Impossible Choices.1
Content Marketing

Which is Better For Content Marketing: Long-Form or Short, Regular Posts?

There seems to be some confusion over which is a better content marketing strategy: Long, deep well-researched articles or short, to-the-point regular updates. Not any more.

Long Versus Short Articles

There’s no reason to debate the issue of which is better: Long, deep, well-researched articles posted from time to time on your website or short, to-the-point regular, daily or multiple times daily, updates? I know the answer. And I have the proof.

Long Articles

There’s a fella I have known for quite some time (eight internet years is equal to the same in dog years). He ignores all of my rules and writes only long, deep, well-researched articles. About one article each day or less but not more. And he gets 10-13K unique visitors daily. See? I am wrong. Right? Well, it took him about seven years to get to his current level of traffic. If you have seven years, go ahead and use his method.

Very Short Articles

There’s another guy who punches out as many as a hundred tiny bits of posts daily. They are almost like Twitter-length posts. Even sound bites. He, too, ignores all my rules and can get 100+K visits each day. See,  I am wrong again. Right? He also has a near 100 percent bounce rate. If his method works for you, by all means, go for it.

Long Articles Plus Social

There’s yet another person I know who writes three to four posts weekly, sometimes less but never more and he gets several thousand people to read each post, sometimes more. But when he is not writing, he is on the phone, or traipsing throughout the social networks both virtually and physically to make contact and bring more attention to his posts. By the time he has attracted those 1,000 or 10,000 visitors to an article, he has spent a LOT of time (hours) doing so. 5 to 10 hours to get 10,000 visitors?  Is it worth it? That time might have been better spent writing more quality content that gets found. This strategy is NOT content marketing. This fellow is marketing his content.  They are NOT the same.

Just Right Articles

In a previous article here at Search Engine Journal, I made reference to a class I taught in an MBA program at a fully-accredited university in Silicon Valley. In that class I allowed my students to pick their own strategy – multiple daily bite-sized updates on their topic of choice, or deeper, more researched articles on a daily basis. You can have a glimpse of the results here: Top 20 sites in the Marketing with Social Media Course after 9 weeks. (Keep in mind, most students let their hosting expire after the class was finished.) Not one student writing long, deep, well-researched articles made it to the top 20.

The students who updated their sites multiple times daily without sacrificing the integrity of the content, far outperformed the students who updated their sites just once a day. After just four months, the students who updated their sites multiple times were seeing from 3,500 – 7,500 unique organic visits monthly with 4,ooo – 5,000 being the average. You can see their results at a previous post here at Search Engine Journal – from zero to 3,000 unique visitors in 4 months.

The students who updated their sites once a day saw 150 – 1500 unique organic visits monthly with 200 – 300 being the norm. Here are screen shots of three students. Keep in mind, these students were highly motivated to write good stuff and stay on pace (their grades depended on it).

long deep1 637x226 Which is Better For Content Marketing: Long Form or Short, Regular Posts?

Long Deep Well-researched Articles

long deep2 637x278 Which is Better For Content Marketing: Long Form or Short, Regular Posts?

Long Deep Well-researched Articles – 2

long deep3 637x280 Which is Better For Content Marketing: Long Form or Short, Regular Posts?

Long Deep Well-researched Articles – 3

Results

Compare the high number of visitors to sites that posted multiple times daily (3,500) to the low number of visitors to sites that posted once each day (300). Posting quality, bite-sized articles multiple times a day versus once a day produced more than 10 times the organic search results.

Next question, please!

Next Article – Quantity versus Quality – Must we decide?

 

Image: Property of Bill Belew

Screen shots taken March 2, 2014. 

billbelewlogo Which is Better For Content Marketing: Long Form or Short, Regular Posts?
Professor, Speaker, Author, blogger, all-around old man. Having taught a full 48-hour MBA course in Marketing with Social Media at a graduate school in Silicon Valley, Bill delivers insights from recent, real and relevant case studies. Bill has been working in social media for more than 8 years and has more than 90 million unique visitors from organic search to his network of sites and in a variety of niches. He knows what works, what doesn't, what can kill a site, and what can cause it to grow. Bill has a network of 5000+ Meetup followers in the heart of Silicon Valley. He is a paid, professional, international, in-demand speaker.
billbelewlogo Which is Better For Content Marketing: Long Form or Short, Regular Posts?

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26 thoughts on “Which is Better For Content Marketing: Long-Form or Short, Regular Posts?

    1. Piotr,

      To push the metaphor – Content is King. Short content is knights in battle gear and long content is the princesses in their long robes. Both valuable indeed, but one gets the job done while the other gives people something to look at for a long time after they show up.

      Thanks for reading.

      Bill

  1. Both, why not? It depends where the blog is, what you’re writing about, and whether the subject demands a protracted ramble. I do a mixture of “epic content” and short opinion articles. I get good results so long as it’s engaging. I don’t think there’s any need to read too deeply into this.

  2. Have to admit I am pretty surprised at this. Especially when you look at some of the research coming out of Moz and Searchmetrics – which shows the complete opposite. I wonder if this is because it they are all new sites and they need to get to a certain number of pages for G to really give them “credit”. Hubspot did some research to support this theory.

    1. Arnie,

      I am talking about content marketing. If you have an established readership the strategy changes. My articles here at SEJ are not short bursts because their purpose is different.

      Thanks for reading.

      Bill

  3. I have visited several sites and I find that the ones that have the longer posts, I either tend to avoid altogether or only read a small part of the story. I like to leave a comment either way so they know that someone cares about what they are doing.

    1. Frederick,

      I agree! And when you leave, do you usually back out = create a bounce.

      There’s a place for long content, but not in content marketing.

      Thanks for reading.

      Bill Belew

  4. This was a very interesting blog post! I shall conduct some research myself, where I would continually post throughout the day and then only post once a day and compare the results. I myself would like to see first-hand how many visitors I could get. But I do believe that the more simple posts, such those that are a couple links could be more effective. The reason for this is that more people may spend more time refreshing the site to find any new posts or updates.

    1. Peter.

      It cannot be too simple … there still must be substance. Too short and the search engines will not pick it up. Too long and it doesn’t give any additional benefit.

      Thanks for reading Bill.

  5. I always advice clients to write as much as needs to be said. Become an expert, offer genuine insight and the rankings will come. Very interesting how *very* regular updates also influence rankings.

    1. Szymon,

      What about them? I am not sure I follow your question.

      If a post satisfies a query, readers will look for more answers and this will build loyalty.

      Satisfying the reader is at the heart of your strategy.

      Thanks for reading.

      Bill Belew