The Anatomy of Top-Performing Articles_ Successful vs. Invisible Content

The Anatomy of Top-Performing Articles: Successful vs. Invisible Content

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‘Content is a currency.’

These words belong to Jon Wuebben, who published a book with the same title back in 2012.

Before him, we heard Bill Gates in the 1990’s say that content was ‘king’, hinting at how crucial content marketing would become in the years to come.

However, it’s not enough to just produce content.

The Internet is overflowing with content today, making much of it simply invisible (lost on the second and third pages of Google search).

The value of content should be supported by something. Content should have its own reserve assets.

What’s behind the idea of content as a currency?

Reason #1: There’s an exchange for value.

Much like with the traditional understanding of currency, exchanging content means that you will get something in return – knowledge, experience, outreach, or money.

Reason #2: Sharing economy.

Investing in content can bring you real profit, much like you’d be investing in bonds and shares.

Reason #3: You can make a purchase.

But instead of purchasing a material object, you are buying trust or authority if your content has high quality. Content creates equity, but in the form of professional expertise that your brand brings to the table.

Ultimately, content, as much as any traditional currency, is about the exchange. But in this case, you exchange knowledge and professional expertise for recognition, outreach, or expertise.

Content is also a stable currency.

While we observe the fierce competition of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, with constant fluctuations and instability that come along with this competition, the content remains the only currency, which value keeps growing consistently.

The Growing Impact of Content Marketing

You can notice the consistency of content as a currency by just taking a quick look at content marketing statistics.

Take Hubspot’s statistics, for example.

As of 2020,

  • Content marketing delivers 3x more leads than paid search advertising.
  • 72% of marketers report they have ‘good content marketing’ in place for the years to come.
  • 85% of marketers choose content marketing as ‘the most effective way to generate leads.’

Indeed, the impact of content marketing has increased over the past few years. Now, you can hardly find a B2B or a B2C business that doesn’t have a blog and several social media channels in place.

But, as we said before, it’s not enough just to produce content.

Every time you enter your inquiry in Google’s search bar, you usually get several million search results. What are you doing to stand out among the crowd?


(Disregard the paid results at the top of the page, since we’re only looking at the organic content.)

You may have noticed that only specific articles appear at the top of your search results and on the first page of your Google search.

This is the content that is well-optimized and well-planned. You may even say it’s successful.

So, what’s behind this success?

What work goes into turning content from invisible to successful?

Let’s take a brief look.

1. SEO Optimization

The holy grail of successful copywriting – SEO optimization – is what every content creator and marketing specialist must take into account to create successful content.

In SEO optimization, there are several aspects that you need to take into account if you don’t want your content to get lost within the boundlessness of the Internet.

1.1. Content Length Optimization

How long should a top-performing article be?

Last year, Backlinko studied over 900 million online articles to figure out the optimal length for SEO optimization. While you may think that short-form content is better for your article’s readability, it’s not how it works in reality.

It’s long-form content, or cornerstone content, that plays a crucial role in SEO optimization.

According to Backlinko’s research, long-form articles get 77% more links on average than short-form articles.

What’s the ideal length of a top-performing article, then?

Typically, it’s 1,000 – 2,000 words.


This is an average number of words that Backlinko identifies as a result of their research. Apart from that, long-form articles also received 56% more social shares.

Why does SEO prefer long-form content?

It was Google’s decision back in 2013 to put longer articles at the top of search results, but for a particular reason.

Value and in-depth research.

On the Google Webmasters blog, Google technical staff mentions ‘compelling in-depth content’ as one of the characteristics for which all online articles are ranked.

While Google doesn’t say directly that you should only create long-form articles to get good SEO results, they suggest that long-form articles tend to contain more ‘compelling in-depth research.’

So, should all your articles be long-form to perform best on Google?


It’s not necessary to write a 2,000-word article if the topic doesn’t require to do so. In fact, verbalism can even hurt your SEO results if there is no value behind the information you include in your article.

What should define the length of your article is the quality you want to deliver. It will ultimately determine the length of your article.

So, to sum up:

  • The length of your content is determined by how deep and detailed you want it to be.
  • Regardless of the length of your article, you should give comprehensive coverage of the topic.
  • Don’t break the link between your topic and the content of your article, i.e., there should be no deviations from the topic if they have nothing to do with it.

1.2. Content Structure Optimization

Google loves structured articles. So, a planned outline with an introduction, body, and conclusion does well for SEO optimization.

However, there are a few more structured items that you should take into account.

  • Headings

You may have seen these abbreviations, H1, H2, H3, H4, and so on, around the Internet. They stand for Headings, and they are ranked according to their relevance within the article.

Thus, Heading 1 is automatically used for the title of an article, and H2’s and H3’s are used for subheadings.

The more structure your article has, the higher the chances that your article will appear at the top of search results and that it will appear in featured snippets.

  • Bullet Points

Talking about featured snippets, keyword-optimized bullet points can help Google recognize potential answers to certain search queries. Besides, it largely improves the readability of your article.

  • Meta Description Tags

A meta description is placed in the head of the web page and works as a brief description of your article, with its primary goal to encourage Internet users to continue reading and click on the article in search engine results placements (SERP’s).


The better you structure your meta description, the more clicks you’ll get to your website because you have optimized your click-through-rate (CTR), or impressions/clicks. The goal, however, is to keep it in line with the contents of your article.

There are also several other requirements for a good meta description:

  • the optimal length for a meta description is about 150 characters with spaces
  • a proper meta description should include three-to-four main keywords but should overuse them
  • optimally, a meta description should also end with a call-to-action

Remember that a meta description should only give a hint at what the article is about and not include too many details about the topic, which may make it too bulky or too hard to consume for the reader.

1.3. Keyword Optimization

Keyword research is at the heart of SEO. Keywords serve as the foundation of SEO ranking, so the better your keyword research is, the stronger this foundation will be.

However, the demands for keyword research that existed five years ago are no longer useful. Everything changed when a new trend appeared on the horizon.

This new trend is called search/user intent.

Sure, you can come up with a list of relatively good keywords that will help rank your articles higher. Now, however, it’s not only the meaning of a keyword that counts, but it’s also the intent behind it.

Take the keyword ‘HTML’, for instance.

Why would a user enter this keyword in the search bar?

Here are some options:

  1. To get general information about what HTML is…
  2. To find online courses or tutorials that teach HTML…
  3. Or to find a service that has professionals who can work with HTML

Google also offers variations of the queries that people often enter that also contain the same keyword, as seen below:


There are four primary types of user/search intent that all play an equal part in keyword research:

  • Informational –these queries sometimes come in the form of questions (but not necessarily) and indicate that a user is looking for certain information. For instance. ‘how does a Moka pot work?’ is a good example of informational search intent.
  • Commercial investigation – these queries indicate that a user is looking for a certain product or is looking for product reviews, something like ‘nike vs. adidas’ or ‘best headphones’.
  • Navigational – here a user is looking for a certain web page, and, for a personal reason, they use Google to search for this website instead of typing in the URL. They can either type in the name of the website, for instance, ‘Ranking by SEO’, or the name of a particular page on this website ‘Ranking by SEO digital marketing’.
  • Transactional – here a user is indicating that they want to purchase a certain product and they need good resources where they can do it. Transactional search intent usually involves keywords like ‘Where do I find the best hiking shores?’.

These user intent modifiers play an important role in semantic search – the process that helps you identify a set of keywords according to user/search intent.

Semantic keyword search usually involves the following steps:

Step #1: Identifying General Topics Related to Your Article

It is easier to do a semantic keyword search if you use a top-down (deductive) approach.

Thus, the first step would be identifying the list of general topics that relate to your article.

So, for instance, you’re writing an article about the basics of SEO. This, of course, will be your main topic.

However, you may find that there are other topics that are related to SEO. Some of these other SEO related topics include:

  • Data Analytics
  • Marketing Analytics
  • Lead Generation

Or, you can also group your topics by industry:

You can create a general list of topics and then work on eliminating the topics that are too distant for your audience.

Step #2: Work On the Keywords for Each Topic

Now that you have several keyword buckets, you can fill them with keywords. Here, you can employ the user intent modifiers that we mentioned above.

Let’s take the topic ‘data analytics’ from our list above.

What will our keywords be?

Based on user intent, you can use the following keywords related to this topic:

  • Informational: ‘how to improve SEO with data analytics’, ‘using data analytics to measure SEO’
  • Navigational: ‘Ranking by SEO data analytics’, ‘Ranking by SEO measure data analytics’
  • Transactional: ‘do data analytics for SEO’, ‘measure data analytics for SEO’

Some user intent modifiers may not fit the topic. For instance, a commercial investigation modifier may not fit because the article doesn’t review anything.

As a result, all topic buckets should be filled with a variety of keywords that serve different purposes, but don’t lose the connection with the topic and the contents of the article.

Step #3: Add LSI Keywords

Latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords are keywords that people use when searching for a specific topic. Respectively, LSI is the system that a search engine uses to identify these keywords.

LSI keywords have a high degree of correlation with a topic but may not directly hint at it.

For instance, let’s take ‘brewing coffee’ as our topic and search for LSI keywords:


Here’s an important thing to remember.

Diana Adjadj, a content specialist at TopEssayWriting, says: “LSI keywords are often confused with synonyms. While LSI keywords complement the topic, they are not synonyms. They merely give a broader explanation to the topic.”

So, when creating a list of LSI keywords for the ‘brewing coffee’ topic, ‘making coffee’ will not be an LSI keyword but rather a synonym to our topic. LSI keywords may describe the process of brewing coffee, such as ‘temperature’, ‘coffee filter’, etc.

2. Text Value of Successful Content

What content ranks best on Google?

We’ve talked about SEO, which is a technical side of search engine ranking.

But what about the text value?

The following content types spark a debate about their performance in terms of search engine ranking.

2.1. Evergreen vs. Seasonal Content

The first case is evergreen vs. seasonal (topical) content.

Let’s take a quick look at each of these content types.

Evergreen content is content that covers main topics related to your website/blog and is not tied to any news or events. You may even say that it cannot expire.

Here are some examples of evergreen content:


Seasonal content is content that is tied to specific events or news and isn’t relevant all the time. This content, however, can be categorized into quick-to-expire content that deals with a certain once-in-the-lifetime event, and recurring seasonal content that, for instance, is dedicated to a certain holiday.

Here are a few examples:


So, which one is better for SEO?

You might think that that evergreen is more beneficial, but you’d be wrong.

Evergreen content can expire too.

For instance, if you wrote an SEO guide two years ago, it still can expire because search engines introduce more and more new features, new trends emerge, and content becomes outdated. In other words, nothing stands still and everything rapidly evolves, and you have to keep up.

So, what’s the verdict on the type of content to produce?

Take a hybrid approach.

Both types have obvious advantages. While evergreen content is less demanding, seasonal has less competition and shows that you are present and want to be relevant to your audience.

What always remains true, however, is the necessity to keep your content clean, regardless of whether it’s evergreen or seasonal. Careful editing and proofreading with tools like GrabMyEssay,  Hemingway App or TrustMyPaper is a must to produce competitive SEO-friendly content.

Clean and mistake-free content is also an essential prerequisite for high SEO ranking.

2.2. Repurposed Content

We already mentioned that evergreen content should also be updated from time to time to keep it relevant. This means that you can take your two-year-old article and reuse it by adding new, more relevant information to it.