Blogging and SEO have been around for nearly as long as the internet, but there is still no answer to the question, "how long should a blog post be?" Many agencies and SaaS companies have attempted to quantify "best," but the conclusion is always, "it depends."
There's no minimum or maximum word count for digital products, but many marketers have written about best practices that worked for their company. Here are things to keep in mind about short- and long-form content.
Typically, short-form consists of articles, posts, and other materials with 1,200 words or fewer. Some marketers even cap it off at 1,000 words. These articles are easy to digest, cover specific topics, and don't go too much into detail. These pieces are for on-the-go consumption.
Common types of short-form content include emails, blog posts, news articles, social content, and infographics. These don't take up too much of your audience's time and are relatively quick and easy to create.
Meanwhile, long-form content consists of more than 1,000 words. It delves into a topic and covers it extensively. Evergreen pages, detailed blog posts, tutorials, guides, eBooks, pillar pages, webinars, and white papers are examples. This kind of marketing asset engages audiences because they give a lot of information, answer specific questions, or help them learn more about a topic. SEO strategies rely on this type of content, and if you stack multiple, high-ranking pieces, it can generate tons of traffic and leads to your website.
To use marketing materials successfully, you must know their pros and cons. For instance, short-form is a valuable part of any lead generation strategy. It effectively gets your point across in no time, perfect for mass-targeting busy people with short attention spans. It is also less resource-intensive to produce short-form than long-form, and it is easier to make it mobile-friendly.
However, there are also disadvantages to short-form content. For one, you'll find it harder to cover a topic in-depth. If you want to discuss an issue thoroughly and cover all possible angles to a story, it will take several short posts or a single long-form one. It is also prone to becoming formulaic, which can turn off some of your audience.
People crave novelty. They might find you entertaining the first time they land on your site, but if you have nothing new to offer the second time around, they won't come back. Finally, short-form isn't evergreen, so its performance decreases over time.
Equally important to your marketing strategy is long-form content. In a digital market dominated by Google, it can be more crucial for driving growth. There are plenty of pros to using long-form. First, it typically contributes to your website's search engine rankings. It also ranks for more keywords since you can cover a topic in great detail.
Also, this type of content earns more backlinks, which contributes to your page performance and boosts rankings. According to Semrush's "The State of Content Marketing Report 2019," the higher the number of words in an article, the more links they tend to acquire.
Another pro is that long-form typically converts more visitors than short-form. It is because the amount of time a reader spends on your piece could convince them of your CTA. Conversion rates increase with the length of the article.
Finally, long-form can help you position your brand as a leader in your industry. When you can produce thoughtfully written and detailed posts about your industry, people will naturally see you as a market leader and an educator. They will turn to you to be informed and make decisions, which makes your brand more credible.
Just like short-form, there are also disadvantages to long-form. First, it takes more to produce this type of work. As such, it also needs more investment. You cannot start a long-form strategy without putting in time and money. It follows, then, that the ROI from this content needs to be greater than short-form. If you're using this as part of a solid strategy, those returns will come. Without it, though, you might not see the results you want.
Finally, it can be challenging to display long-form on mobile devices. If consumers have to keep scrolling on your page, they had better be reading something entertaining. If not, they'll click away, and you'll lose your prospect.
What works for you won't necessarily work for another business. Although it is crucial to study what competitors are doing, you need to figure out what works for your business in particular. It's good to study the format of their posts, the topics they cover, and even the style and palette of their graphics. If these things bring success to them, it's not a guarantee to bring success to you. When you figure out what your audience responds to, it will be easier to keep giving what they want.
Your strategy will likely call for a mix of short- and long-form, and you will also need metrics to measure the success of your efforts. Otherwise, you're just shooting in the dark. In the end, you need to have a system for your content creation, subject to an ongoing optimization process. In digital, you must keep publishing, analyzing, and adjusting your strategy so you will see actual results.
Both short- and long-form pieces have their place in a marketing strategy. Don't get caught up in the details of how long blog posts should be, what you should produce, and how often you need to publish. Instead, focus on getting to know your audience and figuring out what convinces them to convert.
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