What Content Marketers Can Learn about “Link-Building” from Moz & BuzzSumo’s Newest Content Study

content study

Scrolling through my email inbox after a relaxing Labor Day weekend, I was delighted to find an email from Moz sharing their newest content research findings. Anytime I see a study analyzing digital content I get excited – the more I can learn about what works and what doesn’t, the better content marketer I can be.

Moz and BuzzSumo teamed up to analyze more than one million pieces of digital content. Specifically, the pair looked at the shares and links attributed to those pieces, hoping to learn if there is a correlation between the two. What they did find, however, could be very influential for content marketers.

Here are a few of their most important findings:

  1. The majority of posts analyzed receive few shares and even fewer links. This suggests there is a great deal of low quality content on the Web and that people are also struggling to adequately promote their content.
  2. Examining a sample of 750,000 well shared posts, the duo found that more than half of them still have zero external links – even though they had many shares. This shows that even if many posts are shared often, it’s a lot harder to acquire external links.
  3. The study found no correlation between shares and links. This tells us that people share and link to content for very different reasons.
  4. There are two types of content that were seen to achieve both high amounts of shares and links. This included research-backed content and opinion-forming journalism.
  5. Without including videos and quizzes, the majority of published content is less than 1,000 words (85%). However, longer-form content tends to perform better in terms of generating shares and links.
  6. Videos and quizzes have a higher probability of being shared than linked to. Even if a video or quiz gets thousands of shares, it may still acquire zero links.
  7. List posts and videos were seen to receive higher-than-average amounts of shares compared to other types of content. List posts and why posts also receive a higher number of referring domain links.

What Does This Mean for You?

If acquiring links is one of your goals for producing digital content, you can use the insights from Moz and BuzzSumo’s study to help strengthen your current strategy. Here are some key takeaways to consider:

Instead of producing more content, start producing better content.

Industry experts have been saying this for awhile, but this study goes to show once again that longer form content (greater than 1,000 words) built on a foundation of research and insights will perform better in the areas of generating shares and links. It’s about quality, not quantity. So instead of producing a dozen 300-word blog posts per month and seeing little traction in shares and links, take it down to four or five longer pieces of content backed by research. Compare your results and see which type works best.

Put time into content promotion if you want to grow your shares and links.

As hard as it is to admit, you should be spending an equal amount of time promoting your content as you are creating it. Come up with a promotion plan for every piece, and don’t make it a one-and-done type of deal. Go back to older pieces and re-promote them occasionally, especially on social channels like Twitter, where the average lifespan of a tweet is short. The study shows that many people aren’t spending an adequate amount of time on content promotion, so this is one area should try to strengthen so you can overpower your competitors’ efforts.

Video may take extra time, effort and resources, but it works.

You can’t deny the power of video as a form of content these days. This study proves that it works in the areas of shares and links, too. Consider working a video or two into your content strategy (as well as a strong promotion plan for each video.) Even something as simple as an employee or customer interview can be great video material (but keep it on the short side.)

Regardless of whether you love or hate list posts, people share them.

You may be tired of publishing list posts, but the data from this study shows that consumers still engage with them through sharing. Truth be told: they work. Make sure you’re incorporating a few list posts into your content strategy every now and then, and compare their results to those of your other content formats to see if they’re actually beneficial to you.

“Link-building” is really, really hard.

Publishing content isn’t going to magically generate dozens of links for you. No matter how high-quality your content may be, acquiring links the right way is difficult and will take time. Don’t give up too soon. If you’re consistent with the output of your high-quality content, you’re bound to see some traction eventually – it’s just a matter of time. Keep doing content the right way and your efforts will pay off.

Want to read more about the Moz and BuzzSumo study? Click here. Or better yet, learn more about the importance of content strategies in our upcoming webinar – Social Repair, Content Replace: How Fathom Helped Safelite AutoGlass Create a Documented Content & Social Strategy to Shatter Their Goals. Register now.


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