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One Million Articles: How Many Got Shared and Why?

September 29th, 2015 by mdmcginnis

One of the most effective ways to get more readers is when readers share your content through social media. One of the most effective ways to increase your search engine rankings is when websites link to your content. It doesn’t just happen. But also, it can’t be forced.

This summer, BuzzSumo and Moz analyzed the shares and links of over one million online articles, looking for answers to questions such as:

  • Is there a correlation between shares and links?
  • What content gets both shares and links?
  • What formats get relatively more shares or links?

In their summary, Content, Shares, and Links: Insights from Analyzing 1 Million Articles, the researchers reported:

What we found is that the majority of content published on the internet is simply ignored when it comes to shares and links. The data suggests most content is simply not worthy of sharing or linking, and also that people are very poor at amplifying content. It may sound harsh but it seems most people are wasting their time either producing poor content or failing to amplify it.

Shares are much easier to get than links. Sharing can be almost effortless for your readers. Getting links requires more work – from you. And settling for “average” results may not be what you want. Just as most people have a higher than average number of legs, most articles get a lower than average number of links (slightly above zero). In a random sample of articles, 75% had no external links, and 50% had less than five social shares. Of course, there are notable exceptions, and the article that received 5.7 million shares blew the curve.

What content is most likely to be shared? (Hint: it’s not infographics)

  • Lists: yes
  • Videos: yes
  • Quizzes: yes
  • “Why” posts: yes

But getting lots of shares doesn’t mean you will earn a lot of web links. Or vice versa. Off-beat quizzes, videos, and cat pictures might go viral as they’re shared around the world, but websites aren’t as likely to link to them. The conclusion? People seem to share and link to content for different reasons.

What content is most likely to be shared and linked to?

  • Deep research
  • opinion-forming content
  • content from popular domains
  • major news sites
  • authoritative, research-backed content

By the way, longer content consistently receives more shares and links than shorter-form content. An article that’s 1,000-2,000 words long is twice as likely to get linked to as an article that’s less than 1,000 words long. Compared to a short article, a 3,000-10,000 word is twice as likely to be shared and three times as likely to be linked to.

This article is only 450 words, but you can read the entire 3,000-word article at Moz or download the complete 30-page report from BuzzSumo.

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015 Social Media, Web Content
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