6 Powerful Tips for Better Content Performance Based on New Research

Analysis of 912 blogs has shown that you need to create content like this…

On February 19th, 2019, Brian Dean published results of research conducted on 912 million blog posts. The purpose of this research was to “better understand the world of content marketing right now”.

The final analysis shed light specifically on social media shares and backlinks in relation to factors like

  • content format,
  • word count, and
  • headlines

We looked at the most useful and relevant findings for you and created the following tips and advice for you. This should help you create content that performs very well.

1 Create long-form content and get more backlinks

long-form content for earning backlinks

Google is a fan of long-form content and ranks it above short blog posts all day, every day, any day. We cannot confirm the exact reason for this. At the time of writing this article, no one had made a thorough research to find the exact reason. However, backlinks seem to be part of the reason for that. So if you want to earn backlinks as part of your ranking strategy, long-form is the way to go.

How long should your long-form content be you ask? Well, the research shows that content that is 3000 words or more, gets at an average 77.2% more referring domain links than content shorter than 1000 words.

2 Keep your content between 1000- 2000 words to maximize social shares

how to get your article shared

If your main objective is to generate more social shares, then it is best to keep your content between 1000-2000 words. This is still considered long-form but there is diminishing return when you exceed 2000 words.

The research showed that posts in this word range generate an average of 56.1% more social shares than content that’s less than 1000 words. The length should not be the only thing you focus on of course. The content needs to be useful to the reader. Give your readers actionable tips and knowledge they can benefit from.

Here is an article I wrote for Smart Insights on behalf of Exposure Ninja that will help you create content that is useful to your audience: ‘Why your content is being ignored and how to fix it’.

3 Use long headlines to increase chances of social sharing

headlines and titles help social shares

Corey Wainwright, in her blog post for HubSpot: “How to Write Catchy Headlines and Blog Titles Your Readers Can’t Resist” talks about the correlation between long headlines and high levels of social sharing.

Brian Dean’s research further enforces this relationship. He discovered that very long headlines (14-17 words in length or 80+ characters) get 76.7% more social shares than short titles. There are two possible reasons for why long titles get substantially more social shares than average:

  • Long headlines, carry additional information and therefore entice audiences to read your content and increases the chances of it going viral.
  • Longer headlines, if written well, may match more target keywords in Google and on social media platforms where audiences search. This is by no means an encouragement to start keyword stuffing in any way. See: “Violations & search engine spam penalties”.

4 Use question headlines to boost your content’s social shares

question headlines and titles are shared more

Question headlines or headlines with a question mark earn 23.3% more social shares than usual. The curiosity and intrigue they create in the mind of the audience may be one of the factors that play a role in getting the article read. I mean, wouldn’t you want to know the answer to ‘Can my business also benefit from content marketing?’.

5 Write “list posts” because they get the highest level of shares

list posts for social media shares

Yes, it’s true! List posts get more shares on social media than any other type of content. They even beat the famous how-to posts and infographics posts. So it would be wise to have plenty of list posts. In fact, list posts outperform infographics by a staggering 203% and how-to posts by 218% when it comes to earning social shares.

This does not mean that you should completely abandon the other types of posts. Remember; make your content useful for your audience. Then, depending on what you are writing about, choose the type of content that will convey the message in the best manner.

6 Create “why posts”, “what posts”, and Infographics for acquiring backlinks

infographics get more backlinks than video

These three types of content generate 25.8% more backlinks than how-to posts or even video. It’s interesting to see that while list posts were the best type of content for social shares, they did not do so well when it came to generating links. On the other hand, the situation is reversed for infographics as they tend to generate more backlinks and do not do so well when it comes to generating social shares.

So, with the primary objective of your content being to inform and help your audience, your secondary objective needs to be clear too. Ask yourself if you are looking for shares or backlinks for example. You can then choose the type of content accordingly.

Other significant findings from this research

why is my article not being shared

In case you are interested, here is a list of the remaining findings from the research by Brian Dean:

  • Most online content gets few social shares and backlinks if any
  • Only 1.3% of articles generate 75% of all social shares
  • There is absolutely no correlation between backlinks and social shares
  • The  ‘best day’ to publish a new piece of content for maximum social shares is a myth
  • The distribution of shares and links for B2B and B2C  publishers is almost identical

Bonus tip: BuzzSumo

All data and statistics from the study used for this article were created by BuzzSumo. If you did not know already, it is a great platform for analyzing what content is currently performing best for any topic or competitor. You can compare social media engagement and the number of links a post has been able to acquire.

Let me know what tips you plan to use or are currently using in the comment section below. I am looking forward to hearing about your experiences and answering your questions.

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Alwi Suleiman

Head of Content at Content Market King
I just want to help small businesses save money and time by executing the right content marketing strategy.

With over a decade worth of experience working with small businesses on different aspects of digital marketing, I have come to realize that content should be at the heart of every small business marketing strategy.
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