• Wirya Hassan

Content Formats: Which Ones Work Best?

Updated: Aug 16, 2019

Content Marketing

The key question in all content marketing is what every piece of content delivers to you.

Apart from the content subject, the content format also plays an important role. Do you have to write articles and how long do they have to be? Can you produce videos better? Or do you opt for infographics, PDFs or for very playful content?

Fortunately, research provides answers to many questions. In September 2015, MOZ and BuzzSumo published a study in which they analysed more than 750,000 articles . For those

who do not know these parties: Moz is one of the leading players in the field of search engine optimization in the US. BuzzSumo offers tools with which you can assess the

effect of content.

The research clearly shows what you can and cannot expect from all kinds of content. Finally, you make content with a reason. For example, you want to be found better in Google or you want other websites to refer to you. In that case you are probably focusing on realizing inbound links.

Or you want to increase your awareness and visibility. In that case you are helped when others start sharing your content, for example via social media or an e-mail.

Content formats and their effect

The research shows that content is often created with the aim that it realizes either inbound links or it is shared via social media. I put the effects of different content formats here for you in a row.

The 'list article'

A top 5, top 10 or even a top 100 is still very effective.

What does it yield: lists are shared a lot and also attract a lot of inbound links.

Recommendation: create a top or best list every now and then. If possible, pay extra attention to the title. Only indicating what the 5 best tips for a certain problem are, is

a bit boring and there are already a lot of them. Try to make your title a bit more inviting.

A how-do article

The well-known combination of a few hundred words of text with a few nice images. The purpose of the article is to show how you approach something.

What does it deliver: delivers few social shares and links.

Recommendation: Do not skip this type of article. If you optimize your content for search engines and they are part of a group of articles on a larger topic, you show that your expertise lies here and also contributes to your position in Google. You can also invest in a longer article with explanation and advice of at least 1000 words.

A 'long copy' article

Long articles of at least 1000 words are used relatively little, because it takes a lot of effort to write long articles that are of good quality. If you invest in it, then you also have something!

What does it yield: long copy articles get more links and are shared more often than articles less than 1000 words. The longer the article, the more links and the more often it is shared. Google also often values longer articles with a better position. And last but not least: long copy has more authority in the eyes of the reader.

Recommendation: Allow plenty of time and capacity for longer articles, so that you can regularly publish long copy content. If you lack the writing talent then try having it written for you if your budget allows and the situation warrants it.

Columns and other opinion articles

Properly formulating a well-founded opinion creates content that is beyond the ground level. Because of your statement not everyone agrees with you, but both supporters and

opponents will do something with your article. That is reflected in the result:

What does it deliver: both links and social shares.

Recommendation: Are you able to voice an opinion sharply and not afraid to get a rebuttal because you know what you stand for? Then this is good content to showcase expertise.

Articles with research results

You do research yourself and publish the results and conclusions. Or you collect and analyse research from third parties and come up with your vision, conclusions and recommendations. You show that you are an authority in a specific field or in an industry.

What does it deliver: this content format is a topper when it comes to links and social shares.

Recommendation: research articles are laborious to make, but form a valuable part of your total content mix. If you do not have the time yourself, outsource the writing and give

the writer a good briefing in which you provide the relevant research and a mindset.


Videos come in types and sizes. From 6 seconds of videos on Vine, 1-minute videos on Facebook to longer, informative videos on YouTube and Vimeo.

What does it yield: short entertaining video clips are mainly shared, but hardly get retained.

Recommendation: make informative videos, put a lot of time in promoting them and actively approach relevant websites that would like to link to them. Entertaining videos are very suitable to increase your brand awareness and to make your brand more sympathetic.


With an infographic you usually make a graphical representation of research or of a process. They are often touted as a good form of visual marketing, but infographics lead to very different results.

What does it deliver: on average, infographics are not shared much. In terms of links they do average to moderate to reasonable (3 to 4 links per infographic). But: there are huge outliers. Some very well designed infographics score insanely and get more than 10,000 shares on social media.

Recommendation: making a good infographic takes time and/or money when you outsource it to a professional. Remember before you start an infographic, to ensure that the subject of your infographic is special and can appeal to a specific target group. Also determine in advance whether you have time to bring the infographic to all sorts of parties so that

they can help spread it.


A quiz is usually more entertaining than informing. It is light-hearted and can give a good impression of your (company) personality.

What does it deliver: do not expect any links to your quiz, and do not expect a lot of action on social media. Quizzes are massively shared and commented on.

Recommendation: pay attention not only to the content of the quiz, but also to the design. The whole appearance is decisive for the effect on the participant and on your brand.

Keep your goal in mind when choosing a content format

Do you want links to your website and to build a clearly visible and findable online presence? Then articles with lists, research articles and long copy are worth considering.

Is your first priority realizing more awareness and brand recognition? In that case, attention and awareness on social media can help you. Be sure to put (entertaining) video, make lists of articles and perhaps a quiz or poll.

Different content marketing goals therefore require different formats. By keeping in mind what your main goal is, you can also make a choice for certain content more easily.

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