Social Winners – The PPC Articles With the Most Social Love
Pay per click advertising can be an extraordinarily important and effective part of your online marketing campaign. Small companies and large enterprises have used it to great effect, boosting their search engine presence and driving highly relevant traffic to their website.
Of course, everyone has a different strategy. Everyone has different tools, and, on top of that, everyone has an opinion on what works best.
And, since we’re marketers, that means we’re going to write about it and put it out there for the world to judge.
And what do the results of this informal-yet-inevitable judgment tell us? Who, among the massive… masses of publishers and writers is delivering the most useful, the most cutting-edge, and the most popular information?
Rather than just throw a bunch of names out there, we decided to get a little more scientific about it and find out what the community at large has chosen as the most important articles on the subject. We ran some checks, collated this, analyzed that, and came up with a list of the most socially shared content about paid search marketing.
Of course, it’s not as easy as all that. Not when there’s so much more information we can glean by delving a little further into the numbers and looking closely at what has worked and what didn’t quite get the same amount of love.
Below is a list of the top fifty socially shared articles related to PPC. A quick look will show you who rose to the top and got the most shares, but there’s a lot more information in there waiting to be discovered.
Gathering this information was something of a chore, because we started by gathering data on hundreds of related articles. Obviously, we had to really prune the list to create a usable data set. We started by removing articles that had a… suspicious amount of shares, because it is likely that their methods were more paid than organic. We also removed the articles that were less of an article and more of a sales pitch.
Beyond that, we didn’t count the “Big Guys” in our calculations. Any articles by Google, Bing, or Wikipedia were obviously going to throw off the curve, so they were also removed from the list.
So with those modifications in mind, this chart is our list of top 50 PPC articles as of June 6, 2014.
What the Data Shows
Once we really got into this list, looking closely at the numbers and the content, we started to see a number of trends and patterns appear. For example, the most common topics/themes were:
- Tips – Lists are always a reliable go-to in the content marketing world, and we saw a lot of them here. These lists ranged from as few as 3 items to as many as 50. Probably not surprising to most readers, these tips usually covered a lot of the same information.
- How-to Guides – These articles were a little more detailed and not held to a simple list structure. Again, it covered a lot of the same information. It was hard to say there was a lot of new stuff there, but it certainly included really valuable stuff.
- Current Developments – A new topic that did get coverage and social shares was the new Keyword Planner. New developments like this obviously require a lot of discussion.
- SEO vs PPC or Google vs Bing – These topics are oldies but apparently goodies. We’ve been discussing these topics for years, but, given the shares on these types of articles, it seems to be a topic worth another visit.
So what does all this mean? What does it matter if these are the types of articles that get a lot of social love?
One way or another, these four basic trends cover the information you need to know to really start becoming an expert in the PPC field.
Are you currently using all those common tips that keep coming up in so many articles? Do you have the skills that are addressed in the how-to guides? Beyond that, it’s also important to stay current with the most recent developments in the industry (Keyword Planner release) and understand your working environment (the search engines).
Let’s look a little further into these numbers and determine whether or not the most shared articles are really helping you become an expert.
And the Winners Are:
Highest Total Shares: 3,812
Most G+s: 634
Most Tweets: 2,015
PPC Marketing: 10 Killer Tips for Better ROI, by Stacey Politi
Most Facebook Engagement: 1,098
Most LinkedIn Shares: 1,440
Most Pins: 583
Landing Pages for PPC, by Oli Gardner
Who Showed Up the Most?
There were – probably unsurprisingly – a few websites that dominated the top 50. These are the sites that have become something of a hub for search-engine-related information and content. The top three sites with the most occurrences are:
- SearchEngineJournal – 17
- SearchEngineLand – 9
- SearchEngineWatch – 7
However – and this is a big however – despite the number of occurrences of these sites, only SearchEngineLand had any appearances in the top 10 most socially shared articles. (And it had two different articles there.)
So while a lot of people seem willing to share a lot of things from these sites, could it be that the sheer number of articles that are published every day on these sites that lead to a higher average of shares. Or perhaps it is because it just targets readers who are more prone to sharing information.
Besides SearchEngineLand, the only site that had more than one appearance in the overall top 10 was moz.com. Moz, for their part, only had three total articles in the top 50, but two out of those three made the top 10. Does this mean that the Moz writers know how to right more effective content, or was there something specific about their articles that were more shareable?
On the same note, there are some authors that made this list repeatedly. Three of them tied for the highest number of articles. These authors are:
These authors have shown that they have a lot of important things to say about the PPC industry, and the number of shares on their articles shows that they have had a lot of relevant things to say, and probably have some more insights to share.
Who Was Tweeted the Most?
The most tweeted article – by a long way – was PPC Marketing: 10 Killer Tips for Better ROI on Mashable. It came in a good 800 tweets higher than the next closest article. (Assuming those 800 tweets were all properly earned, then that’s pretty impressive.)
Of the top 10 articles, several websites appeared multiple times:
- Entrepreneur – 2
- SearchEngineLand – 2
- Moz – 2
No author appeared twice in the top 10, and the majority of the highly tweeted articles appeared in 2013. Nothing this year has yet to accumulate that many tweets.
So what makes an article extra-tweetable, if not the author and not the publisher’s website? Let’s look at the type of content that seemed to draw the most attention. Of the top 10:
- 6 were standard blogs
- 3 were lists
- 1 was a news article.
Despite what you’ve heard about the “ghost town” nature of Google+, the simple fact is that if Google is important to your business, then Google+ should also be a big part of your campaign strategy.
However, the strange thing here is that even though the target audience for these types of articles is usually other online marketers, we still don’t see as much activity on G+ as we do on other networks. It’s just as easy to +1 something as it is to like it, but that hasn’t done much to encourage greater usage.
Having said that, an interesting thing happens when you look at the top ten +1s. Only half of them showed up in the top 50, and only 3 of them were in the top 10 overall. 2 of the articles were from Moz and the other was the overall winner (How to Use the Keyword Planner).
What kind of content do Google Plussers seem to like the most? Of the top ten highest +1ed articles, there were:
- 2 lists
- 6 standard blogs
- 1 infographic
- 1 news article
The sources were:
- SearchEngineJournal – 3
- Moz – 3
- SearchEngineLand – 2
- New York Times – 1
- SearchEngineWatch – 1
Since it is still a relatively new platform, it has the highest percentage of recent stuff making it into the top ten – most of them being 2013.
What we see here seems to go with a lot of the behavior we see on Google+. People there are hungry for information and love using the network as a resource.
However, the way that so many of the articles that had a lot of +1s seemed to lack attention on other platforms suggests that these writers are publishers might be focusing their efforts too much on a single platform. Remember, just because you heard it’s really important to be on Google+ (say, for example, in this very article), that doesn’t mean it’s the ONLY one to focus on.
You Like Me, You Really Like Me
Facebook ‘likes’ are the easiest way for a reader to show their appreciation of a piece of content. Just click it and forget it. It’s not a follow, it’s not a comment, and it’s not going to sit in your Twitter feed until you tweet enough things to push it below the fold.
Facebook likes are often the metric that many companies use to determine their online success because, for years now, that is where all the cool kids were. This was proof that you were getting noticed, right?
Well, maybe not necessarily. And as Facebook changed its algorithm, reducing the amount of reach an average post could get organically, there’s a good chance that the attention a post got was more a reflection of the money used to boost the post rather than the actual popularity of the post.
Whether or not that’s the case, we see the same kind of spread with Facebook that we did with Google+, there is a lot of weighted focus on this network, letting the other media channels go.
What do we see in the most sharable Facebook posts? (note that this is referring only to the posts that are also in the top 50)
- 6 lists
- 2 standard blogs
- 1 news article
- 1 infographic
The spread of Facebook shares was a lot more diverse, which shouldn’t be surprising since it’s the most well-established platform. In this case, there was a fairly even distribution of articles between 2011 and 2014.
Despite the ubiquity of Facebook, though, the total number of shares and likes still tended to be much smaller than the number of tweets. So even though so many people in this industry are ready and willing to tweet something, many of these publishers are still only getting attention on Facebook.
So the question you have to ask yourself is if you fit in this category or if you are finding ways to get your content out there through every available channel.
Congratulations to the Social Winners
There is a lot of great information out there dealing with PPC strategies, tactics, and tools. What do you think? Do the number social shares really bring out the best of the lot, or does it just mean that a number of elements (writer, website, endorsement) just happened to come together to push some to the top.
Whatever it was, there are some great articles in this collection. Check them out for yourself and see what you think is worth sharing.
About the Authors
This article was a collaborative effort between Boyd Norwood, Nelson Scoville, and Andy Eliason. Of course, the argument could be made that the real writers were the authors behind those 50 articles and the thousands of people who shared them. And we agree that the logic of that argument is flawless.