Backlinks vs social shares: How to make your content rank for different SEO metrics

Backlinks vs social shares How to make your content rank for different SEO metrics

A new study by Kaizen has revealed that content that performs well for backlinks does not necessarily perform well for social shares and vice versa.

Analyzing over 2300 pieces of finance content, Kaizen has found the best performing pieces of content for URL rating, the number of referring domains, and the number of social shares. Nine out of the top 10 pieces of content with the highest URL ratings also featured in the top 10 pieces of content for the most referring domains.

Stats on top content by referring domains and URL ratings

This shows a clear correlation between the two. The higher the quantity of referring domains, the higher the quality of URL rating.

The best-performing piece of content for both URL rating and the number of referring domains was the Corruptions Perceptions Index 2017, by Transparency International. The campaign highlighted the countries that are or are not making progress in ending corruption, finding that the majority of countries were making little or no progress.

Screenshot example of Corruptions Perceptions Index - country wise

Screenshot of Corruptions Perceptions Index scale

But what made this campaign succeed so well in SEO terms?

1. It has global appeal

By placing emphasis on visual components of content, the campaign is easily understandable without language and is based on data from across the world, making it globally link-worthy.

2. It is emotional content

The piece evokes an emotional response from the element of corruption and the fact that the majority of countries in the world are making little or no progress in ending corruption.

3. It is evergreen content

Evergreen content” is content that is not tied to a specific date or time of the year and can be outreached (and can gain links) at any time. In addition, Transparency International is able to update the data each year, creating a new story for outreach and increasing its chances of landing links.

By combining these typical elements of viral content, the Corruption Index earned 6372 referring domains, and a URL rating of 84, making it the most successful piece of finance content in the study. Use these three aspects as a checklist for your own content, and it should emulate great results.

Social shares

The Corruption Perception Index also ranked in the top 10 pieces of content for social shares, with a grand total of nearly 48,000. However, it is only one of two pieces to rank in the top 10 for URL ratings or referring domains and social shares. There is much less correlation between social share success and backlink success, showing that they are not directly or significantly linked.

The most successful piece of content for social shares was this car insurance calculator by Confused.com, with 91,000 total social shares. This piece of content, as well as the majority of the top 10, is B2C-focused. In comparison, the URL rating and referring domains lists are more technical and B2B-focused.

Therefore, B2B content performs better for SEO strategies focused on backlinks, whereas B2C tools and guides suitable for customers rather than businesses perform better for social shares.

The Corruption Perception Index is an exception, performing well for both backlinks and social shares. However, by focusing on analytical data from experts and business people, and by providing relevant data for both businesses and customers, it has equal value for both B2B and B2C audiences.

In conclusion

Don’t expect the same piece of content to perform well for both backlinks and social shares. But, if you are able to create content that provides equal value for both B2B and B2C communities, you will have the opportunity for multiple outreach strategies, with resounding value throughout the industry.

Nathan Abbott is Content Manager at Kaizen.

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