The Anatomy of Top Performing Articles: Successful vs. Invisible Content [Semrush Study] - Deepstash
The Anatomy of Top Performing Articles: Successful vs. Invisible Content [Semrush Study]

The Anatomy of Top Performing Articles: Successful vs. Invisible Content [Semrush Study]

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The Anatomy of Top Performing Articles: Successful vs. Invisible Content [Semrush Study]

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Key Findings of the Research

  • Longreads (7,000+ word articles) lead in terms of content performance — they drive almost 4X more traffic than articles of avg length (900-1,200 words).
  • > 1/2 of the posts with a complex structure (h2+h3+h4) are high-performing in terms of traffic & engagement. 44% of posts with a simple structure (h2+h3) are also high-performing. 39% of texts with no structure at all (no h2) are low-performing in terms of traffic & engagement.

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Key Findings (contd.)

  • Posts containing at least 1 list per 500 words of plain text get 70% more traffic than those without.
  • 10-13 word headlines drive 2X as much traffic & X1.5 more shares than shorter ones (< 7 words).
  • Posts with at least 1 image get 2X as much traffic as posts containing text only. These also get 30% more shares & 25% more backlinks.

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Content Length

  • 7k+ word articles drive almost 4X more traffic & 43% more shares than articles of average length (0.9-1.2k words). Short posts (300-900 words) gain 21% less traffic & 75% less backlinks than articles of average length (0.9-1.2k words).
  • < 1/2 of articles of 300-900 words are shared, > 80% of 7k+ word articles are shared.

Longreads perform better because they provide in-depth information. Focus unique & engaging text, research, & relevance. 

If your audience only wants a short answer to a particular question, then a longread is only going to turn them off. So analyze user intent before writing.

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Headline Type

  • Lists get 80% more traffic than other types of articles.

Such headlines stand out in a stream of content as they usually contain numbers. The subject is placed within a category or classification system. The information looks trustworthy and well organized.

Listicles are closely followed by guides and how-to articles, driving 38% more traffic compared to other types of articles. These kinds of headlines offer readers the opportunity to learn something and demonstrate that the solution to their problem may be just a click away.

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Headline Length

  • 10-13 word headlines drive 2X as much traffic & X1.5 more shares than shorter ones (< 7 words).
  • >1/2 of the posts with a complex structure (h2+h3+h4) are high-performing in terms of traffic & engagement. 44% of posts with a simple structure (h2+h3) are also high-performing. 39% of texts with no structure at all (no h2) are low-performing in terms of traffic & engagement.

Focus on:

  • Making it unique & comprehensive
  • Using numbers/question words
  • Describing what is discussed in the text
  • Ensuring it stands out on the page
  • Addressing user intent

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Analyzing Heading Depths

Three-level text structure (H2, H3, & H4) is enough to break down any article (even longer ones) into meaningful pieces, & improve readability & visual appeal. 

This approach is recommended by Google, which advises against condensing large blocks of text on a page without proper schema. Headings help Google to better understand what the text is about, & to better frame it as a potential solution to search queries. 

Correct use of H2, H3, & H4 tags enables you to segment your content into logical, digestible sections, divert attention to relevant user questions, & highlight the important ideas.

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The Use of Lists

  • Posts containing at least 1 list per 500 words of plain text get 70% more traffic than those without.

Neuroscientist W. Kintsch found that people process information in a list format more easily than in bulk pieces of text & data. Lists are compatible with short attention spans of readers, & suggest that they can obtain the solution to their questions in a set number of steps. Lists can help optimize your content for search engines — it helps search crawlers to identify list items easily &, when applied alongside a proper heading structure, make your content eligible for featured snippet.

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The Use of Images

  • Posts with at least 1 image get 2X as much traffic as posts containing text only. These also get 30% more shares & 25% more backlinks.

Images help you to enhance and clarify your messaging, make your content more memorable, and keep short attention spans interested. Importantly, images can also be repurposed into a diverse range of media types, allowing you to tailor your graphics to different platforms and audiences.

There are also significant SEO benefits, with the potential to rank in image searches, as well as the possibility of leveraging emerging technologies such as visual search.

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The Use of Videos

  • Posts that don’t contain a video get 92% less traffic & 24% less shares than posts with at least 1 video.

Video is perfect for cross-channel distribution, allowing you to share it across platforms. You can use it to address different user needs. Video can be used for converting leads, with >1/2 of consumers using the medium to influence their purchasing decisions. In terms of SEO, using video in your posts can increase engagement, boosting the time spent on page. If you host the videos on your own site, you can attract valuable backlinks.

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phaedrus

Digital Marketer Welcome to my Deepstash where I share ideas I find most valuable for those who wish learn more about digital marketing!