Study: Anatomy of a Successful Article – SEO & Engine News | The USA Print

What does a blog post that performs in organic results look like in 2023? This is the question that Semrush asked itself. In a generous content, the authors of the study offer us a real lesson in anatomy applied to the specific case of a blog article. Type of article, structure, integrated elements, frequency of publication… Discover the common points shared by successful content!

The 4 points to remember

  • To promote the success of an article, it must be well structured, with the right Hn, add lists and ensure its readability
  • Adding visual content, including images, is strongly recommended.
  • Fresh or regularly updated content tends to rank better
  • The length of an article is important, but its relevance and completeness are even more so.

About the methodology used

To carry out this study, Semrush relied on 500,000 articles having achieved between 30,000 and 500,000 monthly viewss via organic results (search engines, Facebook engagement and backlinks), from January to September 2022. Articles were classified into three categories: high performing (20%), medium performing (60%) and low performing articles (20%).

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To determine whether certain common characteristics impacted content performance, the study focused on comparing the following:

  • Types of titles
  • The length of the H1
  • The depth of the Hn beacons (H2, H3 and H4)
  • List presence
  • The presence of image
  • The presence of video
  • The publication date
  • And the frequency of publication

Item Types

Regarding the most effective type of articles, Semrush noticed that the contents whose title contains “everything you need to know…” and the comparisons are the ones which generate most organic monthly views. For their part, articles whose title contains “Mistakes to avoid” and guides are most shared content. “How to…” articles (how to) and comparatives are those that attract the most backlinks.

Particularly interesting detail: articles of the type “everything you need to know…” are as popular as they are rare since they represent barely 0.4% of content crossed during the study.

Structure and length of articles

The study authors found a significant correlation between the depth of titles (Hn) of articles and their performance. In particular, they noticed that most articles only have H2s and that 28% of the best performing articles have both H2s and H3s. In addition, 29% of the articles in this same group also have H4s.

On the other hand, 35% of the worst performing articles have only H1s and 27% suffer from a structuring problem (H3s, but no H2s, for example).

Another thing to remember : The authors noticed that the presence of lists, especially 4 or more lists on a set of 500 words, tended to generate more organic traffic, more shares and more backlinks. It should be noted, however, that 68% of the articles do not include any list and that only 1% of the content analyzed offers 4 or more lists.

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Performance of articles according to the number of lists – Source: Semrush

Finally, the articles that rank best in organic results tend to be long, although Semrush doesn’t really give us an idea of ​​the average word count for each category. Maeva Conley, author of this article which summarizes the study, also reminds us that the length of a text is not a factor officially taken into account by Google, unlike completeness.

Readability level

The study also looked into the question of the readability of the articles. To assess the degree of readability of each content, Semrush used its in-house formula. Without surprise, hard-to-read articles tend to consistently underperform, regardless of the amount of information they contain. However, this is a point that needs to be qualified a little. Indeed, if we refer to the data collected by the authors, we note all the same that 30% of the content that performs best is considered to be ” quite difficult to read “.

Visual content (images, videos)

The presence of visual content pays off, and not just a little! Indeed, Semrush noticed that the more textual content is accompanied by images, the more it tends to generate organic traffic. Moreover, articles that include 7 or more images get the most backlinks (555% higher compared to an article without an image). In general, the presence of at least 2 or 3 images promotes organic traffic, backlinks and shares on social networks.

Moreover, an article with at least one video generates 70% more organic traffic than an article devoid of video content. However, only 8% of the articles analyzed include content of this type…

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Posting habits

In terms of publication frequency, it appears that publishing one post per day offers the best chance of maximizing performance, provided of course to be constant and to offer quality content. Note that the frequency generally recommended, 2 to 4 times a week, is ultimately not the most effective according to Semrush.

The study also highlights the impact of the age of articles on their performance. According to the data collected, it would seem that content that is fresh, less than a year old, or frequently updated tends to perform better. There are also more articles older than 12 months or more among the worst performing content.

Data, studies, infographics…

In addition, the Semrush team wanted to check whether including data, research, studies, infographics and graphics could have an impact on the positioning of an article. This is indeed the case, although it depends on the type of information involved. Indeed, if the articles which have average performances are those which present rather data and infographics, the best performing articles tend to contain research, studies and graphics.

Impact of data, research, studies, infographics and graphs – Source: Semrush

If you want to know more about this very strategic subject, we obviously encourage you to consult the Semrush article which goes into more detail and offers you some additional advice which should help you optimize your future articles to promote their positioning !

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