How 2,416-word blog posts could transform your small business blog
That’s a precise number, I know. But there’s evidence to suggest most sites ranking in Google’s top 10 for any given search term are between 2,032 words and 2,416 words long. See? You don’t need to write long 2,416-word blog posts or articles for your small business blog after all. Phew!
There are exceptions. But the evidence does suggest you should be aiming long. I know, I know – it’s hard enough to write a 400-word blog post without being advised to write one five times as long. It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing for your small business blog or for your own personal blog.
But hold on.
If you’re writing small business blog posts with one eye on the word count in Microsoft Word, you’re not doing it correctly. You’re approaching your blogging from the end rather than the beginning.
Confused? Keep reading. By the time you finish this 2,416-word article (kidding… it might be longer), you’ll know more about blogging than you did before. You’ll discover all kinds of nuggets of information here – information and advice about small business blogging you can take away and use when you write your own blog posts.
- This info will help any blogger or site owner
- It’ll help someone running a company with hundreds of employees
- It will also help someone just starting their first blog with the hope of earning a second income from it
If your small business blog is foundering (or worse, you don’t even have one), today could be a game-changer.
A tale of two clients (or, a tale of two small business blogs)
I once had a client tell me he didn’t see the point in blogging, so he wasn’t going to add regular content to his website. (He hired me to rewrite his home page.) It was a one-and-done job. As far as I am aware, he hasn’t added anything to it since.
I’ve also had a client tell me his blog now appears on the first page of Google for their main target keyword phrase. I’ve been working for his company for about two years now, and he’s very happy. I complete several posts a month for his small business blog on topical subjects. Keywords are never the primary concern for that client. More important is the quality, readability, and usefulness of the content. Those are the three most important elements to include on his small business blog.
This client understands the importance of appealing to his target audience. Yes, the posts rank well in Google, so that brings in traffic for various search terms. But the posts are primarily written on topics he knows his customers are interested in. People are finding his site, reading the content, and hanging around to see what else is there for them. That means they might even make a purchase, or at least bookmark the site to return to later.
The point is, if your small business website doesn’t have a blog, you could be missing out on a huge source of traffic. Readers can become buyers, especially if you give them the information they are looking for. If you don’t provide it, someone else will. That means your competition could end up with several clients who could just as easily have found their way to your site instead.
So… back to those long blog posts.
How many types of blog post are there?
There are lots of ways you can break down and categorise a blog post, but I believe there are only two types:
- Posts you want to read
- Posts you don’t
I’ll assume you’d rather write posts that fall into the first category. If your small business blog posts are readable, entertaining, engaging, and useful, people will read them. If they don’t hit those spots (or at least one or two of them), you’re merely filling space on your website. That won’t help your audience or your search engine rankings. In fact, in the case of the latter, so-called ‘thin content’ could end up penalising your site and dropping it further in the rankings.
Avoiding the magic word count when writing your small business blog posts
If you start with a fixed word count in mind, you’re going to end up focusing on that rather than the finished piece. “Right, I want to write a 300-word post for my site. I think I’ll write something on… toenail clippers.” (Let’s say you sell manicure and pedicure products.) “A 300-word piece isn’t that long, so I’ll just write something about how angled ones are easier to use. That’ll do.”
20 minutes later, after staring at some toenail clippers and checking the word count in your Microsoft Word document, you’ve hit the ‘magic’ word count. You’re done.
This is the tick box style of blogging, and it’s not one I’d recommend. Trouble is, plenty of website owners and business owners aren’t writers. They can write, certainly, but it doesn’t mean they’re writers. I can turn taps on and off, but it doesn’t make me a plumber.
But let’s get back to the point.
Focusing on word count means you’re taking your eye off the purpose of your blog post. The purpose – whatever topic you are writing about – is to help your audience. It helps to focus on a typical member of that audience too. It’s much easier than focusing on everyone you are trying to appeal to. Why? It’s always easier to chat one-on-one than with a whole room. It takes the pressure off. Figure out what your customers need to know, imagine you’re sitting there chatting with them, and you won’t go far wrong. You’ll soon have some excellent content appearing on your small business blog.
Keywords and article lengths
Quick note: You’ll notice I use the terms blog post and articles interchangeably here. Some people talk about articles rather than posts, and vice versa. You can apply the advice on this article to every piece of content you write for your small business blog. Keywords are relevant to all content, but I don’t believe they should be the sole focus. You can and will focus on them, but not to the exclusion of all else.
I believe this applies if you write blog posts (or anything else, for that matter) based on keywords alone. There may well be a key phrase you’d like to rank well for, so you’ll think about writing an article or post based around that. But don’t put the focus on keywords or phrases alone. If you focus on word count, you’re taking your eye off your ideal reader. Focus on keywords and you’re doing the same thing.
“Ah, but I want to attract readers who are interested in learning more about toenail clippers,” you say. “By including relevant keywords, I’m going to find them when they search for terms like ‘toenail clippers’ and ‘best angled toenail clippers’ in Google.”
And you may well do that. There may well be a niche audience out there looking for such information. But again, you’re focusing on the wrong thing. Do you see how your audience must always come first?
Should you always aim for articles or posts that are 2,000 words plus?
No, not if the subject doesn’t warrant it. If you tried writing 2,000+ words on our famous clippers, I doubt you’d be able to do it (unless there is far more to them than meets the untrained eye). It’s easier to start with a long or short post in mind. It’s also why some clients order a number of words from me each month (say, 2,500 words or 4,000 words) instead of a set number of posts (10 x 400-word posts, for example). It works well.
Figuring out whether a blog post should be long or short is easier than you’d think. A lot depends on your topic:
- 3 ways to save money on your shopping
- 101 ways to optimise your website
I’m sure you can see which of those topics is going to produce a longer article. Of course, it also depends on how much depth you’re going to go into. If you gave a one-sentence answer on each of those 101 ways, you’d end up with a much shorter article than if you expanded on each one with a paragraph or two. That approach would likely see you soar over the 2,416-word amount.
What I’m saying is that – once again – your content and its target audience should come first. If you start thinking about how many words you’d like your post to be, or which keyword phrases and long-tail terms you’re going to target, you’re taking your eye off the important bits.
The worst-case scenario would be to get 2/3 of the way through those 101 ways or steps in your article and to realise you are closing in on whatever arbitrary post length you had in mind. You might then be tempted to rush through the remainder so (phew!) you can hit that target word count after all.
Should you go longer than 2,416 words?
This should be obvious by now. Yes, if the subject matter warrants it. I read Steve Pavlina’s blog now and then, and one of his posts is called How to Make Money from Your Blog. It’s over 7,300 words long. It’s also a great read – I recommend it. It’s been shared 795 times to date. I can only imagine how many thousands of people have read it since it was first published in 2006 (millions, even).
There’s a LOT of information in that post. I’m sure he didn’t sit there wondering if it was too long or too short (!) when he wrote it. It’s that old idea of getting in, saying what you want to say, and getting out again.
Never mind the length, feel the quality
I wanted to mention this because you may now be wondering if every post on your small business blog should be 2,000 words long or more. You may have noticed many of my older posts are far shorter than this. I’ve also started a series of Quick ‘n’ Easy Writing Tips that mostly sit at around 150-300 words each.
The idea behind those posts is that not everyone has the time or inclination to sit and read long articles or blog posts. Each one of those posts focuses on a single topic – a single point within a topic, even. But while they’re short, they’re not pointless. Each one of those posts has a takeaway – something you can act on to help you enhance your own writing. They’re not fillers – they include actionable content people can use and benefit from.
Quality should always be your watchword, whatever you are writing about for your own small business blog.
Does Google penalise short content?
All signs point to ‘no’. They do penalise thin content, and somewhere along the way the two have been confused. Certainly, it makes sense shorter posts would include less information than long ones. But we all recognise that isn’t always the case. If you came across 3,000 words of gibberish and 150 words of useful tips, which one would you rather read?
Bear that in mind for any length article or post you are thinking about writing. It’s all about giving value. Your readers should come away from your article, post, or other content and feel satisfied. They should feel they’ve learned something. Maybe they will apply that something to their own lives. Take your eye off the word count and focus on the content and you may end up with a far bigger audience than you imagined possible.