I don’t have a lot of patience when it comes to reading stuff online.
The posts I like to read are short, succinct and get to the point.
It’s a bit like my shopping style; unlike a lot of my girlfriends, I know what I want, head straight to where I’m most likely to find it, locate it and buy it. Rather than spending all day in town browsing, I’m in and out and back home before you know it.
The only time I spend a great deal of time shopping is online. I will happily browse to my heart’s content, coffee (or wine) in hand with my credit card at the ready.
However, I am very aware that not everyone thinks like me and, if you take a look at the numerous studies by Quick Sprout and Moz (other research is available), you’ll see that it would appear as though most of you prefer long copy (anything from 1000-2000 words).
Why is that?
What’s so great about long copy?
Long copy has a longer shelf life – provided it is of a very high quality (more about that later).
The extra length gives you room to demonstrate your authority and develop your ideas. Because of this it makes the content more valuable and therefore more shareable.
I really don’t want to write this, but it also means more instances of keywords that will help your content get found.
Before you rub your hands together and squeeze in 500 keyword into your 2000 word article – stop.
I mentioned earlier that long copy works if it’s of high quality. That means no keyword stuffing. What it does mean though is that you have plenty of room in which to include synonyms that will help Google understand what your page or post is all about.
This has been increasingly important since the launch of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm change back in 2013. Its focus was on searching high quality content that provided substance and meaning behind a searcher’s query.
You see usually, when someone is searching from something, they will type a question into Google’s search bar rather than a single word or phrase. That means, when you write a longer and more in depth article or web page, you stand more chance of your writing containing words and phrases that match the searchers need.
In fact you’ll find that people who find you through this type of long tail search will convert better because they will get a better match for their search needs.
Long copy has more social value
Google learns a lot from our behaviour.
For example, Google knows that long copy gets more social shares because people feel it’s more valuable. That’s why, as part of its search algorithm, Google looks at how many social shares and backlinks you get and factors that into how well you rank.
Of course, to get social shares you need to have developed your social media presence.
Writing long posts without previous social engagement will not lead to umpteen shares and likes. Long posts aren’t magical in that way (or any other for that matter).
Quality vs quantity
OK, so you can now start to see why long copy is better than short.
There is one caveat though; your long copy must be well written and of a very high quality.
That means you can’t just pad out a 500-word article to a 2000 word one with a load of fluff and nonsense.
It’s all about knowing your audience – what do they want to know and how do they want to learn about it?
Some subjects you’ll cover demand shorter articles and that’s fine. Your marketing plan should consist of a wide range of content – video, podcast, long content, short content etc.
However, where possible, long content will create that evergreen feel your strategy needs. Just make sure you write it in such a way that will keep your reader with you right until the final sentence.
Creating readable content
Keeping your reader entertained for 1000-2000 words is a challenge.
Your writing has to be on the money, you’ll need fantastic images that illustrate your points and you’ll need content that doesn’t scare them off.
For example, if you rattle out your word count in one long wall of text, or in 2 or 3 long paragraphs, no one is going to take the time to read it.
If you want to engage your reader your content also has to look great. That means lots of short, pithy paragraphs, simple language, white space and lots of sub headings that give structure to your content.
Jargon is a big no no. Granted, it may be part of your working life, but not all your readers are going to be familiar with it. Contrary to most peoples’ beliefs it doesn’t make you sound smart either. That’s why it’s essential you keep your language simple so everyone can understand what you’re saying. It also shows your ability to articulate, at times, complex ideas in simple terms – a skill very few people possess.
Write because you believe
If you find that you’re churning out content because you feel as though you have to, it’s time to stop and have a rethink.
You shouldn’t be writing just for the sake of it; you should be writing because your readers’ demand it and want to see more.
Your business won’t be helped by second-rate content. If you’re not engaged with the task then your readers won’t be engaged. You’ll end up writing stuff that’s irrelevant to them (and just about everyone else) that effectively shoves a sign in front of them saying “forget this company, they have no idea what you want.”
Make a list about your audience:
- What do they want to know?
- Why do they want to know about it?
- Who are they?
- How do they like to get their information?
- How can you improve their lives?
Start thinking about your content plan in relation to them. After all, the only way you’ll get people to read your well written content is to give them what they want in the way they want it.
Be in it for the long haul
You now understand why long copy works, why Google loves it so much and how to write it in a way that your readers will love.
Just remember, if you’re going to start a content strategy you have to be in it for the long haul.
As your readership grows they will become more demanding so you have to be sure you can satisfy their need for content.
All that’s left for me to say is this:
Write long, write interesting and write well.