My social media manager, Heather Taylor, and I were recently talking about trends in blogging, and she's noticed that a lot of the guest writers pitching ideas to our blog have been asking to write multi-part posts. Now we love to feature guest bloggers on our company blog - it is a great way to network, find new readers, and help lesser-known writers find an audience. And, to be honest, I like serial posts, so my gut reaction would be to say 'sure!' But after hearing some of the ideas that they were pitching, I began to think some of these posts would do better as one-offs, which forced me to consider whether or not multi-part posts are even a good idea for a company blog. I still believe that, under certain circumstances, serial posts are great, but before you begin to plan out a ten-part series on choosing the perfect stock images for your site, you should do the following.
Find the Perfect Length
Article length is a touchy subject. The industry's long-standing rule of thumb is to aim between 500 and 800 words, but honestly there is no 'one-size fits-all' solution. According to ViperChill.com, average length seems highly dependent on the topic - gossip columns stay short, averaging 183 words, while finance posts go more in depth, averaging about 1,225 words per post. And, as ViperChill rightly points out, average length typically correlates with frequency. Gossip sites will push 20-30 articles a day, while financial blogs rarely post any more than one article every few days. So the first step is to figure out what you want to write on, and whether or not that topic lends itself well to multiple posts. Posting 100 word articles every hour works well when you are covering what Miley Cyrus is doing for New Year's, but if you are explaining the intricacies of corporate tax law, you should probably opt for one in-depth post.
Keep Google Happy
Let's be honest - most of us don't blog for the sheer thrill of seeing our names online. We are trying to make more people aware of who we are and, in some cases, of our businesses. A multi-part post may sound great from an SEO perspective, as it'll mean more linkbacks and allows you to give your posts SEO-specific titles. But if the topic doesn't lend itself well to a serialized post, you may find yourself struggling to hit the right keyword density. Google may even ding your post because of it. There are a lot of crummy black-hat SEO tactics out there, and when you are writing, you have to remember Google is trying to root those sorts of posts out so, first and foremost, stay focused on the kind of content you're producing.
Don't Annoy your Readers
Readers of celebrity gossip sites expect short, digestible sentences and constant updates. Readers of marketing and business advice columns, on the other hand, do not want to check back every single hour for the exciting conclusion to your multi-part series on measuring the ROI of company tweets. Long-form content is much more convenient, and when it comes to business and marketing advice, convenience is what your readers want. Now that also means you can't slap a 7,000 word technical essay on your blog and expect it to do well; specialty publishers and sites may actually like a multi-part, detailed, technical explanation of your industry expertise. But for the most part, stick to the topics that both appeal to a wide-range of readers and can be explained in less than 800 words.
My advice to new bloggers has always been to write the sort of content that they'd want to read. There are topics that lend themselves well to multi-part series, like covering the ins and outs of a long-term marketing campaign you put on. But serialized posts should be special - reserved for the best, most informative topics you can think of. For the most part, bloggers should just stick to the standard 500-800 word article so they can keep their readers, their publishers, and Google, all happy.
(multi-part blogging / shutterstock)