Blogging is ruddy brilliant. When you run a small creative business, blogging demonstrates your expertise, gives you a tool to grow your community, and has the potential to open up some awesome PR opportunities too.
You might be a professional blogger, making your sickenin’ dolla by telling your stories, sharing your know-how, and cultivating a following that helps you attract new brands and collaborators.
Whether you’re a business owner or a blogger, you need to use your words to help the right people find you. That’s where you need a little search engine optimisation, or SEO.
Now we’ve already written a heck of a lot about SEO, including our recent article, 7 tweaks to optimise a blog for more Google searches, but today we’re going to focus on one epic essential for crafting blogs posts that Google loves: maximising your word count and creating longer blog articles.
But people have short attention spans, so shouldn’t we write short blogs?
No. No no no.
People do have short attention spans – until we find the information we are looking for. Imagine being given ten sets of instructions for different IKEA bookcases, and being asked to read them all. You probably wouldn’t take in or remember any of that info.
Now think about reading the instructions for the pair of IKEA Billy bookcases that you have bought, and need to build for those alcoves in your living room.
If you’re anything like me, you probably still struggle to keep 100% focus throughout, but I bet you any money that the Billy instructions got way more of your brain time, and you probably even remembered some of the steps from that first bookcase when constructing your second.
When you’re writing a blog post, you’re writing for the people who need the information you’ve written about.
The people who have the question you’ve answered, the problem you’ve solved, or the desire to purchase the products you’ve featured.
Below is a pretty picture of a Billy bookcase, as my husband/proofreader declared that this blog needed one.
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Google loves long blogs
It’s no secret that Google prioritises longer blog posts, but you shouldn’t believe me – you should believe the stats and the informed opinions of dedicated SEO experts. I did a little digging with some of the SEO technology and media leaders, and here’s what the analysis says:
- HubSpot, a software developer of tools for business growth, says the ideal length of a blog post in 2020 is 2,100 – 2,400 words.
- The Drum, a leading news outlet for the marketing and media industries, says that although there’s no right answer to the length of a blog, it’s safer to lean on the longer side.
- Yoast, one of the most popular SEO help tools for website platforms like WordPress, says long blogs over 1,000 words have a higher chance of ranking well.
- Moz, another SEO tech giant, says that somewhere between 2,350 and 2,425 words is the ideal length.
So it’s pretty clear that the consensus is that longer blogs = higher ranking. However, as you know (because you totes clicked through to all those articles and read them in full) length counts for nothing if your article is, well, bad.
Even though our aim is to write longer blog posts, we don’t want to compromise on the quality of our message. The last thing we want is to inject our incredible content with superfluous fluff and wantless waffle that dilutes out content instead of enhances it.
700 words in, and I’m going to get to my point
Some people really struggle to write essay-length content for their blog, and as with most things, it gets way easier the more you do it. That’s one reason why the introduction to this blog post is topping 700 words, and I haven’t even shared my first tips or tricks for writing longer blogs. I am very well practiced at writing long ol’ blog posts in our chocka marketing blog.
When you’re new or inexperienced to long-form blogging, producing 2,000+ word posts probably isn’t realistic. Instead, I think you should give yourself a target of making 4 out of 5 blog articles hit around 950 words.
This should get you into good practice at writing meatier content, and still tick hella Google checkboxes. Now to get into those tips and tricks.
1. Set the scene with a blog introduction
Always include an introduction that sets out what the user is going to read. It doesn’t have to be as long as the introduction to this article, which is hella long even by my standards, but a good 1-3 paragraphs, or around 200-300 words is a good amount.
Composing a compelling introduction will not only increase the word count of your blog, but it will improve the usability too. Thinking back to my Billy bookcase example, the introduction is your opportunity to reassure those Billy-builders that they’re in the right place, and you’re going to solve their problem.
PS. You get a bonus point if you can include the full title of your blog in the opening paragraph.
2. Beginning, middle, end: add a conclusion too
I find the conclusion one of the toughest parts to write for a blog post. I haven’t written the conclusion for this bad boy yet, but I’m guessing it’s going to be a solid 3/5 on the quality front.
The conclusion of a blog post should mirror the introduction – which is Aime-talk for copy & paste that first bad boy and reword it a little. Think of the introduction and conclusions as the pair of bookends surrounding your blog content.
Maybe they’re the same bookends in your Billy bookcase. Gosh I love it when my analogies set me up for the perfect callback.
3. Explain and expand
I write a heck of a lot about SEO and UX, but I always explain what these common web design terms mean, and expand the acronyms the first time they are used, except this time where imma leave you hanging with that cheeky UX.
Just because some terms might be customary for you or your industry, doesn’t mean that they’re universal to all. Expanding your acronyms and explaining any industry terms the first time they are used minimises audience alienation, and makes your blog post both longer and more accessible.
4. Introduce your featured blog sources.
Featuring brands and businesses is a great tip for achieving blogging brilliance. You can add legitimacy to your article by including corroborating sources, and aligning your presence with favourites of your readers allows you to share in that warm fuzzy feeling generated by their brand affinity.
If your writing includes a nugget about a local bakery, take a short paragraph to describe where they are, what they sell, how to find them online and why you’re including them in the first place. If you’re using a handful of tech leaders and experts to demonstrate how long a blog post should be, include a few words on who they are…
If blogging is your business, or if you’re running a small business that blogs – personality is EVERYTHING. Personality is what sets you apart from other bloggers and competing businesses, helping you to win the perfect collaborations, or outshine the faceless high street corporations.
Including personal stories and short tangents is an easy way to add your personality to a blog article, and beef up that tricky word count.
There are very few blog post topics that only one person on the planet could write. Your opinions and stories are what make your writing unique, so share, share and share again.
6. Analogies for days
I am a total analogy fiend, classic ENTP amirite? And yes, I did just drop a personal nugget immediately after suggesting you drop more personal nuggets.
Analogies are incredible tools for communicating new, complex, or abstract concepts – like why writing short blogs is not the answer to pleasing short attention spans. If you struggled to understand a concept the first time you heard it, chances are your audience will too.
If you can frame a concept in a novel or intuitive fashion, try it. You might have written the second, fifth, or twentieth blog post that your reader has found on their challenging subject. If you’re the first to present the solution in a format they can understand, you can be sure that they’re more likely to remember your name.
7. Include some sumptuous, alluring adjectives
By now, you’ve probably noticed that my writing style is a bit, well, extra. Adding a whole heap of gloriously decadent adjectives adds another personality injection, and helps your readers to understand your vibe, your creativity, and your je ne sais quoi.
I have a bachelors degree in genetics (yep, another nugget) and due to my education, it was ingrained in me that my writing must be devoid of personality and stick to the facts. That’s probably why the first draft of the first blog post I ever wrote was just boring. So damn boring. The final draft wasn’t much better, but you can start to hear some Aime coming through.
Adjectives are what turn an academic report into a short story, a set of instructions into a rich communicative experience.
Can’t think of the perfect adjective? Neither can I 99% of the time. My Google search history for the last hour, is basically ‘synonym lovely’, ‘synonym fun’, ‘synonym delicious’, ‘synonym juicy’ over and over. You’ll really know you’re becoming a great blog author when you have your favourite thesaurus website.
And here’s that conclusion I mentioned
I told you I hate writing conclusions, and I hope I set your expectations low earlier in this article. So, in conclusion, longer blog posts tend to be better for SEO as they rank higher in Google search results.
You shouldn’t compromise the quality or integrity of your posts with junk words and distractions, but with my seven tips and tricks for writing longer blogs, you’ll have the tools you need to create valuable, interesting, and personality-laden content that impresses Google and your readers.
Boom, solid 3/5 again Aime.
NB. A short first draft of seven tips and tricks for writing longer blogs first appeared on my Instagram feed, which you can find at @studio.cotton. Follow me for oodles of free tips for small creative businesses, because I am too darn generous.