Is less really more?

The internet is a great source of information and opinion. Amongst everything else, there’s a great deal of opinion out there on how to optimise your content.

The only problem is, there is very little consensus on how long your content should be to make an impact. Some say that keeping online content short is the key to engaging your audience, whilst others favour a more in-depth approach (often citing delivering more ‘value’ to the reader as their rationale). Of course neither of these views are particularly helpful unless viewed in the context of who, where and when people will be viewing your content. 

So, is less really more?

This will depend on what you are trying to achieve with your content. If you are selling a product or service and want to get to the point directly and deliver a call to action (CTA) then you probably want to keep it short and sweet. Of course you’ll need to work hard to convey all the information you need to within around 250 words, including grabbing peoples’ attention in the first place. You may choose to employ visual aids to achieve this, such as infographics, short lists and process diagrams. 

However, there is a broad consensus that longer posts (1,000 words or more) are excellent for SEO, as you can utilise far more keywords to grab the attention of the search engine robots. Indeed many of the most popular pages on Google tend to be around 2,000 words in length. 

So should you aim to write longer posts in order to optimise SEO? Here’s the catch; if your article isn’t informative, interesting and engaging to users, or doesn’t have good share functionality, then nobody is going to recommend it to their friends, which means fewer backlinks and social traffic. The target of a higher word count can also introduce the temptation to waffle, theorise and pontificate rather than focussing on writing something that people will actually want to read.

So how much should you write?

If you’re asking this question, you’re probably not focusing on the most crucial aspect of content development – writing something interesting. You may be able to convey your message in 250 words, or it may take 3,000 words to really make your ideas stand out. But it really doesn’t matter if the content isn’t interesting. Quality wins over quantity in the end.

Here are a few quick tips for delivering successful online content:

  • Get to the point (and take out anything that’s not interesting).
  • If you have a long post (2,000 words or more), provide a summary for those with little time / short attention spans.
  • If writing isn’t your strong point, find a good copywriter to help you deliver interesting, engaging and informative content – it will pay off.
  • Remember that good content takes time to create. Make sure your content schedule is achievable.
  • Keep your online goals in mind at all times – what is the purpose of the content?
  • Focus on your audience’s needs – what are their passions, what problems can you solve for them?
  • Use supporting media to strengthen your message. Infographics, video and imagery can be used effectively to support your message and provide engaging content (as well as rendering the word count irrelevant). 

What everyone seems to agree on, is that a well designed and well coded site with lots of high quality content is always likely to be favoured by Google. However, content is only one important way of improving your presence online. Combine excellent content with your social engagement, branding and linking programmes and you’re likely to improve your chances of making an impact in a highly competitive sector of the digital world considerably.

PS. In case you’re interested, the word count of this article is 646 words. Of course, as long as you found it interesting, the word count really doesn’t matter.

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