If there is one thing you can count on when it comes to social media it is this: Nobody is really an expert.
The big chatter among social media professionals is that Google has changed its algorithms in an attempt to give quality content and context more traffic. As a result, some blogs and websites are offering longer posts to boost search engine optimization.
I rejoice that Google is constantly trying to give quality content its due. There is just too much garbage online. I think it is insulting to readers to publish material that is not insightful, informative or helpful.
Nevertheless, it happens all the time. There are still people out there playing old games such as obnoxiously using the same terms repeatedly to get Google’s attention. Thankfully, Google caught up with that silliness a long time ago.
The rule of thumb has been that the best size for blog posts is 300 to 500 words. This assumes that readers do not have a lot of time to read beyond that. It makes sense given the decline of attention spans. The experts are now advocating blogs that run 600 to 900 words.
We get in trouble when we are writing more for Google algorithms
than the audience we intend to reach.
Pithy writing is nothing new. Even when I was a public relations professional more than twenty years ago, the sage advice was to provide information in bite-sized pieces. Advice on web writing encourages information sharing based on a shorter version of the inverted pyramid, which remains the basis of news writing.
With some exceptions, I have tried to follow the blog below 500 words rule. I often write-up 1,200 words and cover my bases. Then, I divide my blog into a series. It is also more practical for me. Blogging can be a real time killer.
But now Google is rewarding longer blogs. This is based on the idea that quality content is longer because it means the author is getting into more details. This assumption is hilarious. Quality and quantity are not necessarily interrelated. Google’s approach runs the risk of rewarding posts that are longer than they should be. Many an editor can tell you that most pieces can be cut back by at least 25 percent without losing important content.
We get in trouble when we are writing more for Google algorithms than the audience we intend to reach. For business-to-business communication, the best content is written for real people who are seeking information.
What to do? Write your blog for what it is really worth. Make sure it is about answering the “what’s in it for the reader” question. If you are producing quality and meaningful content, length should not matter and followers will come. Readers who really want to read your stuff will do so. If they are busy, they might bookmark or print it.
Avoid long content for the sake of search engine optimization. Frankly, few people are good at writing long content that keep readers interested. It’s hard work. My ability to write feature articles for national magazines is the direct result of years of practice. Longer pieces require different skill sets, especially for organizing content and offering transitions that encourage readers to continue. (To see some of my feature articles, please visit the work samples section.)
How do you know you have a quality blog? I’ll cover that soon.
Do you think of longer blogs encourage search engine optimization?
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