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Is Long Content King?

More than once on this blog, we’ve sung the praises of writing short, simple and to-the-point blog posts. And the case for brevity is a strong one: today’s marketers are juggling more tasks than ever before; the last thing anyone wants to do is sift through thousands of words to find the information they need.

So when we stumbled across a study by Neil Patel claiming that the longer the blog post, the better, we had to take a second look. After noticing some interesting patterns in conversion rates in an A/B test of his website’s homepage, Patel set out to understand the ways in which content length affects search rankings, social shares, and conversion rates. And in all three cases, his findings are clear: whether it’s the homepage of your website or your daily blog post, when it comes to content, more is better.

Let’s take a closer look at a few of Patel’s key findings.

“The average content length for a web page that ranks in the top 10 results for any keyword on Google has at least 2000 words.”

As Patel points out, there are two significant factors that make content-rich sites more SEO friendly than shorter ones, and both are fairly straightforward.

First, pages with more copy received more backlinks (logical enough — the more content you provide, the more opportunities for readers to find your content cite-worthy). Second, sites with more content are actually more conducive to the way in which we now conduct searches.

According to recent data from Hitwise, 2-3 word searches are becoming less common as 4, 5, and even 8-word searches become more and more prevalent. Again, this stands to reason: as the internet gets more crowded, people must conduct more specific searches to find what they want more quickly, and long tail keywords become more important. And the more lengthy and detailed your copy is, the more likely you are to rank for long tail keywords.

“If a post is greater than 1500 words, on average it receives 68.1% more tweets and 22.6% more Facebook Likes.”

According to Patel, longer posts also perform better on social media (which, it’s worth noting, will further boost search rankings). This is a little harder to explain. When studies show that today’s readers are barely scanning content for the information they need, it’s hard to imagine that these same readers would take the time to read a 2,000-word blog post and then share it with their social networks. However, when Patel examined his 327 posts, those that were under 1500 words received an average of 174.6 tweets and 59.3 Facebook likes, while those over 1500 words averaged 293.5 tweets and 72.7 likes.

In testing two versions of the same homepage, “the long form version of the homepage converted at a 30% higher rate than the short version.”

This is a particularly interesting finding for marketers — after all, the ultimate goal of creating content is increasing conversions. When Patel ran an A/B test on the homepage of Crazy Egg, he found that the version with more copy had significantly higher conversion rates (30%), and the same held true for his own homepage.

Perhaps even more interestingly, the leads that came in with the long-copy version were more qualified. When you consider the nature of inbound marketing, this trend makes sense. People appreciate the opportunity to educate themselves on a product before speaking with a sales rep. If you can provide them with an in-depth explanation of what you have to offer, they’re more likely to convert to learn more — and less likely to waste a sales rep’s time.

So what can you take away from the results of this study? Cranking out content regularly is important, but taking the time to write thorough, detailed posts that cover a significant amount of material is a worthwhile investment. Just keep in mind: long or short, the real selling point of your content is value. As Patel points out, it’s important not to fall into a trap of trying to fill space; if your point can be made in 250 words, then make it in 250 words.

What are your thoughts on the findings of Neil Patel’s study? We’d love to hear from you in our comments section!

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