January 17, 2018
One of your New Year’s resolutions might involve buckling down on your content creation.
You might have pledged to direct more resources toward your content (time, money, etc.) to make it better, because you know better content wins.
Turns out, one BIG way to make it better is to make it longer.
Write more words.
Not 1,000. Not 1,250. I’m talking 1,500 – 2,000 words… and beyond.
Let me show you why.
The Power of Long-Form Blogging: What Do the Stats Say?
Of course, there are excellent reasons for this.
Long-form blogs have been shown to consistently get more social shares and attention than middle-of-the-road blogs (the ones hovering between long and short).
BuzzSumo famously analyzed 100 million articles online to figure out what factors help an article go viral.
One of those factors: length.
The longer the article, the more shares it got:
Articles from 3,000-10,000 words in length got an average of 8,859 shares. That’s nearly twice as many as articles under 1k words.
Here’s some more good data that proves long-form content gets results:
Crazy Egg did an A/B split-test on their homepage. One version of the page was short and sweet. The other was about 20x longer. Which one got more conversions?
Here’s the difference in length, for scope:
Yes – the long-as-heck page did better. It outperformed the short page by 30%.
Of course, there’s even more research out there about this topic.
HubSpot did a study on over 6,000 of their own blogs. They looked at the correlation between things like views, word count, number of shares, the title length, and more.
Turns out, the posts with the longest word counts got the most shares:
In addition, the posts with the longest word counts also had the most backlinks.
As HubSpot notes in its analysis, these are strong correlations and great arguments for longer content.
But, if you need more convincing, here are extra reasons why you should go long.
Why Long-Form Blogging? 4 More Convincing Reasons to Go Long
1. Long-Form Content Can Be Repurposed Endlessly
Long-form content that’s evergreen (i.e. it has no expiration date – the information is valuable for the long-haul) is worth its weight in gold.
This is content that can be reused and repurposed in a million different ways.
Why? The information is always relevant. It always matters. The points are timeless.
Here’s a great example of this type of content from Buffer: The Complete List of Evergreen Content Ideas for Your Blog.
The information is useful now, and it will be useful in a year. There’s nothing in the post that dates it.
You can reuse long-form content like this in so many ways. The points it includes could easily be translated into:
- An infographic
- A slide deck
- An email newsletter
- A podcast
So, don’t think of long-form content as silos. Consider the mini pieces of content you can pull from them and share in different ways.
2. Google Loves Longer Posts
Google’s algorithm favors longer posts, according to Search Engine Land. Why?
- Longer posts tend to be more in-depth and comprehensive than shorter posts. This means they tend to have the answers that people are searching for when they ask Google a question, along with discussion and explanation of a subject the user is already curious about.
- Google looks at a ton of stuff to determine the relevancy and quality of your post for a specific keyword (or keywords). Case in point: It also notes how long people stay on your page before bouncing. Well-crafted long-form content keeps visitors on your page longer, which contributes to its relevancy ranking.
In short, for a better chance of getting ranked well, go longer – it certainly can’t hurt.
3. People Are Looking for Learning Opportunities
Lots of people turn to Google for quick answers.
“How do I get to Starbucks?” and “How many tablespoons are in a quarter-cup?” are common enough.
…And, let’s be honest, queries like this:
However, plenty of people are also on the web researching (and not goofing off).
They’re looking to learn.
They don’t want to read 300 words about one facet of a topic. They want a whole overview of that topic, including extra resources to check out, tips and tricks, or additional viewpoints.
Long-form blogs are what those people want. They want exhaustive, comprehensive, thorough, trustworthy, factual, well-researched information.
People don’t use the internet in one way. It’s used in a plethora of ways for all types of purposes. As such, you must consider how your particular audience is searching, and what they want to find, when you’re constructing your content for them.
It’s a call-and-answer relationship. Make sure you’re answering the right way.
If they need longer content, you need to deliver to get results.
4. There’s Less Competition
Here’s a universal truth (one Jane Austen may have agreed with): Writing longer content is harder.
It takes more time, of course. But it also takes much, much more effort.
The result is that fewer people even attempt it. However, that leaves a big, gaping hole.
According to research from BuzzSumo and Moz, who analyzed 1 million articles, about 85% of published content is less than 1,000 words long.
Yes, that’s a gap you can fill.
The Number One Reason NOT to Write Longer Blogs
Before you barrel down on your typing speed and cram in as many words as possible into your next blog post, stop.
This is not what we mean.
The correlation between longer blog posts and higher engagement isn’t just because of the word count.
Think about it: What do longer blog posts have in common, besides length?
I have a few ideas:
- More research
- More in-depth writing and discussion of a topic
- Writing that covers various sides of a story, including different schools of thought or opposing viewpoints
All of these actions that make a post high-quality also naturally make it longer.
So, no – stuffing in some extra paragraphs that you didn’t research will not help your post. Just because it’s longer doesn’t mean it’s better. (This Copyhackers article even argues that both short and long content can be successful.)
Here’s a smarter idea:
Make your posts better. Devote more time to writing, researching, and editing. Your content will automatically get longer without any extra effort.
To sum up:
Better research and writing = better posts = longer posts = more engagement.
Done, done, done, and done. 2018 is looking up already.
Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.