In Copywriting

It should be a given by now that good content is necessary for a good inbound marketing campaign. It drives in online traffic, gives customers something to share and engage with, and shows your company actually knows and cares about your industry. But after finishing the content for every page, we’re all wondering if we’ve satisfied our readers. There are a lot of attributing factors to consider in this, but one in particular burns in the minds of those less experienced content writers playing everything by ear: is my content big enough?

The “Ideal” Blog Post Length

A few intelligent people have written on this topic in the past and concluded the best length for a blog is about 7 minutes. Many of them post this averagely-sized graph from SerpIQ which seems to indicate that, in general, the more content there is on a page, the better chance there is of it ranking high.

SerpIQ content length graph

7 minutes seems pretty reasonable. That’s a fraction of a lunch break. That’s waiting for the bus. But it’s also around 1500 words, give or take.

You’re certainly welcome to accomplish your goal through pure bulk and stamina. If you can hit the general area of the right points, you’ll probably get some traction on your page. But trying to write a blog post over a thousand words every time will only lead to a lot of boring useless sentences, because not every topic was meant to be so well endowed.

With words, we mean well endowed with words.

What is a Long Blog Really Good For?

Two things:

  1. Longer form content has a better chance of hitting highly searched phrases that improve your ranking and drive people from the Google SERP to your page.
  2. A long post has enough space to deal with a topic in a more meaningful way that readers can engage with on a more fulfilling level.

But that’s assuming you’re engaging them as the content creator. Search engines like to see a lot of content on your site, but only if it’s actually being used. If searchers are clicking onto your page, reading a couple sentences, then bouncing back it’s going to hurt your ranking more than if you had simply written shorter content.

This can vary with different industries. For example, a web programmer will probably have a little more patience to start a two thousand word article and see if it’s any use to him than, say, a hair stylist.

But regardless of who’s reading, if you can catch their attention with something they care about, then hook them with useful details, they’ll stay with you to the end.

Know how to Use Your Content

You can do all the SEO and demographic research you want. If your content isn’t interesting no one is going to read it, and they especially aren’t going to share it

There are three main things every sentence in your content should be doing to make it SEO friendly.

  1. Communicating information about your topic,
  2. Staying as simple as possible,
  3. Entertaining the audience.

If something isn’t doing at least one of these, remove it. Most of The Dollar Shave Club’s content is a prime example of managing all of these elements, like this page about their Boogie hair gel line:

Hair Gel content description

All their product descriptions are single sentence punchlines communicating a quick sense of what each product does:

“Craft a structural masterpiece with a gritty, solid foundation”

“Go with confidence because your hair’s not moving”

Both descriptions not only tell you what the product does, but give you a context while projecting the ironically over-wrought masculine voice of the company. The copy gets little looser at the bottom of the page, but is still pointed:

Dollar Shave Club content

They clarify the point of the content right off with the friendly, bold title “The Search is Over,” and allow just a little more room for set up before revealing the full point “we’ll help you find a good hair gel.” Even though the first two sentences seem to communicate the same type of information, “trying to find a good hair gel sucks,” they each paint a little more dimension to the situation to help the reader visualize the scope of the service DSC is offering.

Effective content is a matter of knowing where you’re going, and finding the best way to get there. The goal in any content is not exactly brevity, although, you should always strive to be as concise as possible. You just need to communicate information clearly in a thoughtful way without boring your audience.

That being said, you need to learn when you’re finished.

Don’t Write as Much as You Want

A lot of the articles on content length leave you with the happy ending, “just write however much you want! Don’t worry about length!” That’s nice of them to say, but in the back of their minds those writers all read other content wishing for someone who can satisfy their interest. “Write as much as you want” is a dangerous mantra for people who don’t know when to stop. Even if your writing is fast-paced and entertaining, you need to know when to bring your point to a climax. And once that’s done, don’t sit around twiddling your thumbs. Get up off the bed, tell them you’ve got places to be, that they need to work out, hand them your card, and walk away. Always, as much as possible, leave them wanting more.

It doesn’t matter how many words you do or don’t write if no one is willing to read them. The trick is simply to never go beyond what your information and ability to entertain can handle. Because it’s not the size that matters, it’s how you use it.

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