Why Content Length Is Not the Same As Content Quality - Here's Why #98 | Perficient Digital

Why Content Length Is Not the Same As Content Quality – Here’s Why #98

Which is better for content marketing: long-form content or short-form content?

Many assume that longer content must be better for SEO and is always better quality content, but is that the case? In this episode of Here’s Why, Perficient Digital’s Mark and Eric explain why content length isn’t really the most important consideration for content quality. You’ll also learn how to recognize and design content that your audience will love, share, and link to.

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Transcript

Eric: One of the recurring debates in content marketing and SEO is whether long form or short form content performs better. Mark, fill us in on the arguments.

Mark: There seems to be widely-held conventional wisdom that longer form content performs better, especially for SEO. And indeed some studies seem to indicate at least a slight edge for longer content. For example, the joint Moz and BuzzSumo study of content that gets both links and shares, found some rising correlation of those two when text length went over a thousand words. But the correlation is relatively weak, and actually starts to drop again past 2,000 words.

Eric: That study found a much stronger correlation with a sweet spot of gaining both shares and links for certain types of content, such as opinion forming journalism and data backed research studies.

Mark: And there are also many examples of sites that kill with shorter content such as IFLScience, whose highly focused brief videos and other short content routinely get hundreds of thousands of shares.

Eric: It seems that content length should not be your first consideration if you are going to go after content that makes a difference. So what does matter for content then?

Mark: I know many of our viewers are cringing right now.

Eric: Because of your Hipster glasses?

Mark: No, everyone knows these are cool.

Eric: Ah.

Mark: Some of our viewers are cringing because they think I’m about to say, “Create quality content.”

Eric: Thank goodness you weren’t going to say that.

Mark: No. I am saying you must have quality content. But I understand why many marketers roll their eyes when they hear that. Now, our friend Ronell Smith probably expressed the reasons best. He says, “The whole concept of what constitutes so-called ‘great content’ is an unclear goal that varies by the beholder. And at best is part of a very large pie.

Three Marks of Quality Content

Mark: But I’d like to propose what I think is a realistic, actionable definition of quality content. It has three characteristics.

Eric: What’s the first one?

Mark: I like to express them in terms of three questions you can ask yourself about a piece of content. The first is, “Is it helpful, useful and/or interesting to your target audience ?” Now our friend AJ Kohn taught us that you know you’ve achieved something worthwhile with your content if it is memorable for your audience. Do people continue to talk about it? Refer to it? Share it and link to it for a long time after it was published?

Eric: What’s the second question we should ask about our content?

Mark: “Does it match up with my marketing goals ?” For example, if one of my marketing objectives is increasing the reputation for a B2B service company, I might want to create data studies that demonstrate the company’s abilities.

Eric: And the final question?

Mark: “Is it unique enough to stand out from other content on the topic ?” This is especially important if your audience is made up of dedicated content consumers. It won’t take them long to realize that your post is just a rehash of the same old same old. And they won’t make the mistake of clicking on your stuff again.

Eric: To bring us back around to our topic for this episode, I noticed one thing that has no relevance, the length of the content.

Mark: My rule of thumb is simple. Create content that is long enough to be helpful and interesting, meet your marketing goals, and provide a unique take on the topic and no longer.

Man: Thanks Mark. You’ve given us advice that should go down in History.

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3 responses to “Why Content Length Is Not the Same As Content Quality – Here’s Why #98”

  1. steve rayson says:

    Really useful discussion. My view for what it is worth is that the average shares for long form content are only higher because there is so much poor quality short form content, and this drags the average for short form content down. Inherently long form is not better, in fact many of us prefer the author to take time to make content shorter. I did an analysis of the posts of the top 100 Mar/Tech blogs and 81 of the 100 most shared posts had less than 1,000 words. Short form can be very powerful if it meets your 3 criteria.

  2. Eric Enge says:

    Hi Steve – Good data, thanks for sharing that. I do thinkthe 1,000 word metric might be a bit large for the cut point between “short” and “long” though. What happens if you set the limit to 500 words? Would be curious to know.

  3. And given that most people don’t read what they share, I would suspect a number of 1000+ word posts get more shares just because they LOOK more credible than short posts.

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