Why "Bigger is Better" is the Top Blogging Trend of 2018

We’ve all heard the saying “go big or go home.” It means to go all out, live life to the fullest, and be extravagant. But how often in marketing do we really have an opportunity to do that? Aside from the odd trade show or event, we usually live by another famous saying: “keep it simple, stupid.” In our world, short and to the point usually rules the day.

But I have some good news! Recent data and trend lines show that there is one area where you can feel free to let loose with at least a modicum of carefree abandonment.

That area is your blogging platform of choice. Perhaps it’s your corporate blog site. Maybe it’s your own personal LinkedIn profile page. Could be the posts that you’re writing for Medium or other blog-friendly news sites. Whatever it is, they all have one thing in common: blog posts are getting longer and more detailed and thoughtful, making them powerful thought leadership tools.

I’m certainly not the only one that believes this. Digital marketing pioneer and best selling author Ann Handley recently wrote, “We marketers are always experimenting with new content formats and new vehicles. And lately, the trend is moving toward longer pieces and more substantive, fleshed out ideas.”

There is data to support this theory. We are beginning to see an increasing amount of long-form content appearing on websites and blogs, and posts that run between 1,000 to 2,000 words are becoming more common. Meanwhile, we’re seeing far fewer “snackable” posts running 500 or so words.

There are several reasons for this shift.

Companies and individuals have found that blogs offer the perfect opportunity to display true thought leadership. They can offer unique perspectives and ideas that have direct relevance to their customers and prospects, without having to feel burdened by a word limit. No limits provide more opportunity to express and expand upon their thoughts, allowing them to truly dig deeply into their chosen topics.

Blogs that take the time to explore issues tend to receive more shares on social media channels. Check out the following graphic from OKDork and Buzzsumo. Content clocking in at more than 3,000 words appears to be getting the most shares!

Longer content pieces receive better Google rankings. While the algorithms that Google uses to determine its search engine rankings continually changes, over the past couple of years there has been a distinct focus on longer, more in-depth blogs and articles. There are a few reasons for this. First, longer-form content that shows thought leadership tends to receive more backlinks than shorter pieces, and backlinks — particularly if they come from reputable sites — are a critical driver of good search engine placement. Longer content pieces also provide the opportunity for more keywords.

In fact, Google has been looking for ways to promote longer content in its results pages. Google has said that “10% of users’ daily information needs involve learning about a broad topic,” so Google has adjusted its algorithms to specifically seek out in-depth articles and blog posts. One of those algorithms, RankBrain, monitors user satisfaction with web content. Guess what types of content users seem to be highly satisfied with? Yep. The content that gives them a bunch of information and things to think about, and that content tends to be on the longer side.

Again, the numbers don’t lie. Check out this chart from Backlinko:

I know what you’re saying. “I barely have time to pop my frozen burrito in the microwave for lunch. How am I supposed to find the time to write 2,000 to 3,000 words?”

To this, I have two responses.

First, you certainly do not have to write that many words. Shorter content is always going to be better than no content at all, and if that’s all you can do, so be it. However, let’s say that a 2,000 word article may take seven to eight hours to write. That includes thinking about the topic, mapping it out, and actual writing. Split that across three or four days, and it suddenly doesn’t seem so onerous. And, as we’ve seen here, the payoff can be quite positive.

Which leads me to my second point. There’s always someone else who will be happy to do the work for you. In fact, I happen to know a pretty good company with its own editorial team that would more than willing to help out…

But don’t worry. I’m not going to leave you with a cheap plug — just a cheap tease. Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing some other thoughts about content trends and tips on how to make the most of them as we get into the second half of 2018. Next month, I’ll write a little (or a lot — gotta get those words in!) about to make the most of blogging on LinkedIn.

In the meantime, remember: when it comes to blogging, bigger is better.

Let’s talk.