Monday, August 12, 2013

The Ideal Blog Post Length

This is a question I've struggled to answer to my own satisfaction: what's the ideal blog post length?
How long is too long for a blog post? Or too short?
Here's what I've noticed:
You can get your message across effectively with less than ten words.

"Fatboy Burgers are awful. I found cockroaches in mine."

9 words gets the work done. But I think that's all it does.

Why do we scan content?

We know people scan pages for information. Deep reading is a thing of the past... or is it?
This is what I do. If the first paragraph grabs my attention, I'll read on. If it doesn't, I'll skip down and then skip town very quickly.

I surf the web because I want to find something worthwhile in which to invest my precious time. Scanning is a tool I employ to find that worthwhile content but I don't want to just scan. I want to deep read.

I found the following experiment revealing.

I googled two topics and performed a quick word count on the first ten organic returns.
In my first search term - "modernist architecture" was the first thing that popped into my head - all ten links had over 1000 words on the landing page.

In the second search - "old bicycles" - half the pages I was led to had 1000 words or more. (One link was to Pinterest.)

I tried a third search - "sustainability in business" as I'll be editing a magazine later in the year themed on this topic. This gave me closer to what I would have expected. Eight pages of 400-600 words but still 2 pages had a 1000+ word count. And let's face it, 400-600 words isn't a short post.

So how does that relate to the ideal blog post length?

Writing long content is still going to get you found. It gives ample room for your keywords to take effect and provides more opportunities to be linked to if you provide link-worthy content.
Long posts are not the enemy. Poorly written, rambling posts will drive readers away but long posts are not necessarily the deterrent that modern wisdom espouses.

Here's my rule of thumb for the ideal blog post length.. Just write it. If comes in at twenty words or 2000 words and is relevant, informative and/or entertaining throughout, post it. But if you were to press me harder, I'd go for longer posts.

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