Have you noticed a blogging trend recently?
A lot of the blogs that I follow have been producing really long posts — several thousand words, in fact.
It might lead you to ask the question, do I need to start writing really long blog posts, too?
The real question is this: How do you harness the power of content marketing?
Content marketing is the obvious winner in the online marketing world. I recently rounded up some mind-blowing content marketing stats on my blog.
- Year-over-year growth in unique site traffic is 7.8x higher for content marketing leaders compared to followers (19.7% vs. 2.5%).
- Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads. (Source: DemandMetric)
- Conversion rates are nearly 6x higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters (2.9% vs. 0.5%). (Source: Aberdeen)
Content wins. That’s all there is to it.
But the tricky thing about content marketing is that it’s always changing.
There is always some new trick, technique, or algorithm change that upsets the apple cart and leaves us wondering, “Okay…what now?”
If we want to harness the power of content marketing, we need to adapt to these changes as quickly as possible.
Easier said than done, right?
Maybe so. But one thing has always been true about content marketing: Really good content always wins.
That is the one truth that simplifies content marketing down to its core. Great content will get great results.
Too often, the content marketing industry is seen as a giant Wheel of Fortune game — just spin the wheel of content and see if you win big.
In reality, experienced content marketers know that there is a way to win the content marketing game: Produce high-value content.
Before we ask, “How many words should my articles be?” we need to ask a more important question: “How do I harness the power of content marketing?”
The answer, as it turns out, is surprisingly simple: Produce super good stuff.
So, what does really good content look like?
I’m going to narrow my focus now from content in general (which can include almost anything) to blog articles specifically.
What does really good content look like? What are some of its characteristics?
Don’t worry. We’ll get into the “how long” question soon. First, however, we need to be able to recognize great content when we see it.
Here are some characteristics of great content.
- Great content is different from everyone else’s content. Your content needs to stand out from the pack. Many of the blog articles that businesses are producing are simply repeating the same worn-out information over and over again. Great content is different.
- Great content connects with the right audience. A piece of content that is great for one audience might be useless to another audience. Truly great content will appeal specifically to the target audience. No one else matters.
- Great content engages the readers. What good is the content if no one is engaging with it? By engagement I mean that your content is eliciting feedback in the form of reading it, sharing it, commenting on it, and responding to any calls-to-action.
- Great content solves problems. People read content in order to feel a certain way or solve a problem. They want to relieve their pain points and overcome their difficulties. Great content does that for them, showing them how to improve in their life or work.
Great content will fulfill each of these characteristics.
Now, let’s ask the question again: “Should you start writing 3,000 word blog articles?”
If it takes 3,000 words to be different, connect with your audience, engage your readers, and solve problems, then yes.
Otherwise, don’t sweat it.
But there’s still something missing from our consideration.
Your readers will tell you if they want really long articles.
It’s time for a deeper question.
Who is the best judge of “good” content?
It’s not you. It’s not your mom. It’s not your pet. It’s your readers.
Instead of merely guessing at what makes great content, let’s find out from our readers.
Uh, but how do we ask our readers?
It’s not hard. Just look at your engagement metrics — likes, shares, comments, etc.
These numbers will tell you if your audience liked your blog articles or not. This is the right way to answer the long vs. short question.
Ramsay, from BlogTyrant, did a simple analysis to find out whether or not long articles are best.
He did so by rounding up a few of his longer articles and crunching the numbers. Here are some of his stats:
- Title: How I Sold a Blog for $20,000 in 8 Months
- Word count: 4,653
- Comment count: 102
- Shares: 2,545
- Title: 12 of the Best About Us Pages on the Internet
- Word count: 2,645
- Comment count: 105
- Shares: 2,316
- Title: How to Blog
- Word count: 7,809
- Comment count: 45
- Shares: 165
Well, there doesn’t seem to be any correlation between long posts and huge success. In fact, some of my more successful articles were around the 1000 word mark.
He gained real feedback from real followers, and acted accordingly.
I crunched some numbers, too. Here’s what I found:
I did the same on Quicksprout.com.
What I’ve discovered is simple: My readers like longform content.
Therefore, I will produce longform content.
So, should you start writing 3,000 word blog articles?
We’ve finally got around to asking and answering the question: “Should you start writing 3,000 word blog articles?”
Let me give you these tips:
- Make your article as long as it needs to be.
- This tip comes from Darren Rowse at ProBlogger: “Write enough to be useful, and then stop.”
- Longer usually performs better, but trust your own data.
These tips all make the same point. Give your readers what they need and want.
Don’t be scared of the time it takes. High-quality content marketing takes time and effort.
I realize I haven’t actually answered the question with a clear “yes” or “no.” That’s because, like all issues in marketing, it depends on your specific situation and audience.
When you really start digging into your data and learning from your readers, you’ll find out soon enough what they want and need.
Then, you act accordingly.
What is the typical length of your blog articles?