Writing Long Content That Gets Traffic, Shares, and Links

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There are components for content other than word count.

Most of the studies show that the ideal length for content that gets more shares and links consists of 2000+ words or more.  Still, a blogger claims length is not all that matters but the density of the content.  Quality content comes to mind.

The longer the content, the higher the chance of getting shared and linked, the experts say. This conclusion challenges the old story about shorter content – the handier a piece is, the easier it is to read, and the easier it is to share.

You can find these interpretations from the said studies and researches:

Another writer advised that a content writer needs to learn to amplify, or elaborate and expand the content. But how about topics that are just limited to a few sets of details or descriptions? Would such short content be downgraded as poor quality content?

Yes and no. Yes, if you write the content aimlessly. No, if you adopt a strategy of producing significant volumes of short content to get traffic.

You might be wondering as a new content writer. Is length for the content all that matters? If it’s not only the thousands of words to get noticed by Mr. Google, what are the other components? What composes a long content to be liked, shared, and linked back?

I did mini-research the other day, August 5.  I listed ten samples for a long-tail search of ‘what should be the length of content’ at Google.  The objective is to check how long content appears as a web page, and these are my observations regarding the components:

Catchy and Structured Headline

As I have written in this post, it is necessary to craft the headline first. Headlines capture attention, and they make it easy to create an outline of what you have to write.

The catchier a headline is, the more ideas your audience can generate upon reading.  The more appealing it reads, the more readers to attract.

But I am more interested in the structure of a headline.

In the mini-research, the ten blog posts that ranked on the first page of Google showed the shortest headlines have eight words in it, and the longest ones have 14 words. 

You must be marveling about the idea, too, how a content writer can craft such a long headline with 14 words in it!

The intention is clear: provide a specific solution to an audience’s problem or question just by the headline. You need to learn to structure a headline that offers an instant solution or answer once an audience landed on your page.

Take a look at these headlines:

A capture of a headline from Outbrain
A capture of a headline from Constant Content

But according to a post by Kevan Lee, six words is the ideal length. It helps when a headline occupies only a single line.  Your reader also scans your headline. Co-schedule’s Headline Analyzer gives a helpful tip: The first and last three words of your headline get the readers’ attention, as they scan it.

A Nifty Subheadline

“You’ve got to be kidding me! Is not a long headline enough?” Your reaction is understandable.  But you have to understand that of all the ten blog posts, the one that ranked first is the only one with a subheadline.

A Capture of a Subheadline from Smart Insights

Secondary headlines help your headline explain more what the content is all about. It acts more like a teaser to get the reader’s attention. Like the headline, it also persuades, but it convinces the readers more that the content is worth spending their time reading.

Short Paragraphs

A big chunk of data is an eyesore when reading the content. You would not want your reader to lose interest because of the many sentences in a paragraph that never seem to end.

Paragraphs make your content appealing.  If the sentences in your paragraphs become too many, they lose the charm.  But do not be discouraged.

You can break lengthy paragraphs.  Be sure that by doing so, you get the message across, effectively making the audience stay to read more.

Grammar teachers and editors advise limiting the number of sentences in your paragraph into five, but three sentences are friendlier to a reader’s eye. 

But is it alright to write one-sentence paragraphs? Check this one-sentence paragraph below.

Your page might only have a hundred words on, but it might be accompanied by multiple images and an incredible video that provides immense value to your readers.

– Tim Brown, 5 Things More Important For Your Content than Content Length in 2019 by Kinsta

There are arguments about using one-sentence paragraphs. Some educators do not consider them as paragraphs, but some editors assert that they are perfectly acceptable in English.

Sometimes, you need to separate a key point using a one-sentence paragraph. But like paragraphs with many sentences, they become weak when you write these paragraphs repeatedly.

Also, when writing the content, your goal is to inform and persuade.  You have to be creative to contain your ideas in short paragraphs to let your readers stay.  Online reading, as mentioned in this post, is different from reading physical texts. 

Your online readers skim content.  Make the sentences of your paragraph accurate and precise.  If they can have a quick look at what they are searching for, the longer they stay to consume the information.

Complementary Subtopics and Lists

If the readers do the F scan, subtopics and lists get their attention. These components of the content make it readable, too.

Out of the ten samples from the Google search I made, only one does not have subtopics and lists.  The post is the shortest among the samples. It is perfectly understandable.

Subtopics break the content into smaller parts.  Your content has to be readable, as mentioned many times.  You need subtopics for broader subjects.  An interesting article refers to the outline as the starting point when trying to write subtopics.

A subtopic for What’s the Ideal Blog Post Length for SEO?

Unordered lists use bullets, and there are rules to follow on how to use them.  Ordered lists use numbers, which is a better way of presenting a sequence or an order.

An example of bullets from CoSchedule

Amazing Infographic

The number one on that list of post for my search query ‘what should be the length of content’ at Google only have 650+ words but include a comprehensive infographic.

Aside from being attractive, infographics pique the reader’s interest in many ways. Why? Because it’s all-inclusive.  All the data and information you need for the content is summarized visually.

Infographics require design skills. You need to employ the services of a designer to create a compelling visual or imagery of all data, information, charts, and texts.

Visit the Venngage blog to know more about infographics.  You can even acquire the skill with their free training that you see on the sidebar.

Take a look at LinkedIn’s amazing infographic that talks about mixing the content of your blog.

Clear, Compressed and Legit Images

The number one on that list of posts for my search query ‘what should be the length of content’ at Google only have 650+ words. Supporting their content with images or photos add to the appeal. Most of the posts in my mini-search used photos of graphs supporting the studies and researches. It is the same with those that used images of instructions, quotes from experts, call-to-actions, etc.

A graph image from Backlinko

As mentioned in one of my blog posts, you choose photos that appeal to the emotions to get reader engagement.  You also pick photos that represent your content and your brand.

You do not need visual acumen when choosing images or photos for your content. That is for artists and designers. If you can create your image using the available online tools, that would be good.

What you need is to use only clear, compressed, and legit images. Visit Neil Patel or Andy Crestodina to learn about adding images and photos to your content.

Helpful Links

All of the blog posts in that mini-search have links. These include internal and external links. You must have noticed that I have included in this post a few links to some of my posts. The other links are external links that redirect to other blogs or web pages.

Linking with an internal link is a way to provide your readers with additional information about a topic. By doing this, you only not promote your skills as a writer, but you also deliver extra learning that the readers need.

Linking to an external link adds to your resourcefulness and to your willingness to give information from authoritative web pages. It reflects your desire to help your readers to learn more and acquire additional information. You also get the chance to build relationships across the web.

A capture of an external link

Some of the links in the blog posts from the mini-research also include call-to-action links that influence an audience or a reader to take action or move forward by buying or getting a product or service.

SUMMARY

It is not easy to land on the first page of Google search. It requires hard work and a lot of learning. Google wants you to feed useful information that readers or audiences like to consume.

You need to be a likable authority in the field of content writing. You need to be always ready to explore.  You need to have a unique and authentic individual voice.  Most of all, you need to get the audience’s attention.

Content with more than 2,000+ words has become the norm. Most of all, you need to know your audience persona more. That is where most of them always start.

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