My SEO optimizer WordPress plugin says I should include my keyword in this blog post’s headline, but is it really what I want to do?
Look, it’s my business to optimize, and I like getting paid, so please understand I’m not saying this for nothing, but I think I’ve reached my breaking point.
In a “TL;DR” world when verbosity is reason enough to avoid content all together, why is there this incessant push for longer and longer website posts?
Isn’t it enough to just stop writing when you’ve said something of value and call it a day?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.
That’s why I asked Facebook-land about it a while back—and here’s what I found out.
Is shorter better?
Ernest Hemingway said, “If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.”
And he’s not alone.
The creation of TL;DR as shorthand for a world in which we simply don’t want to wait around to get to the good stuff is just another sign that shorter might be better.
Our audience just can’t focus.
After all, we all know our audience’s attention is challenged in every direction and unless the article we share is “tricked out” with every somewhat-relevant GIF, video and infographic; we’re taking a chance that our audience won’t stay with us until the end.
“The interesting, and sad, thing to me is that the new social media/Internet environment throws the whole ‘Inverted Pyramid’ structure (the most important information first in a story) on its ear,” said Tyler Davidson, VP & chief content director at Meetings Today.
“The model now in too many cases is to try to keep people on a [story] for as long as possible, so they’ll be teased with a provocative headline promising a payoff, but that info is buried ... to keep people’s eyes on it longer and scroll down past ads,” he added.
“It’s a model based on wasting people’s time, in some respects.”
Gary Vaynerchuk, controversial as he is, is masterful at grabbing attention and here is what he says about producing content (especially as it relates to blogging):
“People’s willingness to jump somewhere to consume content is certainly not down, but their willingness to leave the platform they are already engaging on (Facebook, Twitter) is,” Vaynerchuk said. “To get them to click, you have to be smart. Really smart.
“Don’t abandon the traditional blogging format; instead, test like crazy on social media and understand what drives your users, what your users care about,” he added. “And make sure your content is really good once you get someone to click it or else consumers are going to be pretty upset they clicked at all and will hesitate to do so ever again.”
Length doesn’t matter, quality does.
Ultimately, it comes down to the value provided.
Short or long, it really is all about providing good value when your goal is to communicate quality and build relationships (or to drive registration for your event).
If you are only focusing on building SEO for your website in order to drive traffic, the longer your content the better. Just don’t expect anyone to be happy about stumbling across your material on the interwebs.
Parker may have said it best when it comes to thinking about the length of content: “You know your audience. Write for them. Write as if you were one of them.”
That’s good advice as long as you know your audience—and maybe that’s fodder for another post ... a long, media-rich, targeted, super-optimized post.
Editor’s Note: The views expressed by contributing bloggers are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Meetings Today or its parent company.
Any products or services noted are for reference and do not constitute an endorsement.
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Posted by KiKi L'Italien
KiKi is the founder and CEO of Amplified Growth, a D.C.-based digital marketing consultancy.