Writing great content takes time. Between generating content ideas, researching topics, writing, and optimizing for search engines, there are many factors that go into great content.
Orbit Media found that it can take the average writer six or more hours to complete a typical blog post. According to Authority Marketing, VP of Buffer Marketing Kevin Lee takes just three hours to delete an average post, while professional blogger Jon Morrow can spend two hours on the headline alone. So before you commit to writing a 2,000-word article, ask yourself: is it worth it?
Well-written and highly optimized content can do wonders in terms of search engine optimization (SEO) and boost website traffic. But can the same results be achieved with fewer words? Below, we explore whether long-form or short-form content is better for SEO.
Short-Form Content Marketing
Short-form content, typically 700 words or less, tends to be easier to digest compared to long-form content, which is typically 1,500 words or more. Since the average human has an 8-second attention span, short-form content tends to be more visually digestible and can help convey concise ideas quickly.
There also tends to be more immediacy with short-form content. Short-form content can help your readers get where they need to go faster, whether they’re downloading a white paper, filling out a contact form, or moving on to the next piece of content.
Short-form content can be a great choice for simple topics or questions that require a concise answer, content that can be part of a series or content for a more experienced audience that doesn’t require in-depth training or explanation of basic concepts.
Long Form Content Marketing
By examining 1 million Google search results, Backlinko found that the “ideal” content length is 1,890 words. What does “great” mean? Content closest to 1,890 words on average ranked first in Google search results. In other words, the content that ranked number one on Google averages 1,890 words.
Correlation Not Causation
Well, write 1890-word content and you’ll be number one on Google, right? Not so fast. Do not confuse this data, as a higher number of words generates better rankings. This is an example of correlation, not causation. Higher total word counts tend to correlate with better rankings. This is why:
Longer content can generally better answer the user’s query or provide all the relevant information related to a topic.
The more content you write, the more keyword opportunities you have to increase your search engine exposure.
But did you know that word count is not one of the 200 known factors in the Google algorithm? As we said earlier, high word content will not automatically produce higher rankings. Here are some factors where long-term content can present more opportunities for SEO.
Authority is a factor within Google’s algorithm that analyzes content to determine if it’s high-quality and trustworthy. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a 500-word blog post, especially if it’s a short topic or doesn’t require much research.
However, long-form content such as in-depth guides, white papers, and case studies can give your content marketing efforts the ability to showcase your expertise and in-depth knowledge of a topic.
The larger the container, the more opportunities there are also to use and optimize for relevant keywords. Keywords are words and phrases that users enter into search engines.
As a result, long content can provide a higher chance of providing a more detailed answer or investigation that users are looking for. HubSpot shows that word count can sometimes correlate with organic traffic.
Long-form content correlates with higher organic traffic. (Hub Spot)
Long-form content also presents a great opportunity to nurture your audience. Because long-form content is perceived as trustworthy and authoritative, it can lead to more conversions (eg, downloading a white paper, filling out a form, calling your company, etc.).
According to an A/B testing study conducted by Basecamp, long-form content on a website’s home page increased sales conversions by 37.5%.
Word count correlates with social shares. (Hub Spot)
What is the Best Length for Your Copy?
The answer, like most things, is it depends. Ultimately, there is no hard and fast rule for content length. This can make it hard to tell if you wrote too much or too little. Before you write, ask yourself:
How Much Do My Customers Know? Think about your target audience. Do your readers need to be educated on the basics? Or do they already have enough knowledge about the subject in question? Long-form content allows for more information to be shared with your audience and may be more useful to an uneducated audience, as it is generally perceived as more authoritative and trustworthy.
How Engaged is Your Audience? Another point to consider is the level of interest your readers have in the topic at hand. Look at the pre-existing content on your site to identify which content gets the most traffic, page views, and conversions. Use this data to determine if your audience prefers long or short-form content. Additionally, you can analyze your site analytics to see how long the average visitor spends on your site.