Time to Create Longer Articles on your Blog?

Faces of time and longer posts

Do you need to publish longer articles? Most writers have under­stood that short articles are neces­sary for reader­ship. Is this true? Over the last couple of years, blog experts have been re-thinking the best size for a blog post and longer articles may be best. Here’s why.

In “What Value the Short Post to Your Blog? I talked about the value short posts bring, especially where the limits are well-known, concepts are clear, and it satis­fies specif­ic needs in the target audience. Despite reader’s needs and a title that tantal­izes, not every idea, can be fully explained in a short post. Many, or arguably most, need a deeper, more meaning­ful, explan­a­tion to be provided. The type of explan­a­tion that quenches the thirst. This is neces­sary to bring togeth­er many concepts for the fullest under­stand­ing of the subject. Hence, this discus­sion on creat­ing longer articles.
 

Perceived Value

 
Writers should create a single post, rather than four posts of 300 words each, especially when the longer articles are well struc­tured and gener­ates interest for the reader. The reason is simple, the reader can follow the logic of each argument, trace it through as the article proceeds, even when there are many threads to follow. The smaller posts tend to consider only an overview, or one small thought. General submis­sion sites, like HubPages, do not permit submis­sions to be multi-part, e.g. ‘… part one,” “… part two,” etc. This must not become part of the life of your blog.
 
Longer articles and being individualOne challenge, when there are many parts, is that titles tend to be duplic­ated (except for a couple of words) and we should all know search engines don’t like duplic­ates. Good old fashioned SEO advice is that both the title and content should be wholly unique. Further search results will hide what they consider as duplic­ate mater­i­al. Besides, intro­duc­tions or conclu­sions, are neces­sary for every part and are likely to be ostens­ibly the same for each. This will negat­ively affect the page rank. Potential readers will not like to see this either. Consider for one moment; you see a post in the search results that seems to answer your needs, but it says this is “… Part 4″. What is the perceived value?
 
Do you open this post? I don’t. Will you be able to see parts one to three? That is always on my mind. Experience has also shown me that they will not be avail­able. If you have asked simil­ar questions, then you will know the best approach is to post all the parts togeth­er as a single article.
 

What Generates Readership?

 
The Snap Agency says, “People, and giving them the resources to improve their situation.” They are thus saying that the need for improve­ment drives reader­ship. In a way, this flies in the face of the sugges­tion that headlines drive most readers and people don’t bother to read the details behind them
 
This drive for person­al or profes­sion­al improve­ment may explain why a 38,000-word technic­al article would go viral. To be read any article must offer value, and writers must always think about that value. Is that a reason to articles longer articles for all the mater­i­al you write? If you think further about that, then writers need to offer a nugget of value in the opening paragraphs and contin­ue to do this as the reader contin­ues through the piece. The article should provide value, educat­ing the reader, or help them to solve their problems.
 
The value propos­i­tion holds the reader on the page. Why else would they stay?
 

Conveying the Full Meaning

 
Full meaning?
Full meaning?

You can do a lot with 500 to 750 words; this is the normal length of newspa­per articles. If it can show the news then it can also convey great ideas. Perhaps, the answer to how long any article should be is: as much as is neces­sary to explain the full signi­fic­ance. Some thoughts are complete in a sentence or two, others need much more explan­a­tion, this, and this alone, should drive the need for longer articles. The level of explan­a­tion required.

 
To explain any idea in 300 words you must ensure the reader is not left confused or having unanswered questions. Only then is 300 words is the right length for the piece and not a word more. I am not suggest­ing we lengthen our works for the sake of it, but I am saying that in many cases:
  • Ideas must be justi­fied.
  • Explore arguments, both for and against.
  • Break the idea down into its compon­ent parts.
  • Show the details because they matter.
The need for a fuller explan­a­tion drives the length of what we write. Some pieces can be complete in a single paragraph while others require 50,000 words (e.g. a book). The full descrip­tion is what matters, this determ­ines how long the content becomes.
 

Providing the Information, Accurately and Precisely

 
The aim of written content is to provide the inform­a­tion needed both accur­ately and precisely. Not every idea is easy to explain. Take the concept of statist­ics for one moment. Most people detest them because they lack knowledge of how they function. The statist­i­cian needs little or no explan­a­tion of how a concept works, but the owner of a small business is likely to need more detail to under­stand the value it can bring to their business. This is a case where the target audience matters. Give explan­a­tions.
 
full detail, different perspectives, lengthen articlesThe statist­i­cian will dive into advanced concepts with little explan­a­tion, but the layman needs their hand held through each stage of the process. Who is your audience? You must show some readers every step in the process in order they under­stand. Without the detail, sadly, they can become very lost, very quickly. Often, even with a detailed discus­sion of the concepts, they can still fail to grasp the idea. A case where the writer fails to educate the reader. The need: simpli­fy the discus­sion. This in turn may extend the length of the piece. Ultimately the reader needs to under­stand the signi­fic­ance.
 
A writer must consider the reader’s level of knowledge to provide the right inform­a­tion to the reader at the right time. Aim to provide too much inform­a­tion rather than too little, the more advanced reader can always skip a section.
 

Creating Longer Articles

 
Please under­stand that creat­ing longer articles, for the sake of it, is an unwise strategy to adopt. Not all mater­i­al should be 2,450 words in length.
 
If I were to write an article on the value of statist­ic­al analys­is of sales history to business (continu­ing the theme from the last section), I would be unable to do much more than intro­duce this complex topic in 600 words. Hence, the demand for more sections to explain each element or concept, in turn. The detail adds value and should show why it is neces­sary. Worse, failure to provide such detail can leave the reader without a way to grasp the value of this vital topic.
 
The detail may be highly special­ised, but be neces­sary. Most people would agree, for example that, statist­ic­al analys­is can be a complex topic and has concepts that must be discussed in terms a layman can under­stand. The detail should always add value to the reader. Remember, oné of the principle reasons why people read content is for person­al or profes­sion­al devel­op­ment. Readers will strive to under­stand even complex details when it is essen­tial to the success of their business. Concepts may be hard to grasp, but once under­stood will bring a sense of achieve­ment and that is what the writer should aim to provide, steps that bring success.
 
Remember, every time you need to add a further explan­at­ory paragraph you are likely to add a further 60 to 80 words, or perhaps more. Word count should not drive the need to add more, but the need to provide the right level of detail. The Value propos­i­tion determ­ines wheth­er you have, the right level of detail. This can also impact your approach to the subject, as a writer.
 

Leave a bit of Yourself Behind

 

A bit of yourself in the conversation

The limits of the writing is one of the problems of short­er pieces. Longer articles allow you to comment about all the options avail­able, perhaps tell the readers why one approach is better than the other choices presen­ted. Bring your exper­i­ence to bear! You audience can learn from your example and feel they have the knowledge of an expert to follow. This is also where a video can augment what you write.

 
Leave a bit of yourself behind in your work. This is essen­tial, the writer should make their content  irres­ist­ible, so the reader must come back in the future for the next inspired piece. Tactics to achieve this may include:
  • Engage the reader in the conver­sa­tion.
  • Anticipate questions in the reader’s mind and speak to them.
  • Build author­ity and help comfort the reader.
  • Be profes­sion­al but do not overwhelm.
  • Show how you have learned from your own failures.
  • Paint the picture of the success­ful outcome.
  • Let your passion shine through.
  • Readers must be able to make up their own minds.
  • Be energet­ic and make what you feel conta­gious.
  • Remain focused.
  • Challenge people’s thought processes, perhaps take them into the unknown.
  • Make sure the story you tell is inter­est­ing.
  • Occasionally you need to be a rebel. Say ‘No’ when most say ‘Yes’.
  • You should aim to build a relation­ship over time.
 
Notice, the first of these points talks of drawing the reader into the conver­sa­tion. Essays are, in part, also conver­sa­tion­al, return­ing to an earli­er point about the style of your blog.
 

The Google Impact

 
Bring Sherlock in on the SearchSEO Blog tool provider, Yoast, state “we have quite a few articles contain­ing more than 2500 words and these really help in the growth of our organ­ic traffic.” They believe that blog post length is import­ant for SEO and there is good reason, search engines are trying to under­stand what your work is about. Therefore “Google… has more clues to determ­ine what your text is about.” Keywords will be used in the text of long articles more often and will appear as a natur­al part of your writing (with the need for ‘stuff­ing’).
 
The longer articles will have more refer­ences, more links, more pictures. Each provide oppor­tun­it­ies to mention keywords and strengthen SEO.
 

What is the Perfect Length?

 
In How Long Should Your Blog Post Be? Joe Bunting at The Write Practice says “some of my best-read blog posts have been over 1,500 words long.” He also states that some expert bloggers wrongly state, “blog posts should never be more than 600 words long,” I agree.
 
Bunting has exper­i­mented and believes short posts (under 300 words) that ask questions of the audience and invite feedback are best for gener­at­ing comments. Apparently medium length posts (600 to 1,250 words) will get more shares via social media (especially when combined with a power­ful hasht­ag). If you want more traffic from search engines, like Google, then the article should be 2,450 words long and there is data to prove this. Neil Patel in Why 3000+ Word Blog Posts Get More Traffic inter­prets this as “an allergy to short content (unless you’ve a very author­it­at­ive domain)” and “you have to create long form content, meaning 2000+ words, high-quality blog posts.”
 
 
Patel tells people they stand out by putting an extra 1500 words worth of effort into their story. How can you do that? Discussed further in a later section.
 

Driven by the Needs of the Content

 
Fulfil the needs of the content?In gener­al, the needs of the content drives post length. The creation of longer content should not mean you crank out irrel­ev­ant and repet­it­ive words, the writing should always be relev­ant. But the danger of longer works is that irrel­ev­ant mater­i­al remains, unedited, and is allowed to be published. You must edit longer woks must and inspect them to ensure correct­ness, arguably they can include a few longer and more flowery sentencesEven with a long article extraneous mater­i­al should be expunged, it has no place.
 
Relevance and how it is associ­ated with the subject at hand is vital. In the prior article, I asked “are the words you write relev­ant to your title?” This is still a valid question to ask while editing longer articles. I am not sure there is a perfect length as the answer is really about provid­ing value to your reader, rather than word-count.
 

Extra 1,500 Words of Effort

 
The effort of the extra 1,500 words (sugges­ted by Patel) should be about:
  •  Research all the elements needed in your story.
  • Provide an explan­a­tion to the reader at the right level of detail.
  • Simple concepts may be skimmed over.
  • Complex ideas require new sub-sections (sometimes more than one).
  • Tell the story behind the story.
  • Ensure it is complete (do not misquote).
 
Patel uses the word “effort” quite delib­er­ately. This does not neces­sar­ily trans­late into words produced. I have seen people publish many words without saying anything. The writer who demon­strates a poor level of knowledge of their subject, has performed no research, repeats well-known asser­tions, adds little value. The addition of 1,500 words of effort, here, may result in content that has some value, but the origin­al would have to be scrapped. The result­ant piece may be worth the reader’s time.
 
The “extra” 1,500 words of effort behind this piece started with a broad scope of research and contin­ued there­after. Look at ways to fully explain things, you may add a few sections that would other­wise have been trimmed from the short­er piece. With all this effort the first draft exceeded 3,700 words and required that I take the knife and cut out many of the addition­al ideas/stories and change some of the sections into bullet points.
 
One of the early bullet points in this article says, “ideas must be justi­fied” yet there was no room to justi­fy that one. That section had to be cut, perhaps to be used for anoth­er day. One of the advant­ages of electron­ic notes is that nothing is deleted; a note avail­able for future use. It may never be used or it may become the intro­duc­tion for future mater­i­al. The jury has yet to speak about this.
 

Sloppy Language

 
One of the challenges of longer articles is the tendency to use more waste­ful language, add sentences that have no purpose other than to pad.
 
Of course, there are times when ideas need repeat­ing (to reinforce them) but not every concept needs repeat­ing, just the central one.

 

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Buy Peter B. Giblett a coffee as thanks for discuss­ing wheth­er the articles you produce should be longer. The images included here are from royalty free public domain image collec­tions, photo­graphs from Pixabay, or from Peter Giblett’s person­al collec­tion.

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