The line between a blog and an article used to be clear. A blog was short and pointed, an article long and meaty. The line separating a blog post from a static article has grown thinner as audiences demand more informative, higher quality content. The need for quality has overtaken previously held to SEO techniques. In fact, long-form blog posts that mimic traditional articles are growing more popular by the day. Blogging is infringing on the territory of article writing as they reach 2,000, 3,000, and even 4,000+ words in length. As online copywriters and freelance writers, business owners, and content marketers, how do we distinguish between blog and article writing? More importantly, should we?
The Difference between Blogs and Articles
Traditionally, blog posts have been categorized as different from articles. In the world of online publishing, the territories occupied by these two writing types has looked something like this:
- The traditional blog post is short, usually 200 to 500 words in length.
- Blog writing is informal, encouraging personal connection and discussion.
- Blog posts commonly provide an insider or personal point of view.
- Blogs are frequently updated, usually weekly.
- The traditional article can vary considerably in length from 500 to 2,000 or more words.
- Article writing is usually formal and journalistic writing techniques are applied.
- Articles are commonly in-depth and fact-based.
Before search engine optimization (SEO) began evolving, articles were static pages and blogs were part of an ongoing discussion. Today, the line running between these two content types has grown blurred because readers crave meaty, in-depth and factual content.
SEO Calls for Long-Form Writing
In years past, SEO was all about manipulating placement within the categorization and sorting algorithms of search engines. The mechanical nature of algorithms resulted in atrocious content stuffed with keywords and void of relevant, reader-friendly information. Most click-throughs were a waste. Today’s SEO is dramatically different.
Google is the most popular search engine. It’s the pacesetter in search engine optimization, and its algorithms have come a long way. Google promotes high-quality, relevant, informative and engaging content in its three biggest algorithms:
- Panda: First released in February 2011, the Panda algorithm was tasked with decreasing the search rank of “low-quality” or “thin” sites. After numerous updates, it hit 4.1 in 2o14. In its simplest terms, Panda kills ranking for websites guilty of plagiarism and copyright infringement. It eats duplicate content for breakfast, decreasing the visibility of websites that serve it.
- Hummingbird: Perhaps our favorite algorithm, Hummingbird has redefined search engine rank and SEO. Much like the speed and accuracy of its real-life counterpart, this algorithm takes search engine query to a new level. It essentially ends the practice of keyword stuffing and paves the way for natural, human-centered writing. It’s smart enough to extrapolate intent and present relevant and synonymous search results. Asher Elran published a superb overview of Hummingbird via KISSmetrics if you’d like a more in-depth explanation.
- Penguin: According to Wikipedia, Penguin was first announced on April 24, 2012. The algorithm was designed to decrease the ranking of websites guilty of violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. It spelled the beginning of the end for black-hat SEO, which likewise began weeding out websites oozing low-quality content.
Each algorithm created by Google has been a thread in a greater tapestry. The search engine giant is on a mission to deliver the best possible search experience to the end user. As a result, the quality of content on a website has become a crucial factor in SEO.
The Need for High Quality Content
Black-hat SEO and outdated tactics have created a monsoon of mediocre material and just plain bad content that inundates the Internet. The need for high-quality content has never been greater, and two tools at your disposal for amassing it are blogs and articles.
As audiences the globe over demand meatier content, the traditional blog post has evolved. No longer are blogs limited to short-form writing. The most successful blogs in terms of both audience appeal and SEO are long-form with many hitting 2,000 to 2,500 words. In essence, article writing has seeped into blog writing in length and structure. Blogs of 1,000 to 2,500 words, complete with meaty, factual information and engagement factor, are wildly successful. But that’s not to say short-form writing is out.
According to Forbes, shorter posts of around 200 words are still “perfectly acceptable if your blog has been created to sell a product [or] service.” Short posts are perfect for readers with short attention spans or limited time.
Keep in mind that a growing number of readers (potential customers) are seeking meatier reading. They want personal, engaging, fact-based and informative material — the kind that aids them in developing and drawing their own opinion and conclusions. It’s impossible to ignore what these lengthier pieces can do for your SEO. According to serpIQ’s detailed research, the top 10 search engine results from Google all boast word counts of at least 2,000.
The Truth about Blog and Article Writing
Unless you produce copy riddled with grammatical errors that is entirely irrelevant and backed by black-hat SEO techniques, there is only one way to write a bad blog or article. And that is to not write it at all.
As we head into 2015, one crucial element must be kept in focus: Quality.
Content brimming with quality does not depend on keywords, word counts, or links to stake a claim in cyberspace. High-quality grabs attention. It results in chatter and social shares. It builds a reputation if properly marketed.
What exactly is high-quality content? What factors contribute to it? Find out in 10 Elements of High-Quality Content.