Blog Content – Long or Short?
In previous posts, I’ve written a lot about the importance of blog content. Regardless of how you plan to monetize your Website or blog, the content is important. You want to create a site that has information that people will want to read, and ideally, information that people will want to share with their friends and family. The more people like what you have to say, the more likely they are to refer others to your site.
Blog content isn’t just important for keeping visitors happy. It’s also important for helping the search engines find your site. Search engines look over your blog content to see what your site is about, and based on that, they determine where to place your site’s pages and posts in their listings. Obviously, you want to get recognition from the search engines, as it’s the best way to get free traffic to your site. But what sort of blog content works best? Is long content always better than short content?
Quality Blog Content is Best
Before getting into details about long or short blog content, it’s worth pointing out that the best content is always quality content. It isn’t hard to simply take up space with words; there are plenty of software programs that will do that for you automatically. In fact, just a few years ago, that sort of thing worked well. You could rank a Website for certain keywords and phrases by having complete gibberish on the site, as long as your keywords appeared in the heading and in the content, approximately 2%-5% of the time.
In fact, I used to regularly rank Websites that way, using a tool that pulled articles from a bunch of different sites, scrambled them together, pulled 500 random words out of them and then put a handful of examples of my chosen keyword into the text. The resulting page consisted of text that was completely unreadable, but back then, the search engines were less sophisticated than they are today. Sites that could rank on the first page of Google’s search results then wouldn’t even be listed in the search results at all today.
These days, the search engines are much more capable of reading blog content and determining if it’s appropriate. Google and Bing also use manual reviewers – actual humans who look at your site to determine if it’s actually something that’s worthwhile. Since you never know if your site is going to receive a human visit from a search engine or not, it’s essential that you have quality blog content.
What is quality blog content? From a reader’s perspective, obviously, you need to make sure that whatever you have to say adequately covers the subject matter. That will depend on the topic, and you might need 100 words, 1000 words, or 10,000 words to do that. There’s no “right answer” when it comes to deciding how much you need to write to cover a topic adequately enough to explain it in detail.
The problem with blog content as far as search engines are concerned is this – how much content does it take for the search engines to determine what your article or blog post is about? Search engines cannot read, at least in the traditional sense. They also are incapable of comprehension. All they can do is look at the content on your site and try to determine, from various clues, what your particular article or post happens to be about. Those clues aren’t a secret; they’re what defines search engine optimization.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a way of adjusting your blog content in order to ensure that the search engines know exactly what your article or post is about. There are a few things you can do to make sure that they know.
- Put your keyword or phrase in the page or title – that’s a strong clue as to the content.
- Put your keyword or phrase in H1, H2, and H3 tags once on a page. These first two items are perhaps the best indicators as to what your page is about.
- Occasionally emphasizing the use of your keyword or phrase by use of bold, italics, or underlined examples of the keyword.
- Using your keyword or phrase in links to other pages on your site as well as in links to sites other than your own.
Without including these clues, the search engines are likely to treat all of the words in your blog content as being equal. That’s why you need to use those clues to your advantage by suggesting to the search engines which terms on your page are the ones that you feel are the most important. That will help your article or blog post get ranked for the terms that you think are the important ones.
The other major component of blog content is the frequency of use of those terms and the length of the content itself. Opinions vary as to how often you should use a particular word or phrase, though something in the 2%-5% of content is generally regarded as adequate. It is possible to do it too often, and when you do that, it’s considered “spamming” and you can get penalized for it.
Having a keyword mentioned twice in 100 words will do less to make the search engines aware of what your page is about than using it 20 times in 1000 words or 100 times in 5000 words. That’s where longer blog content can help you. By emphasizing your keywords and phrases over a bigger amount of blog content, the search engines have their ideas about what your page is about reinforced by repetition.
Search engines also seem, for better or worse, to simply assume that longer blog content equates with better, more thorough content. If 100 words is used to describe something, 1000 words to describe it must be better. This seems to be born out by the search results; studies show that longer content almost always ranks more highly in the search results than shorter blog posts and articles.
Blog Content Summary
Sometimes, shorter posts are all you need to convey a point. And if that’s the case, by all means, use them. If you want to see your pages consistently ranking highly in the search engines, you’re going to need to write longer posts from time to time, if not always. Your first priority should always be to cover the topic in an interesting and thorough way. Do what it takes to do that. As a second step, you should try to make your posts longer, rather than shorter.
Remember, blog content is written for humans first.