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Everybody loves data. That much we know. Take the Moz top 10 for example – they always make it a point to put at least around 2 data driven entries in their top 10 list every month. It’s actually what makes the Moz top 10 so interesting – there’s always that data driven case study to chew on. This entry is a study on how data driven entries perform as powerful linkbaits.
Let’s face it. There are numerous how-to’s and tutorials out there that it’s too difficult to keep track. With one quick search, you can have the top 10 menu of how-to’s right in Google’s search engine results page. It’s unlikely that all 10 of them will fail you in what you need to achieve.
Do we need another how-to? Do we need another tutorial?
Will it get linked to?
Case Study vs How-to’s
Let’s take a look at two comparisons I did with two of Moz’s top 10 lists. One of them is a case study and the comparison is a how-to entry.
“Is Google Panda 4.0 the Topical Authority Content Update of 2014? – Uber Case Study” vs “Email List-Building From the Experts: How to Grow a Massive Email List”
“How Creating a Sense of Urgency Helped Me Increase Sales By 332%” vs “How to Scale Yourself and Get More Done Than You Thought Possible”
I took a look at their link over time chart and found it interesting to note that the case studies got at least 100% more links than the how-to entries. Now you may be arguing that these have a lot of different factors altogether such as their already established followers / readers, their other funnels of traffic, their reader types, and so on and so forth. However for this study’s purposes, let’s keep it simple: they all come from Moz top 10 and what we’re really trying to look at is how many links each entry got in the same amount of time.
Links Over Time
These data charts were taken and measured for the month of June, July and August:
Cognitive SEO’s case study got 269 backlinks in a month and plateaued a little over that.
ConversionXL’s entry got a whopping 1,567 links. The chart is mighty different as it spiked somewhere, plateaued and then maintained a slow decline. Still, you can’t beat 1,567 links in just the month of June.
While the comparison entry – Zapier’s how to scale yourself post – got only 481 links, did not plateau and then maintained a slow decline.
This is not to say that one entry was better than the other. Actually, all entries are well worth your time and attention. I especially loved Zapier’s entry but it got a lot less links than ConversionXL’s.
I think the big reason why data drive entries work so well is because people love to learn from other people’s mistakes, experiences… and data. Instead of directly reading how to do it, it’s much more interesting to see how it flew before even trying to do it.
Knowing my Traffic
I ran a Qeryz microsurvey here in SEO Hacker and got interesting responses about people’s preference of entries to check out here in our blog. Note that our readers are mostly new to advanced in the SEO world.
It’s a 3-part questionnaire and it goes like this:
Not surprisingly, majority of the people who answered our microsurvey are Professional and Freelance SEO Specialists.
And these are the types of entries they prefer to read in our blog:
Yes people still look for tutorials and how-to’s and that’s very important. These people who do look for these kinds of entries are usually beginners. People who are new to the field. There’s link value in them but not as much as those who are advanced.
People who are advanced in SEO consequently prefer to read case studies because when you know the fundamentals, then there’s that need to know the case-to-case basis problems and solutions. Case studies provides that kind of knowledge – and often times with data to back it up.
It’s interesting to note that out of all the people who voted for data-driven entries, 33.33% of them are professional SEO Specialists. And when asked why, they answered with statements like:
“Data evaluates whether your content is great, your audience is engaging or not”
“SEO comes down to data. I love numbers!”
“Case studies are the best ways to learn from other people’s experience.“
Case studies are tough. Data gathering is tough. And that’s why putting them all together to make a cohesive entry with an actionable standpoint is no less than wizardry. That’s what people prefer nowadays. Transparency, data, analysis, case studies – these things make for a powerful linkbait.
Perhaps it’s time to start making one of your own?