Writing for the Web: Value Matters More than Length

Writing anything – such as an article for a blog, website copy or a newsletter – can be quite a time commitment. So when marketing experts tell you to keep copy brief because “no one reads,” it’s tempting to follow their guidance. 

But is this advice accurate?  

After all, there are plenty of marketing arguments in favor of long-form content – copy that exceeds 2,000 words. One advantage of long-form content is that it can establish you in the eyes of readers and in the Google search algorithm as an authority on your topic. 

What’s a public library marketer to do? Do you keep it short, maybe save a bit of time and possibly entice more visitors to read through to the end? Or, spend several hours writing one lengthy piece that captures the attention of the search engine and the respect of readers? 

I think we can agree that while we want to attract visitors to our websites, we also want readers to find our content valuable enough to stick with it through to the end.

As it turns out, that’s an excellent rule of thumb for creating content.  

As the SEO experts at Moz point out, there isn’t a “perfect” length for blog content. Though the marketing experts may try to convince you otherwise with research and data, the analysis is too general to be useful. The perfect length has more to do with your specific goals and the specific needs of your audience. 

Translation: the reason you might not be attracting more visitors and keeping readers on your site has more to do with the content of your blog post than its actual length. 

In the past, the Google algorithm rewarded keyword stuffing – the mention of a keyword or phrase in every paragraph. Today, though, it’s looking for relevant content about a topic, the kind of material that people will find valuable. Not coincidentally, that’s what readers want too.  

So the best way to rank higher in search results is to produce content that visitors find useful and valuable. To understand what matters to your audience and the content format they prefer, you’ll need to experiment a bit. 

Try publishing different types of content – short blog posts, long-form pieces and visual content. Experiment with high-quality, substantive works that are highly relevant to your audience. Mix it up with top 10 lists, infographics and video. 

Then, check your Google analytics. 

Which posts and topics get the most traffic? Which format engages more readers? These insights will help you understand the type of content you should be creating. And even if your analysis shows that you need to write more long-form pieces, it will be worth it because you know your audience will be paying attention. 






About Tiffany McClary

Tiffany McClary is the Director of Communications, Marketing & Outreach for the New Jersey State Library. She coordinates marketing and public relations initiatives in order to enhance the reputation of the State Library, and promote the value of NJ libraries and the services and programs that they provide to residents.