing needs to have enough substance to make someone feel like they should continue reading but not so much that it drowns them out and they stop reading after it has been too long.
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What Kind Of Content?
Word count aside, it is also important to note what kinds of content work best for what you are trying to achieve. Backlinko points out something really telling about what type of content is best for social sharing and what kind is best for building backlinks.
According to Backlinko, content containing things like list posts and what they call “why posts” are awesome for getting high levels of social shares. List posts specifically generate 203% and 218% more shares that infographic and how-to posts respectively.
On the flip side, Backlinko found that “why posts”, “what posts”, and infographics are better for building backlinks than other content formats. First thing to point out is that “why posts” are the only type of posts that overlap in both categories making them a great type of post to write for your blog or online content. What you’re then left with is list posts being great for social shares and infographics being great for links.
We think that is a helpful little hierarchy that is easy to remember and to gauge your content around. Writing lists is easy, and while creating infographics on your own may seem daunting we can assure you they are not. There are great websites out there such as piktochart.com that make it easy to create original infographics on your own. You don’t need to be an artist or anything like that, you just need good original content to fill it out with.
Longer Headlines & Questions
The last points of Backlinko’s great article we wanted to cover were their findings about headline length and type. Backlinko found that longer headlines outperform short headlines in social sharing by 76.7%. Backlinko defined a long headline as a headline that is between 14-17 words.
They had two theories for why this seems to happen. The first is that the longer headlines simply just have more info in them that makes people compelled to read or share. The second is that the longer headline may have more keywords which may result in more eyeballs through search engines on Twitter and Google.
We agree with Backlinko about the longer headlines and think that it is good to trend in that direction, but it is not the end all be all rule. As long as your article title is compelling or interesting it doesn’t always matter that it isn’t long.
The other thing that Backlinko pointed out about headlines is that headlines that are phrased as questions get 23.3% more social shares than articles with headlines not phrased as questions. This may work because they spark curiosity or intrigue. It is a similar concept as to what we talked about in our most recent article about call to actions.
These are parts of Backlinko’s article that stood out the most to us, but that’s not to say nothing else did. Like we expressed before the whole article is great and we recommend checking it out. If you’re getting in to the digital marketing realm this is the type of stuff that you need to have your finger on the pulse of. Awesome valuable tips and info like this is floating all over the place if you know where to look.
If you’re a small business and want to learn more about best content creation and marketing practices, contact us! We know our stuff and would love to help.