September 26, 2017 | Article | by Pete Larmey | Content
The Benefits of Longer Blog Posts
Shakespeare once famously wrote, “Brevity is the soul of wit,” indicating that good writing tends to be concise and to-the-point. That’s generally true in marketing and PR. Press releases, for example, tend to be direct, even dry, but hardly wordy. Marketing collateral, such as white papers and case studies, are often better when they’re designed to be easily perused at-a-glance, replete with short, attention-grabbing call-out quotes and bullet points.
But there’s an exception to this rule. And it’s not necessarily something you might expect.
Blog posts tend to do better when they’re longer.
That’s probably not something you’re used to reading. When we think blogs, we tend to think shorter and pithier is the right approach. But, research indicates that longer, in-depth posts tend to get better traffic, more social media shares, and drive greater customer interactions and responses.
The folks at HubSpot did some digging on this topic. They found research from Medium that states that posts with an average reading time of seven minutes captured the most attention. Based on average reading times, they determined that the ideal blog post rate is around 2,100 words.
Research into the ideal length of LinkedIn blog posts shows similar results. Noah Kagan estimates that LinkedIn authors should shoot for 1,900 – 2,000 words. He found that these longer posts tended to generate more views, comments, and shares.
Let those pieces of information sink in for a minute. A couple of thousand words seems like a lot, doesn’t it? I think that’s a natural reaction based on a couple of things.
First, we’re all pressed for time. As such, we may have a tendency to believe that posts with fewer words are better because they’re more easily consumable. That might be the case in some instances – but fewer words can also make something less engaging. A 500-word post is probably going to be less detail-oriented than one that’s more than 1,000 words, for example. Thus, there’s less there for a reader to grasp onto, making them less likely to become fully invested in the topic.
Second, we seem to have convinced ourselves that the old adage “a picture tells a thousand words” is more often than not an acceptable replacement for written content. That’s why infographics are so popular; they look great, are easily digestible, and convey a lot of information in a visually appealing manner. It’s also why people tend to design websites with a lot of big, bold images, instead of a great deal of text.
But, as the HubSpot and Noah Kagan research suggests, there’s still a lot of value in the written word, particularly as it relates to blogs. Here are some benefits you can attain by taking some extra time to make your blog posts longer and more in-depth.
More opportunity to show off your expertise
Can you really convey a deep sense of thought leadership in 400 words or less? Perhaps, but longer posts will give you more time to truly show off your skills. You’ll be able to dig deeply into the topic that you’re writing about, which shows your audience a few things. First, that you’re what you say you are — an expert. Second, that you have a vast and detailed understanding of your readers’ needs. Third, that you’re willing to take the time to try and educate them in a detailed manner and help them solve a particular problem.
Greater chances to repurpose your content
Much like other longer form pieces of content (white papers, ebooks, etc.), longer blog posts tend to be evergreen and can be used extensively in marketing campaigns. They can stand alone as educational pieces that can provide immense value for months to come. As such, you can get a lot of promotional mileage out of a well thought out post that you can publicize over social media channels, through your website, and even as part of your ongoing PR program. A skilled PR professional may be able to cherry pick several points from your post and turn them into pitches that can form a nice, sustainable media relations campaign that can spur reporter interest in the topics you’re musing about.
Better search engine optimization
Despite Google’s tendency to continually update its search algorithms, one thing has remained consistent: sites with longer-form content tend to do better in search rankings. This Search Engine Land article confirms that hypothesis. Author John Lincoln cites evidence that pieces of content of at least 2,000 words tend to rank in top 10 results lists, and even mentions a quote from a Google engineer corroborating the company’s efforts to focus on in-depth articles. Longer form content also tends to inspire more backlinks (other sites linking back to the original content), which also helps with SEO. That indicates that writers from other sites appreciate the original author’s efforts to carefully explore a particular subject and provide readers with a great deal of valuable insight.
Increased social media sharing
There’s a lot of data that suggests that longer posts tend to be shared more often on social media channels. Research from Moz suggests “long form content of over 1,000 words consistently receives more shares and links than shorter form content.” Likewise, longer form LinkedIn content tends to outshine the shorter (less than 1,000 words) posts in terms of sharing across the network. The Content Marketing Institute found that posts between 1,000 and 3,000 words were far more likely to be shared.
It’s clear from this collection of information that you should shoot to make your blog posts longer and more detailed, but bear in mind two important caveats.
First, do not make your posts longer simply for the sake of making them longer. Every word you write should still serve a purpose and support your topic. There should be no fluff or filler. If you can’t get to 2,000 words, that’s fine. Even 1,000 words (or preferably even a little more) will suffice. Just try to put some meat on the bones of your posts.
Finally, posts should not veer from topic to topic simply to increase word length. Choose a single subject and dig as deep into that topic as you can. Don’t try to rush; take the time to create a thoughtful post that educates, inspires, and provokes. It may take a bit more time, but it will undoubtedly pay off in the long run.