If you’re a business blogger, you create content. It’s what you do.
However, the specifics of your content strategy can become incredibly overwhelming when you break each blog post down piece by piece.
Do I have too many keywords in my post? Too few?
Does my headline make sense? Is it catchy?
Do I have enough links? Will anyone want to link to this?
As noted in Neil Patel’s guide on blogging, perhaps the most important factor for blogs is that companies simply find a niche and write versus obsessing over such metrics. He has a great point: blogs can’t hope to be read or rank in search engines without content to compliment them.
Yet among the many questions bloggers have to ask themselves about their content, the debate over word count and what makes the “ideal” post length is still a fierce topic of debate amongst marketers.
While some companies have strict word counts or limits in place, whether they be 300 or 1,500 words per post, others simply go with the flow and write as much or as little as they see fit. On one hand, rigid length requirements may keep our posts from rambling on; on the flip side, shorter articles may keep us from going into the depth necessary to truly satisfy our readership.
The question remains: what’s the ideal length for a blog post in terms of giving our audience what they want and ranking in the SERPs?
Most bloggers vary the lengths of their posts, which makes sense as our niches and audiences have different requirements and expectations in regard to content. Celebrity gossip articles are usually pretty short and to the point; meanwhile, a how-to article discussing the in’s and out’s of an SEO software may be over 3,000 words long.
Not all posts are created equal; some posts simply lend themselves to being longer than others.
However, all content marketers should integrate long form content (think: posts 2,000+ words) into their blogging strategy.
But why? Why publish one huge article when I could simply publish four or five smaller ones? Do my readers really care? Do search engines care?
The benefits of long-form content are difficult to ignore, especially for bloggers looking to boost their search presence and build a readership. While not all blog posts need to be more than 2,000 words (including the one you’re currently reading), you should consider the occasional in-depth, long form post for two reasons.
#1 – Superb for Search Engines
So, what exactly does longer content signal to search engines?
- Longform content gives your site additional depth: the more that you write, the more potential to insert keywords and links into your post, for example (which also builds your backlink potential to boot).
- Likewise, long form content tends to rank better for keywords; a study of over 20,000 keywords found that the average content length of the top ten spots was over 2,000 words.
- Google loves long-form content, as they explicitly tailor their search results toward in-depth articles in order to help users learn about the topics they search for.
Does this mean that you’ll automatically rank for your keywords using long form content? Of course not. However, beyond potential link juice, long form content also…
#2 Establishes Your Blog’s Authority
The more you write, the more value you create for your blog. How so?
- Longform content allows you to showcase your expertise, delving into topics which require in-depth commentary that only your blog can provide.
- Written properly, long form content makes your blog look like a resource for your audience rather than a series of ramblings (by writing how-to guides and answering the tough questions for your audience).
- Longform content stands out against low-quality, low-effort articles with little to no meaningful information.
If you already have a blog, niche and content ideas, you have the tools in your arsenal to start crafting longer pieces.
Taking the leap from shorter pieces to long form doesn’t require a total rework of your writing style and approach to research; however, consider the following as a quick “how-to” guide to writing long-form content.
How to Write Longform Content
The era of scrolling and smartphones has given today’s readership a relatively short attention span. Despite popular belief, users have no problems reading long-form content, granted that it’s formatted properly. Proper formatting of longer pieces should include…
Short Paragraphs – You aren’t in high school anymore: three sentences counts as a paragraph. Long paragraphs can quickly turn into huge chunks of text, which is a formatting no-no (especially for mobile users).
Bullet Points – Not everything has to be in paragraph form. Do your readers a favor and implement bullet points and snippets when applicable, which helps break your content up and give it a more colloquial tone.
Images – The benefits of images for blogs is well-documented and is especially important for longer pieces, as you need to hold the attention of your readers and break up your text. The more eye-popping the image, the better.
The phrase “quality over quantity” is very much applicable to long form content, as many bloggers attempt to fill up the page with empty words for the sake of length. Instead, explore topics and posts which lend themselves to longer pieces, such as…
How-to Guides – Guides and how-to posts can get incredibly in-depth, from how to design a niche blog (which is prime for examples and images) to guides on choosing a new car, you have the flexibility and freedom to not only research what your users want but also insert your own commentary.
Listicles – The popularity of sites such as Buzzfeed has heralded the rise of “listicles,” or list-style posts which, again, can get very in-depth very quickly (for example, “25 Best SEO Resources for Newbies). While such posts require some legwork on your part, they may provide huge value to your readership.
Interviews and Round-Ups – Sometimes it’s best to let someone else do the work for you. Through expert roundups and interviews, others create the content which you then curate and comment on. Whether you’re asking experts in your niche what’s the best exercise to build bigger biceps or which SEO software is best, you can get a lot of mileage and link juice from such posts.
There is no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to content length and blogging. However, long-form content should be part of your strategy to some extent if you’re looking to build more links to your site and be perceived as an authority figure by your audience.