There are strategies galore for getting traffic and for ranking in search engines. As an Internet marketer, you cannot afford to ignore any of these even though the preference of a particular strategy over others varies from one person to another.
If you are a beginner, you might not be employing all the strategies (and that’s okay too) but very soon you’ll learning them and executing them in your overall strategy.
However, let’s all be very clear of one thing – any strategy for gaining better online visibility invariably depends on content.
The axiom that content is the fuel that drives the engines of websites is the core of all our efforts.
It needs to be understood in its totality.
Whatever strategy you employ on your website, your efforts will be meaningful if only you have a good body of content on your blog.
Can we think of gaining many Pinterest followers without much content?
Can we think of having a lot of subscribers to our blog without content?
So, let’s all create content, shall we?
And when I say content, I mean the blog posts.
Let’s write a good number of quality posts before we trouble ourselves with the different traffic strategies.
A Beginner’s Dilemma – So Many Strategies, So Little Time
As beginners, we mostly get weighed down by the number of blog strategies being taught everywhere.
Try visiting the many websites on online business or affiliate marketing and you’ll know what I mean.
At once, you would be bombarded with all these pop-ups left, right and centre about how they (the blog owners) can teach you the “best” methods of getting free, organic traffic to your site.
The methods include – Pinterest, email marketing, Instagram, Flipboard, Facebook, YouTube videos, guest posting, building backlinks, etc.
You’re unlikely to see pop-ups that ask you to sign up for courses on “how to write valuable content regularly” and even if you encounter one, it will be about a creative writing course only.
Not blog content writing as such.
I still remember my early days of blogging when I tried to play out every strategy under the sun for increasing my blog traffic.
Being a beginner, it took me days to properly understand the techniques for these strategies and the rationale behind them.
I even signed up for many courses.
I wasted much time.
My content writing got affected by these distractions.
I got frustrated.
Did I gain anything?
Except for the eternal truth that Content is King!
If you’re a beginner, you need not be dismayed by the small traffic on your blog.
It will take you at least a year before you get to see some increase in your organic traffic, say 500 unique visits per day.
It’s a conservative estimate. It can even take longer.
Much also depends on the niche you are in.
A less competitive niche allows you to see good traffic soon but in a competitive niche, it can take months, if not years.
So, why worry about strategies when you’re a newbie?
Try to write as much as possible.
Make writing a habit and see if you can find your own voice in your writings.
Set yourself a target of publishing a good number of posts (say 7-12 posts in a month).
Let your blog grow in volume first.
Quantity versus Quality
All blog posts are intended to serve the needs of the customers in a specific niche.
It’s about solving their problems, isn’t it?
So whenever you set out to write a blog post, it’s good to ask yourself what purpose does your post intend to serve.
Or if you talk about your whole blog in general, how do you plan to serve the needs of your customers?
Does your blog cover a wide range of topics that provide answers to the very questions your customers have been asking for long?
Why would you think a person should explore your blog?
If you can answer these questions, it will provide you the premise of your blog, your business.
People do not care for your mundane writings, however good they might be if they do not provide solutions.
We provide real, practical solutions for our existing as well as potential customers.
And we should not simply identify a problem in our blog post and expect people to read our writings on them without providing a solution for it.
Now herein lies the debate between short and long posts.
As beginners, we have been told to write posts frequently.
They always used to say that Google and other search engines love fresh content and when we publish posts on a regular basis, it improves our chances of getting ranked.
We were made to believe that of the many factors that affect rankings, the frequency of new posts getting published is a big one.
Hence, the pressure to write frequently.
The contention is okay and indeed publishing regularly is good.
But I’ll say that it’s more to do with showing your readers new valuable solutions.
And not new content per se.
So, let me ask you something?
Do you like to publish mediocre-quality 1000-word posts daily or a 3000-word post every three days that provides real, in-depth solutions to people’s problems?
Quantity and quality are equally important; our content strategy ought to be a fine mix of the two.
If in the name of publishing good quality posts, we publish only once or twice a month, that’s also not a good thing.
There are independent studies to demonstrate that the number of blog posts published is directly proportional to the traffic.
But the notion that higher the number of blog posts published (and ranked in search engines) is directly proportional to the inbound traffic holds true only when the quality of the posts is good.
Google favours the quality of the content over other metrics while ranking it.
Its concern is to serve the best possible (relevant) information to the user when he types in those specific search words.
And it is seen that the long-form content tends to provide exhaustive, in-depth solutions.
An 800-word blog post is considered to be too short to provide the kind of answers a user is seeking.
So, strive for the long-form content.
Strive for quality.
The Difficulty of Writing Long Content
In the beginning, it’s not easy to write long.
The reasons for this inability are many.
However, if I talk about myself, it had to do with my long association with social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Long years of “microblogging” on these sites – status updates, comments on discussion threads, etc. had actually turned me into a microblogger!
I have been conditioned to think short and to write shorter even.
I just couldn’t write long.
Never had the habit.
It took an enormous effort on my part to be able to write a 1000-word post.
I thought I could finish saying what I wanted to within that length.
I managed to squeeze in all the usual elements – introduction, body (problems, solutions), conclusion.
This means the “solution” I was giving carries not more than 300 words.
Do you think anybody would care to give a second look at a post with a 300-word solution?
Unless if he was looking for an answer to the question “How to change a bed-sheet?”
So, obviously, if people are looking for a solution to their real problems, a short post (<1000 words) would not suffice.
You have to provide more meat.
You have to show that you know your stuff – every bit of it.
Then and only people are going to read your articles.
As a beginner, we are more concerned about learning new things – the WordPress, the plugins, Google Analytics, Google ads, social media marketing – and we are sharing our posts in the social media.
In the beginning, we are too busy learning new things that we tend to forget the fundamental utility of a blog – that of providing value to the readers.
We forget that we do not create a blog for our own but for the Internet readers.
We are mostly in a hurry to publish posts without considering its quality.
You do not write long-form content because either you do not know fully what you’re saying or you simply cannot write long.
So, if you are writing a blog post because you want to help people by providing answers to their long-standing questions, make sure that you are more thorough with what you write.
There’s no other reason to write if you cannot do so.
Writing the long-form content comes from your knowing your stuff and from honing your writing skills.
Make writing a habit.
It’s going to take some time before being able to churn out the 2000-word post regularly.
READ MORE: “12 Tips for Creating Relevant Content”
Why the Long-Form Content Wins?
There’s enough evidence to demonstrate that the long-form content consistently performs better than their shorter counterparts.
There have been many independent studies, for instance, the serpIQ study, which shows that the top ten positions in most search queries in Google are occupied by pages with more than 2000 words.
Now, how does that happen?
#1: Increased time spent on the site
When a user reads a long post, and if the content is engrossing enough to make him read from beginning till the end, the time spent on the page is longer. Naturally.
This increased time spent on the site is a good ranking factor.
#2. More page-views
And if the content is longer, then it is usually spread over many pages. Hence, when a visitor is engaged in reading the content, the page views would increase.
The bounce rate is seen to drop too.
#3: More backlinks
When a content is of the long-form kind, the chances of it getting more backlinks increases.
In fact, there are studies to show that there’s a direct correlation between the long-form content and the number of backlinks it garners.
#4: More shares on the social media
The long-form content is generally considered more thorough in nature and authoritative.
It is perceived to have more substance on a topic.
This results in more social shares.
To illustrate this, Neil Patel did a study on the social shares his posts received on his Quick Sprout blog.
He observed that from the total of 327 posts on his blog, those with less than 1500 words received an average of 174 tweets and 59 likes on Facebook.
Interestingly, the blog posts having more than 1500 performed way better. They received a total of 293 tweets and 75 Facebook likes.
#5: More conversions
Contrary to the general belief that people are increasingly becoming impatient and that there’s no place for long articles in today’s fast-paced digital world, it is seen that people do prefer reading a thorough, well-researched article.
When it is a long-form content, the call-to-action buttons and internal links can be placed more strategically and spaced out without looking spammy.
The long-form content conveys an impression of being authoritative and leads to more conversions.
Should All My Posts Be Long-Form?
There’s no need to write long all the time.
If you are simply trying to stuff in more words to keep with the “desired” length without your writing providing any real value, then it is bad.
You have to resist the temptation of targeting a specific word count for your post.
If your readers find too much fluff in your posts, that can result in higher bounce rates.
Also, there are topics that do not require you to write long. In such topics, there’s no point in trying to stretch it out just to meet the word count.
Your readers will enjoy more if you can mix it up – the long-form and the short articles – instead of trying to push out long articles all the time.
It is okay to write short posts in between.
By short post, I mean an article with 1000-1200 words.
Anything less than that is too short.
Increase Readability with Long Blog Posts
In publishing a long content, care must be taken to make it more readable.
Nobody likes to read a continuous mega text block with no breaks in between even if the substance is of good quality. It’s an eyesore.
There are ways to improve the readability of an article.
#1: Use sub-headings
When you make use of subheadings, it makes your post more scannable.
The reader can have an idea of the gist of the article from the subheadings. It is easier for a reader to summarise the article in his mind.
Also, when an article is broken down into smaller chunks with proper sub-headings, coming back to a specific place to re-read a particular point becomes easier for the reader.
A reader might not fully agree to some points in your article while agreeing to some. When the blog post is divided into different paragraphs, he gets an idea of how agreeable the post was to him in general.
In short, the use of sub-headings makes an article reader-friendly and more digestible.
#2: Use relevant images and videos
One of the best ways to break the monotony of a long-form content is to use relevant images and videos within your post.
It is good if you can insert good stock images specific to the points expressed in the sub-headings.
Never use irrelevant images because they can make you look amateurish.
Use videos if you feel it’s going to add more value to the post.
But make sure you embed them within your article and not simply provide the link for the video.
Because when you place a video link instead of embedding it, it can make your visitor leave your site.
Remember, our aim is to make a visitor stay on our page as long as possible.
#3: Providing summary at the top of the article
I do not do it but some people prefer having a summary of the blog post through a list at the top of the content.
The bullet-point summary is a good way of letting your readers know what you are offering in your article.
Makes it more readable, you see.
#4: Providing lists
We call it a listicle, an article with a list.
Examples include articles with headings like “The Top 10 Reasons…”, “The Pros and Cons of…”, “The Best 25…”, “The Best and the Worst of…”
Writing a listicle is not as overwhelming as writing a long article on a single topic.
They are more reader-friendly for busy people.
Start Writing the Long-Form Content Today
It is generally agreed that if you’re struggling to lift your website off the ground, the best way to break the inertia is by writing the long-form content.
It is not easy for beginners and for those who are typically concise writers.
It takes practice and the habit to form in you.
It’s just the case of broadening of the field of view and a bit of lengthening the horizon.
It is alright if you are not able to write a long article in one go. Most people can’t.
Break down what you want to write in smaller points and take breaks in between if you want to.
Do not be in a hurry to publish your article without proper checks of grammar and typos.
The chances of spelling and grammatical errors go up with longer articles. Search engines don’t like that. You may even get penalised for it.
Make a conscious effort to start writing the long-form content today. It will establish your authority within your niche in a much better way.
But don’t forget, a long-form content still needs to adhere to the same basic SEO rules.