I Analysed Inbound’s Top 200 Submissions — Here Are Some Pretty Charts…

David McSweeney
David is the owner of Top5SEO and a white hat SEO evangelist. SEO case studies make him a lot happier than they should, and he has a tendency to overuse ellipses...

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    In case you don’t know, inbound.org is a thriving online community where marketers get together to discuss the latest trends in marketing and share interesting content, tips and news from the industry.

    The site launched back in 2012 and in just 3 years has grown to over 117,000 members — with a stated target of 500,000 members by the time Inbound 2016 rolls around in November next year.


    Submissions are voted up by the community (Reddit style, although there is no downvote), with the most popular posts rising to the front page and the creme de la creme making it into Inbound’s Hall Of Fame.

    The top post of all time, an inbound original titled ‘Confessions of a Google Spammer’, has generated a tasty 192,360 views. Nice!

    So what makes for a great inbound.org submission?

    Well, I’ve been in a mood for analysing data recently so I pulled the top 200 submissions from the Hall Of Fame into a spreadsheet to find out…

    Inbound’s Hall Of Fame By Submission Type

    There are several different submission types on Inbound (e.g. Ask Me Anything, Inbound Originals, External Posts). Here is a breakdown of the top 200 posts by content type.

    Post’ refers to an external link, while the other content types are hosted on inbound.

    Submission TypeNumber
    Inbound Original32
    Inbound News10

    inbound.org - top 200 submissions by content type

    There are two ways to look at this:

    We can see that external links are easily the most popular post type individually (43%), however, on the flip side when we combine everything else, over 50% of the submissions reside on inbound itself.

    So that makes my brain hurt.

    Inbound’s Hall Of Fame By Topic

    What type of content does well on Inbound?

    Well, despite it supposedly being out of fashion, SEO dominates the top 200, with almost 1 in every 4 submissions specifically about SEO.

    Add in link building (which is SEO too right?) and it’s 28%.

    Content Marketing19
    Link Building11

    inbound.org - top 200 posts by category

    seo is dead meme

    Most Frequently Used Words In Submission Titles

    Ignoring common words (the, to, from etc) here are some of the most frequently occurring words in submission titles.

    I used this neat word frequency macro for Excel to pull the data.


    And here’s a pretty word cloud, generated from all the titles using Jason Davies’ word cloud generator.

    inbound.org - most common words in top 200 post titles

    So if you want to have a blast at writing the following post…

    Love Content Marketing? Here’s What You Need To Know About Link Building (Guide By 27 Expert SEOs & Top Tips From Matt Cutts)

    …the data says it might do well on Inbound!

    Although it may be a little long as the average title length was 9.35 words.

    Let’s call that 10 as I’m not really sure how to write 0.35 of a word.

    My brain hurts again. Anyway…

    Most Popular Websites

    There are 10 sites that have more than one link in the top 200. Here they are…

    WebsiteLinks In Top 200
    Point Blank SEO3
    Hit Reach3
    Business Casual Copywriting2
    OK Dork2
    Search Engine Land2
    Northcutt SEO2

    inbound.org - most popular websites

    So like everywhere else on the internet, Brian Dean is crushing it!

    moz, backlinko, brian dean

    Oh and nice to see some fellow Scots (Hit Reach) in there 🙂

    Is This Post About You Or Me?

    Overall, there were more submissions in the Inbound Top 200 which used ‘You/Your’ in the title than ‘I/My’.

    Note the percentages below are not based on the total — this is a direct comparison.

    is this about me or you?

    Yay altruists! Boo narcissists!

    What Can You Expect From A Top Post On Inbound?

    What sort of metrics can you expect to see if your content performs well on Inbound?

    I used Ahrefs Site Explorer to analyse the 86 submissions that were external posts and calculated the average/median number of linking root domains and social shares.

    Linking Domains9224
    FB Shares767141

    links and social shares of top 200 inbound.org submissions

    So if a post takes off on inbound you can expect a serious burst of traffic and a nice influx of links and shares (social signals, remember them?).

    By the way, bulk analysis is a piece of cake in Ahrefs.

    It took me less than a minute to analyse the 86 URLs — here’s how I did it.

    First I sorted my spreadsheet by submission type and copied all the URLs from submission type ‘post’.

    copy links

    Next I opened up Ahrefs Site Explorer, pasted the URLs into the ‘Batch Analysis’ tool and clicked on ‘Start Analysis’.

    paste into Ahrefs batch analysis

    In under a second I had a detailed report with stats on links, shares and other key metrics.

    Ahrefs batch analysis report

    I exported the report to a spreadsheet and used the AVERAGE(range) and MEDIAN(range) formulas to get the numbers I needed.

    calculating average and median

    Simple 🙂

    Nice Charts But Cut To The Chase — What Do They Mean?

    Well, to be honest…

    While there are a few takeaways (like SEO being a popular topic, 10 being a good length for titles, certain words grabbing people’s attention, and being Brian Dean) you can probably guess what’s coming.

    I actually clicked through every one of the top 200 submissions.

    Many I had seen before, but some were new to me (I particularly liked this one).

    And you know what they all had in common?

    They were all damn well awesome.

    So how do you get into Inbound’s hall of fame?


    create something awesome

    p.s. don’t hate me — it’s true.

    p.p.s feel free to leave a comment below telling me you hate me. I can take it. Nice charts though right?

    David McSweeney
    David is the owner of Top5SEO and a white hat SEO evangelist. SEO case studies make him a lot happier than they should, and he has a tendency to overuse ellipses...

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