How Long Should Your Blog Post Be?
Are short blog posts better than long posts?
I get this question a lot. The fact is, there is no simple answer to this question. If you’re writing for the human reader, the quality of the content, more than the length of the blog post, should be the priority.
For years, the ideal blog length tossed about was 400 to 500 words. Long blogs of 1,500 to 2,000 words were not recommended, based on the premise that readers would lose interest. In reality, if you’ve done your homework on your personas and are providing really useful and interesting information in your blog, you’ll keep your reader’s attention.
Blogger Julie Neidlinger says it well: “People will read what is interesting and what they want to learn. It may happen to be 2,000 words, or it might be 800. Our attention span is never dead when it has to do with something we are truly curious about or that feeds our inner ego. Outside of that realm, people will skim and skip.”¹
Another content expert, Medium.com, has taken another approach to understanding what word length will yield the best reader results. According to its research, posts that take seven minutes to read are the ideal length. Here are the company’s research results:
A seven-minute read, according to Medium, translates into roughly a 1,700-word post, which is within the same realm of an ideal post for SEO ranking. Now, if you’re an experienced writer, you know how much research and preparation goes into creating anything of that length. A lot.
However, one size does not fit all.
Before you get too concerned about having to ramp up to long-form posts, every day, keep in mind that this is an ideal to strive for, and it may not be a fit for all companies. Some bloggers such as Seth Godin, for example, are known for posting very short yet effective posts every day. Many of his blogs, I would venture to guess, are fewer than 200 words, but I still find the content to be immensely useful. I read Seth Godin’s blog just about every day.
Try posting blogs of various lengths.
Dan Primack, senior editor of Fortune, publishes the Term Sheet every day, but varies the length of his posts. Sometimes he includes a fairly in-depth article about aspects of private equity deals or trends, and on other days he adds a running summary of deals taking place. Both work well, but I’d suspect that the indepth articles take longer to write than the deal rolls. Either way, he is able to stay in front of his constituents with information that
they deem useful.
Don’t Let Word Limits Affect Content Quality
Sometimes, sticking to a rigid word length can actually hurt readability and readership loyalty. For example, I’ve worked on projects that had a fixed word limit of 400 to 500 words, regardless of the topic for the company’s blog site. My job was to rework existing blogs that had been written by an internal party so that they were sufficiently different than the original and could be placed in another site.
What I noticed in some of these blog posts was that the 400- to 500-word limit for the article was too short to really offer enough information to satisfy the reader. Due to the detailed nature of the topics that were chosen, 400 to 500 words were simply not enough to build a compelling story. If the blog posts had been expanded to 1,000 words, they could have included that next level of information that readers would naturally be looking for.
I’ve also worked on long blog posts of 1,000 to 2,500 words that proved to be very effective in attracting readers. I have also noticed that these posts tend to be picked up by the industry trades, which is great for building exposure. The key here is that the posts are content-rich with useful information and are written to educate, not promote.
If your company already has a blog in place, you can do some informal research to get a better understanding of what your readers prefer. How much activity do your shorter blogs get versus your longer blogs? Is there a difference in reader engagement? Of course, there are other elements that affect reader engagement as well, such as the effectiveness of the blog’s title. A good title, SEO-optimized, with good content that is not purely promotional – you need it all.
¹ Julie Neidlinger, “What Really Is the Best Blog Post Length?” coschedule.com/blog/blog-post-length/