Society is on a quest to shrink the world around us. It all began in the 1950s with the microchip. Over the decades that followed, the trend snowballed to include compact discs, nanobot technology and a whole assortment of diminutive devices. The media sphere quickly joined the bandwaggon, streamlining information for our narrowing attention spans through Twitter feeds and news tickers.
The communications world latched on too. After the blog exploded onto our screens in the early 1990s, content strategists developed a sudden craving for bite-sized articles of 250-600 words. But tastes change, and in recent years, longer pieces – with word counts of 1,200 words or above – have been making a comeback. Here are some key reasons why:
The devil is in the detail
Gathering information is not the same as learning. While receiving the news in small bite-size chunks can be handy, readers often appreciate the journey of discovering a subject for themselves, rather than being told exactly what they need to know.
This is where long-form content really adds value: you stand to learn more about a topic from one well-researched longer article than three or four surface-level pieces all saying the same thing. Analysis from Medium backs this up: the content platform estimates the ‘sweet spot’ for an article to be seven minutes’ reading time, or about 1,600 words.
Readers prefer longer pieces
Blogs may look great when populating a website and can help to build an online presence. However, even the ablest of writers will struggle to do justice to a topic in under 600 words, leaving the reader to scratch around for the information they need. The risk is that many will jump ship to different providers as they gather material.
A cardinal rule in sales is to give your customers everything they need in one place. Do this, and they’ll stay put. There’s a reason why supermarkets exist, after all.
No one wants the hard sell
Thought leadership has emerged as an important communications strategy in recent years, and for good reason. Few of us enjoy being on the receiving end of ‘the hard sell’, but we may be willing to engage with a business if we feel we’re getting something in return – i.e. valuable, objective content.
As well as longer web articles, long-form content can take various forms (think white, or yellow, papers, case studies and op-eds). The key in each case is to let your readers think for themselves; if they like what they see, they’ll probably pick up the phone.
Google rewards length
The days of companies stuffing puff pieces with keywords to improve their SEO ranking are over. Most longer pieces now actually rank higher on Google, with the search-engine giant prioritising ‘content-rich’ articles that display high-quality writing. While we’d never advise producing content solely to manipulate your rankings, it never hurts to be visible.
Above all, it’s time to reject the idea that longer means duller. Done right, long-form content delivers detailed, useful and engaging insights, and can help you position your business as a sector leader – so why not add some to your content calendar?
Get in touch today to discuss how the Narrative Labs team can support you with your English-language content needs.