The damn point in 10 words max: Google doesn’t prefer length to quality writing. Sorry not sorry.
For years, SEO game theory and analytics held the 2k-er aloft as a great and glorious fetish of compositional perfection, but you know what? There’s just one teensy, tiny, itty-bitty problem.
omg they suck.
Thanks for asking. I’m going to start this off the same way I start off my lovemaking—with a frustrating experience you’ve probably had many times before.
For dinner, you want to make pasta all’amatriciana. You hastily type something like “amatricho pdsta” into Google because you know they know you can’t spell and nobody cares, and start combing through the results.
Blog. Blog. Blog. Blog. Blog. Food Network. Oh. Bobby Flay? Goddamn. Blog.
It’s all blogs, and they’re all suspiciously similar in the way that every Chinese takeout looks like it came from the same Szechuan starter kit. You gaze at the pic of the radiant blogger standing in the wildflower meadow where they usually cook. You admire the thoughtfully personalized font, and you wonder what aspect of their fabulous personality they think this reflects.
Then you brace yourself. This is what we train for…
Aaaaand…scrollingandscrollingandscrollingscrollingscrollingscrolling—oh my god I don’t care about your children—scrollingscrollingscrollingscrolling and FINALLY, four minutes and some carpal tunnel later, there it is.
Six ingredients if you count the water. Less than 100 words.
Oh. It’s Bobby Flay’s. Goddamn.
Bad Writing for Worse Algorithms
It’s annoying that this is the state of the internet, and it’s Google’s fault we’re all wallowing in it. Their algorithms preferenced the 2k format for long-form because it was about the length necessary—or so they thought— to get enough useful detail, headings, natural keyword incorporation, and backlinks to demonstrate that an author knew what they were talking about.
Unfortunately, if you’re a good writer, you know the truth. It probably means the opposite unless you’re describing relativity or nuclear fusion. And even then bitch, please.
The Math Behind Sucking
According to…Google…a 2k blog is generally said to take 6-7 minutes to read at 300 wpm. Now there are two major problems with that. Taking them in reverse order:
1. People Don’t Read, and They Definitely Can’t Concentrate
Maybe people who edit these monstrosities read that fast, but the average person assuredly doesn’t. It’s probably closer to 200-250, and many are even slower because they read about the speed they talk. Maybe 150. Therefore, a 2k blog actually extracts about 9-13 minutes of potential existential bliss from the life of the average JoeJane who’s simply trying to pan-sear a steak. That’s longer than you can spend per prompt on the LSAT reading comprehension section, and most aspiring lawyers barely score in the 68th percentile as it is.
It’s also longer than it takes to cook a steak.
So ya. Nobody is going to read your blog at 2k. And you know for a fact people are scrolling past it because that’s exactly what you’re doing too.
2. You’re Also Not Interesting
Even if I grant that it’s a 6-7 minute read—and I don’t know why I would— do you have any idea how fantastically difficult it is to be interesting for that long?
New comedians, for instance, start off doing 2-5 minutes of standup at open mics for free, and they bomb horribly. It takes months if not years of sucking to figure out how to entertain people for less than 6 minutes, and that’s with a live audience pelting their souls in real time with shame and personal abuse. By the time they’re killing it for 9-13 they’re already dreaming about a special.
Look, the average chapter in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is roughly the length of two of these things, and Quidditch still doesn’t make any sense. 2k for “How to Bake the Best Christmas Cookies For Marmots” is absolutely nuts, and it’s why it inevitably devolves into pointless anti-ferret propaganda and links about knitting for rodents and shit.
The New Standard: 1500 or Less (fewer…)
That is so much more reasonable I’m nearly weeping.
The 1200-1500-word long-form means the average reader (the real average one) is going to probably clock in at 4-7 minutes of reading time, but without all the filler crap making their eyes roll back in their skull. It’s concise, it’s plenty of space for the average writer to make their point without oppressive SEO backflips, and there’s room for all the links you want without triggering an optical seizure.
That’s where we should be on this stuff–QUALITY OVER QUANTITY.
Disclaimer: This blog is certified hormone- and cruelty-free for food bloggers. But we didn’t test it on those animals.