In an act against the “less is more” philosophy currently embraced by almost every web-based content creator, Google recently introduced a new feature to further improve their iconic search engine: In-depth articles. Averaging anywhere between 2000-5000 words, “In-depth articles” will now take up 3 spots on the coveted search engine results page (SERP) to provide consumers with more thorough information about broad query topics, such as poverty or love.
While time will only tell what this SERP change will mean for content creators living under the reign of Short Content, it’s safe to say that these two types of content will be able to co-exist harmoniously—for now at least. But before we take a look at why, let’s dig deeper into the push for lengthier content.
The decision to feature longer articles came after discovering 10 percent of people’s daily informational needs would be satisfied by more substantial content. And since many topics are simply too big for even Google to confine and prioritize by rank, Google wanted to diversify the quality of search results by making in-depth articles more accessible to consumers.
When you search a vague topic such as happiness, for example, the amount and type of information that exists is seemingly infinite. The first three results include a Wikipedia post, a link to a page about happiness from Psychology Today, and a movie titled Happiness. However when you scroll down, you’ll now also find relevant and thought-provoking articles from The New York Times and The Atlantic that offer a deeper and unique perspective of happiness.
While content must meet specific requirements in order to qualify for a spot on the In-depth article list, it should be original, well-researched, non-commercialized, and meet the word count requirements.
Now before you start adding an additional thousand words to your posts to gain Google creds, it’s important to remember that longer content isn’t always going to be the answer. Why? Because it all comes down to what the audience wants.
As mentioned earlier, short and organized content currently rules all. And we’ve come to love and adapt to this style for two major reasons. For one, social media taught us to appreciate quick bursts of information, thanks largely to Facebook status updates and Twitter’s 140-character limit. Secondly, we’re living in a mobile-friendly world, which goes beyond having a responsive web design. It also means featuring content that’s informative, yet concise for the on-the-go, often distracted consumer who doesn’t have the time to explore an idea or concept on a deeper level.
We also can’t ignore the fact that we’re now living in what some writers are calling “The Listicle Era.” We’ve become inundated with article headlines such as “5 Keys to Content Marketing Success” and “27 Reasons Why We Miss the 90s,” and it doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. Why? Because the listicle breaks down information in a visual and logical way that makes it easier to read and comprehend. When you’re trying to get a message across, it’s just plain effective.
So what type of content should you be writing?
Both—but be strategic about it. Write more when it’s appropriate; that is, if you actually have something original to contribute. Remember that when writing for any platform or length, be concise; only write as much as you need to communicate your point and idea. If you don’t write enough, your audience will be left with unanswered questions. Go beyond that and you’ll lose the interest of your reader.
Google hasn’t changed the playing field; they’ve only added a new dynamic to it.