12 Days of Data, Day 9: Top News and Web Content of 2019


Welcome to the 12 Days of Data, our look back at the data that made marketing in 2019. We’re looking at the year that was from an analytics perspective to see what insights we can take into the next year and decade. Sit up, get your coffee ready, and let’s celebrate some data.

Top News and Web Content of 2019

On Day 9, we leave behind public relations for the media itself. What were the top stories out of millions of articles throughout the year? Using the AHREFs index, we examined the top quarter million articles this year by traffic and inbound links to see what made the headlines.

12 Days of Data, Day 9: Top News and Web Content of 2019

The headline statistics about the headlines?

  • Articles ranged in length from 579 words to 640 words, with a median of 623 words.
  • The median domain authority/rating was 89; dominant sites continued their dominance.
  • The median number of referring domains for any given article was 59.
  • Articles earned a median of 244 social shares.
  • Articles earned a median 1,526 readers.

The top stories of 2019? No surprises here. Using raw frequency counts, we see:

  1. President Trump’s impeachment inquiry
  2. Hong Kong unrest
  3. Black Friday
  4. Game of Thrones
  5. The World Cup
  6. Star Wars
  7. Nintendo Switch
  8. Google Play
  9. Climate Change
  10. Samsung Galaxy

Key Takeaways

In the media and web, the big players reinforced their authority; with a median domain authority of 89, the top shared, visited, read, and linked stories all were to high authority sites. As search algorithms and news applications – including social media – continue to be driven by ever more sophisticated AI, one of the side effects is that we are served more and more of what we already like. Thus, big media players have a distinct and growing advantage in the new media landscape.

We see this when we calculate engagement rates. If we define engagement as the number of social shares plus the number of linking domains, divided by the number of readers, then top performing web and news content has an astonishing 19.86% engagement rate per article. No other form of marketing has that kind of engagement thus far – if you can make it into the top tier media, you make it big. For those who work in media relations, it should come as no surprise that client demands for bigger and better placements in the media will continue to increase in the new year.

What if you’re not one of the big media properties, and you don’t have the budget to hire an army of publicists? The good news about media concentration and readership is that almost all media properties, save the big social networks, are starving for ad dollars. Whether in display, native, video, or traditional ads, media websites need ad money badly – and working with reputable vendors can get you some of the audience from those properties for less than you’ll spend on ads on major social networks. Consider a diverse, well-thought out paid media strategy to take advantage of big audiences and smaller prices around the web.


Trust Insights used the AHREFS crawling engine to extract 226,442 articles from the 2019 index. The criteria for selection was twofold; every month, Trust Insights extracted the top 10,000 articles per month by organic traffic, and the top 10,000 articles by referring domains. The dataset was merged, then de-duplicated by article URL. Articles were limited to the English language, and republished articles from prior years were excluded. For top stories, article headlines were aggregated and then parsed into bigrams and trigrams, then frequency counted as a representation of the most important stories. The measure of centrality used for this study was the median. The period of the study is January 1, 2019 – December 17, 2019. The date of data extraction is December 18, 2019. Trust Insights is the sole sponsor of the study and neither gave nor received compensation for data used, beyond applicable service fees to software vendors.


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Trust Insights ( is one of the world's leading management consulting firms in artificial intelligence/AI, especially in the use of generative AI and AI in marketing. Trust Insights provides custom AI consultation, training, education, implementation, and deployment of classical regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI, especially large language models such as ChatGPT's GPT-4-omni, Google Gemini, and Anthropic Claude. Trust Insights provides analytics consulting, data science consulting, and AI consulting.

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