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Content Marketing & SEO Blog

Blog about startup growth strategies revolving around content marketing, SEO, CRO, and social media marketing.

How long a blog post should be

Sean Smith

I'm a very big proponent of beefy-ass blog posts, here's why.

I prefer to get all I have to say on a subject out in one blistering, data-filled post. If you want an example, all of these were posts that I had stored up information on for a while and let them out in a very large tangent.

I believe other people follow my same beliefs -- at least the readers do -- and that's what really matters, right? If we are writing for our readers, why not write long-form content that answers every question they could have instead of posting 3 posts on the same topic? Perhaps you will get more pageviews but it is it better for your reader? I doubt it.

 

The Case for Huge-ass Posts

I write a good bit, I'd like to think. Some posts are more targeted at traffic than others. Some are just thoughts and opinions of mine that I want to document for whoever wants to hear them. Some are legitimately things I'm passionate about that I want to teach others about. I'm passionate about productivity. When I wrote this post, "How SEO Pros Manage Their Work and Time" I wasn't looking to increase my uniques per month, or even increase my follower-count.

I was writing to learn.

If you are learning something by your post, you better believe your readership will be. Do you really learn from the posts like, "3 Ways to do Things you Already Know How to Do!"? No, no you don't. If you said you did, go look in the mirror, slap yourself in the eyes with some soap -- scream a bit -- and then be honest with yourself. 

People like long-form content if they're looking for solid information. If they're looking for quick consumable entertainment -- sure, don't write your "Ultimate Funniness on The Web" post -- It probably wouldn't do well anyways. When users are looking for solid information though, they trust in long-form. They share long-form. Users typically reward solid content. It's just human nature to award obvious effort.  

 

Example of Long-Form in Practice

Jon Cooper's post, "Link Building Strategies - The Complete List"  is a perfect example. That fucking thing has nearly 2,000 tweets. 2,000!! I bet that post gets him more traffic every month than any new post he publishes -- and he posts solid shit! Jon said it took him ~16 hours to put together, that's what I'm talking about.

When I wrote that "How SEO Pros Manage Their Work and Time" post it was the first time my blog went above 1,000 uniques in a month. It hit the top of inbound.org and stayed there for a few days. It spread well on Google+ and Twitter and gave me some connections with some of my favorite SEOs who would later contribute to more of my posts. 

Writing long-form content -- or "huge-ass posts" -- is an investment for the future.  You will have more traffic through organic paths and more relationships formed to push your future content forward. 

This week I put together a 6,000 word post named "How to Blog; The Ultimate Resource" of which I worked on in my off-time for over 2 weeks. Interviewing prolific bloggers, blogging industry leaders, putting together my favorite resources from my favorite sources around the web, jotting my own thoughts towards what my best blogging recommendations are and elaborating on 10 different blogging platforms. 

That post took an ass-load of work, yes. But was it worth it? 

Yeah. 

 

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My traffic spiked as it has never done before. I got more recognition than I ever got before and while the success of this post on social spheres was overshadowed by a picture of a cow, to me it was a great success. John Doherty even said this (to which I was happy to see)

The key is that I love blogging, I want to be a better blogger and I want to make better bloggers and help people who are just starting out. I saw a common gripe with a ton of my personal friends who wanted to get started blogging but didn't know what to do, how to start or what platforms to use. I had given the same advice so many times that I thought,

"I have a blog.. I know the people who could provide the resources.. most of the best resources are actually in my reading list already.. why not put a huge-ass post together?" 

So that's what I did. I wrote to teach, and it spread like a flame. I am not trying to gloat either, trust me, I didn't plan for that.  

My average monthly uniques on this blog (currently) are around 1,100/m; this month (it's only the 10th) I have over 1,200. 80% of that has come from this post -- the rest, to a post that is a product of that post.  

Good content begets good content.

Much like evil begets evil, for all you Fifth Element fans out there. Lelu-dallas multipass. Okay, enough of that. 

 

How You Can Put Together That Beefy-ass Post

1. Learn what people are interested in.  Take notice to what people around you want to know. What hasn't been well-said or well fleshed-out. Notice everything.

2. Research like a mad man. If you research your topic enough, you will be able to distill the information you read down to the most profitable tactics for your reader. (and know-thy-reader)

3. Focus on bang-for-buck answers. If you pull together 100 resources on a topic, don't expect the people reading your stuff to read every one of those 100 resources. Read them yourself and then give the most actionable recommendations from the info you've gathered.

4. Interview experts in the field.  If you interview the people that mean the most in your industry -- and you do it well -- chances are they are going to mention your content. You will get shout-outs from the highest-ups in your vertical, but also your post will have some of the best recommendations from some of the best sources you could ever hope for. It's a win-win, exposure and great content.

It's also HUGE to note that you should not go after these people with hopes of just getting page-views. Establish relationships with them. Every person I've had featured in any of my posts are people that I have followed long before reaching out to them. I know they're of great quality. I know their recommendations will be well-founded. I know that if there is even the slightest chance I can keep in touch with them and pick their brain, help them in any way I can or anything else that comes with the territory, I sure as fuck will.

5. Provide value through tools or assets.  The best posts have something to take away from them. Giving tools or assets away will give the reader the sensation of gaining something more than just information from a post. It's like telling a kid a story and giving him a toy that somehow relates. It's just awesome. An example could be, if you're talking about link building, let people know about buzzstream. It's obviously the best tool for link building, why not let people know about it?

Hell, if you can, contact buzzstream. Tell them you're writing a post about link building that could be massive. Tell them that if they gave you some codes for a free month of subscription that you could probably get them a lot more subscribers from it. They will probably mention your post, give you those codes, increase your exposure, help out your blog and get more business themselves. This also establishes a relationship with that tool. If you use it yourself they may just give you a free account. Why wouldn't they? You just pimped their shit.

6.  Tell a story. Do you have a good story to tell on the subject you're writing about? I sure as hell hope you do if you're willing to invest that much time into a piece of content. Tell the story, people love stories. If it's actionable, interesting or entertaining then it helps. Stories let your readers know more about you. It lets them into your psyche. It lets them see your sense of humor, your values, your mentality, and lets them know a part of your life. It must mean something to you if you're willing to put it in ink, so it must be of worth.

Long-ass content doesn't mean fill the page with fluff. Actually it's exactly the opposite. Don't make hollow content. If you're going to, make it short, who wants to read 6,000 words of fluff? 

Be actionable, be valuable, be visceral, be real, be true, get to the point, and give the user what they need to know.  

Go big or go home.