Blog Post Length: Does Size Really Matter?

7 Blog Post Length Elements

When it comes to blog post length, many bloggers wonder whether size really matters. They ask how long should my blog posts be in hopes of getting an immutable rule that’ll never fail.

The more accurate response is that what works for a specific post on a given blog depends on the audience, the post topic, and the blog category.  Actually the best answer is Joe Pulizzi’s twenty-three word post, A blog post is like a miniskirt. Unfortunately, most bloggers are looking for more precise guidance.

3 Bears approach to blog post length

In terms of size, blog post length tends to follow a three bears distribution: short, medium and long. (For a detailed analysis, check out ViperChill’s 2010 Bloggers: This is How Long  Your Posts Should Be.)

  1. Short. (About 350 to 500 words.) Many bloggers prefer to post less content more frequently. (Here’s more information on blog post frequency.) The challenge is that this is a sweet spot for content generating firms that excel at search optimization. As a result, I recommend bloggers place themselves in a higher word count category to reduce competition. Don’t do this if you need to use filler content and extra words.
  2. Medium. (550 to 1,000 words.) Since I started writing for online e-zine ClickZ over seven years ago, the upper bound of column word limit has decreased from 1,250 words to 1,000 words. This is attributable to the pressures on readers’ attention span and efficiency. Brazen Careerist blogger Penelope Trunk supports this post length and I’ve adopted it, here on my blog, HeidiCohen.com.
  3. Long. (Over 1,000 words.) Bloggers like Brian Solis, Jeremiah Owang and Clay Shirky write longer than average blog posts without an excess word. In my experience, my longer posts are among my most successful ones.

Before selecting blog post length, 7 size crushing points

With blogging, it’s not about size, it’s about the best written or created content you can provide. To that end, here are seven points to help you.

  1. Write quality content! It’s what keeps people coming back. Blog post length is irrelevant if your posts are poor quality or include bad grammar and usage.
  2. Teach me something. Readers want to leave your content feeling better for the engagement. Are you explaining your point(s) effectively? Here’s where Joe Pulizzi’s post rings true.
  3. Eliminate flabby words. Go through your post to eliminate every word that’s not supporting your key points. Aim for word efficiency. Look for phrases that you insert into your writing when you can’t think of anything else say especially in posts over 1,000 words. (This is an important aspect of the blog post lifecycle.)
  4. Increase readability. Make your content easy for readers to scan and still grasp your major points. Remember you’re competing for readers’ time and attention so help them maximize their reading effectiveness. To this end, presentation matters. Think bold section headings, bullet points and other visual cues to facilitate quick consumption.
  5. Link to related content. One way to provide more background in less space is to link to other posts you and other bloggers have written. This has the added benefit of supporting your search optimization efforts.
  6. Divide long posts in two. If your post remains over 1,000 words after removing all excess verbiage, create two separate columns. But don’t arbitrarily cut your article at the midpoint. Remember, the two resulting posts must stand on their own as independent entries. While you may find that multi-part articles work for your audience, I haven’t. Instead, I recommend finding two different angles for two different articles within the original topic.
  7. Use other media formats. One way to avoid the blog size post question is to use other media formats including photographs, video, audio, powerpoint presentations and infographics. In this case, limited if any text is needed (except for search optimization.)

As with other aspects of your blog, there are no set rules. You have to determine what’s best for your blog, audience, and category.

What do you recommend in terms of blog post length? Does size really matter or not? Please include your response in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Here are some related articles that you may find of interest.


Photo credit: jlz via Flickr

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  • http://britfitzpatrick.wordpress.com Brittany Fitzpatrick

    I try to keep my blog posts as short as possible, but for longer posts I try to break them up using visual elements like the tag or a multimedia element.

    Bolding words is always a good tip, which allows readers to scan your article if they don’t have time to read it word for word.

  • http://collegefnancialaidadvisors.com Jodi Okun

    Heidi
    Do you really think I need to go to medium size blogs..are my blogs to short and hat is why I am not getting comments..

    Love to hear your thoughts..

    Jodi Okun

  • http://www.jolysebarnett.wordpress.com Jolyse Barnett

    Hi Heidi,

    Thanks for the interesting post. I follow Kristen Lamb’s suggestion of 500-800 words. I like the idea of organizing my posts into points or bullets, but haven’t done that yet. Your post illustrated this technique nicely.

    I appreciate the reminders so that I make my blog the best it can be. :)

  • http://www.patrickkphillips.com Patrick

    Interesting post, Heidi.

    When it comes to blog post length, I follow no one’s advice at all. I write what I want to say, and if that takes 350 words, that’s the post. If it takes 1,250, then it’s a long post.

    I do try to watch how verbose I am as I write, but if there’s a point I feel that needs to be made, I’ll make it without regard for how long is “too long” or for how short is “not long enough.” I can’t imagine setting out to determine a specific length for a particular post going in, UNLESS I was writing for someone else who did impose some sort of word count maximum.

    As for your seven pieces of advice, I have the most trouble with #6. I consider it an unreasonable burden on the reader to have to come back at another time — or even open another post — to read “part 2″ of the same topic. What you have done in this post, with the “mini-headlines” dividing the post into sections much the same way a newspaper divides longer investigative pieces into sections with bold mini-headlines, is a much better choice.

    As a reader, I am able to skip sections that I think may not be of as much interest, or to really pay extra attention to those sections whose sub-heads really appeal to my curiosity.

  • http://twitter.com/CSEOS CSEOS

    3 years ago we began a blogging experiment and we started 3 fresh blogs; 1st w/ 300-500 word posts 2nd w/ 600-1000 word posts 3rd w/ 2000-7000 word posts. All in the exactly the same niche of dieting and fitness.

    In 2012 the 3rd blog increased traffic over 200% and the others increased much less. They all gained ranking, but length now MATTERS. Anybody who says doesn’t matter is like the “girlfriend” who is telling a white lie so she doesn’t hurt her “smaller” mail friends.

    Before we started this test back in late 2008 we had already noticed that the bloggers who produced long form content were getting most of the traffic. Not saying that short posts don’t have merit (Seth Godin), but as far as raw Google ranking goes, it does – no question in our minds now.

    As a result we always use speech recognition for creating most of our content now. In two hours we can created 7000 words of unique content and that includes editing Dragon errors.

    Go long!!!

  • http://persadazrs.blogspot.com/ zuraini iPhone

    It’s been more than a year now for this articles and now it’s really showing the potential of long lengthy informative articles/posts in search engines (after recent algo changes). Well writing is not my cup of tea, but, it helps in improving, especially for grammar sake.

    We always keep in between, some short and some long and it depends on the issue or topic though. Like CSEOS described, long and lengthy posts has really benefited nowadays and its good to keep bringing more resources and info which readers can make use of.

  • Nigel Rawlins

    thank you for your article on blog length. I have always struggled to know what length was appropriate. I guess it is more about readability and whether the article will make sense. I often find that I write an article and once published have to go over it the next day after I see a few mistakes or maybe a better way to say something. The big thing about blogging is that for a small business it is work, work and work and often neglected due to everything else going on in the business.

  • Christine Cline

    This is perfect! I had come to some of these conclusions through trial and error. Miniskirts do not look good on everyone! Depending on your topic a nice medium length or an evening gown will flatter your blog post. :)

  • HarryNguyen

    In think it depends on where your post is appeared.

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