How Long Should A Blog Post Be?
Second on the list of top questions I get asked about business blogging (after “how often should I blog?”) is “how long or how many words should a blog post contain?” Google favours longer posts, 1500 + words, but have you really got time to write lengthy posts, and are visitors to your blog actually going to read them? Getting your blog post picked up by Google is one thing, but that’s not the be all and end of all of writing a company blog. First and foremost should be a desire to provide your target audience with value adding content; whether it’s in the form of informative copy about subjects they’re interested in, entertaining and brand profile raising content – or both.
The Case For Writing Long Posts
If organic SEO is a priority for you, then longer posts are the way to go. It stands to reason that the longer a post the more keywords are used, and the more variations on these keywords and related terms. Therefore your posts are more likely to get picked up by search engines and rank higher in SERPs.
Also longer posts are more likely to attract backlinks that can also impact on PageRank. I would guess this is because longer posts contain more detailed information and therefore warrant being linked to by other website owners. If you’ve written the definitive post on a particular subject in your sector, then everyone will want to link to it.
Long posts also get more shares on social media, again because when sharing other people’s content on our social channels we want to make sure it really adds value and reflects well on us. A longer post is naturally going to a lot more detail than a 300 word blog post.
The case against long posts is the assumption that visitors don’t read them. Some of this is attributed to the nature of reading online content, we tend to skim more than if faced with a page in of print. Others claim that we have short attention spans, or that we’re all too busy to sit down and read something properly.
There may be some truth in all of this, but if you have got something worth saying and your audience is interested then word count shouldn’t be an issue. One way to help your readers digest your lengthy post, and get to the end, is to break it up into sections. Use short paragraphs, headers, bullet points and other formatting devices to help your reader skim or navigate their way through your content.
Address Your Target Audience
Having a good understanding of your ideal customer and writing with them in mind is a great step to successful business blogging. If you know that your target audience is prepared to sit down and spend time reading long posts, then go ahead and provide them with this. But if you think your ideal customer is looking for a quick answer to a particular question, or a few snippets of choice information they can take away and use or share, then this will dictate the length of your posts.
Most of us want readers to get to the end of our blog posts: here we may share a call to action such as commenting on the post or sharing with their friends. Not much use if your readers clicked away after the first couple of paragraphs. So it makes sense not to waste time and words if your target audience is after a quick fix. Of course, at the same time you need to ensure that you are “adding value” which means that skimming over a subject or leaving glaring holes in a topic is going to be counterproductive.
Therefore, your chosen blog title and subject will all help decide the length of the post.
Writing Short Blog Posts
So what do you do if you have loads of information you want to impart, but know that your target audience has very little time to read it? Here are a few ideas:
Break your subject into several posts: Bit-sized chunks may be more appropriate in some sectors than long in-depth articles, so if your post is nudging 1000 words or more consider whether it could be repositioned as two posts instead. This means you can do justice to a particular aspect of your subject, and promise ‘further reading’ or ‘part two’ as a future post. Make sure you signpost related blog posts from each other so that visitors can either read everything if they have the time, or bookmark a post for later.
Share videos, Slideshares or infographics: Sometimes information is easier to digest in the form of visual content like a video or infographic, rather than word heavy text. This is particularly true online where users might be visiting your blog from any number of different devices. Watching a video or flicking through a slideshare on a mobile device, may be preferably to reading 700 words. While it would be great if you shared your own visual content and benefit from having this on YouTube etc., you don’t have to. Instead you can embed resources from 3rd parties, just as long as you give them a credit.
Top tip: Make sure you explain why you are sharing something and what you think of it! Add further value by sharing your thoughts, experience and ideas in a few sentences or paragraphs.
Post more frequently: Breaking long posts into shorter blogs means you can also post more frequently, helping fill up your content calendar and providing you with plenty of material to share through social media, newsletters or email campaigns. If this is the strategy you want to use make sure you promote your posts effectively. It’s easy to forget to tell people about new material and while they still may find it through SERPs or browsing your blog, you’ll get even more traffic if you give each new post a promotional boost.
At the end of the day don’t get hung up on the length of your blog posts. Allow some posts to go over the 2000 mark if the subject warrants it, or share a short post if you can sum up everything you need to say in just a few words. Just remember that it’s not only about SEO, you also need to deliver value and that can come in small or big packages.