How Long Should Your Blog Post Be? The Two Word Answer
Is the quest for the perfect blog post length leaving your trash can full and your patience empty? Working with our clients on social media and online marketing concerns, it’s one of the most common questions we see- “How long should my blog posts be?” Is there a magic number of words or characters that will lead to sales? Will a 4 paragraph post convert better than a 6 paragraph post? What about a 3 paragraph post? How about 6 and 2/3… I think you’ve got the point.
Well I’ve got the answer, so sit down- this may blow your mind. Are you ready? It depends.
I know, my answer is both underwhelming and wildly unsatisfying, but stick around. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, there are some things you should keep in mind as you blog. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in conversions with three paragraph posts, so I won’t be giving you that information here… (just kidding).
A Few Things To Consider Before We Start…
You Have to Fight For Attention Like a Middle Child
Before you get all hot and bothered about the length of a post, you better have a way to get someone to your site to read it. The great thing about the social media/blogging age is that it gives everyone a voice. The bad thing about the social media blogging age is that it gives everyone a voice. In order for anyone to read your post, you have to find a title that grabs their attention.
Web hosting firm BestWebHostingGeek.com reports that there are over 152 million blogs on the internet as of 2013 (they counted… one at a time). So, let’s say that the writers of those blogs are posting an average of 2 times per week. That is over 15 billion posts per year. Suffice it to say, you’re screaming in a noisy room. What you’re screaming better be interesting.
Once you actually get someone to the post, you need to have an interesting opener. Studies suggest that the average blog reader only reads 20-28% of a post (if you’re still reading this congratulations- you are officially above average). So how do you keep someone reading?
Focus on Quality
A great headline is… well, great, but if the content that follows it stinks, you’re just putting lipstick on a pig. Before you worry about limiting the reach of your posts based on word count, make sure you don’t limit the reach of your posts based on quality.
Think about the two groups who will be reading your post- humans and search engines. Provide the information you say you’re going to provide in a way that is both educational and entertaining for humans and keyword-rich for search engines.
OK, Now to the Nitty-Gritty
Consider the Purpose
What is the purpose of this blog post? Are you trying to get someone to do something (i.e. sell a product, drive people to sign up for a newsletter, etc.) then a shorter post around 200-250 words may be better for you.
Why? A short post allows you to get directly to the point. Your reader doesn’t click on the link and forget why he came to your site in the first place or get overwhelmed by a huge amount of text. You may think that people will read it because it is important to them, but that thinking may be flawed. Case in point: the US Constitution is important to 100% of Americans, yet only 28% say they have read the whole document. How-to posts seem to be an exception to this rule.
If you’re looking to increase search engine ranking and/or social reach you may want to go long. Apparently, Google likes a nice long read. A study conducted by internet marketing firm serpIQ found that the top 10 results from Google routinely had a minimum of at least 2,000 words. This makes sense: Google’s web crawlers look at all of the content on your page. The more words, the more chances something you write matches something in a search.
We like to share: [eBook] Facebook — Converting Fans into Paying Customers
The same is true on the human side of the equation- for the same reason. Longer posts generally create more back links and increased shares on social media (sure, you can tweet that). Why? Because there is simply more content that is included in the post. There is a greater chance of there being a little somethin’ for everyone. As more people share your post, more people outside of your network will see it. As more people see it, more should come to your site (hence the importance of quality).
So, what’s the answer? There is no answer. The important thing to remember is to keep purpose and quality in the forefront of your mind as you write. Your goal should be to get your point across in the most clear, concise way possible all while entertaining and educating. So if that post is 200 words, great. If it’s 2,000, so be it. That being said, here are some guidelines:
- If you’re looking to inform people about your product and/or get them to take an action, shorter posts may be your best option.
- If you’re looking to increase your search engine ranking, social media shares and comments then you may want to go long form.
Other than that, it looks like you’re on your own to find this answer. So go forth and experiment with your audience.
[latest_posts header=”More on Marketing” limit=”” category=”8″]