Is it better to write ten 400 words posts, or one 4,000 word post? The answer to the short vs. long content post conundrum, as it’s often the case in life, is “ it depends”.
A frustrating answer, I know. But let’s inch our way to a better assessment of what exactly it depends on.
Advantages of small posts
Small posts (let’s say those that hit below 500 words) have several advantages:
- You can write them quickly.
- People have short attention spans already and social media is training us to quickly jump from one story to the next one. No serious commitment is required on your readers’ part, so more visitors might read them from top to bottom. (Though most people skim on the web regardless of post size.)
- They keep your blog full and mailing list warm since, in the example of the ten posts above, you could easily be covered for a month even if you were to publish more than once a week.
- You can go wide and relatively quickly address a variety of subjects with your blog.
- They can be laser focused, and with some decent on-page SEO optimization, possibly rank well for a given topic. And since you can write more of them, you may be able to rank well for a variety of keywords, bringing some good traffic your way via an array of different subjects.
Advantages of long content
Now for long content (1500 words and more):
- You can cover a topic in-depth, making you post truly useful to your readers.
- Long content is a catalyst to establishing a deeper relationship with your readers.
- In an ocean of 140-character tweets and 280-word posts (the average for WordPress.com), your blog can stand out with its in-depth content. On a side note, I find it amusing that Twista could sing the length your average short post in around one minute.
- Google will love you. Changes to the ranking algorithm over the years have increasingly favored long content posts. Yes, you may have fewer articles to rank with, but those that you do have are much more likely to rank favorably.
- Long copy sells. In the world of digital marketing, it’s an old adage that long content sells much better than short content. If your post is promoting a service or product of your own, well-crafted long content will help you achieve greater conversion goals.
- Long content, due to its nature, has lots of long-tail keywords to rank with.
Write Pillar Content
Ultimately, it’s the old wide vs deep argument. Fancy restaurant vs quick snack (or less charitably, fast food). Some blogs succeed with short content. Others rely on long posts.
No matter what you decide to do, I highly recommend that you take the time to craft a special kind of content. I’m talking about Pillar Content, such as extensive evergreen guides.
These typically sit at 3,000–15,000 words, are divided into multiple sections (so much so that they need their own table of content), and stay relevant for years.
Here are three examples of pillar content:
- Everything you wanted to know about SQL injection (but were afraid to ask) (~4,200 words)
- The Ultimate Guide to Pokémon Go (~3,800 words)
- Scott Hanselman’s 2014 Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List for Windows (~9,200 words)
It’s a fair amount of work certainly, but they are a blogger’s secret weapon. Posts like this can help you establish yourself and your blog as an authority on the subject. People will love you for the right pillar content. It’s not rare for pillar content to be shared, linked, and referred to hundreds, if not thousands, of times. A reaction that is rarely encountered in response to short posts.
Since they take so long to write, I suggest that you keep your blog “alive” with intermittent shorter posts, while you work on your periodically occurring pillar content.
Over time, people reaching your pillar content via search engines and social media will be more likely to become fans, subscribing, and in the process get more content of all sizes from you.
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