Nice work Laura! This is going to be a great series. I'm working my way through SEOmoz's Advanced SEO Training Series (videos) Vol. 1 & 2 to build upon the advice and guidance that you and your team provided to me during my time at Yahoo!. Now many others will benefit from your knowledge, experience and passion for SEO strategy and tactics. Best wishes for great success in your new role.
As I had a teacher at school who was always really picky on how to draw conclusions I must say that the conclusions you drew for your health situation might be true, but dangerous. For example: If slightly more women than men suffer from health deseases it could be wise to write the information toward women. But, if you take search behaviour into account thing could look a lot different: It might turn up that men search more than women or that (senior) men are more present on the net than women.
Brian. You talk about how all these variables matter in getting this article to rank #1 for “list building” and how competitors have way more links than you, but then you also consider your DA and your PA together, you have almost the highest score out of the top 10 rankings; and when you consider you are more topical authority, then that explains why Hugpages (all purpose site) is not ranking higher. Maybe its not all as complicated as you suggest.
Let’s look at another example. Maybe you wrote an long-form guide all about Instagram Marketing called “Top Instagram Marketing Strategies.” You’re mainly targeting the search phrase: “Instagram Marketing Strategy”. Even just a couple of years ago this content would likely rank highly for a vast spread of related queries - now, not so much. Instead of trying to rank for everything with one large guide, you could break out parts of it into smaller, individual blog posts to help rank for more granular queries that come with differing intent. 
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