I taught at the college level for five years. One warning I gave all my students was this: Be careful of what you post online because whatever you post will exist in cyberspace forever, even if you delete it.
When they heard that, my students simply stared at me. They looked stunned. They looked scared. They looked frantic. Then they looked as if they couldn’t wait to get out of class so they could start deleting drinking photos and other incriminating items from their social media accounts.
I like to think that today we are savvier. We know the impact social media has on reputation, ours and our company’s. We know that what we post on social media can help or hurt our individual or corporate reputation. And we take care to manage our reputation, to influence and shape how others see our company, our brand, and us.
Having a well-developed social media presence is critical in today’s hyper-connected world. Your customers, clients, and stakeholders live on social media, and so should you. Your presence on social media will help you actively engage in reputation management, broadcast (and narrowcast) your public relations messages, reinforce and build your brand, identify and attract new customers, and retain existing customers and clients.
What to do online
Here are some ways to make sure you are doing what you must to effectively manage your reputation online:
Have an online presence. Nature abhors a vacuum. Make sure you have a website and social media accounts that projects the image you want.
Have good content. A bare-bones business website is better than no website at all, of course. But a dynamic business website full of robust, informative, and authoritative content is even better. Creating good content that can help you rank highly in the search engine results will push bad content down lower on the SERPs.
Have positive customer reviews. Reviews are one way customers learn about your business. More than 95% of shoppers check them before committing to a purchase.
Have good sense. Respond to online comments promptly. Address and resolve any issue publicly on the channel your customer is using. Use common sense and kindness. Be proactive and polite. Always.
When it comes to content for your company’s website, more is always better, provided, of course, that it’s high-quality content.
Content, as we have discussed before, includes blog posts, social media posts, general descriptive information about your organization’s vision, mission, staff, location, products, services, and so on.
If you run a business, then above all else, your content should engage people. Your content should drive traffic to your website. And once a searcher is on your website, that content should be compelling enough to hold the attention of that user long enough for that person to become a customer.
How can you accomplish this? By creating content that is engaging, informative, and soothes the “pain” that the searcher is feeling. The pain is what caused that person to want to conduct a search in the first place.
This pain can take many forms. Your potential customer is increasingly likely to express pain in the form of a full-fledged question, especially as voice searches become more prevalent.
Such pain-related questions may include:
“How can I drive more traffic to my website?”
“How many presidents have been impeached?”
“Where can I get some poutine near me?”
As you can see, there’s a broad range of questions that people might ask hoping to satiate their hunger for information and other things.
If you run a business, the key is for you to be found (preferably first) as the answer to one of these questions.
Content does that for you!
So, back to our original question: What sort of content should you create in order to get readers’ attention (and keep it)? Read on!
You probably use Google. If so, you have likely seen a featured snippet at some point when you have asked that search engine a question.
To see what a featured snippet is, if you don’t know, check out the screenshot below:
In this example, the featured snippet features a snippet that defines what a featured snippet is. (Got it?)
The SEO gurus at Moz have done an admirable job of explaining what a featured snippet is. And Google has rewarded them with the coveted featured snippet spot as a result.
In case you can’t quite make out the definition in the screenshot above, know that a featured snippet is a portion of content which Google places in a box above the rest of the organic results on a search engine results page in response to a query. Yes, above the number 1 result!
Google does this, presumably, because its algorithm deems the result in the featured snippet to be the best answer to a searcher’s question and then places it there.
Now, if you’re developing content for your site, here’s some great news: The featured snippet doesn’t always come from the page that ranks first in the organic search results.
In other words, if you write content so helpful that Google’s algorithm deems it to be the best answer to a frequently asked question, then you can actually leapfrog over results that appear above you and get displayed in the featured snippet box!
You can see this in action in the screenshot below. The featured snippet came from the Moz site, but Moz is actually second, not first, in the list of organic results Google provides as an answer to the question:
Speaking of Frequently Asked Questions…
You always want to be of use to any searcher, and you always want Google to recognize that.
The best way to be helpful to anyone using a search engine is to answer questions. And the most efficient method for accomplishing this, of course, is to anticipate people’s questions before they’re asked. That’s where your site’s FAQ page can come in.
Composing a page with frequently asked questions is one of the most effective steps you can take to raise the profile of your company’s website.
Creating an FAQ page for your website allows you to place an abundance of relevant keywords related to your business and industry all in one place.
Remember that the use of voice search is on the rise. This is a trend that is projected to continue as people become ever more comfortable consulting virtual assistants to satisfy their information needs. When you compose your FAQ page, structure the questions just as you would expect a potential customer to ask them. Use the same language a layperson might use and you may match up exactly with a user’s query.
If your FAQ page is thorough enough or helpful enough, this could be your company’s ticket to the featured snippet box.
Show Us Your Infographics!
Infographics are valuable pieces of content. They may serve as possible gateways to a whole new potential customer base.
Why? Because, let’s face it, many people simply aren’t going to read through pages (or even a single page) of just text. Infographics are more eye-catching and much easier for busy searchers to engage with. As a result, your potential clients are more likely to read an infographic all the way through. The longer their eyes stay on your website, the better it is for your SEO.
Plus, infographics are an excellent way to repurpose content that you have previously created. Have you composed a blog post that tackled an aspect of your industry particularly well? Turn it into an infographic and release it into the world again! The time you’ll spend on the graphical layout is more than offset by what you save on not developing an entirely new set of ideas.
Video Saved the SEO Star
When you’re tired of text, and even an infographic isn’t lively enough for you, try some video content!
Video content gives you the chance to liven up your website and your social media feeds. It can add some personality to your business, which may help to forge a connection with your audience of potential customers. Plus, it gives you a chance to be creative in a different way. And although text interviews can be interesting, video interviews are even more riveting, especially interviews with influencers!
Perhaps more important than that are these stats about video content and social media engagement. In short, social media content consisting of videos receives more engagement and produces more fruitful returns. Even if you’re camera-shy, it’s worth it.
As always, more content is better. Higher quality content is better. A greater variety of content is better.
Compose those FAQ lists and strive to be a featured snippet. Repurpose your blog post text as a helpful infographic. And increase your company’s engagement with your audience by posting videos on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Triple Canopy Media wishes to inform you once again that high-quality content must be an essential part of your company’s website. Simply put, you need engaging, informative content to both demonstrate to Google that you’re an authority in your field and show that your website is well-maintained and polished.
What may not be as clear to content creators is how search engines might deal with some of the little differences that they find in your content. For instance:
Can the way in which a content creator uses punctuation affect SEO? Will overloading or omitting commas and other punctuation marks harm a webpage in the rankings?
Does capitalization, or a lack of capitalization, affect searches conducted by Google?
(Incidentally, some younger readers might be asking, “What does it mean to sound like a broken record?” If you don’t understand this idiom, know that a broken record is usually one that is scratched. A scratch on a record may cause the needle on the record player, which facilitates playback, to get stuck and thereby repeat the same few seconds of music over and over again. Still unclear? Text your parents or call your grandparents for clarification.)
Capitalization and SEO
Does capitalization matter to Google? Are searches case-sensitive? The consensus on a Quora forum addressing this subject is that capitalization doesn’t affect keyword searches. What this means, then, is that someone searching for “North Canton Ohio SEO” will get the same results as someone searching for “north canton ohio seo” as the below set of screenshots shows:
As you can see, the first search capitalized the location name, and all of the letters in the acronym “SEO.” The second search used nothing by lowercase letters, but still turned up the same top-five page results.
(Allow us to point out, in case you missed it, that Triple Canopy Media holds the top two spots in both searches. You’re welcome.)
But Wait! Does Capitalization Ever Matter?
Yes! It turns out that capitalization does matter when it comes to a website’s URL.
A website’s domain name is always going to be rendered in lowercase. It doesn’t matter if you type “triplecanopymedia.com” or “TripleCanopyMedia.com” or “TRIPLECANOPYMEDIA.COM” when you want to visit the TCM homepage. Your browser will send you there regardless.
In contrast, where capitalization does matter is in the portion of the URL that follows the domain name. This is called the “path,” and it indicates the exact location of a page, post, or file.
This is essential to keep in mind when you’re creating pages for your website.
There IS a difference, as far as Google is concerned, between https://www.triplecanopymedia.com/category/blog/ and https://www.triplecanopymedia.com/CATEGORY/BLOG/. In this example, the second page doesn’t exist. Even though the domain name is correct, the page name is not because the path is capitalized and the actual page has a lowercase path. If you were to input this exact address, with the path capitalized, Google would not redirect you to the correct (existing) page, though it would do so if you capitalized just the domain name.
What does this mean for you if you’re creating new webpages for your site? It shows that it’s a good idea to conform with web conventions and make sure that the whole path is in lowercase.
If you fail to be mindful of this, then you might end up with a situation where capitalization could negatively affect your SEO. Placing duplicate content on two different pages that each have a different path may ultimately cause Google to value the authority of each page less than it should. The solution? Both for the sake of SEO and internal consistency, make sure all of your pages have paths that uniformly use lowercase letters.
How About Punctuation and SEO?
To begin our discussion of punctuation, rather than thinking about how Google will look at your page, think about how a human reader will respond to it. If your website’s content is full of errors, not just typos, but also in punctuation, then readers probably won’t stick around for very long if they happen to land on it while browsing. And the lack of time that real humans spend looking at your site will have a negative effect on your search results.
This means that you should be mindful about using basic punctuation marks correctly. A misplaced comma here or there probably isn’t going to harm you very much, if at all. But failing to ever use commas in your content or not placing any periods at the end of your sentences likely will have a negative impact.
But Punctuation and URLs, on the Other Hand…
Again, there’s a difference between on-page content and your page’s URL. You should place hyphens or underscores in between the words in your URL’s path (as in https://www.triplecanopymedia.com/social-media-aligns-connection-customer-service/). This ultimately makes the page easier on a human reader’s eyes. But avoid using other punctuation marks in your web address that you might readily put in page content such as question marks or exclamation marks. After all, remember that the URL for Yahoo! is yahoo.com and not yahoo!.com.
Finally, we come to this set of special characters. According to Search Engine Roundtable, in an article published in 2017, for SEO purposes, Google ignores all symbols such as those which indicate copyright. The search engine reportedly treats any word that is next to a copyright symbol just like it treats that word without the symbol.
So does it matter at all if the copyright symbol is there?
One user on this Moz Q&A forum agrees that it doesn’t from an SEO standpoint. However, this commenter goes on to state that including these symbols is not only wise from a legal standpoint, it might also improve CTR (click-through rate) by showing that your business is professional and honors trademarks. Including the trademark symbol is therefore a respectful practice that apparently won’t have any negative effect on your place in search results.
In your website’s content, it’s generally best to adhere to proper writing conventions when dealing with capitalization and punctuation. After all, that’s likely to make a higher number of human readers happy. And Google rewards content that gives people what they want. But the same rules don’t apply to URLs, which are far more particular. When in doubt, follow the conventions. But, above all, as always, try to make your content as engaging, informative, and readable as you can.
Connection. That’s what social media is supposed to be all about, right? But if the research is to be believed, that depends.
When researchers surveyed undergraduate students, they got a different answer. Most of the undergrads said they used social media to alleviate boredom. Results from another survey showed that the emotion most often elicited by social media was envy, not connectedness.
A third study showed that people who had used Facebook felt less satisfied with their lives. The more they used it, the more their satisfaction dropped. Ouch!
Activity and engagement create energy for your business
Active Facebook users experienced the opposite. Those who engaged with content, left comments, and used the chat feature felt better, not worse.
What does this mean for your business? If you want to reach the mainstream and promote growth, provide entertaining content that encourages connections on social networks.
Because if we prompt our audience to become active, rather than passive, consumers of content, we will satisfy the needs of our own business and make our consumers happy as well. We create energy, rather than fatigue. We create followers . . . and they create followers, and the beat goes on.
So go ahead. Share content that promotes action. Promote your events. Create interactive user experiences. Provide information people can use. Then be direct in encouraging people to share it and to use it.
Remember the customer service angle
However, there’s another angle on this. And that angle is customer service. Customers who post questions to a business or brand via social media expect a response within four hours, according to some. But other research says that window is even smaller, indicating that whether a question is posed on Twitter or Facebook, users expect a reply within an hour. Yes, one hour.
When you consider that connecting with consumers is the goal of having a presence on social media, failing to reach out and answer the queries posted by consumers is self-defeating. Particularly when statistics show that customers receiving a response on Twitter spend 20 percent more and recommend brands 30 percent more actively
Stand out like Starbucks
With businesses failing so mightily at connecting with their consumers, it seems easy to stand out just by improving customer service. That means:
providing interactive, shareable content,
asking consumers to use it and to share it, and
answering customer service questions quickly and completely.
Take Starbucks, for example. The chain keeps its social media profiles ups to date, interacts with customers, responds to their every issue by delivering efficient and uninterrupted customer support, and considers meaningful feedback valuable. It even established a separate Twitter account with the handle @MyStarbucksIdeas to receive customer queries. It now has more than 51,000 followers.
Reap the rewards
Reap the rewards of social media platforms by connecting with your customers and improving your customer service. Deliver interactive and professional content; listen to your customers; build an online community by setting up a Facebook group for your customers to join; and respond promptly to their questions, reviews, and comments.
You’ll help generate revenue, improve your online visibility, and expand your customer reach.
In his profoundly influential Poetics, Aristotle said that any good plot will have a beginning, a middle, and an end. This wise counsel doesn’t just apply to tragedy, though. Any piece of writing, including web content, should be constructed in the same way. This blog post will help you focus on some of the qualities you should infuse your content with if you want it to be more effective at enticing readers.
If you’re a writer, you should begin every work with an introduction that gives your audience a view of your piece from 30,000 feet and then eases each reader into the points you’re getting ready to make. On the other side of the body, or middle, of the piece, comes the end. Make sure that you provide the reader with a conclusion that summarizes your work in a concise and memorable way. And as for the middle, well, yes, you really ought to provide useful, substantive information in the body of your work.
So, that’s the basic structure of a complete written work. Beyond that, what are some of the other qualities you should fill your writing with to make sure that it is readable, effective, and engaging? Check out this list and ponder how good writing is…
Accessible: When you think about accessibility, consider the often-asked thought experiment question, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” Why? Because it’s reasonable to wonder, “If you write something, and nobody bothers to read it, is it helping your business succeed?” Maybe. After all, Google might still find your content even if no one will actually end up reading it. But you probably shouldn’t count on that, especially since you want people to not just find your page, but stay there. Instead, as a writer, you should concentrate on making your writing accessible and engaging. And make it interesting and lively, too. If you’re creating content of any kind, whether it’s for a blog that is personal or business-related, make sure you’re changing up the words you use. (Synonyms are your friends, your buddies, your pals.) But don’t fill up your writing with words that everyone but a time traveler from the 16th century will have to look up.
Consistent: In order for writing to be coherent and effective, it should be consistent. This should be true across the board. It applies to tone, form, and topic. As a writer, you should heed this advice:
Tone: Don’t start out any piece of writing with a light and lively air and then grind it all to a halt by turning dour. You should stay consistent throughout the piece in order to prevent your audience from getting disoriented. And, needless to say, your tone shouldn’t just be internally consistent. It should also be appropriate for the subject matter itself. If you’re writing a review of an action movie, it should be full of action verbs. But if you’re writing copy for a funeral home, save the flippant asides for another day.
Form: You want your audience to be able to read your writing with relative ease. Some of your readers could do some skipping and skimming here and there. It’s okay—they can still get your message if the writing is accessible enough. One way you can facilitate this, though, is to keep the form and structure of your content consistent all the way through. In much the same way that you don’t want to start out with lighthearted asides and end up composing a eulogy, so also should you avoid starting out with brief, easily digestible sentences but then descend into long, twisty, winding, rambling, meandering, never-ending…you get the point, right? At the same time, keep in mind that if all of your sentences contain nearly the same exact number of words, then that will also turn readers away. Avoid monotony, regardless of your subject matter.
Topic: Stay on point! Focus! Maybe that can be a challenge, especially since it seems like so many of the aspects of what you’re writing about are interconnected. And maybe they are. Nonetheless, it’s important that you make sure not to wander too much from your main subject. If you’re composing something expository—that is, explaining how to do something—focus on the step by step. If you’re writing to persuade, then make sure that your argument is airtight and that you stick with relevant information when you’re presenting your case. And if you’re composing a listicle, every item on the list should actually illustrate your theme or topic.
Polished: There are times when you might be on a roll. If you’re typing, maybe your fingers are flying and they can barely keep up with your thoughts. You just want to get all of those words onto the page! That’s great! If this happens to you, then you’re the envy of every writer suffering from writer’s block. Be sure to relish those moments of inspiration. But this swiftly-composed work is in no way a final product. You have to go back and edit it. There’s no shame in this. Every writer needs to revise. That’s where the best writing comes out anyway. Read over your work to ensure that it makes sense. Did you stay on topic or did you wander? Does the piece flow well, or are there starts and stops? Is it an engaging read? Deadlines are often tight in the world of content writing, but if you can, put the piece aside and look at it later, preferably the next day. Problems will jump out at you that you might have missed shortly after completing the work. And if your coworkers won’t think that you’re crazy, read the piece out loud. Nothing will bring out issues with tone, transitions, or word choice more readily than your ears.
Writing remains more of an art than a science. Nonetheless, there are still rules that you should follow. Set up your premise, explain it to your readers, and then summarize it for them so that they will walk away with all of your main points in their heads. Make your writing easy to read and digest, and be sure that it is true to itself and reflective of your subject matter. Finally, double check everything before releasing it into the world. And don’t forget that practice makes perfect. Now, sit down and write!
We’ve written about content before, (actually more than once), and will certainly discuss it here again in the future. If you want your company to succeed online in the 21st century, then you’re going to need to produce lots of good content. And someone is going to have to write that good content. Needless to say, that someone should be a writer well-suited to the job. Just what qualities should that writer have? We’re glad you asked.
Ideally, your company’s chosen writer will satisfy the major requirements we spell out below.
Your writer should love to write
Or at least like writing a whole lot. Ideally, we should all enjoy what we do every day. Although a person can still do outstanding work when that person isn’t particularly enamored of the vocation, (fueled by dedication and professionalism), isn’t it better for everyone if your writer actually loves to write? Writers who love to write relish the opportunity to connect with an audience using their words. Writers who love to write get a jolt of excitement from devising clever turns of phrase. And, most of all, writers who love to write are always striving to make their writing better.
Your writer should excel at the craft of writing
Writing, like any other skilled occupation, calls for a craftsperson who knows how to do it well. Perhaps this goes without saying, more or less, but we still feel that we can’t stress it enough. Good content plays such a major part in the online prosperity of your business. It can determine whether or not your business lives or dies—figuratively, anyway. Would you board an aircraft with a pilot who doesn’t even know how to take off? Don’t park your company’s future in coach on a grounded plane.
Your writer should believe that writing is important
We hope you can forgive our hyperbole when we say that writing is a calling. Whether or not you fully subscribe to that notion, your writer should take writing seriously and respect the power of the written word to inform, persuade, and inspire readers. When we use the word “seriously” though, we don’t mean “joyless.” Your writer can be as free and funny as your subject matter and audience will permit. The craftsmanship of a humor piece should be just as fine as that of a white paper or a homily.
Your writer should have some life experience
This is not to say that young people are incapable of producing good, compelling content. Nor is it the case that any person off the street is a skilled writer just by virtue of having walked the earth for a certain number of years. It’s not that simple, of course. But experience helps. More time on earth means more time perfecting the arts of crafting an argument, describing an initiative, or understanding how other people think and see the world. If you want to converse with people through your writing, you should have some idea about how they think. From there, you can find them where they are and inspire them to follow your lead. Meeting people in the neighborhood helps a lot, though we gladly award bonus points to those who have cross-cultural experience earned by living abroad.
Your writer should have a passion for research
Effective writing doesn’t just spring fully formed from the head of its creator. Good writing is informed by research. Chances are, your writer already uses Google extensively in other (non-writing-related) aspects of life, so harnessing that ability and applying it to blogging or content creation won’t be an enormous leap. Incorporating sources into any piece of writing is a necessary skill. And infusing your content with backlinks, as we’ve discussed before, is a great way to lend authority to your site.
Your writer should still be able to communicate (when not writing)
No less a writer than Ernest Hemingway spoke about writing as a solitary pursuit, and who are we to argue with a Nobel laureate? But when it comes to blogging, for instance, the most successful posts are often the most engaging ones. And the posts that are the most engaging are usually the ones that are the most conversational in nature. You want your readers to feel as though you’re speaking directly to each of them. There’s a lot of value in being personable. We’re not saying that you should exclude the shy or the introverted from your writing rosters. (Where would we be without the bookish, after all?) But we are advocating for that subgroup of writers who also know how to paint pictures with their words in real time.
Your writer should be willing to listen
But isn’t this true of any employee? Yes. Still, we maintain that this is especially true of anyone you have composing copy for your organization. Your company’s content should be a reflection of its personality. Your writer should be able to accurately represent that on the page. That doesn’t just mean following project directions (though that certainly helps). It also means picking up on the “company voice” and reproducing that in the form of promotional or informative content. Consistency is key here as well since, ideally, your company’s content will make your readers feel like they’re a part of a conversation. And why not be that old, trusted friend that people keep wanting to come back to?
Your writer should be willing and able to take constructive criticism
We all get better at what we do through a reexamination of our own work, whatever it may be. Yet oftentimes it’s a beta reader who is able to provide the best guidance after objectively viewing our writing through fresh eyes. Every writer needs an editor. Every writer needs to revise. All writers benefit from the insights of others. Find yourself a writer who invites feedback and will use critical observations to continually improve, and you’ve got a long-term ally and advocate.
A great writer will bring the same qualities to the table that your company should expect from any other model employee: passion, expertise, dedication, experience, diligence, and personability. Your organization needs a distinctive and trustworthy online voice. If you can find a writer with these qualities who can also reliably speak your company’s language, add that person to your team and then watch your business thrive.
If you’re a blogger and you’re serious about your craft, you no doubt spend at least some of your time pondering how to compose that perfect post. And assuming that you’ve developed a suitable answer to that most basic query—What should I write about? —then you’ve probably moved on to trying to answer some other key questions. These may include the following: How should my blog look on the page? Who’s the blog for? What’s the ideal length for a blog post?
It’s that last bit of soul-searching that we’d like to focus on right now. Model blog post length. You’ll never be alone in trying to seek an answer to the question of how long a blog post should be. In fact, everywhere online you’ll find the Knights of the SEO Round Table off on that never-ending quest for this Holy Grail. The search for this ideal piece of writing is not exactly like the pursuit of that famed chalice of yesteryear. But still, wouldn’t you love for the “ultimate” blog to give your business eternal life? And if you could just land on the formula for that perfect post, you think, you’d finally know infinite abundance in the form of unrivaled website traffic.
Perhaps it’s best to save the Arthurian Romances for another day. Let’s bring this discussion back to the 21st century. Does a perfect blog post length actually exist?
Laying a good foundation for your post
Before we can begin to tackle the question of blog post length, we have to address some blog post basics.
What’s the point? Sorry if this seems too basic or sounds, perhaps, too existential. But before you can rightly know how long your blog post should be, you need to land on what it’s going to be about. Are you blogging about hot topics in your industry to raise your company’s profile? Would you like to use your blogging platform to transform a hobby into a business? Are you, personally, striving to become an online influencer? You could have several, overlapping reasons for taking to the blogosphere. The only wrong answer is no answer at all.
Who’s it for? Next, you need to figure out your blog’s primary audience. To a certain extent, this will be linked to your subject matter, and you should always be writing primarily for readers, not search engines. Are you hoping to have a lot of direct engagement with your potential audience in the form of comments on your blog? Will you benefit the most from having people share your blog insights on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or some other social media platform? Or, do you want to win Google’s heart through SEO? Whether it’s comments, shares, or rankings you’re after, you may want to adjust the length of your blog post accordingly. (More on that below.)
Quality is job 1: Regardless of subject matter and readership, you need to make sure that your writing is good. The rules that we all learned back in fifth grade haven’t gone out the window. Don’t confuse “your” and “you’re” or “to,” “too,” and “two.” Be mindful of run-on sentences that meander forever. And remember that passive voice is to be avoided. Were you paying attention just now? Let’s try that again: Don’t use the passive voice, especially when making a call to action.
Keep it lively and engaging: It’s not enough to simply consider the mechanics of your writing. You also need to make your blog posts enjoyable to read. After all, who’s going to add a positive comment to writing that’s boring or incomprehensible? Write for people, even if SEO compels you to think that Google is actually your primary audience. Search engine algorithms are sophisticated enough these days to differentiate good writing from bad. Think of your blog post as a chance for you to have a direct conversation with your readership and you’ll stay ahead of the curve.
And now let’s move on to blog post length
So, now that some of the groundwork is out of the way, let’s get to why you’re really here: blog post length.
Sorry if this is slightly unsatisfying, but there is no simple, straightforward answer.
There are, however, guidelines, based on what you want the primary function of your blog post to be. In general, longer content is better than shorter content, but don’t sacrifice quality in order to achieve length. If you can say what you need to say in fewer words, do that if you believe that people will still want to read it.
Here’s a detailed numerical breakdown showing the word count range you should strive for based upon the result you’ll most want your blog to generate:
Comments: An effective blog is a conversational blog. Write as though you’re speaking directly to an audience, make your argument easy to absorb and digest, and you’re much more likely to gain engaged readers. If your goal is to elicit very direct and visible responses from them, then a shorter blog post—meaning under 1,000 words—might be the best way to do this. After all, if it’s short, then it’s more likely that busy people will read it all the way through and want to say something back. Blog posts this short are not the best when it comes to SEO, but if that’s not your main purpose in writing, and your audience will like it, then it’s fine.
Shares: If you’re writing a blog post hoping to get readers to share it on social media, you’ll probably have to make it longer. Medium-length pieces—at least 600 words, but preferably beyond 1,000 words—are the ones that are best equipped to give you that result. At that length, readers may do some skimming, and not linger over every word, but they will usually be able to come away from the post with enough confidence to know whether or not they want to tweet it on to their followers.
Rankings: If SEO is your driving force as a blogger, then you’re going to want to make sure that your posts are even longer. Ideally, according to recent data, your posts should be around 2,500 words long if you really want them to rank high. Google views longer posts as being more authoritative. This is consistent with the idea that lots of content is going to cover lots of territory. And the more you write, the more you have a chance to get those keywords out there into the blogosphere. (We don’t think, in 2019, that we have to point out the difference between keyword stuffing and incorporating keywords into a well-written blog post, do we? Good.)
Above all else, your blog should serve its purpose
Most of all, remember that you should write your blog posts to be read by people. A blog post should inform, illuminate, or inspire. And it should be as long as it needs to be in order to do just that. Plus, any rule that experts might sell as “universal” today simply won’t be set in stone. After Google performs another major overhaul on its search algorithm, all of us will have to reassess what we know about SEO once again. Content will have to keep up.
If your post sets out to answer a particular question, and you can do that in 300 words, then that’s fine. This is especially true if there’s not going to be that much competition to answer a particular query, whether because the answer is fairly straightforward or because the field is quite specialized. The scope of responses to the question, “What’s the difference between a bowline knot and a running bowline knot?” is going to be quite different compared to what’s given in response to the query, “What are the biggest SEO trends of 2019?”
There’s more to think about when composing a blog post beyond just the word count. Keep not just the composition of your audience in mind as you write, but also what you hope they will do in response to your words. Above all, in blogging, as in life, you should always do your best work.