Is the future of blogging fast and furious or long and insightful?
As blogging matures and content marketing is embraced by more brands, there seems to be a growing amount of conversation around the key elements for a successful blog. Among them is the idea that longer blogs may, in fact, be a great way to attract traffic.
On the Kissmetrics blog recently, Mauro D’Andrea suggested that “small articles, and light content in general, have no future (unless you’re Seth Godin). Look around the web, and you’ll notice that all the major websites in each industry are producing big content.”
HowtoMakemyBlog.com‘s Marko Saric wrote that “the last few few months had “seen the revival of long form writing online. Long form content journalism and in-depth storytelling online are making a comeback. While most articles are still short and quick to read, more and more blogs are publishing long-form features of 2,000+ words, which include photos and videos and need a lot of time invested from the reader to go through it.”
This is an interesting discussion for a number of reasons:
1. A rule of thumb has emerged that blog posts are usually 300 to 500 words, which allows the writer to offer some insight and value without asking the reader to invest too much time. It’s based on the idea that online users are multi-tasking and impatient so asking them to read more than 500 words can be a challenge.
2. Quantity has won over quality, particularly for Websites looking to generate advertising revenue. Giving people a lot of content makes them come back more often, which is great for Website traffic and Google rankings. While this approach works for the high-profile Websites, it has also been embraced by bloggers looking for the spotlight.
3. People don’t read long articles online because it is not seen as the ideal medium, particularly in swipe and scan world.
So why are D’Andrea and Saric suggesting there is interest in long blog posts when short and sweet rule the roost?
One theory is so much content being produced that long-form journalism is a way to stand out from the crowd.
By writing long, insightful and informative posts, you can give people “a proper dinner” as opposed to serving them “fast food”.
While long blog posts take more time and require more of an investment, they can also be more rewarding for both the author and reader. When written well about an interesting topic. long blog posts can be wonderful food for thought.
A good example is Peep Laja, who writes the ConversionXL blog. His posts are long but they’re also chock-a-block with insight, advice and examples. When you read one of Laja’s posts, it offers such good content the length becomes a good thing rather than a hurdle.
The bottom line is there is a place for longer, meatier blog posts in a hurly burly, fast-moving world. There are people who are willing to take the time to read content that offers lots of information and insight – just as there are many people who love to read features in the New Yorker or New York Times magazine.
What do you think? How often are you willing to read a blog post that is more than 50o words? Would you ever read something that tops 1,000 words?