While many people use these terms interchangeably, blogs and articles are not the same. Understanding the role each has to play in your marketing strategy will help you deliver better content, improve your SEO, and reach more potential customers to drive conversion.
Why business owners and writers get confused
If you’re unsure how blog posts and articles differ, you’re not alone. In fact, misunderstanding the difference has led many companies to blur the lines, making it difficult to untangle the mess.
Part of this is financially motivated: blog posts are seen as less time-consuming to write and thus less costly. As a result, they are overemphasized in marketing strategies, and content which ought to be written as an article is often briefed as a blog.
This undercuts the broader appeal typical of blogs while watering down the authority of articles that appear on them.
What is a blog?
One way to approach this question is through etymology: where does the word come from? As it turns out, blog is a portmanteau, a new word formed from two older ones: web and log.
This is a useful way to think about your blog: as a kind of log or journal for your business. It’s a personal expression, a collection of anecdotes and updates that help readers connect with your business without drowning them in technical details.
In one word, a blog is narrative: it allows a business to tell its story in a relatable way.
What is an article?
An article is a more formal piece of writing. It is informational and focuses on providing evidence for some claim that’s been made—by your product, for example.
An article should be well-researched and follow a logical, rather than narrative, structure. Articles often feature what’s called deductive reasoning: they begin with a set of premises and end with a reasoned conclusion. The goal is to provide your audience with hard evidence to support your points.
6 key differences between blogs and articles
Whether you’re writing your own content or purchasing articles from a writer, it’s important to understand the differences between blogs and articles.
Point of view
A blog post is often written in the first person using I or we. This fits into the narrative structure of the blog: you’re having a conversation with your readers, describing an episode in the life of your brand.
An article is almost always written in the third person, although scientific articles may use the first-person plural (we). This emphasizes the author’s objectivity as they present facts and reasoned arguments.
Voice or tone
In a nutshell, blog posts tend to be informal, casual, and conversational, whereas articles tend to be formal, professional, and discursive.
Your company’s blog is a way to build a relationship with your audience, helping them to understand the who behind the what while demonstrating your brand’s personality, goals, and interests.
Articles, on the other hand, are written for a technical audience, using a neutral and passive tone of voice to remove the author from consideration.
Where it's published
Blogs have two objectives: to bring new customers to your website by appearing in search engine results, and to reinforce your relationship with existing customers. Both of these goals are served by publishing content on a company’s website, which is where you’ll find most blogs.
Articles may be published on your website, providing information and evidence, although they will tend to be scattered throughout the site, rather than in a single feed. They may also appear in external publications: newspapers, magazines, and periodicals.
The length or word count
It’s generally accepted that blog posts are shorter than articles, although the correct length for each is a hotly debated SEO topic.
In general, blog posts start at 300 words and go up to—but rarely beyond—2000 words.
A complete and well-researched article with a reasoned argument and all the necessary evidence can reach 5000 words or more. This is one good reason why articles have no place on a blog: no casual reader is interested in sifting through that much information.
As opinion or narrative pieces, blog posts have less stringent research standards than articles. Consider, for example, a blog post entitled 10 unusual tips for working comfortably from home, versus an article, How crisis and quarantine have reshaped global work trends.
Both pieces deal with adaptation to new professional circumstances, but one would clearly require more research and a structured argument. The blog post may provide a few anecdotal statistics; the article, on the other hand, is making a claim and will need plenty of research to back it up.
Blogs are made to be discussed and shared. Their short, punchy, subjective nature lends itself to social media shares, and readers are often encouraged to leave questions and comments.
Articles are rarely discussed except in academic and technical circles. If the author has done their job and the research and reasoning are sound, only experts will have the knowledge and motivation to pick them apart.
What writers should know
Hopefully you now have a better idea of what type of content should grace your blog and what type should be reserved for articles.
If you’re writing your own content, though, striking the right balance isn’t always easy; and if you’ve hired unskilled writers, you may find they don’t properly understand the difference, either.
If you’re still uncertain of how to proceed or just want to be sure you’re taking the best approach, Eleven can help your business structure its content and publish share-worthy blog posts and pertinent articles.
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A graduate of Psychology and Archeology, Christian joined Eleven to further explore and write about the great sciences that comprise our world. When he isn't nose-deep in a new book, he can be found cycling, practising yoga, or enjoying a cold beer or two by the seaside.