We Analyzed 912 Million Blog Posts. Here's What We Learned About Content Marketing

We Analyzed 912 Million Blog PostsHere's What We Learned About
Content Marketing

We Analyzed 912 Million Blog Posts. Here’s What We Learned About Content Marketing
Brian Dean

by Brian Dean · Updated Feb. 19, 2019

We analyzed 912 million blog posts to better understand the world of content marketing right now.

Specifically, we looked at how factors like content format, word count and headlines correlate with social media shares and backlinks.

With the help of our data partner BuzzSumo, we uncovered some very interesting findings.

And now it’s time to share what we discovered.

Here is a Summary of Our Key Findings:

1. Long-form content gets an average of 77.2% more links than short articles. Therefore, long-form content appears to be ideal for backlink acquisition.

2. When it comes to social shares, longer content outperforms short blog posts. However, we found diminishing returns for articles that exceed 2,000 words.

3. The vast majority of online content gets few social shares and backlinks. In fact, 94% of all blog posts have zero external links.

4. A small percentage of “Power Posts” get a disproportionate amount of social shares. Specifically, 1.3% of articles generate 75% of all social shares.

5. We found virtually no correlation between backlinks and social shares. This suggests that there’s little crossover between highly-shareable content and content that people link to.

6. Longer headlines are correlated with more social shares. Headlines that are 14-17 words in length generate 76.7% more social shares than short headlines.

7. Question headlines (titles that end with a “?”) get 23.3% more social shares than headlines that don’t end with a question mark.

8. There’s no “best day” to publish a new piece of content. Social shares are distributed evenly among posts published on different days of the week.

9. Lists posts are heavily shared on social media. In fact, list posts get an average of 218% more shares than “how to” posts and 203% more shares than infographics.

10. Certain content formats appear to work best for acquiring backlinks. We found that “Why Posts”, “What Posts” and infographics received 25.8% more links compared to videos and “How-to” posts.

11. The average blog post gets 9.7x more shares than a post published on a B2B site. However, the distribution of shares and links for B2B and B2C publishers appears to be similar.

We have detailed data and information of our findings below.

Long-Form Content Generates More Backlinks Than Short Blog Posts

When it comes to acquiring backlinks, long-form content significantly outperforms short blog posts and articles.

Long-form content generates more backlinks than short blog posts

You may have seen other industry studies, like this one, that found a correlation between long-form content and first page Google rankings.

However, to our knowledge no one has investigated why longer content tends to perform so well. Does the Google algorithm inherently prefer long content? Or perhaps longer content is best at satisfying searcher intent.

While it’s impossible to draw any firm conclusions from our study, our data suggests that backlinks are at least part of the reason that long-form content tends to rank in Google’s search results.

Key Takeaway: Content longer than 3000 words gets an average of 77.2% more referring domain links than content shorter than 1000 words.

The Ideal Content Length For Maximizing Social Shares Is 1,000-2,000 Words

According to our data, long-form content generates significantly more social shares than short content.

However, our research indicates that there’s diminishing returns once you reach the 2,000-word mark.

In other words, 1,000-2,000 words appears to be the “sweet spot” for maximizing shares on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Pinterest.

In fact, articles between 1k-2k words get an average of 56.1% more social shares than content that’s less than 1000 words.

Key Takeaway: Content between 1k-2k words is ideal for generating social shares.

The Vast Majority of Content Gets Zero Links

It’s no secret that backlinks remain an extremely important Google ranking signal.

Google recently reiterated this fact in their “How Search Works” report.

And we found that actually getting these links is extremely difficult.

In fact, our data showed that 94% of the world’s content gets zero external links.

It’s fair to say that getting someone to link to your content is tough. And we found that getting links from multiple websites is even more challenging.

In fact, only 2.2% of content generates links from multiple websites.

Why is it so hard to get backlinks?

While it’s impossible to answer this question from our data alone, it’s likely due to a sharp increase in the amount of content that’s published every day.

For example, WordPress reports that 87 million posts were published on their platform in May 2018, which is a 47.1% increase compared to May 2016.

That’s an increase of 27 million monthly blog posts in a 2 year span.

It appears that, due to the sharp rise in content produced, that building links from content is harder than ever.

A 2015 study published on the Moz blog concluded that, of the content in their sample, “75% had zero external links”. Again: our research from this study found that 94% of all content has zero external links. This suggests that getting links to your content is significantly harder compared to just a few years ago.

Key Takeaway: Building links through content marketing is more challenging than ever. Only 6% of the content in our sample had at least one external link.

A Small Number of “Power Posts” Get a Large Proportion of Shares

Our data shows that social shares aren’t evenly distributed. Not even close.

We found that a small number of outliers (“Power Posts”) receive the majority of the world’s social shares.

Specifically, 1.3% of articles get 75% of the social shares.

And a small subset of those Power Posts tend to get an even more disproportionate amount of shares.

In fact, 0.1% of articles in our sample got 50% of the total amount of social shares.

In other words, approximately half of all social shares go to an extremely small number (0.1%) of viral posts.

For example, this story about shoppers buying and returning clothes from ecommerce sites received 77.3 thousand Facebook shares.

This single article got more Facebook shares than the rest of the top 20 posts about ecommerce combined.

Key Takeaway: The majority of social shares are generated from a small number of posts. 75% of all social shares come from only 1.3% of published content.

There’s Virtually No Correlation Between Social Shares and Backlinks

We found no correlation between social shares and backlinks (Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.078).

In other words, content that receives a lot of links doesn’t usually get shared on social media.

(And vice versa)

And when content does get shared on social media, those shares don’t usually result in more backlinks.

This may surprise a lot of publishers as “Sharing your content on social media” is considered an SEO best practice. The idea being that social media helps your content get in front of more people, which increases the likelihood that someone will link to you.

While this makes sense in theory, our data shows that this doesn’t play out in the real world.

That’s because, as Steve Rayson put it: “People share and link to content for different reasons”.

So it’s important to create content that caters to your goals.

Do you want to go viral on Facebook? Then list posts might be your best bet.

Is your #1 goal to get more backlinks? Then you probably want to publish infographics and other forms of visual content.

We will outline the differences between highly-linkable and highly-shareable content below.

But for now, it’s important to note that there’s very little overlap between content that gets shared on social media and content that people link to.

Key Takeaway: There’s no correlation between social media shares and links.

Long Headlines are Correlated With High Levels of Social Sharing

Previous industry studies have found a relationship between “long” headlines and social shares.

Our data found a similar relationship. In fact, we discovered that “very long” headlines outperform short headlines by 76.7%:

We defined “very long” headlines as headlines between 14-17 words in length. As you can see in the chart, there appears to be a linear relationship between headline length and shares.

And this same relationship played out when we analyzed the headlines in our dataset by character count.

As you might remember from 2014, clickbait-style headlines worked extremely well for publishers like Buzzfeed and Upworthy.

And their posts tended to feature headlines that were significantly longer than average.

Although clickbait isn’t as effective as it once was, it appears that long headlines continue to be an effective tactic for boosting social shares.

There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. For example, this post with a 6-word headline received over 328k social shares.

But when you look at the headlines across our dataset of 912 million posts, it’s clear that content that uses longer headlines get more social shares.

Why long headlines work so well is anyone’s guess. However, I have two theories that may partly explain things.

First, it could be the fact that longer headlines pack more information in them compared to short headlines. This “extra” information may push people to read a piece of content or watch a video that they otherwise wouldn’t, increasing the odds that it goes viral.

Also, longer headlines contain more terms that can “match” keyword searches in Google and on social media sites where people commonly search (like Twitter). Again, this results in more eyeballs, which can lead to more shares.

Key Takeaway: Very long headlines (14-17 words in length) get 76.7% more social shares than short headlines.

Titles That End With a “?” Get an Above Average Amount of Social Shares

One interesting nugget from our data was that “question headlines” seem to be working well right now.

In fact, headlines with a question mark get 23.3% more social shares than non-question headlines.

For example, here’s a post with a question headline that boasts 3.3M shares:

Question titles may work because they add an element of intrigue that’s well-documented to increase click-through-rate. Put another way, you might decide to read a post in order to answer the question posed in the headline.

Obviously, question titles aren’t a magic bullet. But using questions in certain headlines may help increase shares and traffic.

Key Takeaway: Question headlines get 23.3% more social shares than non-question headlines.

There’s No “Best Day” to Publish New Content

What’s the best day to publish a blog post?

Well, according to our data, the day that you publish doesn’t make much of a difference.

(At least in terms of social shares)

We did find that Sunday had a slight edge over other days of the week. However, the difference in shares from content published on Sunday vs. the other 6 days of the week was only 1.45%.

Several industry studies and case studies have set out to answer the “best time to publish content” question. But most are either old (one of the most-cited industry studies I found was published back in 2012) or used a small sample size.

And this is likely the reason that the findings from those studies are so conflicting.

Considering that there’s no advantage to publishing content on a certain day, I recommend researching and testing the best publishing time for your industry and audience.

For example, after extensive testing, we found that publishing on Tuesday morning (Eastern) works best for the Backlinko blog. But I’ve heard from other bloggers that their publishing on Saturday works best for them.

So the “best” day to publish is ultimately whenever your audience is available to consume and share your content, something that’s best determined by testing.

Key Takeaway: There’s no “best” day for new content to come out. Shares are essentially equal across different days of the week.

List Posts and “Why Posts” Get a High Level Of Shares Compared to Other Content Formats

We investigated the relationship between content format and social shares.

Our data shows that lists posts and “Why Posts” tend to get more shares than other content formats.

For example, this Why Post from Inc.com was shared on Facebook 164 thousand times:

On the other hand, how-to posts and infographics don’t get shared on social media very often.

That’s not to say you should avoid any particular content format. There are infographics and how-to posts out there that generate tens of thousands of shares.

However, our data does suggest that focusing on list posts and Why Posts may increase the odds of your content getting shared on social media.

Key Takeaway: List posts perform well on social media compared to other popular content formats. Our study found that list posts generate 203% more shares than infographics and 218% more shares than how-to articles.

“Why Posts”, “What Posts” and Infographics Are Ideal Content Formats for Acquiring Backlinks

We found that “Why Posts”, “What Posts” and infographics get linked to more often than other content formats.

What’s interesting is that, while there’s some overlap, there’s a significant difference in the content formats that people share and link to.

While our study found that list posts were the top content format for social sharing, they’re dead last in terms of getting backlinks from other websites.

For example, this list post has 207.8k social shares.

But according to BuzzSumo, despite all those shares, this article has zero backlinks:

It’s a similar situation with infographics. Our data shows that infographics tend to get very few shares relative to list posts, “what posts” and videos.

However, when it comes to links, infographics are a top 3 content format.

This supports our other finding from this research that there’s no correlation between shares and links.

My theory on this is that certain formats are primed to get shared on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. And other formats designed to get linked to from the small group of “Linkerati” that run and contribute content to websites.

Infographics illustrate this contrast perfectly.

Although the occasional infographic may go viral, it’s fair to say that their novelty has worn off in recent years. Which may explain why infographics aren’t shared very much compared to other formats (like list posts).

However, due to the fact that infographics contain highly-citable data, they work as an effective form of “link bait”.

Also, unlike a list post or how-to post, infographics can be easily embedded in blog content. This further increases the chances of acquiring links.

Key Takeaway: “Why Posts”, “What Posts” and infographics appear to be ideal for link building. These three formats receive an average of 25.8% more referring domain links than how-to posts and videos.

B2B and B2C Content Have a Similar Share and Link Distribution

We analyzed a subset of content from our dataset that was published on B2B websites. Our goal was to find out if share and link behavior differed in the B2B and B2C spaces.

First, we did find that “normal” content generates significantly more shares than B2B content. In fact, the average amount of shares for all the content in our dataset is 9.7x higher than content published in the B2B space.

This finding wasn’t surprising. B2C content tends to cover topics with broad appeal, like fitness, health and politics. On the other hand, B2B content on hiring, marketing and branding only appeal to a relatively small group. So it makes sense that B2C content would get shared more often.

However, when we analyzed the distribution of B2B shares and links vs. all published content, we found that they largely overlapped.

For example, 93% of B2B content gets zero links from other websites.

The amount of B2B content without any links (93%) is similar to the figure (94%) from our full dataset.

The percentage of B2B posts get linked to from multiple websites also overlaps with B2C.

Only 3% of B2B content gets linked to from more than one website.

This largely matches the 2.2% that we found in our mixed dataset of B2B and B2C content.

Overall, B2B and B2C link distribution largely overlaps.

When it comes to B2B social shares, we found that 0.5% of B2B articles get 50% of social shares.

And 2% of B2B articles get 75% of social shares.

Like with B2C content, B2B publishers have a small number of “Power Posts” that drive the majority of social sharing.

Key Takeaway: Although B2B content doesn’t get shared as often, the distribution of shares and links in B2B and B2C appears to be similar.


I learned a lot about content marketing from this study, and I hope you did too.

I’d like to again thank BuzzSumo (in particular Henley Wing) for providing the data that made this research possible.

For those that are interested, here is a PDF of how we collected and analyzed the data for this research.

And now I’d like to hear from you:

What’s your #1 takeaway lesson from this study?

Or maybe you have a question.

Either way, leave a comment below right now.


  1. Brian, top man! I always suspected that content divided into topics generated more engagement, and now you’ve proven it!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Natanael.

  2. Very thought provoking indeed Brian. Some definite surprises in there and seems that a lot of content doesn’t achieve much. Will have to read post a second time as a lot to digest there! 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thank you, Paul. I was also surprised by how few posts got any links. Goes to show that blasting out content without promotion doesn’t make much sense.

  3. Great stuff! 912 million! Thats some analysing! Keep up the great work Brian, recommended to all our clients.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Matt. I hope you learn some cool new stuff.

  4. Very nice case study and report!

    It’s interesting that only 6% of the content analyzed even has a single link, but it’s still getting enough traction on BuzzSumo to get pulled into this study.

    Thank-you for putting this together.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Lisa. Good point there. I’m not 100% sure how BuzzSumo finds content. But I think it crawls social media sites (like Twitter) vs. finding content through links on other websites.

    1. Hi! Susan from BuzzSumo here…we index everything that is socially shared, basically adding 2.5 million URL’s /day to our database. The latest total was 5 billion, but we are on track for 6 billion in the next 6 months.

      1. Wow Susan, that’s an amazing number! Great work and thanks for the excellent, eye-opening article Brian!

      1. Johan Avatar Johansays:

        Thank you for this huge work. Was this research made on US content ? or also on french, german, italian content ? and about “best day” : there were no difference between B2B and B2C ?

  5. Once again, another great article, Brian!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Jason 👍 👍 👍

  6. Awesome findings, kinda concurs with my own findings. The post with the most social signals on my site is actually not that long. While I have put more effort in some other posts which are longer and they dont have that much social shares. Im going to keep it in the back of my mind when I create new content.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Koen. At the end of the day, people will share if content’s shareable. And publishing super long stuff isn’t a magic bullet, which our research shows. But for links, longer content (3k+ words) probably does help.

  7. Hadassah Avatar Hadassahsays:

    Thanks for this brilliant research, Brian. I had been itching to read a new post from you (I always anticipate your emails, lol) and you just gave me the secrets I have been looking for. Content marketing is different in 2019. Thank you for going all the way once again!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thank you 🙂

  8. Really interesting! I thought that B2C posts would actually get more backlinks than B2B ones. Thanks.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, François. To be clear: we didn’t actually look at the raw number of links content in the B2B and B2C spaces got (although that would be interesting). But the overall distribution was the same.

  9. Amazing research Brian! Your tips have helped me get content for my SaaS ranked on Google 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Nice! Lots of golden nuggets in here that should help your rankings even more.

  10. Ahmed Avatar Ahmedsays:

    I can barely wrap my head around that number! Good Stuff man!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      It’s a big one! Big props to Henley from BuzzSumo who is a master at big data.

  11. Thanks for your hard work and advice Brian!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Javier. Hope you get some value out of today’s study.

  12. Great research, Brian!

    Have you covered any legal blogs?

    If so, what might be their share?


    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Dmytro. We didn’t look at legal blogs in particular. Although that would be a really interesting niche to investigate.

  13. Great information, as always Brian! Will dig in deeper & absorb it all. Thanks for all your hard work.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Darshana. Let me know what you think after you have a chance to review everything.

      1. I have been following & including all your key summary findings in my blog:

        2000 words or less
        Alt tag for all images
        Engaging title
        Value-based content

        What I haven’t included is a question mark on any of my blogs & that I will do from now on since there’s increased percentage of social shares (great tip from your research).

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Sounds good. Keep me posted.

  14. I would think that the majority of the content which gets a lot of social media shares has no link value such as content on Buzzfeed or Bored Panda so that could skew the data. Personally, I’ve seen a lot of success using social media to promote content to gain backlinks so I am not sure I would be ready to write that off yet.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Ronald, That’s true to a certain extend for sure. But considering out data set included 900+ million posts, it’s not likely that the results were skewed by a handful of viral sites.

  15. I just did a quick scan of this gem of a post, Brian. First, THANK YOU! It’s filled with valuable and counterintuitive insights, essential info for anyone in the content marketing game. Much obliged!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Alan. That’s very true: a lot of these findings are surprising (like the fact that people share and link to content for different reasons).

  16. Great study! Among other things, this is further support for making sure your content strategy is customized for specific channels, rather than just “blasting” the same version of content out everywhere.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      EXACTLY. Content that people link to doesn’t usually get shared. That’s why your strategy has to fit with your goal. If it’s links, you go one way. If it’s shares on social media, it’s time for a completely different approach.

  17. Great detailed post as usual. So many takeaways from this post. I noted why and what post fare better.Thanks for this awesome content

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Happy to help, Vijay.

  18. “Vast amount of content have zero links” main takeaway but the article highlights so many factors to reconsider

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      That was a big one for me too. I knew that most content didn’t get linked to. But I had no idea that the number was so low.

  19. Great research Brian

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thank you, Felix.

  20. Wow, awesome case study Brian. Looks like still long form content performing the best. Working on similar types of content right now. Fingers cross.

    thanks for this awesome case study. Seems I m on right path.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Navin. Sounds like you’re on the right track.

  21. Brian, it’s great information on what content gets attention and links. But it’s almost disheartening to think that someone might spend two weeks researching and writing a really great post – only to have no one ever find it.

    I suppose the biggest takeaway for me is that if you have a really great idea for a post, article, etc., AND you want people to find/link to it, you probably need to spend hours up-front strategically defining your content rather than just sitting down and banging it out. It almost seems like true authors need to either acquire an additional skill set OR work with a partner who looks at the content exclusively from the visibility stand-point.

    Thanks for another great post.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Bob. Well said. I agree that you need a strategic approach if you want your content to get seen. That includes findings the topic, outlining your content and promoting it. Otherwise, it gets buried.

  22. I love content and fresh data is so vital to keep it relevant. Great piece – as always Brian! Thank you!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Jodie. Data is where it’s at

  23. Spyros Demetrios Avatar Spyros Demetriossays:

    Hi Brian. Do you sell a course? I want to get into YouTube. And need the right mentor

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Spyros, I do.

  24. Goes to show that no matter how much we hate it, clickbait headlines remain crucial to garnering social shares.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      What makes you say that?

  25. Thank you, sir, for the quality stuff you’ve been sharing…I really appreciate.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      No problem.

  26. Hi Brian,

    Great information as always. I do find it very interesting that long-form content gets more social shares and views. Normally, when I publish longer articles, they tend to not do so well. However, when I post short posts (which are usually news related posts), they tend to do better. 300 to 500 words each post. Perhaps my long-form stuff is too long? I do a golf blog, and posts about players seem to do decent enough because the main keyword is easy to spot (in these cases, the player’s name).

    However, if it’s not about players, they tend to not do as well minus a few exceptions. One other thing I’m struggling with is bringing more followers to my golf blog’s Twitter page. Of course, tweeting out good content helps, but I feel like there’s more to it than that. Am I wrong?

    Finally, I’m planning on changing the domain name of golf blog, but the name I wanted was taken with “.com”, but was available with “.co”. Is using a “.co” domain a good idea or no?

    Thanks so much for your time and help, Brian, and keep up the great work!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Colin, in that case it’s probably more about the topic than the length. I’d be curious to see how your news posts would do if they were on the longer side.

      1. Thanks, Brian! I’ll definitely consider longer stories. I’m curious as well. Also, I sent a similar comment like the one above, so please kindly disregard that one.

  27. Hello Brian, Thanks for this huge data. It seems I’m outdated at headlines things since I use short form headlines for most of our sites.

    Also, I publish less number of question type posts since I thought the search volume is lower but seems to be a great mistake.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome. One thing about question headlines is that they’re great for shares, but maybe not so much for title tags. Not saying questions can’t work as title tags, but we only looked at how they related to social shares.

  28. “However, to our knowledge no one has investigated why longer content tends to perform so well. Does the Google algorithm inherently prefer long content? Or perhaps longer content is best at satisfying searcher intent.”

    Google uses user signals like bounce rate and time on page through Chrome, doesn’t it? Longer article -> in general longer time on page, that is to Google more fitting search result -> higher ranking. (Of course compared to the competition, so if they have millions of backlinks, those signals won’t help neither.)

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Boris, I think they do use that data. But assuming that’s the reason that longer content works is very different than investigating it with data.

  29. The content is great and it will definitely help me improve traffic on to my website.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      I hope so, Umesh. Let me know how it goes.

  30. Lorenzo Avatar Lorenzosays:

    Really interesting. Thanks for all this stuff Brian 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Lorenzo.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      👍 👍 👍

  31. Amazing. Thanks for all that effort, and for sharing. Much time will be required to fully absorb your findings. But I have learned that a long headline, ending with a “?” and preferably preceding a list, will likely gain the most results.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Dr. B. For social shares, definitely.

  32. Some jaw dropping stats in there! Thanks Brian. It would appear that a large % of the World is wasting valuable time preparing content that never gets viewed, liked or shared!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      I couldn’t have said it better myself, Simon!

  33. Great post, Brain. An important take away from this post for me is to use ‘?’ at the end of headlines. In a lot of my earlier blogs, although they were why/what posts I didn’t use the question mark in the title, just left it blank. Will change the headlines and study if there is any noticeable change in the number of shares. Thanks again for this post. Cheers!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Kritesh. Let me know how it goes!

  34. This is outstanding and more or less confirms what believe I see on my blog site. I would love to see some additional data in two areas:

    1. Sponsored content v. non-sponsored.
    2. How important SEO is for niche industry blogs.

    Right now I run a pretty successful niche industry blog that makes good revenue primarily from sponsored content. We have a pretty good email list we send to every day (5 day week) and our sponsors are happy with the results… I would like it to be better. Any thoughts on any of this?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Steve. I know sponsored content is big right now so it would be interesting for someone to look specifically at their performance. To your question: I’ve worked with or helped sites in 50+ industries. And in my experience, content is content. Every niche has their own wrinkles. But the same basic rules tend to apply across different industries. Hope that helps.

  35. This is such a brilliant post. I read EVERY word.

    This was what I wanted at this time to validate my content strategy.

    Thank you Brain. This post shows you were not just writing for the money or for the shares or backlinks but to actually help folks like us.

    Thanks again.

    Ojo Iszy

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Ojo.

  36. Hey Brian, thanks for the insights.

    I’m surprised by the finding that longer headlines = more social shares, because various blog posts, headline generators & plugins like Yoast say to keep it 10 words or less.

    Also, regarding long-form content getting more backlinks: does that apply to new blog posts only, or updating content along the way?

    eg. publishing a 3,000 word piece all at once, or updating a 1,000 word piece over a period of several months till it reaches a higher word count?


    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Heenay. Yoast is (rightfully) really focused on SEO. So in that case, it would make sense to keep your headlines on the shorter side so your title tag doesn’t get cut off. But social shares appear to be a different animal.

      Regarding long-form content, good question. I believe the word count is measured when the page is first indexed by BuzzSumo. But I’m not 100% sure.

      1. Ah, thanks for that last bit of info. Appreciate it!

  37. I wonder if the reason long content gets more links is because the people writing short content don’t care about or don’t know about link building.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      LOL! I actually never considered that. It does seem that most peeps in the know have all started to publish longer stuff.

  38. First of all Thank you for sharing this blog.

    I have a question:-
    If i want boost my webaite ranking so i have to focus on social shares or backlinks.

    Means i have to write list content on my website blog or article that contains “why” & “what” in title???

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Definitely focus on backlinks.

  39. can not be refuted long content is very powerful in SEO techniques

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Pretty much. Obviously, the content has to be great. But longer does seem to do better in general.

  40. Continue to write good content…that’s gonna give me the best opportunity to have my content shared. Thanks for the info!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Writing good content is a good start, Bret. But as this research shows, it’s usually not enough.

  41. Incredibly useful information! Thank you for this. You have also confirmed mine (business partner and I) theory that there is just too much content. Its a hard road to getting back links. My partner keeps shutting me down when I say we need to create a few posts…. This seems to be the reason why.

    I am also almost sure that the power posts generally get pushed out by big sites that have a huge following. Which in turn gives them trust and the reader a reason to share… The youth of today (my sons for example) generally start a sentence by saying… I read “XYZ” on Reddit/Quora and they say… Which makes it even tougher for the small guys to get social shares or even backlinks…

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Brad. Glad you enjoyed it.

      You’re onto something there: big publishers definitely have an inherent advantage over small publishers. But my hope with data like this is that little guys like you and me can gain an edge on them.

  42. The information in the PDF is also great! I was thinking, if a correlation could be formed between the 6% of content that atleast gets some external links and if they’re the ones that majorly dominates the Google Search Results. 🙂
    This article surely sets the tone for best practices of Content Writing for 2019 based on Scientifical analysis. Loved it as always 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thank you. We didn’t look into it, but considering how important backlinks are, I’d guess there’s a strong correlation there.

  43. chechu Avatar chechusays:

    I’m working on get a deeper understanding on Headlines, are absolutely top for me. Thanks for sharing this stuff!!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome. Headlines are HUGE

  44. Incredible stuff. Thank you so much. Gave me serious clarity that too very early on my blogging career. In fact, you inspire me to produce top quality content.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thank you

  45. Great info, Brian. You never fail to amaze me. This helps us to focus on the right things to rock blogging. Will be waiting for more surprising case studies.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thank you, Siva.

  46. Tawfek Elsayed Avatar Tawfek Elsayedsays:

    So great case study. I really love it 😊. But I have one thing that i don’t understand it which is “list post”
    What do you mean by list post?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks. 20 Ways to X, 17 Tips for Y. Stuff like that.

  47. Hi, Brian!
    This post has great value.
    Thank you 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome.

  48. Wow, this good information to process. Interesting about the longer titles and longer content. Appreciate your hard work and research.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      No problem, Tisha. Glad that you learned some new stuff that you can use.

  49. Duc Thang Bui Avatar Duc Thang Buisays:

    Interesting! I just thought that B2C posts may be more easier to be viral than B2B ones, and this means more backlinks. But, I’m wrong. Hahah

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Well, B2C content does get more overall shares. But the distribution of shares and links is almost identical in B2B, which surprised me.

  50. One more lengthy but worthy post from brian dean and sure this page also going to get more links. I have tried several times to write such a lengthy and worthy post but unfortunately till date i am not able to do it. Writing such posts are like art and everyone can’t do. Still i love reading your content and getting recharged !

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:


  51. Very interesting and inspiring article. Thanks for taking the time to do the research and inform all of us.

    I’m curious though, so couldn’t we potentially include Infographics in our list posts to get the best of both worlds? Link bait and formatted for social sharing. What do you think?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Sam, that might work. My take is that for an infographic to work it has to BE the post. As in the main thing. I’m not sure if it would work as well as point #8 in a list post.

  52. Nice work, Brian. This is the type of informative content I like to read and refer back to again.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thank you, Nina. A lot of work went into this post so that’s nice to hear.

  53. Thanks Brian, As a real estate broker I’m going to put more time and effort on my Title tags for my blog posts. I’m looking forward to see what happens.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Sound good, John. Keep me posted on how things go.

  54. One of the most epic peace of content that I ever read on your blog. Love it 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thank you 👍👍👍

  55. Hey Brian, I saw a similar article from OkDork (Noah Kagan) a few years ago. But your article is updated with new information. I’m gonna bookmark it to reference it and also share it. Thanks as ALWAYS! 🖒

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Andre. I’m a big fan of that post too (which also featured data from BuzzSumo).

  56. We write remarkable, long-form content for case interview preparation (to get management consulting jobs), but have a really hard time getting backlinks.

    Usually the only websites talking about case interview preparation are our competitors (who are not going to link to us) and universities (we haven’t been able to get them to respond to a single e-mail from us).

    Now I know long-form content will NOT replace link building. We need to work smarter on this task.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Sounds good, Julio. Long form can help. But I’d also experiment with different content formats if you’re #1 goal is to get backlinks.

      1. That’s a good idea, Brian. Will do.

        Thank you for the great content and for the reply!

  57. Rita Braun Avatar Rita Braunsays:

    Thank you for this free comprehensive study. Seems like you have quite the posse of techs pulling a bunch of data together and creating infographics.

    I manage a B2B site. Biggest takeaways:
    * How difficult it is to get backlinks.
    * The types of posts that perform best.

    Thanks again for your generosity.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Rita. Great takeaways there for sure.

  58. The data you put is really new and unbelievable. Found out many new pieces of stuff to learn and understand. Keep up the great work Brain.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Yash, thank you.

  59. Hi Brian –
    As always, great information, highly actionable, beautifully delivered. We really appreciate your providing this kind of content. Love it. Thanks.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks David. I appreciate your kind words.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Jesus, happy to hear that.

  60. Siddarth Shafeeque Avatar Siddarth Shafeequesays:

    Wow man. You are just killing it. This is some amazing stuff right here.

    I think this data is more than amazing actually. Little between amazing and revolutionary

    But great freaking job Brain.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thank you, Siddarth. I appreciate that.

  61. To get good and quality links is really hard in 2019 and for sure it will be even more hard in the future. Great study. Many thanks!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Luis. I agree: things are trending that way for sure.

  62. Alma Anderson Avatar Alma Andersonsays:

    Great Stuff Thank you You!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Alma.

  63. Thank you so much for sharing this Brian! This is super helpful for our future content creation!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Anh. Hope it helps you out.

  64. Hey Brian again great post. Well explanatory article for content marketer. Bookmark this one for future references.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Honey.

  65. It’s really interesting & new to me. Thanks, Brian.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:


  66. Excellent read. It’s shocking to see 90%+ of posts not having any external links. Looks as if people are too focused on creating content and not enough on promoting it.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      EXACTLY. There’s so much content that comes out everyday. You either need to create something Earth-shattering, or promote (or both!).

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thank you 🙂

  67. Great piece of content Brian. Thanks for sharing this valuable data. Loved it. Keep doing great work. Cheers.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Happy to help, Ashok. Glad you liked it!

  68. By headline, do you mean the title of the blog post? I see you found longer headlines were preferred. So, is that the title? So maybe do a long title and a short URL?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Keelie, I looked into this myself. And based on the results I spot checked it looks like BuzzSumo grabs the headline, not necessarily the title tag (although they’re usually the same).

  69. Great article. Have been reading your articles for some time. I am one of those 90+% that does not have any external links unfortunately. I am at it though.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You can do it!

  70. Great insights from you and your team brian

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Sun. BuzzSumo provided the data so they deserve most of the credit.

  71. I have been wondering many of what was answered in this post. You are always ahead of the game Brian.

    I am curious: Do social shares have to come from the actual blog post on your site using the social share buttons? Or can they come from posts on social media sites?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey John, Thank you. They’re pulled from the social media sites.

  72. Thank you once again Brian!
    You never disappoint – ever.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Gregory.

  73. Been a while I came around my favorite marketing blog, Backlinko.

    Thank you for such an insightful piece 🙂 AGAIN!!!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Khris.

  74. Susanne Roelle Avatar Susanne Roellesays:

    Amazing post Brian, thank you for sharing. I never suspected such a big difference between content that’s linked to versus shared on social! My jaw dropped when reading 912 million – is this a representative sample across basically all industries?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Susanne. It is. It’s actually all of the articles in BuzzSumo’s database from October 2017 to October 2018. So pretty much every industry is included.

  75. Awesome content! Thanks, Brian!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome. Glad you learned something new from today’s study.

  76. What changes do you think this research will inspire for the Backlinko blog?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey David, I haven’t had a lot of time to digest the findings. That said, my #1 goal with content has been links + rankings. So I’ll probably use some of the insights here to get better link results from what I put out.

  77. Hi Brian. The main point I take from this post is the importance of backlinks. I’ll be sharing this post to convince others to do backlink exchanges. You’ve made my job easier so thanks.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Hazel. But I didn’t say anything about backlink exchanges in the post.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:


  78. Very cool article 🙂 I do have a question. Do you think that a site should be present for X amount of time to be better recognized in Google, e.g. 1 year, 3 years? Basically, do you think a site being active for longer have a positive effect on the backlinks and site rankings?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thank you. Being around longer=more links=higher rankings. But I don’t think the site existing for a while is a direct Google ranking factor.

  79. Awesome content Brian!
    Thanks you so much!
    Waiting for next article!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Happy to help.

  80. Elizabeth Avatar Elizabethsays:

    Is interesting, easy to get swamped in what your doing wrong, waste a lot of time. Helps focus strategy going forward. Thank you

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Elizabeth. Well said.

  81. Sam Avatar Samsays:

    Amazing article Brian, thank you. It’s kind of depressing that you can write amazing content and nobody could possibly see it. What’s the answer though?

    For example, you said you also need to promote the content, but how do you promote content? Especially if you aren’t a social media butterfly who doesn’t want to “build an audience” or post what they had for lunch every day on social media?

    What’s the best way to promote content?

  82. Great stuff Brian! Very interesting.

    I’m really surprised that having a tonne of genuine shares doesn’t help you get new links.
    That’s weird because pure logic suggests that more people see your content , higher the chances to get a link or two.
    But now we know better.

    Thanks man:)

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Nikola, exactly: it logically makes sense for sure. But I think the difference is that only a small percentage of people that share have a website where they can link to you.

  83. Great Piece of content seriously ! I was waiting for the blog post from you Brian.

    I am feeling positive right now. Content creators on the web now will have clear focus on how to do things.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You can do it Abdul!

  84. Awesome content King Brian.
    I learned something new again. *longer headlines + longer content (lists) = higher social shares


    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      It’s a winning formula!

  85. Thanks for this brilliant research, Brian. I had been itching to read a new post from you. and you just gave me the secrets I have been looking for. Content marketing is different in 2019. Thank you for going all the way once again!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome. I agree: content marketing has changed A LOT over the last few years. It’s definitely harder to stand out now than ever before.

  86. Chirag Artani Avatar Chirag Artanisays:

    You are incredible, detailed insights and everything is amazingly shared, I believe a kid can learn this too with the help of screenshots and insights easily.

    “I have A small request please share your content weekly. Your last post is about – Feb: 05, 2019 and than 19, Feb (this one). Also share videos on YouTube, I personally like your your videos than blog posts”.


    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks. This is about as often as I can publish without sacrificing quality.

  87. After reading this…I feel there is a lot of opportunity for my B2B clients. Brian as always great stuff, even though I don’t comment I read a lot of your content.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Peter. I agree: the B2B content industry is still wide open. Especially when it comes to data-driven content.

  88. Brian, I’d love to see you throw out Pinterest data when analyzing social shares. Pinterest does have sharing, but the platform as a whole operates more like a search platform than a social one.

    It seems like Pinterest also causes a lot of noise – many of your examples have HUGE Pinterest share counts… and all of your outlier examples were only outliers because of Pinterest.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Valerie, good points there for sure. My issue with removing it is that it’s one of the most popular social networks out there.

  89. Awesome post brother. ♥️♥️
    Get lots of new things to know. Mainly the difference between blog posts that get maximum number of shares and one get linked back from other sites.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks. That was one of my big takeaways too.

  90. I’m pretty wordy. Oftentimes I cut down on my words. I like the sweet spot of 100-2000 words. Thanks!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Sounds good, Brenda. Let me know how it goes.

  91. Thanks! Such articles give me inspiration, I will study.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Andrew.

  92. Thanks Brain for another fine piece of research.

    I guess list posts are much more abbreviated and to the point, appealing to the shorter attention span of social sharing and quick fixes. Whereas a why or what post is probably a more in-depth investment of time and reading. And if you don’t invest the time, you probably won’t link as much due to less perceived concrete value. And if the thing is more shareable socially it probably has less long-term value and more of a quick shock factor. People link to longer-term, more in-depth trustable content, and people socially share shorter sound-bytes that can be quickly digested and spread with little effort. I suppose it reflects the level of commitment. If you put time and effort into absorbing a longer post you might be more inclined to also commit to linking to it. I think also solid content pieces become much more useful to other people researching, citing, looking for authoritative sources, etc and its much harder to find that stuff in the fleeting world of social media where today’s news is gone within a few days.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Paul. I wish I could print this comment out and hand it to everyone that wonders why people share and why they link. As you pointed out, they’re usually for completely different reasons. Great comment.

  93. Hi Brian
    Certain “why” posts are list posts too. Did you guys take note of the behaviour towards such posts?

    Sometimes I wonder why you don’t run ads, and I’ve never seen an affiliate link either…
    Thanks Bro, keep up the good work.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Do you mean like “7 Reasons Why X Is Actually Y” type of posts?

      1. Yea, something like that

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          I’m not sure how the BuzzSumo algorithm counts those hybrid posts. It could be as a list post or why post or both. I’ll have to look into that.

  94. This was very insightful! Thanks for the knowledge.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Cyprian!

  95. Nishant Avatar Nishantsays:

    Great Resource, thanks brian you always put up great content, will recommend to my colleagues!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Nishant, you’re welcome and thanks for sharing

  96. Great analysis. Sharing with our Brand Officer now

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Chris

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