The Blog Paradox. Sounds like a big-budget sci-fi thriller, right? Aliens, spaceships, maybe a rogue fleet commander tasked with saving the planet from certain annihilation. But that’s not what we mean by the term, although that pitch sounds pretty awesome. What we’re really trying to convey is the notion that, despite waning attention spans and your extremely busy B2B audience, longer blogs tend to be more effective than shorter ones at driving traffic and leads.
Sure, that particular thought isn’t true across the board and certainly comes with a few caveats, but, generally speaking, you’re doing your inbound strategy a disservice by intentionally keeping your content on the shorter side. As you’ll see, although the internet is littered with 250-word posts that provide about the same value and utility as a disposable razor, something closer to the 2,000 - 2,500 range is the sweet spot for engaging your B2B customers. Give your marketing gurus here at Creative Cave a few minutes to explain a bit further.
Appease the Algorithm Gods
Google might not be the end-all-be-all when it comes to inbound success, but it’s pretty darn close. What Google thinks of your content -- or more precisely, what its algorithm thinks -- largely determines your rankings. And as you probably know, front page search results get the clicks that can turn your blog into a lead and conversion machine. So the bigger question is, what gets you on that front page of organic search results? That’s where content length enters the picture.
As Google crawls the vast online landscape, it takes particular note of a few different characteristics often found in long-form content.
- Backlinks: This one is pretty straightforward. When other people and companies link to your content as a source within their own content, it establishes you as an authority on the topic. It also doesn’t hurt when readers click those backlinks for additional information on the subject, thereby increasing your traffic.
- Evergreen topics: Creating evergreen content is about a certain degree of timeless relevance in your content. An exhaustive investigative report on fidget spinners might have performed well a few years ago, but it’s probably not going to pay the bills today. Evergreen content remains pertinent to the audience, therefore amassing a continuously growing number of backlinks and organic traffic. Not to say these won’t need updating over time, but the longer the life span of the relevancy of the topic allows for more search equity over time.
- Time-on-page: Google knows when you are sleeping and knows when you’re awake. Okay, that came off as a bit creepy, but the underlying thought is still valid. The algorithm knows how much time a reader stays on a page, assuming that the longer that time is, the more information they are getting from the content. Naturally, it’s going to take someone more time to read a 2,200-word blog post than a 300-word one - and the key here is to engage the reader for all 2,200 words. Which leads us to...
- Value: This is the catch-all characteristic that the previous three build towards. Google rewards the content it deems the most valuable to readers with better search rankings. Backlinks, lasting relevance, and longer time-on-page statistics are all traits of content that provides greater value to the reader. Not coincidentally, they’re also common traits to long-form content.
Numbers Don’t Lie
If you’re like us, you need some statistical gravitas to lend credence to a point. Thankfully, there’s been roughly four gajillion studies confirming the strong correlation between longer-form content and inbound performance. But because we value your eyesight and patience, we’re not going to bombard you with dozens of pages of graphs, charts, and data tables.
That said, our bff’s at Hubspot have done a remarkable job of researching long-form content performance with a recent study (backlink! See what we did there?), validating what we’ve already found to be true throughout our own inbound strategies -- long-form content rocks.
- Content between 2,250 and 2,500 words yields the most organic traffic, roughly 4x more than blogs with fewer than 500 words
- Word counts above 2,500 get the most social shares, more than double the amount of blog less than 1,500 words
- Content with 2,500+ words earn, by far, the most backlinks
Granted, your overall inbound strategy, topics, and a host of other variables are also instrumental in improving the organic search rankings that propel leads and sales. However, as those stats reveal, the length of your content also plays a pivotal role in your marketing success.
Those Pesky Caveats
And now for the slightly depressing side of the long-form story. Are we trying to say that you can throw just any 2,500-word blob on your website and see the traffic start streaming in? Of course not. As we’ve discussed before, an effective content strategy takes time and effort. Vacant, vapid posts that don’t provide value to the reader will do far more harm than good to your brand, sales, and even viability.
Put another way, don’t turn a 500-word blog into a 2,000-word one just because of those tempting statistics from Hubspot. Fluff is bad, adds no value, and is something that your B2B customers can spot from a mile away. If what you have to say only requires 500 words, then so be it. There’s bound to be plenty of other pertinent subjects that will lend themselves much better to a longer piece.
Don’t turn a 500-word blog into a 2,000-word one just because of those tempting statistics from Hubspot.
On the other hand, don’t mistake fluff for personality and tone. Occupying a little more blog real estate to establish the proper feel to your content is a wise investment in your branding. Find a balance between the most efficient, streamlined use of words and a tone that distinguishes your content and brand from the competition. While your B2B customers won’t have much tolerance for excessive fluff, they also don’t want to read a dry dissertation that will put them to sleep.
Hints on Maximizing the Impact of Your Long-Form Content
Remember what we said up top about waning attention spans and busy customers? Well, just because long-form content can boost your rankings, traffic, leads, and sales doesn’t mean that your audience will stick around for a lengthy diatribe, no matter how matter witty and unique your tone might be. You still have to make the content easy on the eyes, skimmable, and generally pleasant to read, all while not sacrificing any value. That’s not as difficult as it might sound with a few tips on the ever-important design process to lead the way.
- Images and graphics break up the monotony of solid text
- Extract particularly insightful sentences as standalone quotes
- Bullet points and lists can summarize important information
- White space gives your content and the readers’ eyes room to breathe
- An emphatic call-to-action (CTA) makes it easier for the reader to progress down the funnel
Lastly, aside from content design factors, keep a few other things in mind to give your long-form content the very best chances at success and maximum impact.
- Understand your market and goals beforehand to create content that provides the most value for your audience
- Use data and resources that are as current and relevant as possible
- Rely on a subject matter expert (SME) for industry/topic insights that will establish you as an authority on the discussed subject
- Develop an organized SEO strategy that utilizes targeted keywords, headers and subheaders, metadata, and alt tags
- A final edit and review from your SME will ensure your content is accurate and provides optimal value to the reader
The Blog Paradox is real, friends. As tempting as it might be to appease the lightning-fast pace of the world and pump out a mountain of short blogs, focusing on targeted, well-informed, and appealing longer-form content will produce better, more sustainable results for your inbound efforts. Just remember what we’ve discussed today, have a gameplan, and don’t sell your audience short. If you provide them value with your content, they’ll flock towards your long-form insights and reward you justly. And if you need some help along the way, Creative Cave is always ready to roll-up our sleeves and help make your content shine like a supernova.