In this blog, Rebecca Hill, Account Manager at The B2B Marketing Lab, delves into the discussion of whether you should produce short or long-form content to uncover what the real answer is.
These days, companies work hard to capture people’s attention online. We are all familiar with statements such as “attention spans are shorter than ever” and that there’s “more stuff to focus on, but less time to do so”.
Current thinking is that consumers want content that’s quick to read and easy to digest. As a result, marketers often steer clear of detailed, long-form blog content. Instead, they opt for short-form blog content that better caters to consumer habits and should, therefore, perform better.
But we’ve discovered that short, 500-word blogs (and other short-form content) are not necessarily more successful. In fact, several studies show that long-form content (1,000 words or greater) is more valuable when it comes to ranking on Google. According to research by IMPACT, ‘length’ is often seen as a quality factor by search engines – and that when you ask Google a question, it often returns long-form content over 2,000 words.
Also, long-form is – on the whole – more effective at positioning companies as thought leaders on specific topics. After all, you can’t demonstrate your expertise or understanding of a topic in just 400 words now, can you?
Think about it; the internet is full of short-form articles attempting to answer questions. These articles often cover the same ground (as a result of their length) and offer nothing new or valuable. Those that stand out using short-form articles either have an established presence in their industry or the content they’re producing resonates with their target audience.
As search engines have evolved and become able to analyse the validity of content, they’re putting more and more emphasis on content that answers questions in depth.
So, should you create short or long-form content?
It’s not just about length. It’s about value and what your audience enjoys reading.
Rather than having a predefined word count for each of your blogs, it’s important to take the time to discover what content works for your company.
Run a test: create both short and long-form blogs and compare them over time. Observe how many shares and subscriptions they get, how many backlinks they generate and how well they rank. This will help you to get a feeling for which blog length performs best.
However, this is a long term strategy. Whilst we recommend keeping an eye on how all of your blogs are performing to determine what type of content you should be creating, it should come later on in an established B2B content marketing strategy (for more information on developing a B2B content marketing strategy, click here).
Research before you start writing
Before you create any kind of content – you need to understand who it is you are trying to reach, their problems and how you can solve them.
This means creating buyer personas. We’ve covered the topic in depth previously but for a refresher, please read this blog.
Start by considering the usefulness of your blog for your intended audience. Don’t forget that when writing a blog, you should be serving your audience. As an initial step, try not to focus on blog length and rankings. Instead, have a think about what your audience would like to receive or need help with. Would covering a blog topic in more depth be helpful to them? If yes, then a short and punchy blog is not the way to go. On the other hand, if they’re looking for a quick answer to a relatively simple issue or an update on something – then shorter content can work wonders.
For example, let’s say you operate in the financial software space and one of your prospects wants a step-by-step demonstration or guide to using financial software for his/her business. A short-form blog will not be able to convey all the individual elements that need to be considered. This needs to be a long-form guide – or even a web page!
Conversely, let’s say – again, in the financial space – one of your prospects wants to see how your company has helped other companies. You could put together a short 600-900-word case study and post it on your blog. It’s easy to read (takes just four or five minutes) and they can share it with others. This kind of content can really raise your profile and help secure sales opportunities.
Ultimately, tailoring your blog (and other content) to your audience reduces bounce rates, increases engagement and is much more likely to drive lead generation. Offering value to your audience is key to the success of your content.
How long is a piece of string?
Creating short-form content is much easier. It can help you to scale quickly and get more content onto your website. However, if you’re looking to hit long term goals, this approach will only take you so far.
You can’t just start with short-form blog content. You need to build your industry authority – and get people to look at what you’re doing. Once you’ve built an interest and established a reputation as a company that “knows what they are talking about”, you can begin to create more condensed (but just as valuable) content. It’s all about value.
One thing that we’ve learnt is that it’s futile to rush the blogging process. Focus instead on creating a large volume of high-quality content, and do it consistently. This may take longer but there are findings which show that this is a better strategy for ensuring the success and longevity of an individual blog, as well as achieving long-term goals. Your blogs should always be based on your audience’s needs and optimised for the queries they search for.
Generally, long-form blog content is the best option for building a foundation for your company. Once you’ve built a library of content, you can start to repurpose it into short-form content for use on different channels or media (market research can work wonders for brand awareness and support content creation at scale).
By repurposing long-form blogs, it suddenly becomes much easier for you to create more content at scale that’s on brand and tailored to your audience. Of course, you don’t copy these blogs word-for-word, you utilise the topics they cover as hooks and look for industry news and other unique insights to support them!
Get out there and start writing for your audience
As a final recommendation, we would suggest that you have a think about how you are promoting your blog. This is a crucial step. It doesn’t matter how much you publish to your blog or how brilliant it is if people can’t find it.
You need to reach your audience via the channels they are active on so carefully consider which platforms you should use in order to reach them. Blogs need to be promoted regularly and content needs to be kept fresh and relevant. Social media promotion will have a massive impact on your blog’s success and amplify its reach (you may even find new audiences).
In conclusion, it’s all about value, scale and consistency. Writing blogs with more than 500 words is great – but do you have a strategy in place to promote and utilise those blogs? Similarly, writing short-form content can be effective but have you built an online platform to properly leverage it?
In both instances, you need to have a plan and know what your audience wants. Start there, understand the challenges and issues your ideal prospects have and create content that helps them to succeed. Do that, and you’re on to a winner.
If you need any help with creating content that generates leads for your company… we can help!