The 600-word blog is dead.
At least if you care about SEO in 2018. According to some great research by Wiley Communications, longer blogs do better in search, get more links, receive more shares and get more engagement from readers. Hubspot reports much of the same data and even recommends as many as 2,250 – 2,500 words based on its own top-performing longer blogs. And while you may not be ready to make the leap to a post that’s five pages in length (I’m not either), the trend is clear. If you want better traffic, higher page authority and more links to your blog, you need to write longer posts.
Of course, Google is looking for more than a topic and a several hundred words. It wants to provide users with thorough and accurate information on the topic being searched. However, it is clear (based on the research above) that well written, longer blogs are winning the day. These blogs have more terms and phrases related to the keywords, they have more links for the reader to find additional information, and they generally show more thought leadership on the topic. All things that readers want – and things that are usually lacking in shorter reads.
With that said, if you’re looking for that coveted SEO love, your longer blog content must adhere to what the search engines expect. Here’s how to achieve it.
Three Keys to Better SEO and Readership in 2018
Fully Develop the Main Point
Writing longer blogs doesn’t give you a pass on keeping the reader engaged. You must have compelling thought leadership throughout. And one of the best ways to do this is to keep your “one point” in front of you during the entire the writing process.
Ask yourself: “What is the main point I want my audience to take from this blog?”
For instance, say I’m writing a blog about the importance of writing longer blogs. My main point might be, “Shorter blogs are dead” (hint: that was my point). I want my blog to make that point clear in the beginning, provide evidence for that point, unpack how to take action on that point and close with that point – all without adding in a bunch of filler or going down rabbit trails.
You must have one (and only one) main point in mind to provide thought leadership on it, so be sure to think it through before you start diving in to that longer blog.
Be More Informative
“Opinions are like…” Well, you know how the rest goes. The point is that everyone has an opinion – and in 2018, it seems everybody is posting theirs online in a blog. As Neil Patel has pointed out, WordPress users alone publish nearly 2 million blog posts per day. So, how can you sift the wheat from the chaff? Well, you’d probably like your search engine to prioritize results that provide quality information on what you’re looking for. That’s what Google is doing – and it applies to your next blog, too.
So, what do you need to do? Make it more informative. There are several ways to do this, but I’ll just touch on two here:
- Do your research, and cite it. It’s tempting to think of a blog topic, pop open the laptop, hammer out 600 words and hit publish. As mentioned above, that simply won’t work anymore if you want to be found. While having the idea and something to say about it is half the battle, it’s wise to do a bit of research on it and see what other thought leaders have to say. More often than not, you’ll find additional insights you hadn’t considered along with a few worthwhile nuggets of information to toss into your own blog. Adding them in and citing them not only adds more authority to your piece, it will also likely add more similar terms and keyphrases that support your focus keywords – music to Google’s ears.
- Link to other sources. Linking to other sources allows you to link keywords (another SEO booster), and it accomplishes a couple of other things. First, it shows your readers that you don’t just “come up” with ideas out of thin air, but rather, you formulate as you browse other blogs, pubs or online journals. Second, it allows your readers to dig deeper into your chosen topic. (And even if they don’t, just having the opportunity to dig deeper is appreciated by most readers, and it will increase the chance of your blog being bookmarked for future visits.)
As Ann Wylie put it in a recent blog, being more informative is your opportunity to “…deliver the goods. These aren’t just your musings about the topic, right? You’ve done your research, delivered your data points. Right?” So make your longer blog informative in a meaningful way to your readers.
Write With More Authority
This works as a natural conclusion of the first two. If you’re taking the time to do research and apply thought leadership that you’ve gathered from experience and other sources, you need to write with authority. And believe it or not, this is a an SEO booster as well. Why? Because traditional SEO only gets you so far these days. As Ben Relander mentions in this helpful piece from Entrepreneur, “quality content with a strong focus on authority is now leading the pack.”
What does authoritative content look like? It gets to the point, unpacks ideas with precision and is filled will logical, relevant supporting statements. Most importantly, it brings something new to the table or provides a slightly new perspective that readers aren’t finding on lazily written blogs – All things that search engines are striving to bring to the top of the list for their readers.
The bottom line is this: Shorter blogs are dead, but the answer isn’t just a longer blog. After all, nobody is interested in reading 1,000 words of filler or drudging through a blog that’s all volume with no substance. When you have informative thought leadership that comes across as an authoritative and original piece, you’ll not only avoid this dilemma; you’ll put yourself in a better position for enhanced SEO and engaged readership.
So what now?
For now at least, nobody has released a definitive word count for optimal success. But I’ve talked to one major (and I mean major) online magazine that told me they won’t even publish a blog anymore if it’s less than 800 words. So for me, I’m looking at between 1,000-1,500 words for each blog I write (for now). I may adjust as more research pours in, and of course I will share that research here as well.
If you’ve been writing shorter blogs for a while, you’ll quickly realize that 1,500-word blogs don’t come nearly as easily. And that’s really the point, isn’t it? To be different takes research, careful thought leadership and work. Even so, I wouldn’t recommend jumping to that length over night – Especially if you’re typically in the 500-600 word range. Instead, find ways to make each successive blog a little longer in a meaningful way. Find some sources to quote, look for a related website(s) to link to, think a little longer to see if there is an additional piece of thought leadership you may have overlooked.
In just a few blogs’ time, you’ll find yourself passing 1,000 words and putting yourself in a position to be found by more people searching for your chosen topic. That’s the whole reason you’re doing this – to be a quality source of information – right? So, take the steps above to start doing it well.
Have any additional thoughts on longer blogs? Share them below in the comments.