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Study: Shorter Content Gets More Backlinks


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Here’s one you might not have seen coming.

According to a new study by Fractl, you’ll get more backlinks for articles that come in just under 700 words.

Let’s take a deep dive into the study and go over its other findings.

Shorter content gets more backlinks study

The Goal of the Study

According to the folks at Fractl, the whole point of the study was to “identify qualities of content that has also managed to be deserving of links so we can reveal ways to optimize content for link building.”

To that end, the content marketing agency analyzed more than 5,000 articles.

Evergreen or Timely?

Fractl broke its articles into two sections: evergreen content and timely content.

Evergreen content is content that’s still relevant more than 30 days after publication (for example, how to change the oil in your car.).

Timely content is content that goes “stale” after 30 days (for example, the latest news about the California wildfires).

Fractl assigned an “evergreen score” to articles based on the number of social engagements and backlinks they received after a month.

The study found that the evergreen score of all articles amounted to just 5.5 out of 30.

So what does that mean? It means that you’re more likely to get backlinks with timely content.

For what it’s worth, the research also found that “how to” articles were the most evergreen types of content.

Most Shared Content

What subjects got the most shares? According to the study:

  • Sports (5,202)
  • Sex and relationships (4,610)
  • Fitness (4,687)
  • Health (3,883)
  • Technology (2,996)
  • Travel (2,928)

And here are the content types that got the most shares:

  • How-to (14,475)
  • List/video (10,251)
  • How-to article with video (8,623)
  • List/infographic (7,260)

Fractl also says that articles with fewer than 1,000 words have the highest share counts. But long-form content also receives plenty of shares.

Here’s what the agency says about word count: “When it comes to word count, this just emphasizes that it depends on the topic and why you’re creating the content; the length should correspond to the reader’s intent. Do they want a quick answer or a conceptual deep-dive?”

Study on backlinks shorter content

Study on backlinks shorter content

The Most Backlinks

So what type of content earns the most backlinks? That’s the subject of this article, after all.

According to Fractl, here are the top 5 article types that will get you links from other sites:

  • How-to articles
  • General articles
  • Listicles
  • Newsletters
  • Videos

Unsurprisingly, that looks fairly similar to the content types that will likely earn you the most social shares.

Trigger Warning

Fractl also measured the emotional reactions that various verticals generated. Here’s that list and their corresponding reactions:

  • Sports (sad reaction)
  • Sex and relationships (angry reaction)
  • Fitness (wow reaction)
  • Health (love reaction)
  • Technology (angry reaction)
  • Travel (love reaction)
  • Food and drink (sad reaction)
  • Finance (angry reaction)

Emotional response to Fractl study

Emotional response to Fractl study

So the key takeaway from that list is that plenty of people on Facebook need to get into therapy right away. Who has an angry reaction to technology? Or a sad reaction to food and drink?

By the way, the study also found that the angry reaction was the most used on Facebook.

Yeah. People need some counseling.

But keep in mind: an angry reaction will get you traffic. So if you’re in an industry where blogging about controversial subjects can help build your brand, maybe you should go for it.

Wrapping It Up

There’s little doubt that long form content performs well in the search engine results pages (SERPs). However, the Fractl study shows you might also land some quick wins with shorter content.

Take a few moments to think about how you can optimize your content strategy to develop more short form articles that will likely land you backlinks. That’s a great way to accomplish more with less.

Share this post if you enjoyed! 🙂

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