Hemingway or Victor Hugo?
There’s a word I came to late in life that I simply adore: prolix. It’s sort of a combination of verbose and tedious. You know, it refers to the kind of 19th century author who uses two thousand words when two hundred will do.
Changing reading habits in the 20th century
The leisure class, though it may still have time on its hands, has moved away from spending languid afternoons in the sun reading ponderous tomes. Really, it was the advent of the typewriter that moved us away from those finely wrought, and sometimes, overwrought, sentences that used to span whole pages and that could have been only written with a pen. In contrast, the crispness of journalistic prose seemed like a revelation. American writers particularly pushed the envelope, priding themselves on forsaking ten dollar words and using, I guess, two cent ones, if length is the determiner of value.
The Internet and smart phones affect how you read
In the early days of the Internet, we were still reading full-length articles while peering at the small screens of our gargantuan monitors. However, social media and android phones changed all that. Few actually read anything anymore. They simply scroll, skimming headlines and looking for information that would benefit them. With this in mind, bloggers learned to write big catchy headlines, use visuals and keep word count between 450-800 words, knowing their readers’ eyes glaze over at about 350.
Changing algorithms-Google and Social Media
All that is about to change since Google has changed its algorithms. Confusing length with quality, Google is now looking for blog posts of over 1000 words. This doesn’t count if you are already famous or Seth Godin, but if you are a small business owner who depends on rankings to get noticed on Google pages, you are being advised to spend more time on what are essentially marketing activities than ever before. So, you will be torquing yourself out of shape, all the while knowing those skimmers will be even more frustrated and click away because they are overwhelmed by the massive amount of sensory input they are exposed to during the course of a day.
So what should you do to diversify your marketing efforts?
First let me remind you that black hat SEO is a no-no and that Google supposedly doesn’t like padding. Professional bloggers, however, are using technologies that allow them to talk-type, thus adding to their verbosity. Some add abstracts to their posts. Others are thrilled that they can stick their keyword into more headings, more pictures and more superfluous text –thus admitting the sole purpose of their blog is not to share information, instruct, or write for pleasure but to rank. On top of that you are advised to entertain your audience with videos, graphs, charts, and all kinds of other nonsense.
Before you get your knickers in a twist over this, there is both good and bad news. Google will be gradually moving into voice searches, phasing out SEO. Your competitors who can pay to show up at the top of the page will be the ones that will be referenced, and all your efforts to rank will be meaningless. The solution to this, according to Neil Patel is to diversify your marketing efforts. And that won’t be simple either. On Facebook you will have to pay to play, since Pages have been placed in a separate feed, thus reducing their already minuscule organic reach. YouTube has changed the rules as well.
Most internet users are looking for quick advice
The truth is both marketing and writing are arts, honed over time and made better with practice. Neither is easy to do well. Moreover, things get even more difficult when you have to draw out your posts to simply be visible. Search intent should be the real criteria-and how well the problem is addressed, regardless of length. I, for one, am not going to go there-and I think users will bear me out-those who appreciate short, succinct, informative articles. This one is ending at 641 words.