We have this idea in SEO and content marketing that if we churn out enough words we will beat Google’s ranking algorithm. It’s as if, by forcing as many words into Google as quickly as possible, we will eventually burst through to the top of the search results page.
If our 3,500+ word “in-depth guide” breaks through we leap on this as proof that we can make it by sheer volume of words. But maybe we would have had as much success if the article had been 1000+ words shorter? Unless we publish two versions – one long, one short – of everything we publish, we can’t know for certain.
I’m definitely a writer who tends to “over-write”. This blog was meant to be short, but it’s already far longer than the average Seth blog, which was the inspiration for this post (more below). I search for a certain completeness in my work. This can be a strength, but perhaps also a weakness. But actually there is often great value in brevity. Take a look at Seth Godin’s blog, to get a great example of this. His posts are rarely much longer then 200 words, and are often much shorter.
That’s not to say he doesn’t take any time over his writing…. far from it. He not only blogs everyday, but he is constantly queuing up posts and replacing the ones that don’t grab him. But he values brevity over quantity. And he never stops.
I’m definitely not saying we shouldn’t write long posts. I’m just saying that in the content marketing arms race to produce better and more quality content we should be aware that word count is never the metric we should use for success. I’m increasingly of the opinion that we should focus more on connecting with actual people and providing bespoke responses to their problems.