Ah, the age old question. For as long as blogging platforms such as WordPress have been around, the bloggers of the word wide web have been asking “How long should my blog posts be?”. There is an overwhelming fear of producing content that is too short and lacking in detail, or going the other way and writing content that is so long that your audience loses interest before getting to the end of the post. The line between informative, detailed content and overwhelming, bloated content is fine, but there are ways to help you find the perfect balance, So, are you ready to find out the answer, once and for all?
For starters, we’re going to think about blog post length in terms of words. Not characters or paragraphs or pages. WORDS. This is the most effective way of quantifying blog post content because each word will be adding value to your post, but not every comma and period will. So, are you ready for the answer that all bloggers have been asking since the dawn of WordPress? It’s going to surprise you. Brace yourself! The cold, hard truth is that there is no right answer to this question. I know, bummer. Were you looking for someone to tell you that the ideal blog post length is 1674 words exactly? Sadly, I’m not that person. But fortunately, there are plenty of things to consider about blog post length in order to produce content that is perfectly tailored to your audience. Keep the following five tips in mind to help you create content of an ideal length.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
When creating content for blog posts, it’s important to keep SEO in mind. Although we don’t actually know for sure Google’s secret ranking algorithm, some pretty smart people have put a lot of time and effort into trying to figure out the basics of making search engines happy, in order to help you rank well. Don’t let all their effort be for nothing. Use tools such as Yoast to help you get ahead of the game. Yoast says that the minimum length a piece of content should be is 300 words which equates to a decent sized paragraph. I’m hoping that your blog posts are all longer than 300 words… Otherwise I don’t think they categorize as a blog post.
Yoast also gives advice on paragraph length, keyword density, the use of passive voice, headings and more. Not all of this is relevant to your blog post length, but the point that I’m trying to make is that the people at Yoast are super smart and really thoughtful. Yoast is free to use and will help you make your blog content even more awesome than it already is.
The fine line between between informative, detailed content and overwhelming, bloated content. You want to engage and educate your audience though your blog posts so there is an overwhelming pressure to get the level of detail just right. Not enough detail, and your audience won’t have taken anything valuable away from your post. Too much detail could prove overwhelming and even boring to some audiences and you’ll find that people leave the post before getting to the bottom of the page. So where is the middle ground?
There is no hard and fast rule about how much detail you should include in a blog post. But there are two main factors you need to consider to help you decide on the level of detail you need to incorporate into your blog posts. The topic you’re blogging about and your audience. Don’t force yourself to keep writing about a topic just to hit a certain word count. If you’re doing this, then chances are you’re putting in more detail than you need and even going off topic. If a topic deserves 3,000 words, then writing 3,000 words won’t feel a chore, it’ll come easily. Write what feels natural. If you can only write 1,000 words about a topic, there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m sure those 1,000 words will be insightful and detailed enough to entertain your audience. Try your best to avoid going off topic. This can make for some really confusing content.
Consider your audience
Know your audience. If you’re writing to an audience of health enthusiasts, then you could probably captivate their interest with a 3,000 word post about the latest protein packed salad trends. If you’re audience is people looking to learn about coding, then the same post probably won’t be such a hit. By knowing your audience, you can write lengthy posts about things that are of value to them. In the same way you can produce shorter, more concise pieces of information to suit them. Recipes and ‘How-to’s’ are examples of shorter blog posts (less than 1,000 words) that will still provide an awful lot of value to the right audience. Know what will get your audiences literary motor running, write to captivate their interest and you’ll be onto a winner every time.
Collect and use data to your advantage
Data gives you quantifiable and comparable results that you can use to your advantage. You can collect data using tools such as Google Analytics and Twitter Analytics to see how your audience is responding to your posts. You might think that your audience needs lengthy post of 3,000 words plus… But have you looked at what your data is telling you? You could be slaving over 3,000 word posts when your data is telling you that your audience much prefers concise 1,000 word posts.
Look at what posts are getting the most retweets, like and shares. How many views have your posts had? How much time are people spending on your site overall. If it’s only a few minutes, then shorter post are the way to go. Also keep in mind that you’re data will not only be subject to your post length. SEO, post titles, featured images and external links can all affect how much attention certain blog posts receive. It might take a little trial and error to find the post length sweet spot.
What devices are people reading on?
Most people are reading on the go from their mobile devices. I’m willing to bet a lot of you are reading this post from a phone or tablet. Use data to see what devices people are using to read the content you produce. If more people are reading on mobile phone than tablets and desktops, chances are they’re fast paced people looking for information quickly when they’re on the go, as opposed to being sat leisurely behind a computer monitor. Always have your audience at the forefront of your mind when producing content. If you write a post on the top 10 places to eat in New York, your audience could well be stood in the middle of Times Square with a rumbling stomach, so it wouldn’t be wise to make that post 3,000 words long.
Tips To Take Away
- Use SEO to benefit your blog posts and make them even more awesome, searchable and worthy of being retweeted
- Write what feels natural. Don’t force yourself to write and write and write. Equally, don’t cull your content just because you haven’t made a short post in a while.
- Know your audience. Will they respond to the topic you’re blogging about? Are they reading on the go or from their desk?
- Collect and use data. Data will give an indication of what posts people are responding to, what device they are reading on, how long they spend on your blog and much more.
Unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all for blog posts. But use the information set out here to help you create content that is of a suitable length for your audience. The good news is that you’re more than likely blogging about topics that are of interest to you. A pretty good rule would be that if you think you’re content is hitting the sweet spot, then it should do the same for your audience. Happy Blogging!