There is a lot of debate what is better for a successful blog or website – longer or shorter content and the answer to this question might come as a surprise for many. For a long time, the ideal size of any article or blog post was 500-700 words and you might think that this sounds about right. I mean, who has time to read a 3000-word long article, especially in today’s world when speed is simply the way of life for most western countries, while others quickly follow in the same footsteps. Well, this has been proven wrong by various statistics and longer content actually takes the win. So, grab a cup of coffee and get ready to read a long article that will show you how and why longer content is more beneficial for your website.
Back in 2012, the optimal word count for a blog post or article was considered to be between 500 and 700 words. Now, this sounds completely logical. Reading a 500-word article is something most people prefer. Remember, we live in a world where every minute counts and there is enough evidence to prove that the average attention span has significantly decreased with the Internet use and still keeps on dropping. Short content allowed people to quickly scan or read the article or post and share it fast, or even to bookmark it and come back to it later.
However, things started to change around 2014 and people started looking for longer articles and posts with more in-depth analysis and sources. Well-researched and high-quality content became a norm and by the end of 2014, articles of 2000 words and more have gained a lot of popularity. Experts in the Internet business estimate that it takes around eight minutes to read 1700 words of content, which doesn’t seem much even in today’s fast-paced environment. That means that long-form content will now provide you with better results than short-form content, so let’s take a look at it from a deeper perspective. This tool will estimate the time you need to read a text based on number of words.
What is long form content?
Even though long form content is not a new concept in writing, it is a somewhat new thing when it comes to the Internet content. Before the Internet, journalists and writers almost always used long form content to present their news and views, but with the unstoppable rise of the Internet, the short form content took the crown. The reason for this lies in the Internet’s characteristics – a lot of information (in fact, an endless stream of information) available to users in just a few clicks. So, speed became the crucial factor that separated websites and blogs, and the logical partner of the race for publishing information in the fastest way possible was short form content. However, it is important to point out that even in the age of Internet and in the blogosphere there were authors that prized long form content over the short form content. Now it turns out they were always right.
Before we start talking about the advantages of long form content, we should really try to define it first, even though this definition doesn’t really exist and varies from niche to niche. For example, when it comes to blogs, any blog post that exceeds 3000 words can be considered a long form content, while in the world of journalism (and I mean online journalism), long form content usually has to be published in series and takes months to research and write. For the purposes of this article, we will settle for any content that contains more than 3000 words when we discuss long form content.
Why is long form content becoming popular?
As we have previously mentioned, long form content was always present, but it wasn’t really regarded as a legitimate way to make your blog or website popular and generate as much traffic as you would with short form content. However, this is rapidly changing and long form content is gaining a lot in popularity terms and there are some obvious reasons for this.
When it comes to Google’s SEO instructions and guidelines, long form content always had a considerable advantage. The reason for this is simple – Google values quality content above everything else. Longer blog posts or articles simply have more space to go in-depth with their analysis, making their content have better quality according to Google standards (and according to standards of pure logic). Long form content allows you to be more informative and educate your audience on a certain topic more clearly.
Another way in which long form content is better for you when it comes to SEO strategy lies in the simple fact that longer posts or articles help you when adding backings and keywords in a proper manner. With short content form, you are simply forced to stuff your keywords and backlinks into a small blog post, which makes a huge difference when it comes to SERPs. This will almost always lead to better rankings, which is the next reason for increased popularity of long form content.
Higher ranking and conversion rates
There is a lot of data that supports the claim that long form content ranks better, but there are some things that have to be taken into account here. For instance, there are many other factors that influence high ranking and longer content, combined with those factors, does rank better. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your content will rank better too if you just write 3000+ words.
When it comes to conversion rates, statistics here paint a pretty clear picture – longer articles and posts have higher conversion rates. However, in order to increase your conversion rates with long form content, you also need to make sure that it is extremely informative and really interesting so your readers keep reading it until the end. The reason for better conversion rates with longer posts and articles is pretty simple – if a reader found your article or post interesting enough to read it until the end, they are more likely to convert since they already spent a lot of time on your blog or website.
Increased social participation
The crucial part of getting a lot of traffic to your website or blog is sharing your content on social media. In order to achieve getting your content shared a lot, you need to think about the type of articles that get shared the most. That content is usually the one that provides strong opinions and is likely to cause a reaction and stir up a debate. Also, content that manages to make ordinary things look interesting and exciting gets shared a lot.
That is where long form content comes in. Longer posts or articles allow you to express your opinions and views about a specific topic in a clear manner, which in turn makes more people understand you properly and maybe agree with you. Even if they don’t, they might decide to share your post or article to discuss the things they don’t agree with. Either way, you win. Long form content also allows you to share your personal examples and experiences and connect with your readers in a much stronger way. Forming a bond with your audience is important and can inspire them to share your content on their social media profiles.
Quality reading experience
Even though, as we already mentioned, the average attention span becomes shorter with every new generation, providing your readers with quality content that can help them get informed or educated about a certain topic has been shown to keep their attention till the very end. I mean, even with long form content, it’s not like they are reading a novel.
Average person needs around 7 minutes to read 1500 words of online content, so even if you write a blog post or article that is 3000 words long, that shouldn’t take your average reader more than 15-20 minutes to read. So, if you make your post informative and educational, while remaining interesting, long form content can help you keep your audience engaged and make them stay on your blog or website longer.
Are there bad sides to long form content?
There are many reasons why long form content is only now starting to gain popularity and recognition and most of those reasons can even be used to critique longer posts and articles and their effectiveness when it comes to increasing your traffic, conversion rate and ranking. The truth is actually quite simple – simply writing longer articles won’t help you with anything. There are other things that you need to take into account when you devise your writing strategy. That means that you need to carefully think about whether long form content is the right way to go for you and to do this, you need to consider a few very important factors:
- Your audience – Whether you are just starting your website or blog, or you have already established some regular traffic and audience, you need to think about your readers and understand and know them and their habits. Simply put, there are many users that just don’t care about long form content. They could have gotten too used to BuzzFeed style of articles and won’t take the time necessary to read longer articles. Knowing what market you are targeting is crucial for you if you are thinking about going with long form content.
- Your writing skills – If you are writing long form content and it doesn’t produce the wanted results, you need to think about your writing skills and wonder if they are good enough to create quality long form content. Some people thrive on writing shorter posts and articles while at the same time struggle to write longer posts and you need to carefully consider the possibility that you are too one of those authors.
- Your topics – Not all topics deserve and need a lot of detail and in-depth analysis; that is simply a fact. For instance, writing about celebrities or even sports is much more effective in short form and usually doesn’t warrant a lot of background, research and analysis. If your topics fall under this category, a 3000-word long article might be a bad idea since it probably won’t be able to keep your readers engaged.
What should you do?
There is no doubt that long form content can benefit your website or blog performances in various ways, but you shouldn’t write longer posts just for the sake of it. Also, even though long form content varies from niche to niche, the ideal length of a blog post or article by today’s SEO standard is still between 1500 and 2500 words. Even this won’t fall into long form definition we have set earlier; it also doesn’t fall into the category of short form content. Writing anything in this range still requires a lot of research and effort and you need to make sure that your article is rich with content. Otherwise, it will be an empty, long and drawn out piece of writing that won’t serve its purpose – keeping your readers interested until the end.
There are still many skeptics that doubt what the future holds for long form content. Of course, on the Internet, things are known for changing rapidly and many valid and successful SEO practices from the past are no longer considered effective, but one thing is sure; whatever type of content you offer to your readers, it will have a future if it has quality.
Even though videos, mobile responsive layouts and easily digestible formats will hold the most value and generate the most traffic in the future as they do now, incorporating these things into a well-researched, quality long form content can be extremely beneficial and can help you get the necessary edge over competitors that are sticking to safe and tested SEO strategies and writing forms. Of course, no one can offer you a simple formula for success, but adapting and accepting long form content as a positive trend you can use to your advantage can help you achieve your goals, whatever they might be.