• Doug McPherson

Should lawyers and accountants be experimenting with longer blog posts?

Updated: Mar 8, 2020

At Tenandahalf we have long been advocates of short form content (FAQs, blogs, top tips … it doesn’t matter, just as long as it comes in at between 350 and 500 words) but recently we’ve seen an awful lot of people pushing long form content.

A recent study by the blogging platform Medium, long-form content has inexplicably overcome the much mocked millennial attention span and they’re now saying that the ideal length for a blog is 1,600 words/7 minutes’ of reading. Google’s spiders seem to be fans too with the majority of blogs on the first page of their results coming in at nearly 2000 words.

The theory is that longer posts keep your readers on your page longer and that being able to write in such depth marks you out as an expert in your particular area. Meanwhile, more in depth research has also found that readers are genuinely engaged and are using these longer articles (because let’s face it, that’s what they are) to find out more about certain subjects.

So where does this leave the professional services?

My view is that if you’re writing about the best bars in New York, the walking trails of Thailand or where’s best to go crate dipping for rare funk and soul records, long form content is probably right. We’ve read full length articles in specialist magazines for as long as I can remember and sometimes you need that wordcount to cover absolutely everything you want to cover.

But - and I say this with some trepidation given my audience – lawyers, accountants and patent attorneys are very rarely writing for an audience that wants to learn absolutely everything about a particular point of law or tax legislation.

They want to know what’s going on, how it affects them and what they need to do to either take advantage of it or avoid it impacting on them or their business. Because of that, I still think you need to be short and to the point and, crucially, underline you’re the best place to go to find out more.

Similarly, you need to remember that as a solicitor or an accountant you have a day job to do. The bloggers churning out 1500-2000 words are doing it for the love of it not because a partner’s asked them to take the next turn on the content rota. It may even be their full time job which will make it even easier for them to find the extra time required to research and write longer posts.

That said the figures are interesting so my advice would be to try and mix up your short content with a few longer pieces and compare the results. Whichever analytics package you use will show you the comparison between the two formats and, of course, as long as you (or your marketing department) are tracking the origin of your new enquiries, you’ll have a pretty accurate insight into what works best.

The only thing I’d say about long form content (if it is something you decide to experiment with) is put a structure together before you start. There’s no point in getting over the 1500 word mark if you’re just rambling and your thoughts are a bit jumbled. Like anything market-facing, a poorly executed post will have the opposite effect you want it to which will be even more galling given the piece will have taken a lot longer to put together!

If you would like to discuss any aspect of your content marketing strategy or find out how we could help you deliver regular short and long form content, please email us today.

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