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.

  • Jake Carson

    ….It just doesn’t get any better than seeing the gorgeous “Mrs. Anita
    Pelaez” over at her and her Famous Husband “Captain
    Kutchie’s”place..Some Folks Also Call Him..”The KutchMan others call him
    The KutchMon!”…Most Just Call Him “The Most Interesting Man In The
    World”….(Anita and Kutchie Pelaez’s Key West, Key Lime Pie Factory and
    Grill)…Just Watching The Lovely Couple Baking Together All Those Yummy
    Key Lime Pies At Their Key Lime Pie Factory And Grill In Asheville.
    …It’s Always Worth The Trip To Visit Them In They’re Historic Key Lime
    Pie Factory and Grill…It Should Be On Everyone’s Bucket List For
    Sure..And The World’s Best Key Lime Pies!..YUM-YUM-YUM….­­.”Talk About
    World Class” What An Understatement!…….AA­­HHHHH!….The Magic Of The
    Lovely..”Mrs. Anita Pelaez” And Her Delicious Key Lime Pies Baked With
    Pure Love…Always……40 Years And They’re Still Going Strong…. ….May GOD
    Continue Blessing “Anita And Kutchie Pelaez” and They’re World Famous
    Key Lime Pie Factory And Grill Where The Personalities, Ovens And Smiles
    Are Always Warm And Inviting. ….“Kutcharitaville” You’re The Best And
    We Love You!…. …Now You Know Who Is The Hottest!…And Baby Let Me Tell
    You, Mrs. Anita Is No Act…She’s The Real Thing Baby!… ….Located Near The
    Biltmore House And Estate….. ….Who Could Ask For Anything More?…Anita’s
    Key Lime Pie…(Hell Yes!) ….Just Think, Kutchie’s Goody Goody Cheese
    Burgers, First Billed As “The Original Cheese Burgers In Paradise!” Way
    Back In 1974 By “Kutchie’s Good Friend “Mr Levi Stubbs” Lead Singer Of
    The Four Tops….”Sorry “Buffett”…Kutchie’s Version Of “Cheese Burgers In
    Paradise” Came A Few Years Before Yours Did, “Dog Ate Your
    Home-Work?”!!…Yeah, Jimmy, It’s The Same Kutchie Pelaez,-The Famous Deep
    Sea Underwater And Treasure Explorer/Megalodon Shark Tooth Hunter. Who
    Worked Along With “Mel Fisher”, “Captain Tony Tarracino”, “Yankee Jack”,
    “Michael McCloud”, “Alabama Jack” , “Vito Bertucci” and Many Others Of
    Key West Fame. ….That Alone Is Quite A Pretty Big Deal If You Ask Me.
    ….”Hell”,..It’s A Pretty Big Deal Even If You Don’t Ask Me. ….Research,
    Continually Confirms The Fact That The Pelaez’s World Famous Key Lime
    Pies Truly Increases Married Couple’s Sex Rates By No Less Than 300%
    Respectively. It Also Shows That Said Sexual Encounters Are Much, Much
    More Enjoyable Than They Ever Were Before The Consumption Of The
    Pelaez’s Key Lime Pies. …..And On A Sad Note. It Has Been Reported That
    The Consumption Of The Famous Key Lime Pies Are Quite Detrimental To The
    Practices Of Divorce Attorneys. But, That’s Not Bad. Hell That’s Good
    News. …Not A Sad Note, A Happy Note! The Pelaez’s Pies Are A Win-Win-Win
    For Everyone Involved! ….I Guess You Could Say What Has Been Said Many
    Times Before,…”AHHH” The Magic Of The Lovely Anita Pelaez And Her Key
    Lime Pies…. ….I Do Know First Hand That The Pelaez’s Famous Key Lime
    Pies Have The Ability To Turn Small Stream Squirters Into Major League
    Gushers Or Some Might Call Them “Niagara Falls”. Holly Molly, Let Those
    Good Times Flow, Baby! ….It’s No Wonder Everyone Believes That Kutchie
    Pelaez Is The Most Interesting Man In The World…..”Damn He Really Is”
    For Sure! …..That “Kutchie”, He Looks Marvelous Dahling!… ….”Hemingway”,
    Had Nothing On The “KutchMan”… ….Someone Overheard The “Kutchman” Say
    One Day That He Thought That He Was A Lesbian!… We Don’t Want To see Him
    Coming Out Of The Toilet With Just His Dick In His Hands! ….If He Ever
    Needs Any Guidance, Who’s A Better Consiglieri Than His Father?….They
    Both Season They’re Garlic With Food! ….And For Our Old Friend, This Key
    Lime Pie Is For You….”HAROLD RAMIS”,….Rest In Peace Buddy….. ….Just
    4-U…007, Who Would Name A Room “Blanche Devereaux” ? Who-Who-Who???
    ….Who Was That Most Interesting Man? ….And Sadly, This Key Lime Pie
    Award Goes-Out To Our Old Friend Jay Trayinor The Original Jay Of “Jay
    And The Americans”. Rest In Peace Old Buddy, We Are Going To Miss
    You….And With A Heavy Heart We Are Also Offering-Up A Key Lime Pie For
    Our Old Buddie “David Brenner”….Rest In Peace Man….

    ….What’s Size Got To Do With It?….Tell Me, Tell Me, Tell Me!!!….

    ….It’s
    The Kind Of Medicine No Doctor Can Prescribe…..(Anita and Kutchie’s
    World Famous Key Lime Pies)…..Get It In “Kutcharitaville”!!!…..

    ….Hey Y’all Leave
    Paula and Bubba Alone/ So Just Sit Back And Enjoy A Nice Big Slice Of Anita
    And Kutchie’s World Famous “Key Lime Pies” And Be Good Little
    Children….

    ….Paula/You Go Girl!!!….

  • Miss LeAnn

    ..….”Captain Kutchie” Never Makes Up Stories But If He Did
    It Would Probably Be About As Good As The One That You Are About To
    Read Next!…..You Believe That?….
    ….Add “Captain Kutchie Pelaez” To Make This The All-Time Greatest Film Ever Made!….
    …Could..“Clint”
    Eastwood. Possibly Be Competing With “Captain Kutchie Pelaez” For The
    Position Of “The World’s Most Interesting Man”…Perhaps?…But Then Again
    Perhaps He Is Just Waiting For “Kutchie Pelaez and Frankie Valli” To
    “Make His Day”!…Ha, Go Figure!….
    ….We Heard A Few Years Back That
    Megyn Kelly Of Fox News, Really Loved Her Some Of Captain Kutchie’s And
    Anita Pelaez’s Famous Key Lime Pies! Could That Make Megyn “The Most
    Interesting Lady In The World?….I Guess “NO” On That One, That One Would
    Have To Be “The Lovely –Mrs. Anita Pelaez” The Queen Of The Key Lime
    Pie World!
    ….I sure hope that this will be a great opportunity for
    everyone to see some of “Don Rickle’s Scenes” from his productions of
    his classic hits “The Tales From Kutcharitaville”. You Do know that Don
    Rickles and Johnny Carson together produced those comedy hits about
    their friend “Mr. Kutchie Pelaez” and their wild and crazy exploits of
    Kutchie’s Key West and The World of Key Lime Pies from the perspective
    of (Johnny Carson, Don Rickles, Kutchie Pelaez and Steve Martins Eyes!)
    What a Hoot Those Classic Hits Surely Were. Don’t miss them, be sure to
    tune-in next month. We Laughed Until We Cried Watching Those Funny
    Movies. “The Tales From Kutcharitaville”, I Think That They May Still Be
    Available In A Boxed Set. Maybe Try Amazon. Good Luck With That….
    You
    Know, It’s No Wonder That Everyone Calls “Captain Kutchie Pelaez”..The
    Most Interesting Man In The World! Did You Know That Kutchie Drinks
    Those Wonderful Mixed Drinks Named In His Honor Called “Kutcharitas”.?.
    There A Hell Of A Lot Better Than Any Mexican Beers. And Much Stronger
    To Boot!…You Could Almost Hear The Song Now…”Wasting Away Again In
    Kutcharitaville”.!…What Do Ya Think? Not Bad Ahh!…
    ….That Sunken Ship In The News These Days,
    ….It’s
    Been Resting Down On The Bottom Of The Sea Since Way Back In 1857, “Mel
    Fisher” Even Overlooked That One!… “Yankee Jack Pittorino” and “Micheal
    McCloud” Now Have Reason To Write Another Song…(Hint-Hint-Hint) “Jack”
    Listen-Up Here!
    ….Hell, We Can’t Find A Boeing 777 That’s Been Lost Only A
    Little Over A Few Months Now! Could It Be Because The Jet Had No Silver and Gold Aboard, Just People?….Go Figure……
    ….Good
    Thing That All The ….(“Anita And Kutchie Pelaez’s Key West Key Lime Pie
    Shops”)..Are All Showing Increasing Pie Sales Throughout All They’re
    Areas Of Distribution. Consumers Just Never Seem To Reach They’re Fill
    Of Those “Yummy Key Lime Pies” That The “Peleaz’s Working Partner Team”
    Continues To Produce. They Have Been Called “Love At First Bite”.
    .Everyone Agrees, That The Loving Couple Have Been Baking They’re
    Culinary Delectables Over 40-Years Now!….
    Isn’t She
    Wonderful?….”AAAHHHH”, The Magic Of The Gorgeous “Mrs. Anita Pelaez”
    Well She Is Something Else!…Honey, She’s The Real Thing Baby!….
    ….Who The Hell Does That “Kutchie Pelaez” Think That He Is?….”Frankie Valli” Or Some Big-Shot Like That?
    ….It’s No Wonder That People Are All Calling Him “The Most Interesting Man In The World”,…Big Girls Don’t Cry…Do They?….
    ….Don’t
    Cha Just Love Em!?….We Sure Do!….It is A Well Known Fact That “Captain
    Kutchie Pelaez” Knows Who Put The Bomp In The Bomp Shoo Bomp Shoo Bomp
    And The Rama In The Rama Lama Ding Dong!.
    ….He Even Knows Who Put The Dip In The Dip Da Dip Da Dip!…How Cool Is That?….
    ….a-good-1-4-u-2-n-joy-ok!..
    ….”Very Interesting”!….
    ….”Frankie Valli and Kutchie Pelaez”..Did Make-It As Big As “Frank Sanatra”.
    ….”Yeah”
    A Few Wise Guys They Certainly Were “Frankie Valli, Kutchie Pelaez and
    Joe Pesci”!….Together “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight”!…..
    ….Mafiosi
    Wanna-Bee’s. The Key Lime Pie “Wild Bunch”. They’ve Got Everyone
    Shaking In They’re Flip-Flops!….”Even “Jimmy Buffet” Doesn’t Know Where
    It’s Safe To Hide-Out”!….Especially Since Everyone Found-Out That
    “Captain Kutchie Pelaez” Was The One Who First Came-Up With The “Goody
    Goody”…“The Original Cheese Burgers In Paradise” And Kutchie’s Buddy
    .“Levi Stubbs”. Of The “Four Tops” Helped Him Name Them Way Back In The
    Early 70′s.
    ….Eli Wallach, Be Careful, Don’t Eat The “Cannoli’s”!…They’re Killer Man!….
    ….They Lived!…They Really Did!…Just Ask “Levi”!….
    ….I’d
    Give My Left “Nut” To Set Down With “Captain Kutchie Pelaez, Frankie
    Valli, Terry Levi, Joe Pesci, Bob Gaudio, Bob Crewe, Paul Shaffer, Bob
    De Niro, Tommy DeVito, Martin Scorsese, Clint East Wood, Bob Newhart And
    Yankee Jack Pittorino”! Rub Elbows And Shoot The Shit With That Whole
    Crew Of “Good Fellows” Or “Wise Guys” Or Whatever The Hell You Want To
    Call Them!….”Who Wouldn’t”?….
    ….I Believe That “Kutchie” First
    Sang “My Eyes Adored You” And “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” To His
    Lovely Bride “Anita” Way Back In The Seventies! ….Sounds Like A Love
    Story To Us!…A Very Good Yarn! “You” “You’re Good You”….
    ….That
    “Captain Kutchie” Always Lands Back On His Feet. No Matter How Tough
    The Situation Is He Always Comes Back Up On The Top Of The Heap, King Of
    The Hill! Everyone Knows That! Never Count The Captain Out No Matter
    How Down The Chips May..Appear!…… Remember That He Is Not Only “The
    World Famous Captain Kutchie Pelaez” But Please Keep In Mind That
    “Captain Kutchie” Is Also Considered “The Most Interesting Man In The
    World”!….Why Else Would Everyone Be Talking About Him And His
    Adventurous Wild And Crazy World Exploits, Treasure Hunting And
    Exploring, The Megalodon Teeth And Oh All Those Giant Reptile
    Exploits?…To Say “The Dude” Really Has Balls Is Quite An Understatement
    To Say The Least!….
    ….His Drop Dead Gorgeous Wife “Anita”
    And
    They’re Famous Key Lime Pies!….They’re World Famous Historic Key West
    Kutcharitaville Key Lime Pie Factory and Grill, Home Of The Famous
    “Goody Goody” Cheese Burgers In Paradise!….All Conveniently Located In
    NC Near The Famous “Biltmore House And Estate!….
    ….Yeah, You’re Good You. No You’re “DAMN GOOD YOU”….
    ….Also Add “The Two Yutes”….”What’s A Yute”? You Might Ask. Just Ask “Yankee Jack”…..
    …Marriage
    Lasts Forever and Ever, Two People Become One! A Covenant Between A
    Husband, His Wife And The Lord “Jesus” The Christ! Marriage, The Same
    Yesterday Today Tomorrow And Forever More! True Love Never Changes!
    Just
    Ask “Captain Kutchie Pelaez” He Knows!….That What The Lord Puts
    Together Can Never Be Broken!….That “Captain Kutchie” Really Knows His
    Stuff. He’s Mind Blowing To Say The Least!…
    ….”Captain Kutchie” Never
    Kisses Ass But If He Did Kiss An Ass It Would Probably Be His Beautiful
    Wife’s Ass!….You Go “Captain Kutchie”!….
    ….”Captain
    Kutchie”
    Always Said That To Him That “James Garner” Was To Him One Of The
    World’s Most Interesting Persons. So I Guess That This Key Lime Pie
    Should Be For You This Month “ROCKFISH”…(RIP)!….
    ….Only “Jim Rockford” Could Have Came Close To “Fred Thompson” In “Persecuted”, Fred Really Nailed It In This Flick!….
    ….”Captain Kutchie”, You Put You’re Cloth’s Back On, “You”!….
    ….Who Dat, Dat Say “Who Dat” Every Time Dat I Say Who Dat, “Who Dat”?….
    ….Nobody Be Done Does It Better Than The “Captain Kutchie” Be Done Did!….
    ….At A Time Like This, I Can’t Help But Think, What Would “Captain Kutchie” Say?….
    ….Yeah,
    With They’re Olive Oil Voice And Guinea Charm, The Damn Dago Wop
    Grease-Ball Goombahs Are Out To Steal Everyone’s Grease! The
    Scumbags!….That’s Probably What Captain Kutchie Might Say!…
    ….Looks Like That Scary Snow Snake!….”Albino Cobra”…..Wasting My Time….
    ….Anita
    and Captain Kutchie Pelaez’s Key Lime Pies Are Really As Good As
    Everyone Says They Are. The Proof Is In The Pudding, They’re That Damn
    Good!….
    ….With “Anita’s and Kutchie’s” World Famous Key Lime Pies You Will Always Eat, Drink and Be Murray!
    ….”Captain Kutchie” Of Key Lime Pie Fame Always Told Me “Keep You’re Friends Close But Keep You’re Enemies Closer”.
    ….1-4-u-2-c-i-c-u-2-ok-ok!
    ….123-testing-123…,.ok,
    that’s a go!….ok….go…….please go away now!……go to your room now!….well
    if you don’t go now, i will!….bye-bye….i am gone now, you can stop
    reading, cause i am gone……i am really gone now!
    ….i can’t believe that you are still reading this! you believe that?
    ….i can’t believe that we ate that whole key lime pie!…
    ….since
    “Rooms To Go” did good, maybe the “Pelaez’s” should change their name
    to “Key Lime Pies To Go”, Yeah-What Do You-All Think? Is That A
    Go?……go to your room now!….BYE!….

    ….With “Captain Kutchie” It Is Known As “The Battle Of The Bulge”!….,
    ….Ain’t It A Kick In The Head?…..Damn Straight It Is!….