How SEO companies define effective content definitely varies. Every so often a luminary in an industry comes out and says something that some of us wished we had the guts to say. In my view this happened on April 12, 2016 when Rand Fishkin said what I have not had the courage to say, for fear of ridicule. In his Moz article ‘Great Content =/ Long-Form Content‘ Mr. Fishkin boldly states that just because an article is long doesn’t automatically make it great content. What have we as marketers been hearing ever since the dawn of Hummingbird? Google will look favorably upon you if you populate your website with lengthy content. I will provide you with 5 reasons why long content isn’t automatically great, and I’ll conclude with a quote from Mr. Fishkin that should finally convince us that long doesn’t necessarily indicate excellence.

1) Why write a long article when a short one will do? Google wants marketers to provide value to users. If a three step how-to explains a process, then why write a 10 step treatise? Complete content isn’t the same as long content.

2) People don’t like to read long articles on a computer. Unless the topic is incredibly fascinating, most people aren’t going to read overly long pieces on their computer. If the content were formatted into a magazine layout and placed on a site like issuu then perhaps…but a long diatribe in a blog where a person has to scroll endlessly…that is not a great user experience.

3) Another formatting issue with long content is that many writers don’t remember to break up the page. Bullet points, indentations, headings, subheads and other tools can allow the eyes to easily move down the page. Long chunks of text simply don’t work well in a traditional web page layout. They can turn people off. Breaking up content by using sidebars is another tactic that can help.

4) What if you must communicate a complicated process and the resulting copy is quite dense and lengthy? There are multiple ways to do this. You can write a summary of about 500-750 words and include an infographic that summarizes the main points. Write an e-book to provide the entire scope of your article, and link to it from the summary. Those content formats are manageable for you to post and for readers to engage with.

5) There are enough ‘Everything You Always Wanted to Know About’ posts. You should be proactive and plan your content. A big part of content development is knowing what an audience will want to engage with, and having the timing just right so the maximum number of people will see the content. When creating a content calendar, populate it with multiple forms of content for the month. Copy, Vines, images, podcast audio, video – all of these help provide a diverse and high quality user experience, which will please your audience, and Google, too.

Rand Fishkin reminds us ‘700 more words will not help you reach your goals any more than 7 more words. Create content that helps people. Do it efficiently.’

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