Cutting Through the Clutter: Why Data-Driven Content Always Wins

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Blogs are noise. At least, the majority of them are. The top 10-percent of websites have at least two things in common that aren’t shared by (most of) the other 90-percent.

  1. They’re producing great content
  2. They’re marketing their content to reach a wider audience

Looks simple, right?

The second part is teachable, while the first part is 50-percent natural talent and 50-percent desire to perfect your craft. While a bad writer probably isn’t going to become “great” – even with practice – they can certainly become serviceable, and that alone would lead to better content on the web as a whole.

So what makes great content

Well, writing ability helps, but data is what helps a blog post cut through the noise and really shine. The problem with blogging in spaces that demand quantitative research is that the content that comes out of the same space is extremely subjective.  Data drives home points and makes the same statement appear instantly more believable.

Search Engine Journal does a great job of integrating numbers, charts, statistics, and real-world proof into their posts. This simple act makes anything they say decidedly more authoritative on the subject of SEO than your average blogger.  Need proof that data wins? Let’s look at some samples from right here at SEJ.

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For the sake of argument, we’re going to consider a post “data-driven” if it contains two or more statistics, charts, real world examples or any combination of the variables.

A quick dig through the Search Engine Journal archives reveals that approximately 65-percent of the posts that appear within the “most popular posts of the month” posts are data-driven in nature, and contain stats, graphs and data to back up the points mentioned within the text.

Here’s another example. Have a quick look at frequent contributor Neil Patel’s blog, Quick Sprout. I made it to page six on Neil’s site before finding a post that was only semi-data-driven.

We’re not talking blogging newbies here. These are two wildly successful websites that have thousands of readers daily. Maybe they’re on to something.

Want to make your blog revolve around hard data and facts rather than qualitative subject matter? Here’s what we can learn from the examples above.


Stats are key. If you have a point to make, make it with numbers. No more using subjective wording, such as: “a huge spike in traffic” or “a big ratings drop.” Use numbers. A “50-percent traffic increase” is instantly more authoritative than using one of the phrases above. This is what separates the good writers from the mediocre ones. Google is your friend. Use it to find stats to drive home your point and quit making points that can’t be proven or dis-proven.

Graphs & Images

Stats are great, but society is becoming increasingly visual. Rather than bashing your readers over the head with numbers in a post that requires the use of multiple statistics on the same subject, turn to visual aides like graphs, charts or images. Stats are great; when used in moderation, but if you simply must use them repeatedly, consider using them visually. It breaks up huge walls of text, and gives scanners a reason to stop and take a look. There’s a reason infographics are so popular, and this is it. There’s no better way to display data, and keep it not only understandable, but engaging, than displaying the data visually.

Source Material

Rather than rattling off numbers, or figures of unknown origin, back up the data with a source. Instead of saying “by 2014, mobile will be responsible for more web traffic than desktops and laptops” add in the source to make it, “according to ComScore, by 2014…” This is instantly more credible as we have a solid source to back up the numbers you’re using. Remember, 85-percent of all statistics are made up… even this one.

Real World Examples & Case Studies

If you have the ability to use numbers from client campaigns – or your own – do it. People aren’t interested in you telling them “x” is going to help drive engagement, build traffic or increase their SERPs. Generate interest by proving past results using the methods that you’re touting. Once you prove a concept, it’s real.

Here’s the bottom line. If you work in a field that relies on analytics, you’re already familiar with the power of data. Would you tell a client that your methods will result in “huge” traffic increases? Of course you wouldn’t  They’d shake your hand and tell you they’ll be in touch. Why would you think that these same practices would work on your blog?

Working data into a blog post not only makes you more authoritative, but it gives the post some substance, something most blog posts severely lack.

Chris Warden

Chris Warden

Chris Warden is a seasoned entrepreneur and CEO. Starting his entrepreneurial career at age 19, he has performed in numerous capacities owning and managing both offline and online companies. Chris now serves as CEO of Spread Effect, a leading content marketing and publishing company. He is a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) and often writes on topics of content marketing, SEO, and business development.
Chris Warden
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  • Shane Kretzmann

    I completely agree with you. Anytime you can incorporate hard data in an easy to understand way, people will sit up and take notice. It makes a blog more interesting and because it’s data driven content the reader can get past the notion the author is slanted one way or another on a subject.

  • Himanshu

    Great post !

    Data driven content always win because people are looking for statistics. I have seen people are more likely to read those post which contains valuable data/information, that is why Info-graphics are super successful.

  • Alvin Brown

    Excellent post! 🙂 I’m not sure that most are looking for statistics as much as they are looking for an appropriate definition and benchmark to base their own likelihood of achieving the same, if not more, level of success. You are definitely correct in terms of using data-driven posts. Personally, I love being able to read data driven posts and compare the numbers with on my numbers.

  • Ryan Bailey

    It’s a lot easier on the eye too than posting a whole block of text. Readers confronted with nothing but words on a page are less likely to bother reading such articles than those that are split into sections. Add sub headings (as you have above), include relevant images with data derived graphs the icing on the cake. Evidence would seem to show that Google is favoring that type of quality content over the traditional “6 paragraph 400 word” article. And that’s a good thing.

  • Evelyn M

    On the other hand a blog that is heavy on the g raphs and light on the commentary is an eye glazing experience. I have skimmed over numerous blogs that are graph after graph after graph without much else, but I “read” the blogs with interesting view points that might include one or two graphs. My feeling is that statistics are so easily manipulated to read any which way you want that on their own they are meaningless. Anotherwords a graph without any proper back up information is meaningless.

    • RobertB

      Yep, absolutely. You have to get the text/graphic balance right. A blog post with graph after graph with no comment, no explanation, not an even an opinion or interpretation is just as bad as a post that is nothing but text. Pretty charts or pictures by themselves are worthless.

  • Alvin Brown

    Evelyn… so TRUE: “…Anotherwords a graph without any proper back up information is meaningless.” 🙂

  • keyword removed

    Nice article…it seems so simple to use data to make your pages more authoritative but interesting that some do it so much better than others.