Are Longer Blog Posts Always Better?

For many years, the competition among content creators has only continued to escalate. In these situations, bloggers and brands have resorted to the creation of more thorough and informative content in order to remain relevant in search engine results and other mediums (such as social media and email marketing).

However, the rat race for bigger, longer and more detailed content may not be as rewarding as some have thought. Conventional wisdom has suggested that longer blog posts in particular help improve search visibility and SEO outcomes – but this isn’t necessarily true.

As such, we’ll examine whether longer blog posts are in fact always better and what you can expect in terms of performance from your own content.

The Historical Rat Race

A decade ago, most blog posts were relatively simple in size and scope. With less competition in most niches, bloggers could maintain robust presences without the need for overly complex publications. However, as the internet – and more specifically, the monetizing of blogs – became common place, certain data-points indicated that longer-form content was the way to go.

As bloggers felt the pressure to begin pinging websites with longer posts, preliminary evidence suggested this was a good idea: initially, the longer the post, generally the higher its ranking would be in select SERPs. However, recent data suggests that this definitive benefit only applies to posts up to 1,000 words or so. After that, the benefits become less clear – and if anything, evidence suggests it’s counter-intuitive.

What Longer Content Offers Bloggers

Regardless of actual length, longer content does tend to provide some meaningful benefits.

The biggest benefit that has been observed is the earning of backlinks. Given that search engines prefer to rank websites and pages prominently that have earned backlinks from a variety of other websites, this one benefit is a meaningful example of why longer blog posts actually are worth the effort.

Generally speaking and partially due to the increased prevalence of backlinks, longer blog posts also tend to attract more traffic. However, much of this traffic originates via backlinks rather than from increased visibility in search engine results.

Drawbacks of Long Blog Posts

One of the biggest data-points recently uncovered is the correlation between post length and drop-off of engagement. This means the average visitor spends less time reading content that might be 2,000 words than content that is half that length. Some believe the overwhelming nature of longer posts may turn others away, but this effect is not definitively understood.

What is understood is that blog posts that take more than 5 minutes to read begin offering diminishing returns on investment in terms of user engagement. As such, blogs not seeking to increase their bounce rates or decrease on-page times probably shouldn’t be doubling the sizes of their blog posts thinking it generates massive improvements in engagement or SEO.

In short, longer blog posts (i.e. those that take longer than 5 minutes to read or that clock in at over 1,000 words) generally do not provide much tangible benefit. While they can help blogs in pinging websites with backlinks earned over time, they are not necessarily more beneficial in terms of SEO or user engagement.

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