Argh – how long should a blog post be?
I get asked this question a lot, so I thought I should address it properly. The featured image probably gives away my personal thoughts; however I’d like to give a better answer than that, so I’ve done a bit of research. Here is my post about length and why it matters. (Don’t snigger. We’re all grown-ups here.)
There are several views about optimum blog length. Naturally, they are contradictory. Here are the ones that keep cropping up.
The 7 minute blog post rule
The ideal blog post length, according to Buffer, takes 7 minutes to read, which is roughly 1,700 words. This is based on research by Medium, who plotted length against time among their blog readers. They comment that “It’s noteworthy that at the beginning of the trend, the longer posts tend to see more visitors. This suggests a possible correlation between length and quality—that, on average, the longer posts are higher quality, resulting in more sharing and, consequently, more traffic.” What’s worth noting here is that we all assume that readers have short attention spans – not necessarily the case.
Buffer’s summary is a great article, which covers the length of all sorts of online wordy stuff, from the perfect LinkedIn headline to the length of a Facebook post (post referendum Facebook commentators – please note it’s just 40 characters).
The 500 word minimum post
This stat has been floating around for years – but 500 words seems to be considered pretty short these days. In Joe Bunting’s piece on blog length, he writes that this word-count is good for social shares and comments, but not that helpful for “search engine love”.
Personally, 500 words is the minimum length I ever write for clients. My “entry level” blog post often ends up at 750ish, a pretty standard journalistic length.
It’s also worth remembering that if you’re going for epic-length posts, it will cost you more either in your time or your outsourcing budget. Be realistic about your blogging capabilities.
What happens if you dip under 300 words for a blog post?
Well, according to a plug-in a few of my clients use, dipping below 300 words is absolutely cataclysmic. Seas will boil. The sky will rain ash. There will be plagues of frogs. Or in real life, the search engines will be unimpressed, and it won’t help you with your rankings. Read this article from Yoast about the 300 word rule.
As a writer who loves the sound of her own typing, I’d struggle to keep a blog post under 300 words to be honest. 300 words really isn’t very many at all, and most people can easily meet this target without even trying. If you’re struggling to hit 300 words, think again about the subject – can you broaden it a bit? Fewer than 200 words, and your post becomes “thin content”. Again, raining reptiles etc.
However this is always the point where people start citing Seth Godin…
Blog posts must be very, very long for SEO purposes
You can see the sense in this – the more content, the more relevant words the search engines will find.
But what about the human readers? There’s also that perception of quality that Medium discussed. As The Sales Lion commented in a blog post, “I’m going to ask you a question, and you’ve got to be honest: Have you ever looked at a really long piece of content, skimmed it because you simply didn’t have 10 minutes to read it, but still shared it because you “felt” like there was a lot of value there?” A long blog post is the broadsheet – we all feel a bit more erudite when we go for The Long Read.
But, if you decide to go for killer 2,000+ blog posts, remember this idea of quality, and please be wary of filler. It’s so obvious when something has been stretched to breaking point.
If you’d like to write some massive posts, the best way of doing this is to break it into smaller sections. Again, this is where the listicle blog post rules. Ten sections of 200 words each, with an intro and conclusion, seems a lot less daunting than writing a big chunk of essay. It also makes it a better read for your audience.
Simply, what does your blog need to say?
In the end, what’s right for you? Don’t waffle your way up to 1,000 words if you get your point across well in 500. Don’t over-edit a thorough piece because it may go up to 8 minutes.
Of course, I’m happy to be short and punchy, or long and contemplative. Please get in touch, and we’ll work out the perfect blog post length – for you.
There. 750+ words reached. I’ll retire happy.