When you write blog content, you want it to reach your target audience. You want people to feel engaged. And equally important, you want them to be compelled to share it.
But many of us are missing something really important.
It’s something that has the power to increase shares by as much as 68 percent, and expand our reach further than we’ve ever imagined.
The answer? Longer content. We need to write longer blog posts, and often, much longer posts. But writing all this content takes time and valuable resources, so is it really worth it?
Longer Blog Content … The Numbers
You might be interested in writing longer posts, but you have this nagging feeling that says, “Will people read it? Will they say, ‘Yikes, this post is insanely long. I’m not reading that. I don’t have time.”
Such concerns are based on the goldfish theory.
Basically, the theory says that online readers have the attention span of a goldfish, which is eight seconds (just in case you’ve ever wondered).
But could this be wrong?
Could it be that making this assumption is robbing us of some really awesome successes through our blog content?
Here are some pretty compelling stats.
Peak reading time. The peak amount of time a reader will engage is about seven minutes. This translates to about 1,600 words for a blog post.
Ideal blog length. The ideal length for a blog post, according to research conducted by Digital Marketer, is about 1,600 words. On a side note, they found that 74 percent of posts are under three minutes long while 94 percent are under six minutes long. Could this be a hidden opportunity?
Shortest length. Posts shouldn’t be less than 700 words if you want to get the maximum amount of traction, according to research conducted by Buffer.
Long-Form Blogs: Do Search Engines Really Care?
The short answer? Yes, they do. Research shows that search engines appear to favor long-form blog posts. In fact, SERPIQ completed an analysis of the top 10 search results for more than 20,000 keywords.
Results found that the length of blog content appears to be directly correlated to placement in search results.
Also contributing to SEO is the role of inbound links. Moz found that there appears to be a direct correlation between the number of backlinks they receive to blog posts and the length of the content itself.
But we can’t lose sight of the human element. The search engines like long content, but what about humans? Do they?
Longer Content = More Shares
Do you want your content to get shared more? If so, consider this. HubSpot reports that longer content (around 2,500 words) is shared more frequently.
Quicksprout found similar results in their report, although the word count was reduced slightly. They found that blog posts longer than 1,500 words receive 68 percent more tweets and 22 percent more Facebook likes.
Buffer found that blog posts of 1,500 words or more receive the most shares.
So why is longer content shared more? It’s more in-depth, higher quality and gives readers great value, which naturally makes it much easier to share. But it’s not just about the length of the content. It’s about the content itself, and ease of reading.
The Awesome Content that Nobody Reads
Even posts that are amazing, the posts that go viral and the posts that everybody is sharing aren’t read in their entirety. Why? After all, if the content is awesome, why aren’t people reading every word?
Because they are skimming.
It’s what people do online.
In fact, readers aren’t consuming 80 percent of your words. They are searching for words and phrases that “pop.” So your long-form blog content must be skimmable. Here are a few tips:
Use lists. They are fast and easy to read.
Insert block quotes. They break up text and move the reader through the page.
Use bold text in paragraphs. The reader can move through the copy more quickly and easily.
Break up paragraphs with visuals. This will drive readers through your copy and keep them engaged.
But we can’t have a discussion about the optimal length of a blog post without talking about something really important. The headline. Without it, nobody reads your content.
Headlines: The Point of No Return
Some of the best copywriters in history say they spend 50 percent of their time on the headline. On average, eight out of 10 people read your headline copy. But only two out of every 10 will read the rest.
So how do you get the headline right?
Here are a few things to consider:
Think about the channel. Headlines with eight to 12 words get the most Twitter shares. Headlines between 12 and 14 words get the most Facebook shares. Know the channel, and tweak your headline appropriately.
Study “success” words. For example, articles with the word “Template” in the title are shared 114 percent more on Twitter, according to an SEO Social Media Study conducted by HubSpot.
Use a number. Headlines that begin with a number perform 45 percent better than average, according to the Content Marketing Institute.
Then, of course, there are SEO considerations. For example, if at all possible, position keywords near the beginning of your blog title. But if it makes your title sound weird, forget it. Clarity should be your primary goal.
Go Forth and Test
You may already be doing some of these things. Or there may be some opportunities to test new strategies. The statistics tell an interesting story. Test out some new ideas, see what resonates best with your audience and achieve more of your goals through your blog content.