Shorter Blog Posts: Smart Move or Huge Content Marketing Mistake?
This debate has been raging for quite a while now. To be honest, there’s no right or wrong answer here. It really depends on your marketing goals.
Still, it most certainly helps to know what works well and when as content marketing and blogging is an integral part of any digital marketing strategy.
For starters, it’s often remarked that long-form content yields better results in terms of search engine rankings, backlinks, social shares, and conversion rates. When in doubt, turn to data.
Long-Form Content: What the Research Says
According to a study by Backlinko (in association with BuzzSumo), long-form content indeed performs far better in terms of the aforementioned factors. Here’s a rundown of their key findings:
- Long-form content gets an average of 77.2 percent more links than short articles. Therefore, long-form content appears to be ideal for backlink acquisition.
- Long-form content of over 1,000 words consistently received more shares and links than shorter content. Specifically, articles between 1000-2000 words get an average of 56.1 percent more social shares than content that’s less than 1000 words.
- The average Google first page result contains 1,890 words.
Furthermore, HubSpot analyzed over 6,000 of their own blog posts and found that content with 2,250-2,500 words earned the most organic search traffic, and content over 2,500 words earned the most backlinks.
Thus, you can now believe it’s true what they say about long-form content. It garners more backlinks, social shares, and rankings -- all the good stuff you want from your content marketing efforts.
Benefits of Writing Long-Form Content
And there’s more. Long-form content boasts the following big benefits over short-form content:
- Establishes authority: If you write an in-depth article covering everything there is to know about the subject, then you’ve done a great job in setting yourself apart from the competition. Your website is now the go-to resource for the topic and your authority and credibility in the niche increases.
- Optimizes for featured snippets: Another benefit of longer blog posts is that you can incorporate (and rank for) various long-tail keywords. Structure your lengthy text well and you have an excellent chance of bagging the coveted position zero in Google SERP.
- Increases conversion rate: Long-form content can also boost conversion rates. For instance, Crazy Egg witnessed an increase in conversion rate by over 30% for their home page with the use of long-form content.
So Short Blog Posts are Just a Huge Mistake Then?
Well, no. Despite all the concrete numbers hailing long-form content, there is much to say in favor of short blog posts as well. Here’s how short-form content fights back:
- Short-form content is more mobile-friendly. People are less likely to read long posts on mobile as the usual tendency is to scroll around and consume more variety of "snackable" content.
- It takes less time, effort, and resources to create shorter blog posts. And when done well, it can be just as effective in achieving your short-term marketing goals.
- The saved time, effort, and resources can be used as an opportunity to create various formats of the same content. So, you can transform the post into a short video for YouTube and LinkedIn, and as a short infographic for Instagram and Facebook. Offering more formats means you have a better chance to connect and engage with different audiences.
- Depending on the topic, people might actually prefer short-form content over in-depth, fluffy articles. For instance, short and sweet articles are ideal for niches such as news, fashion, and entertainment.
- "Humans have shorter attention spans than goldfish," says a 2015 study by Microsoft. Is it a myth? Maybe. But you can surely appreciate the message behind it and know that the rising popularity of mobile devices (smartphones and tablets), instant-messaging apps, and social media is most likely the cause of dwindling attention spans. And so, short-form content makes more sense for this rather distracted generation.
- Your audience will instantly love you if your short piece promptly answers their most pressing question(s).
So one thing’s for certain, short-form content has its own rightful place in your content marketing strategy.
How to Decide on the Length of Your Blog Post?
As mentioned at the very beginning, there is no black-and-white answer to this question. Your best bet is to create the right blend of long and short-form content depending on your long-term marketing goals and a couple of factors listed below.
Topic and Purpose of the Post
If your post is a piece of news, you can easily wrap it up in 500-700 words or less. Don’t inflate your content just for the sake of hitting a target word count. Adding fluff will make it less engaging and boring to read.
Simply put, your post should be long enough to properly get the message across, and not a word longer.
Likewise, if you’re writing a "How-to" post, then your aim should be to cover the topic as thoroughly as possible. Make it jam-packed with actionable information, statistics, use cases, and examples. Let your word count reach new heights provided you know you’re adding value and solving your reader’s problems.
Relevancy is key. So, take the time to understand your target audience.
Ultimately, your blog post is meant to answer a user’s search query, isn’t it? So, who’s that user? What are his/her intentions with the search query? What are his/her expectations from your content after clicking through to your title and meta description?
If you haven’t already, integrate Google Analytics with your website to get a clear picture of your audience’s demographics: age, gender, and interests.
Once you know your target audience, write according to their needs and preferences. Don’t worry about the word count.
Closing Tips for Writing a Quality Blog Post
Now, regardless of whether it’s a 500-word op-ed or a 5000-word "ultimate" guide, here’s what the seemingly subjective phrase "high-quality content" really comprises:
- Structure: Use heading (H1) for title and subheadings (H2, H3, H4). It makes your content more scannable for readers and easier to crawl (and understand) for search engine bots.
- Credibility: If your piece is riddled with grammatical mistakes, your audience might find it difficult to trust your advice. Also, if you’re including research and statistics, cite the original source (make sure it’s trustworthy) with external links.
- Visuals: Add images and embed videos to make your content more engaging and enhance readability. Huge slabs of text will scare away most visitors.
- Comprehensiveness: The word itself is so lengthy. Kidding aside, try to answer all questions (what, why, when, where, how) a user might have, so they don’t feel the need to refer another resource. This usually translates to a lengthy post and grants you all the benefits that come with it.
Rest assured, short blog posts aren’t a huge content marketing mistake if they’re informative, engaging, search engine optimized, and above all, truly add value to your audience’s lives.