That's a question we've been seeing and asking since blogging became a thing, "How long should my blog posts be?" Blog post length has been debated since the beginning. We often see strong opinions on both sides of the camp. In this post we'll go over both long form content for blog posts and shorter blog posts. I'll share a few examples of both blog post lengths. I'll also offer my own opinions as usual. I've put together a nice guide with tools & techniques for creating more consumable content for your readers. I believe you will find a lot of value in it.
Are Longer Blog Posts Better?
My most recent posts have become a little longer than in the past. I don't set out to write a post with a certain word count in mind.
Have you noticed other blogs following this trend? Do you think it's intentional?
I want to warn against getting hung up on content length. There's no magic formula on word count that's going to put your rankings through the roof.
At the same time, I've shown you the data that proves that longer content gets better ranking, higher indexing, and more sharing.
~ Neil Patel
SEO: Personally, I feel a 300 word article isn't leaving the search engines much to work with.
We shouldn't be writing for the search engines but what's the point in throwing up a roadblock on the path to your blog?
Recent Data? There seems to be a lack of current data that supports long or short form blog content, at least that I can find.
I'm reluctant to even link to these older posts because they are using data that changes very quickly, such as search statistics.
✓ In Dec. 2013, Medium said (based on data) that the ideal blog post is seven minutes long (1,600 words).
✓ Back in April 2012, serpIQ said for most SERPs it looks like at least 1500 words is a good target based on their data study.
Long blog post examples that are "doing it right"
Social Media Examiner: No one can deny that Social Media Examiner provides some of the best blog content available for the social media marketing niche. Their posts are generally pretty lengthy, loaded with supporting content and value.
Back in February, I published "Shocking! How Many Editors Work To Publish Your Content?". In that post I explain that Social Media Examiner spends $1,000 and about a dozen people are involved in each of those articles.
Crazy, right? So it might be a little stressful to try to keep up when the bar is so high but are we looking at the right bar?
Buffer Blog: You'll find high value, and often lengthy, posts by a variety of cool bloggers on Buffer's Blog.
We recently ran a blog content audit, and one of the results of the audit was some insight into the ideal length of Buffer blog posts.
1,600 words makes for a good guideline to get started.
We've found that 2,500-word posts tend to do best for us.
~ Kevan Lee for Buffer
Quick Sprout: Another top blog that creates amazing content is Quick Sprout. You'll find posts of every length here.
If you look at the data below [see the post], you will have to agree with me. Longer posts usually perform better on every level. ~ Neil Patel
Hot Blog Tips: an example of a longer blog post of my own: Just two weeks ago I was preparing to write about autoresponders. I was a little worried I wouldn't have enough to share when it comes to autoresponders.
Once I got into the flow, that post ended up being 3132 words with a lead magnet of another 2782 words.
Being Too Repetitive
This is one I struggle with myself, especially in a coaching session with a client.
There's nothing worse than buying a book you were looking forward to reading just to find the author padded it with useless fluff to lengthen the book.
You've read them. The author has like three points to make in the book but it's written umpteen times in every possible way. By the time you're finished reading it, you start to wonder if they think their readers are stupid.
Try to be aware of any repetitive tendencies. If you find repetitive content, edit it out.
We don't want to come across as arrogant or snobbish. We're trying to help our readers succeed, solve a problem, or have an open conversation, not make them feel a little inadequate.
Be aware of any repetitive tendencies.
Repetitive tendencies are annoying so avoid them.
☞ See how annoying they are? lol
Can Shorter Blog Posts Offer Real Value?
I believe shorter blog posts are fine, even preferred my many bloggers and readers.
I just finished Michael Hyatt's Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World$. I loved the book and the community he has created, and he recommends VERY short posts.
If my memory serves, Michael prefers writing 300 - 500 word blog posts
Examples of blog post "types" that often require less text
I can think of many different types of blog posts that offer real value for your readers. For example, short tutorials, announcements, and resource links.
Blog posts that contain supporting media can do very well with very short text content, such as embedded videos, postcasts, Slideshares, infographics, photos, and cartoons.
Short blog post examples
Copyblogger: Brian Clark of Copyblogger often writes very short posts.
Example: "10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer". This post consists of just ten bullet points.
Brian obviously had one objective for his message - to get us to write more.
Was it an insightful blog post? With the number of comments and shares of that post, his readers seemed to think so. He is Brian Clark though, and that goes a long way. You be the judge.
Just Ask Kim: Here's an example I really like. Back in February Kim Castleberry (Just Ask Kim) Posted "The Empty Pickle Jar Inspirational Movie".
The post consisted of a single video (not hers) and five words, "Have an amazing day! ~ Kim ~". That's the complete post.
What you might not know, if you're not subscribed to her list, is she didn't stop there.
Kim sent an 890 word email about that post to her email subscribers. Kim offered value to her blog readers by providing a thoughtful video and provided additional value for her email subscribers.
Short blog post mistakes
Too much content curation: The first thing that comes to mind, for me anyway, are curating a third party article as a new blog post. You've seen them, a single paragraph with a "read more" link to get the rest of the content.
Note: I'm referring to a full post here, not the condensed (excerpt) version that may show on your home, category, or search pages.
Again, this is only my opinion, for what it's worth, but forcing our readers to jump through hoops (clicking over to another page) to consume content isn't the best user experience when it's being overdone.
It's a little off topic but one trend we see a lot of lately are websites using a single photo as one page out of a series of photos. For example, you might see "Ten Celebrities Eating Pie From Their Belly Button" (I totally made that up lol) and you have to click through 10 pages to see the 10 photos. This makes sense when your key goal is page views and ad impressions but it sucks for the user (reader).
However, those gossip and photo sites exploiting heavy page view tactics like that can be of use for us as bloggers. See: "Getting The Most From Swipe Files & Quick-Start Guide".
Don't Cut Your Readers Short: Some bloggers take that "shorter is better" mindset to the extreme.
It becomes obvious that they're posting just for the sake of posting when a large number of their articles are no more than a two or three sentence paragraph with an image quote.
It's not the worst thing in the world but if every article looks like an Instagram post, are they really shooting for unique and valuable content?
Takeaway - The Perfect Post Length
The truth is, there is not a simple formula to follow when writing blog content as far as word count other than getting your message out without over doing it or falling short on the overall message.
There are many factors that will help find the perfect blog post length and will often vary from post to post. Things like your audience (avatar), the topic, your objective, supporting content, and complexity.
Build a blog post series: If you feel a post is going too long for your audience, one simple fix is to break it into two or more parts and publish the content as a series.
Extent the value with a subscriber gift: Another solution might be, and I'll be writing more about this in the near future, is to use a portion of the content as a lead magnet.
Personally, I feel both parts, the post and the downloadable subscriber gift, should stand alone on it's own merits.
For example, when I wrote "What are Email Autoresponders and How To Use Them Effectively", I wanted to include actual examples of autoresponder messages that I use myself.
Now I'm not one to shy away from lengthy posts, as you can see, but that particular post was already over 3,100 words before I included the examples.
It made sense to create a separate document at that point. I believe turning it into a downloadable PDF made it all the more valuable for that type of content as well.
The "Derek Difference": shorter paragraphs and sentences? Overall, I'd say Derek Halpern at Social Triggers writes short to medium posts of pure value. Seriously, if you're not following this guy you're missing out.
Rather than worry about blog post length, Derek Halpern makes is super easy to read any length of post.
What's Derek do? Simple. He delivers content in short bursts. Powerful.
Like this, short and sweet little paragraphs. Tiny sentences too.
As you browse his blog, you'll notice he's the master at writing very short paragraphs. Of just one to three short sentences.
This is a skill I'm trying to acquire as I model this post after Derek's method of readability. Is it helping?
The facts are clear. People prefer short line lengths, but it's tough to give them it because such a small content width isn't practical. ~ Derek Halpern
My thoughts? Each week, usually on Sundays, I've created one detailed blog post that I try to over-deliver on. Just like the one you are reading right now.
That's all I've published for a while now, one detailed post each week.
I do have MANY ideas for other types of posts in the future, many of which will be very short content in nature.
I have to prioritize projects because I think up more than I could possibly accomplish in a single lifetime. More posts per week is on that list. Sound familiar? I bet you can relate.
I have a blog, more like a micro blog (Do-Follow.me).
It's worth writing however much you really need. Don't feel constrained by presumed short attention spans. If you put in the effort, so will your audience. It's just math. ~ Mike Sall with Medium
Designed for very simple articles, I usually post to Do-Follow.me by email. I spend very little time there and almost everything is automated other than sending an email to myself.
Read about why I started this micro-blog.
Over to you, finally
Do you prefer shorter or longer blog posts as a reader? How long is too long before you give up and click away? Do you find value in shorter blog posts? Does media type matter?