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,
  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

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Photo credit: jlz via Flickr

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