An increasing number of studies are showing that long-form content generally performs better in search engine results pages.
However, this doesn’t mean that longer blog posts are always better.
There are various ingredients that make content successful, from keywords, CTAs, and writing style, to formatting, design, and image optimization.
In this article we’ll look at the benefits of long-form content, examine some key research on content length, and uncover ways to add depth to your content without sacrificing content quality.
The Benefits of Long-Form Content
While word count isn’t a direct ranking signal, long-form content has a number of benefits over short-form content:
- Google prefers in-depth articles. Its Panda algorithm update was specifically created to downgrade web pages with low-quality content.
- You can insert more long-tail keyword variations, which will reach more potential customers.
- It increases social media engagement. A BuzzSumo study analyzed over 100 million articles and found that long-form content gets more social shares than short form content.
- It helps to build natural backlinks. Readers are more likely to link to helpful, in-depth content. When there are more natural backlinks to your post, Google will assign more value to the page.
- When you create truly valuable content for your audience, it builds your credibility and sets you apart from the competition.
- Long-form content can boost conversion rates. Crazy Egg saw its homepage conversion rate increase by more than 30 percent with the use of long-form content.
What is the Ideal Length of a Blog Post?
Obviously, making content longer doesn’t automatically improve its quality. However, a number of studies have confirmed the link between longer content and higher search engine rankings.
Just look at the following stats from recent studies on the subject:
- In BuzzSumo analysis, content with 3,000 – 10,000 words received the most shares on social media.
- Backlinko analysis of over one million Google search results found that the average word count of results on Google’s front page was 1,890 words.
- In a BuzzSumo study of over 489,000 text based articles, long-form content of over 1,000 words consistently received more shares and links than shorter content.
- HubSpot analyzed over 6,000 of their own blog posts and found that content with 2,250 – 2,500 words earned the most organic search traffic, and content over 2,500 words earned the most backlinks.
Looking at these stats, it seems likely that longer-form content is the way to go if you want to improve search engine rankings, backlinks, and social shares. Above 1,000 words seems to be the minimum amount you should aim for. But if you can maintain content quality, 2,000 – 2,500 words may give you optimal results.
Still, there’s no magic number of words that will work every time.
It depends on the quality of competing articles, the quality of your writing, your industry, and the topic you’re covering.
Is There a Point in Publishing Short-Form Content?
Despite the power of long-form content, short-form content shouldn’t be ignored for a number of reasons:
- Many online readers don’t have the time to read longer content. For this audience, short-form content in the form of social media posts, graphics, mini-videos, and short blog posts are ideal.
- For people that want an introduction to a topic, or just want a bit of light entertainment, shorter content can be enough.
- Short-form content is more mobile-friendly. When people are scanning online content, they’re less likely to scroll through a long post.
- It requires less time and resources to create shorter content, but you can still achieve some short-term marketing goals.
- It gives you the opportunity to create a wide variety of content that can be shared across multiple channels. Offering a choice of formats to consumers means you’re more likely to connect with different audiences.
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Blog Post Length: Factors to Consider
Ultimately, you want readers to engage with your content and feel that it wasn’t a waste of their time. For this reason, there’s no point in trying to increase the word count of a post if you don’t really have anything relevant to add.
Before setting out to create a 2,000-word blog post, consider the following:
Is the purpose of the content to educate, inform, entertain, drive conversions, increase social media engagement, or fulfil some other marketing goal? Knowing this will help you to determine the content length from the outset.
If it’s news related or a simple topic, you can probably wrap up a post in 700 words or less. There’s no point in extending it if there’s nothing of value to add. This will make it less engaging and ultimately boring to read.
Above all, focus on relevancy.
When someone clicks through to your post from search engine results pages, they should get exactly what they expected from your title and description. If the topic allows you to write more and add value to the post, make it longer.
Take into account the age, lifestyle, and expectation of your audience when deciding on content length. Has your audience responded well to longer posts in the past? Google may prefer longer articles, but only if your audience finds them engaging and readable.
How to Add Depth to Blog Posts
There are many ways to increase the word count of a blog post, but you should only do this if it adds substance to the article and you can maintain its readability. Here are a few suggestions:
- Look at Google’s related searches section at the bottom of search results pages. Are there any further angles you could cover that people are already searching for?
- Use the “People also ask” box to discover other relevant questions people are asking around the topic. Consider adding new sections to your post to answer some of these questions.
- Apply the “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” and “how” series of questions to the blog post topic you’re working on. Can you come up with new angles to focus on? Sometimes, simply asking the right questions will give you enough ideas to make any blog post more substantial.
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More Than Words
The most successful blog posts are made up of more than just text. Think about how you can enhance each blog post with different media. Videos, memes, gifs, graphs, and photos are just a few visual formats that will make any post more approachable, engaging, and memorable. Anything that helps the reader understand your content more adds value to your content.
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9 Tips for Creating Long-Form Content
1. Define Your End Goals
Are you trying to build brand awareness or grow your email list? Do you want to generate more leads? Or do you want to sell a new product or service?
When you know your marketing goals, it’s much easier to analyze the results. So before you start, decide who the content is for, what you want to achieve, and how you will measure success.
2. Select the Right Topic
Use analytics tools such as SEMrush and Ahrefs Keyword Explorer to find out the top performing content of industry competitors. Alternatively, use a tool like BuzzSumo to discover what type of content is being shared most online.
Look at your top-performing blog posts. Can you extend the content?
Reach out to your existing customers. Use social media and industry forums to listen to your target audience. What problems do they face? What information are they looking for?
3. Decide on Gated Vs. Ungated
With gated content, you’re asking visitors to provide information before accessing your content. This is great for building your email list and generating leads, but it may also deter potential readers and obstruct content sharing.
If you’re more focused on increasing your search engine rankings, the smart move is to use ungated content. However, it’s up to you to decide which route makes most sense for your audience and long-term marketing goals.
4. Hire Quality Writers
If you don’t have the luxury of hiring an in-house writing team, outsourcing content to freelance writers is the most cost-effective solution. Top-quality content may come at a higher price, but if you want to be seen as a credible business, below-par content just won’t cut it.
To get the most out of your writers, make sure you give clear instructions. Provide an outline for the content, describe your target audience, explain your brand’s tone of voice, and clarify your specific marketing goals.
5. Aim for a User-Friendly Design
Even expertly written content can fall flat without good design. Do your best to make your content visually attractive and easy to follow. Include social sharing buttons and sign-up forms to increase its usefulness and accessibility.
6. Design for Skimming
A wall of text is never an attractive look. This is why it’s crucial to enhance the visual appeal of your content. Images, graphics, subheadings, numbered lists, and bullet points will help to break up text and hold the attention of readers.
7. Provide Additional Resources
Inserting additional information within the content is a great way to strengthen your credibility and keep users invested in your brand. For example:
- Link to other relevant content on your website.
- Include email sign-up buttons.
- Insert social media sharing buttons throughout.
8. Create a Promotion Strategy
The work you put into a piece of long-form content is wasted if you don’t have a clear promotion strategy in place. As well as informing your email subscribers, promote your new content on your website, link to the landing page via social media, use paid ads, and reach out to influencers in your industry to receive some extra backlinks. Every successful piece of long-form content has benefited from carefully planned promotion.
9. Update Your Content
To add more depth to your content and increase its lifespan, it makes sense to update the content from time to time. This provides your readers with more value, helps to improve the content’s search engine rankings, and gives you a reason to promote you content again across online channels.
How long should a blog post be? The answer isn’t as simple as a number of words. Your marketing goals, the content topic, and your target audience are the three most important factors to consider. So before you create any article, think about its purpose, research the topic, and keep your audience in mind.
Instead of worrying about hitting a certain number of words, focus on supplying the most useful content you can for your target audience that matches their intent.
High-quality, long-form content takes time to develop, but the potential rewards are great. With a little extra effort, you can create more focused, in-depth content that rises above competing content in search results pages. But don’t ignore the benefits of shorter content to grow your online presence and boost audience engagement.