Should your firm be writing short punchy blogs, say 300 or 400 words, or longer ones that explore an idea thoroughly and give plenty of information?
They both have their place, and in a perfect world your accountancy firm's blog may well have both. But before you start pasting any old stuff on your blog, let's explore the pros and cons of both... which will also explain why we typically recommend businesses new to blogging to get going with shorter ones to start with.
However, short or long, a blog is no good if nobody reads it.
Whatever the length, you need need to ensure each post is "search engine optimised" so that people searching for the subject will be pointed to it by Google. You also need to have a plan for sharing it to your mailing list subscribers, relevant clients and contacts, and for social media too. Without this your carefully written blog will simply be a hidden gem.
Long blogs - the benefits
It is worth starting with why long articles online have lots of benefits, which may well fly in the face of a lot of poor advice out there along the lines of "90% of people read just the first few paragraphs, so that's all you need".
In fact good quality long articles are really popular. They impress, they get liked and shared, and the people who read them to the end are great prospects. The people who left early either weren't interested in the subject or felt article was not delivering value for them. Its the quality of the ones that stick with it to the end that matter.
In fact the evidence is that long articles that are good are more likely to be liked, shared, attract backlinks (links from other websites) and rank more highly on Google.
So long blogs are really good in such situations as:
- You want to impress technically-minded prospects (such as finance directors and other accountants) with your detailed knowledge of a subject. An update on a technical subject, such as new accounting standards or a VAT tribunal ruling with important implications, are examples.
- A subject where the reader will find a longer article compelling. For instance, if you have a client with a really interesting story about how she created and grew her business, then a case study about this will be very interesting to other business owners.
- A subject where there is a lot of elements for someone to consider... a bit like this subject!
- You are able to write it to hold the reader's interest to the end.
- It's a competitive subject and you need to do everything possible to appear prominently.
Long blogs - the problems
But here's a problem... most long blogs are written because the writer likes the subject and enjoys writing about it, with little thought of whether that's right for the reader. If they are a busy business owner or manager with lots on their mind they don't want all the technical detail and background. They're probably looking for you to get to the point... quickly.
There are other problems with long blogs too, these include:
- They generally require a lot of work. In fact a 900-word detailed blog could well take a lot more effort than two shorter punchy blogs. So going for longer blogs means your output falls. In fact, given the work involved it often stops people doing them all together.
- Many blogs are written primarily for "search engine optimisation" purposes to help the website appear prominently when people search for accountancy and tax help. Long blogs are powerful here, but so too is having numerous blogs that cover a wide range of potential search phrases. Research from Hubspot (the blogging platform) found, perhaps not surprisingly, B2B firms with the most blogs get disproportionately more traffic and leads.
- Many long blogs are simply short blogs with lots of unnecessary waffle. We find that some accountants think that long blogs are "more professional" so they put in lots of padding. Of course, this frustrates the reader and makes them much less likely to finish or share the article... or come back for more.
So, long blogs definitely have their place and strong benefits... when the subject and its importance to the reader warrants it, and particularly where having quality content will really boost your website's credibility with visitors and with Google.
But our view is they are best used sparingly because of the benefits of blogging frequently... and the need to make it easy for you and your team to achieve this..
What are the pros and cons of shorter blogs for my accountancy practice? Click here to read part 2 of this blog....