Continuing our series on 29 debates have about blogging, in this article we are looking at post length. Is it better to have super long posts or to keep them short and snappy?
What is the Ideal length for a blog post?
When I first started writing posts a few years ago I stuck to a formula. I would always aim for my posts to be 300 to 400 words long and I would always ensure they would target one single topic, specifically a term that people might search for in Google.
This worked well for the sites that I used to build when I first started building blog sites. These sites were aimed very squarely at getting search engine traffic on and off my site quickly. The article just had to be long enough to get the search engine’s attention – it didn’t really matter if the article was useful or not, the idea was to get people onto the site and off again through an affiliate link or adsense advert.
If you decide to spend your money on a “get rich quick” website building scheme this is probably what many of them well suggest you do.
Unfortunately there are some problems with this model:
- Increased competition has meant that ranking above rival websites has become much harder than it used to be. Posts that have been written just to gain search engine traffic aren’t as effective as they used to be.
- Superior search engine algorithms are much better at picking out genuine content sites over hashed together affiliate sites or adsense traps.
- From time to time you might find that your website’s income drops dramatically when it loses ranking position in the popular search engines. These kinds of sites are often subject to the whims of their algorithms – one week they are number one, the next they are on page 100 and you’ll never be told why.
- I found there was little satisfaction from churning out these kinds of sites. Sure, I made a few bob from running them, and I still have some active that bring in a tidy sum despite not having been edited for years. But it never felt like I was creating anything useful.
Building a Blog to be Proud Of
Good Blogercise is all about creating sites that people will find genuinely useful. So to this end I believe content creation is all about giving people the information that they are looking for. So yes, in some cases this may will be a short post. Some questions can be answered in a few hundred words. However in other cases it can take a lot more to give a full answer that will empower your readers to understand a topic and take things further.
By giving full in depth discussion when the topic requires you will make sure that your visitors will leave your site satisfied. They are also far more likely to come back when they know your site might be able to answer a future need.
Besides, search engines love lots of content. The more you write the more potential you have for long tail keywords – these are keywords that aren’t regularly searched for, usually an obscure combination of words that make up the millions of unique searches that hit the search engines every day.
Long tail searches often make up a large percentage of a site’s traffic
Giving Full Answers
If you are a regular reader of Blogercise then you will be aware that we like to publish longer posts that go into as much detail as we think is useful to share.
We know that our intelligent regular readers are hungry for quality detailed content
The key to this is to make posts presentable and to break them up into snippets that your reader can scan over.
Make sure your posts contain:
- Bullet points – yes, just like this!
- Headings that break up different paragraphs
- Make important parts of your text stand out. Don’t be afraid to mark out important quotes in boxes or use bold or italic fonts
My final thought would be to ensure that your posts are the right length to meet your reader’s needs. If they are looking for an “in depth review” then you are going to have to write a good 1000 words or so and not just copy and paste the standard product summary provided by a supplier. If your topic can be addressed in a few short sentences then don’t be afraid to do this either. Sometimes readers are looking for a distinct answer to a distinct question.
Writing waffle wastes both your time and theirs!