But first, consider this. 93% of marketers use social media. Only 7% of marketers say they don’t use social media for their business.
Embracing social media is a surefire way to grow your referral traffic and increase your social signals, which in turn adds more power to your links for improved search rankings.
It’s easy to look at a successful marketer and think, “Oh I wish I could achieve half of what they’ve achieved!” I’ve had readers say that to me, but they’re only looking at the current picture.
It might surprise you to know that I struggled to find the right blog post topics in the beginning. Creating irresistible headlines was a hassle for me back then.
But, I kept pushing. I kept researching and challenging myself to learn more.
Eventually, I cracked the code and I’ve been creating lots of blog articles that get over 1000+ social shares and rank highly in Google search results ever since.
So how did I get here?
The answer is that I carefully studied viral blog posts. I spent time studying articles with over 10,000+ Facebook and Twitter shares, especially the ones that earned authority links within their first week after publication.
I came to understand that the reason why 49% of people share content on social networks is because they want to encourage action or change opinion.
Every content marketer needs to consistently stay aware of the digital marketing landscape and seek insights from reliable sources.
In this post-Hummingbird era, Google is concerned about your social media activity as it relates to your brand.
For example, Google+ and Google’s search engine are like two sides of the same coin. What happens to one affects the other. That’s why it only takes a few hours for a Google+ post to appear in search results, in most cases.
So, without further ado, here are 7 insights collected from analyzing 100 million posts.
1. Long-form, interesting articles are emailed more often than shorter articles.
Interesting long-form content gets the upper hand when it arrives in email inboxes.
Researchers discovered that the most emailed posts from the NY Times website were longer articles, not the short ones. Longer articles are well received by email subscribers because they’re better at building trust, according to MarketingExperiments.
You might think that people share cute cat pictures and infographics most often, but it turns out that they also want to share long-form, intellectually challenging and interesting articles with their friends and colleagues.
The web has millions of short articles, because they’re easy to create. You don’t even need to do any research before writing a 300 – 500 word-count article. But, it’s a lot harder to craft a well-written 3,000 word-count article without conducting a bit of research first.
Since people prefer to email long-form articles over short forms, it means that you can grow your email list by including a “send to a friend” link in every email that you send.
According to Video Resource Club Review, when you encourage your current subscribers to share and forward your emails by including an “Email to a friend” or “Forward to a friend” link, you’ll gain instant access to a new audience – your subscriber’s colleagues and fans – who might be interested in signing up for your list.
Remember to include a “Subscribe” call-to-action at the bottom of your marketing emails. All you need is a simple text-based link or button that redirects to your landing page or leadbox, so that those receiving your forwarded emails can easily opt-in, too.
Beyond text-based content like articles, blog posts and press releases, long-form video content also wins across platforms, as a recent study by Ooyala reveals.
Aside from the computer screens, Ooyala’s study revealed that the connected TV and game console platform saw an increased growth that went from 6.5 minutes per play to more than 12. Remember that game consoles suddenly started releasing a lot of video-based apps.
After conducting research on the virality of online content, Dr. Jonah Berger and Katherine L. Milkman found that positive content resonates with people more than negative content.
They also found that people preferred emailing those positive articles rather than ones with negative themes. People also like to share detailed, in-depth, long-form articles on challenging topics.
If you consistently send useful long-form emails to your subscribers, your list will grow faster.
You’ll see a BribeShare Review, too – especially when you include a “Share Now” link or button that makes it easy for recipients to share your email content on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
CJ Pony Parts started creating long-form articles to inform their customers and they focused on promoting their article entitled, “2015 Mustang Parts.”
The objective of this long-form article was to rank #1 in Google for a competitive keyword and to increase organic traffic to the page, which in turn would increase conversions.
The moment they updated the page, there was a significant growth in traffic. Within a short period of time, the resource page started to rank at #3 for the targeted keyword, beating out some of the brand’s stiffest competition.
So what’s the relationship between organic traffic and sending long-form articles to your email lists?
Here’s how it works: when you reach more people in their inboxes with your long-form content, they’ll link to it when they write their own posts or share the post on a discussion forum.
If you’ve been on my email list for some time, you’ve probably noticed that when I email you about the latest posts on QuickSprout, I send everything, including the screenshots and videos – I don’t leave anything out. And, you know that my typical blog post is over 2500 words.
I do this for a reason: Even if you’re not ready to visit my blog yet, you can read the complete blog post right from your inbox.
Give it a try. Send a long-form article to your email subscribers and not just the excerpt. Study your open and click-through rate. Then, compare the results with your previous email conversion rate.
2. People are passionate about the keywords they type into Google search.
Love it or hate it, SEO is an integral part of inbound marketing.
If you want to grow a business and sustain it, you’ve got to work at getting organic search traffic. It’s time to stop looking for loopholes and start optimizing for the users.
According to Regalix, 96% of marketers use Search Engine Marketing to provide valuable content and 60% of companies report that their SEO and content strategies are integrated.
An effective content strategy begins with a keyword. You can’t achieve much from the search engines if you don’t understand keyword research and optimization. This is even more important given that users are passionate about the keywords they type into Google.
Think about it: When someone comes to Google search and types in “2015 honda civic si,” what comes to mind?
Do you think that the searcher has interest in that particular vehicle or are they just browsing aimlessly? I think there’s a specific goal for every search.
First and foremost, the searcher wants to find results that contain the same keyword they searched for. So, with this example, the searcher would click the first search result because it contains the keyword in question:
People want to see the corresponding information pertaining to their keywords. They already know what they want, but they’re relying on Google to give them the right results.
So you really have two roles to play:
·Research, target and optimize for a given keyword in a natural way
·Provide useful content based on user intent
i). Research, target and optimize for a given keyword naturally: Before creating a piece of content, you’ve got to learn more about your target audience. What do they want to buy or learn more about?
Let’s target one of these keywords, “salsa dance steps.”
Then create your headline. A few of the different headline ideas you can use to create helpful articles are:
The Best Salsa Dance Steps to Hone Your Skills
Master These 3 Salsa Dance Steps and Become a Pro
Salsa Dance Steps: The Secrets The Pros Don’t Want You to Know
Note: the keywords are underlined in each of the headlines above.
ii). Provide useful content based on user intent: What is user intent? Here’s how Jeremy Smith defined it:
User intent describes what a user is looking for when they conduct a search query. This goes beyond the superficial idea of ‘keywords.’ Keywords are just that — words, and they are nearly passé in the age of semantic search and highly developed algorithms.
User intent helps you focus on what matters, not the latest search algorithm trends.
What’s the intent when a user types “pizza” in the search engine?
Well, over the years, Google has collected a lot of data that tells it that anyone searching for pizza is ready to order pizza from a local restaurant. So those results get priority.
When you study your target audience and your competitors, you should come up with insights on the intent behind the keywords in your industry.
For example, when someone types “help me lose weight fast,” what comes to mind?
It tells us that the searcher may well have tried a handful of weight loss programs or pills without success. So now, they want you to take them by the hand and show them step by step how to lose weight fast.
That’s the intent.
The moment you understand the user intent, your conversion rate will increase because your landing page will agree with your search results snippet.
3. Long-form articles don’t have much competition in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Links are still the way we get high rankings in Google results. But in 2014, Google took a stricter route by releasing the Penguin update to penalize sites with manipulative or unnatural links.
The risk of getting penalized has caused a lot of webmasters and bloggers to stop building links altogether. Consequently, their search rankings have tanked and organic traffic to their sites has stalled.
In your bid to get higher organic search rankings, you can cut to the chase and at least reduce your competition. How?
Research and create long-form articles.
It’s the easiest way to build a lasting business online. Brian Dean embraced long-form content. Ever since, he has outranked the competition for “Google 200 ranking factors” in organic results:
If you’re at the top of the search results pages, you can bet Google will take a closer look at your page to gauge its usefulness and authority. In doing so, Google may choose to manually review your site.
That’s good news for you. If your competitors are ranking ahead of you in the search engines and Google discovers that their content isn’t worthwhile, those sites may be penalized for link manipulation, because Google will question how they got to the top of the SERPs in the first place.
But, if your content is in-depth, useful and full of rich ideas, concepts and tips, Google will conclude that your top rankings are well-deserved.
Truly, long-form articles don’t have much competition in the search engine results. If you doubt it, take a look at the top search results for any given keyword (e.g., “productivity tools”).
Did you notice that the first search result is from WordStream.com? Interestingly, the top result outranked an article on a similar topic from Entrepreneur.com.
You and I know that Entrepreneur.com has higher domain authority and influence, so why would a smaller site perform better in the organic search results>
When I analyzed the sites, I discovered that the article on WordStream contain 2,255 words, while the Entrepreneur.com page contains links to articles pertaining to productivity. Google favored the long-form article, because it’s perceived as more useful to users.
What’s more, people naturally like to link to well-written long-form articles much more so than to short ones.
In addition to the experiment that SerpIQ conducted, which clearly shows that long-form content performs better in search, Moz discovered in 2011 what seemed to be a correlation between a site’s backlinks and the overall length of the content in question.
It’s obvious that long-form content influences the algorithm, though we may not know exactly how it works.
I’ve discovered that my readers also prefer articles that are longer, well-researched and data-driven. These posts are shared more than shorter ones.
So, if my readers love and benefit from long-form content, what’s the justification for me to ignore it?
Come to think of it, what really makes a 300 – 500 word-count article great?
Nothing I can think of, except it’s “faster to read.” But, that also means it’s likely to be less useful.
Of course, I know that some bloggers, in a bid to write a 2000+ word post stuff a lot of keywords and repetitive text into their content, just to up the word count. That’s neither useful nor interesting.
But, the majority of those writing long-form content spend a lot of time creating it, so you can always expect to gain new insights from it.
When it comes to Facebook Ads, promoting long-form content will produce a higher conversion rate for you than short blog posts. For example, Grasshopper, a software company that helps you manage your phone online, created and promoted its 18,000-word guide via a sponsored Facebook post.
The ad got 949 likes and 180 shares. The content had custom illustrations plus a ton of different topics within the guide. People were excited to share it, because it was a lot better, and more useful than the typical short blog post.
I’m currently ranking at the #1, #2, and #3 positions.
Why does this guide rank higher than any other growth hacking guide? Well, several factors play a key role.
One of the biggest reasons why the guide is so popular is because it’s divided into 10 chapters, each focusing on a different topic related to growth hacking.
Unlike other guides that don’t give complete or detailed information, mine provides actionable examples of how readers can apply these techniques to their own businesses, making it a remarkably useful resource.
Remember that people are lazy. Only a few people are ready to compete with a search result containing 3000 – 7000 words.
If you create an extremely in-depth article of about 5000 words, you’ll absolutely generate organic trafficand discourage competitors from doing the same. After all, writing high-quality content of that length takes time. And not everyone has that kind of time.
Remember, though, that long-form content won’t produce these results unless you also learn how to distribute and promote it to the right users.
4. Articles that are backed up by data or statistics get more Twitter shares.
If you want to get more Twitter shares, you need to include data in your articles.
The good news is that content marketers have access to more data than ever before, thanks to thousands of new research studies, experiments and case studies which are being published on a daily basis.
When Buzzsumo analyzed those 100 million articles, they found that posts with the OpenGraph image tag did substantially better on Twitter than posts without any form of image.
Not every image will perform well on Twitter. But, charts, screenshots, infographics and other types of visuals that contain data or statistics tend to generate more views, tweets and retweets.
A global review of data-driven marketing by GlobalDMA and the Winterberry Group, in its survey of 6000 marketing professionals, revealed that 77% are confident in the practice and its prospects for future growth.
Personally, I’ve noticed that whenever I publish a data-driven blog post, I see a lot of my readers sharing the post on Twitter:
Takeaway:Include data or statistics in your article headlines. It’ll increase the perceived value of your content and give potential clients a good reason to hire you, because they want results.
For example, let’s say your headline is this:
How I Added 5308 Email Subscribers to My List With One Strategy
Trust me, your readers will read the post, take notes and apply your strategy to their businesses.
Others might prefer to hire you to perform the same trick for them. After all, you’ve got the result and replicating it should be a piece of cake for you.
So avoid writing generic headlines:
How to Drive Organic Traffic to Your Site
Instead, include data to make the headline compelling. Let’s rewrite the headline to include some data:
How I Generated 32,594 Organic Visitors to My 5-Month-Old Blog
Did you notice how I tweaked the first headline and made it a lot better? That’s exactly what you should be doing.
But where do you get data or statistics for your headlines and content?
Well, believe it or not, your Google Analytics can provide all the data and statistics you need to get started.
For example, if your bounce rate was 67.88% last month, but you took action – you wrote better content and engaged the readers – and your bounce rate dropped to 54.33%, you already have an idea for a great data-driven post. The headline could be similar to any of these:
·The 3-Step Process That I Used to Reduce My Bounce Rate to 54.33%
·How I Formatted My Content and Reduced Bounce Rate to 54.33%
·How I Reduced My Bounce Rate From 67.88% to 54.33% in 30 Days
The above headlines are compelling, useful and intriguing. The user will want to read the article, because the promise is specific.
It’s true that Twitter recently announced that it will do away with share counts altogether by November 2015, thus share counts will stop being displayed on posts. As a result, Twitter share counts will probably no longer be a social signal that Google uses to gauge the engagement of your web page.
Twitter shares may not improve your search rankings directly, but social signals overall will send some link juice and increase your page impressions.
Within a short time, you’ll notice a rise in your organic search rankings, because Google has deemed your result worthy of a top position in its listings.
5. Articles that inspire awe and laughter are shared more often on top social media networks.
Social media adds more power to your links. If you want to enjoy long-term search rankings, then you need to embrace social media marketing.
That being said, you’ve got to understand the type of articles that your target audience wants. The fact remains that articles that inspire awe or laughter are shared more often on top social media networks.
After analyzing the top most shared content all over the web within a specific period of time, the testing team at Buzzsumo mapped each of the articles to an emotion, such as joy, anger, sadness, happiness, laughter, amusement, empathy, etc.
The breakdown looked like this:
If you study the pie chart above, you’ll notice that pieces prompting sadness and anger were 1% and 6% respectively – in other words, they were the least popular.
This tells you something that can help you create viral content. People simply aren’t likely to share articles that made them sad or angry, no matter how valuable the article may be.
Take another look at the chart. Laughter is 17%, amusement is 15% and awe is 25%. These are the most popular emotional responses. This shows that people prefer to share articles that make them feel happy or full of awe.
So what makes some content go viral, while other posts struggle and get buried?
Well, we may not have all the answers because a lot of factors plays a key role here, but we do have scientific results to show.
·Content that invoked high arousal emotions is more likely to go viral than content that provokes no emotional response. Examples of high arousal emotions are happiness, awe, amusement, and anxiety.
·Positive content is more likely to go viral than negative content. Your articles should send positive vibes to readers.
·Practical, useful and interesting content also gets the most social shares. Try to break up your articles into a step-by-step process, give helpful tips and make it interesting.
In all, before social media can work for your brand, you’ve got to develop a strategy and have a definite objective. The articles that you’ll create will be a reflection of your objective, not the other way around.
The moment you define your social media objective, you can then create the right content to provoke those high arousal emotions. When you follow this approach, you’ll see increases in social shares, leads and revenue for your business.
What’s the emotion behind charity and helping impoverished nations and cities? I see empathy, happiness, and joy, especially when you show the impact donations can make in the lives of people around the world.