Long time no see! It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I want to assure you that Blog About Blogs is still alive and more posts are coming. I’ve been very busy doing freelance work and have finally started writing a new eBook. In addition to that, I’ve been doing some guest blogging here and there.
Now that I’ve gotten that out the way, I wanted to make a post about a topic that I see a lot of bloggers asking. How long should your blog posts be? Here is my answer: A blog post should be as long as it needs to be in order to get your point across. It’s really that simple.
I’ve seen people argue that there is an ideal number of words a good post has to be, but if you can construct a good post in 300 words or in 1000 words, length really doesn’t matter.
But what about SEO?
What about it? One of the most popular arguments people make for the ideal length of an article is that it affects SEO. As I outlined in part two of my Death of Blogging Series, your blog should not be controlled by SEO. According to the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin, the minimum recommended length of a blog post is 300 words. Some people will tell you that Google likes blog posts of 800+ words, others will tell you 1200 or more. My point is that there is no ideal post length for SEO. Many of the top ranking blog posts for certain keywords are less than 300 words because they’re from news sites.
I can guarantee you that Google will not ignore your post because it’s 299 words long, so don’t stress over SEO.
Not too short
With that being said, you want to make sure your posts get across all of the information you need them to. The gauge of whether or not your blog post is long enough shouldn’t be what you think Google likes. It should be whether or not you gave your readers enough information on whatever subject the post is about. Do not short change your readers.
If you start writing a blog post and hit 400 words and get tired of writing so you just post what you have, then you’ve short changed your readers. In situations where you have a fairly in depth topic, you can split the post into multiple parts like I did with my WordPress Security posts on For Bloggers By Bloggers. When I wrote the entire post out, it was around 2,000 words. So we broke the post up into two separate parts. Topics like WordPress security require so much content that if your post is only 300 words long, it’s way too short and you’re missing information.
Not too long
On the flipside, you don’t want your blog posts to be too long either. While I recently read on Problogger that Generation Y actually reads more than any other generation, nobody likes to read long drawn out posts. Sometimes I read posts and I think to myself “Just get to the point already!” I’m sure you’ve come across a few blog posts like that too (hopefully not on my blog!). The problem generally is that they’re too long.
It may sound a little weird but a post being “too long” isn’t really about the word count. It’s actually more about the content within the article.
The concept is similar to watching a good movie. The Dark Knight movies are fairly long. But because the content of the movies is great and keeps you engaged, you wouldn’t necessarily classify them as too long. They’re just great movies. But a movie like *[insert the most boring movie you've ever seen here] would be classified as too long. Even if it’s not necessarily long in terms of minutes, the fact that it’s boring and drags on makes it too long. *My boring movie would be The American. I couldn’t make it all the way through that snore-fest*
Lets get scientific
I came across a blog post from Viperchill (Viperchill makes an excellent email opt-in plugin by the way, OptinSkin) about post lengths. In the post they revealed some research that they did. Viperchill studied the most Tweeted blog posts at the time and noticed that the average length of those posts was 1600 words. In the post, they breaks it down even further and analyzes the average post length of the top 5 blogs in various niches. The findings were published in the graph below:
As you can see, the average word count of the posts is heavily dependent upon the industry/niche. Like I mentioned in the beginning, blogs that post a lot of news such as the gossip and tech blogs, tend to have shorter posts because they just post brief summaries. Keep in mind they also tend to have more posts each day than other types of blogs such as personal blogs or informational blogs.
The niches with longer blog posts seem to be ones that typically post “How to” articles and in depth informational pieces. In Viperchill’s post, they also took 3 random samples from the blogs they used to come up with this data and put it into the chart below:
I added this section of this post for all of the people that like to be technical and so that you could have some fun comparing your blog to similar blogs in your niche. I think the only conclusion to draw from Viperchill’s research is that different niches tend to have longer/shorter post lengths. Other than that, I wouldn’t read into it all too much. But it is interesting to see this data laid out. The post the data came from is a few years old but I doubt too much has changed over the years in terms of post lengths.
My personal average
Personally, my average post length is around 600 words. There are many that are longer and some that are shorter. When I write blog posts I rarely even think twice about the number of words I’m writing. I just get out all of the information that I want to get across.
My advice would be to not focus so much on the word count. Start thinking more about the actual quality of the content you’re providing. Loading up your blog posts with fluff just to make it 1000 words is pointless. Make sure you hit all the points you want to make and you’ll have the perfect length for your post.
Do you have a magic number for your post lengths?