Posted on April 8th, 2016

long copy vs short copy, who wins?

Part two of an earlier post.

We continue our discussion on long-form vs short-form content.

The author of the article referred to in the previous post, John E Lincoln says that search engines seem to intrinsically love long content, “but you’ll find an additional SEO benefit from writing a couple of thousand words: more backlinks. Of course, those additional backlinks will help you rank with the SERPs, as well.

A study conducted by Moz shows a direct correlation between the length of the content and the number of backlinks pointing to it. It’s further evidence that long-form content is great for SEO.”

He also puts a disclaimer that one cannot go back to his/her CMS with this newfound knowledge, thinking with certainty that “if you speed-type 2,078 words about how to lose 50 pounds in six weeks you’re going to be in the #1 spot on Google’s search results.” One has to keep in mind that one isn’t guaranteed to rank well just because one uses long-form content.

After all,  search engine algorithms look at a lot of factors. And, long-form content is just one of them.

“Still, all else being equal, quality long-form content should increase the likelihood that you’ll rank for relevant terms. And that’s what it’s really all about, isn’t it?”, he notes further.

Again, he says that “ranking your content for a particular keyword is a probability game. You increase your odds with long-form content. That’s the only promise here.”

He also states that if you’re operating a blog that issues some type of call-to-action, whether you’re looking to build your email list or sell something, then you’ll find that long-form content can play a role in your conversion rate.

Interestingly, he refers to  a classic case study that demonstrates the effectiveness of long-form content in generating more conversions. Highrise Marketing wanted to increase signups with its website. The company contracted out the conversion process to a couple of professionals who engaged in some split testing. They found that the home page with long-form content saw an increase in conversion rate of more than 37 percent.

He also notes some other examples to prove his thesis.

Now, of course, the part I really enjoyed reading was when Lincoln referred to David Ogilvy. Doyen of advertising, author and co-founder of Ogilvy and Mather, advertising agency, he was proponent of direct mail solicitations. Lincoln quotes Ogilvy, thus: “All my experience says that for a great many products, long copy sells more than short… [A]dvertisements with long copy convey the impression that you have something important to say, whether people read the copy or not.”

Lincoln notes further that in that assessment, Ogilvy is backed up by Dr. Charles Edwards, former dean of the Graduate School of Retailing at New York University. He’s quoted as saying: “The more facts you tell, the more you sell. An advertisement’s chance for success invariably increases as the number of pertinent merchandise facts included in the advertisement increases.”

He also adds tht in Tested Advertising Methods, John Caples writes: “Advertisers who can trace the direct sales results from their ads use long copy because it pulls better than short copy… Brief, reminder-style copy consisting of a few words or a slogan does not pull inquiries as well as long copy packed with facts and reader benefits about your product or service.”

Lincoln further notes that “longer is better” principle “seems to hold true in online venues, as well as old-school advertising. If you’re having trouble with a site that’s giving you a stubbornly low conversion rate, employ some long-form content on the site, and see if that makes a difference.”

So, there’s a challenge for you dear reader. Of course, the use of long copy has to be relevant to the product, the medium and method of sale.  And, most importantly, should be well written and easy to read.