This past weekend, I led a workshop on blogging at ETTWomen’s The Power of Connections, 2017 Conference. A main concern during our pow-wow was about the length of a blog post, “Vanessa, do I really have to write these long-ass posts? I mean that’s BORING!”
My answer: Agreed. From experience I know that shorter is better for social shares, longer posts are better for engagement. However, it always depends on your audience.
Some research I found backs up my theory. I’ve summarized the most compelling data below:
The burning questions:
- What works best?
- How long should your post be?
- And what should you keep in mind while creating content?
Why your content should be short:
If you’re going to build a content strategy that uses short posts to attract attention to your site, you need to do everything that makes short content successful online.
Keep it BRIEF.
Sites that do short content well have 5 things in common. To succeed with your own short content, make sure that it includes the following:
- B—Big Fan Base. Organizations with successful short content already have a massive audience. Posting quality content to a massive audience will naturally result in lots of shares. If you don’t have that many fans, there’s never been a better time than now to start posting great content regularly and building your list.
- R—Remarkable Content. Each of these sites shares content that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s information that awes and inspires. Short posts (especially those under 300 words) face an uphill battle when it comes to SEO. So, if your short content isn’t worth talking about, it will get lost.
- I—Images that are Eye-Catching and Compelling. You’re competing with a billion other web pages. Without a great picture, your short content doesn’t stand a chance.
- E—Every Day (Or Close to It). Successful short content is posted consistently. Followers and fans expect it and look forward to it. Posting every day has the advantage of maximizing the opportunities for followers to see new content every time they go online.
- F— Focused on a Single Idea. Each post is about one thing and that one thing only. It’s s single idea that readers will think is worth sharing. Focus is critical for short content.
Getting noticed with short copy is difficult. If your content doesn’t have these five characteristics, it will struggle to find an audience and earn shares or links. Short content has a short shelf life. Which means your audience may talk about it today but tomorrow, they will need new BRIEF content or they’ll disengage.
Why your content should be long:
You used to be able to post a short, 500-word article about something and your content stood a chance of appearing near the top of the search results. But then came Google’s Panda update and it took aim at “thin” content.
Suddenly SEO experts were telling clients not just to create better and longer content, but also to remove all content less than 300 words from their sites.
An easy way to improve your thin content is to make it longer, but should you?
- Long content keeps interested readers on your site longer.
- When done well, long content it helps communicate that you are an expert on the subject.
- Long content gives you an opportunity to shape the world and educate.
Long content is more difficult to write and ideas that can be easily expressed in a few hundred words suddenly become bland when stretched to 2K or more words. It’s literally like turning a short story into a movie.
Use your WORDS
If long content is so great, why isn’t there more of it? It takes a real strategy for long content to do well.
If you are ready to create long content for your site, then make sure to use your WORDS. Here’s how:
- W—Well Researched. If you’re going to write a long post, include plenty of examples, case studies, and other information that will interest your readers. Great long content should be based on more than one or two sources. Do your research before you sit down to write.
- O—Outstanding Content. Whatever content you produce, it won’t stand a chance compared to millions of other sites unless it’s truly fabulous. If your content triggers an emotional response like anger, awe, or anxiety, guess what? You’re golden! This kind of writing is more likely to earn shares and links from your readers.
- R—Regularly Posted. You don’t need to post long content every single day. Or even several times a week. But you do need to post on a regular basis. The more you post, the more likely you are to succeed.
- D—Designed to Encourage Reading. Long content without paragraph interaction won’t get read or shared. Many readers scan your content looking for the part that answers their questions. Make sure you’ve laid out scannable content.
- S—Substantive. What you write about needs to be big enough to fill 2K words without it turning repetitive or boring. That doesn’t mean you can only write about complicated subjects. It means you have to do your research.
So what’s the scoop? Long or short?
If you get the majority of your site visitors from organic search, you’ll want to write long content that gets ranked by the search engines.
Fact: 60% of all organic clicks go to the top three organic results. 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results.
If you’ve garnered an audience that engages with you in social channels and your content is so amazing that it practically makes itself go viral, short content may be enough to get your prospects interacting with your brand.
Don’t know what works for you? Test.
Publish 12-15 compelling short articles on your site. Add another 12-15 researched long articles (like cornerstone content or skyscraper posts:
- Cornerstone content: When trying to rank well for the one or two topics that your entire site is built around, creating flagship content is your best bet. Whether it’s a tutorial about search engine optimization basics, blogging for beginners, or copywriting, a frequently asked questions page, or an inspirational mission statement, this content serves a vital function in creating a relevant, compelling, and useful cornerstone to build a site around. A cornerstone is something that is basic, essential, indispensable, and the chief foundation upon which something is constructed or developed. It’s what people need to know to make use of your website and do business with you.
- Skyscraper posts: It consists of three steps.
- Find top performing content.
- Create better content than the current top performers.
- Try to get a bunch on people to link to your new content.
Once you’ve done this, analyze which posts perform better. Which posts get the most traffic? Which posts get comments or shares? Which posts keeps readers on your site? Which posts drive conversions?
The biggest takeaway here is this: Ultimately, your audience will determine the kind of content you create.
Want to learn more? I’m hosting a live and virtual Blogging Workshop after the holidays. If you’d like to receive complete details, please click here.