As a blogger, you are probably looking for that magic formula that will bring huge waves of traffic to your blog. You probably spend a lot of time tweaking various aspect of the site trying to attract just a little more traffic for your posts. One factor that has recently received a lot of attention is the length of your blog posts. For years, many blogging gurus have recommended short blog posts. The experts are re-thinking this approach. New data is showing that longer posts are better for ranking on search engines. If you have been aiming for shorter blog posts, you might consider trying a few of longer lengths.
Check out marketing guru Seth Godin's blog. His posts are short and pithy. He delivers his point clearly with a bit of edge, and his blog is wildly successful. He argues that people don't really have the attention span to read long and in-depth blog posts. They want to get the basic points.
On the other side of the debate are people like Glenn Allsopp. His blog posts often have over 2,000 words. The argument for longer posts is that they offer more value to readers, have more authority, attract search engines and garner more social media shares. Data on search engine rankings seems to bear this out. Posts with over 2,000 words have higher rankings.
Why Long Posts Work
People are looking for valuable content.
In the past, the conventional wisdom was that no one really reads posts. They just scan them for headlines and take home points. That is true as far as it goes. Most people scan posts until they decide that the post has something valuable to offer. Then, people actually read the post carefully. If your post offers unique and valuable content, then people are going to stop scanning and start reading. While it is possible to deliver valuable content in a brief post, you probably need a long post to really express something unique and valuable.
Long posts are better for SEO.
The data backs this up, but why is this the case. One reason is that longer posts allow for a diversity of related keywords. Search engines have become very smart. They can recognize variations on a keyword and make sure that searcher have access to those variations even if they are not explicitly mentioned in the query. The search engine knows that the searcher is interested in the related results as well. If you use a wide variety of keywords in your post, then it will show in a wide variety of different searches. This is a good thing.
Long posts get more likes and shares on social media.
What are you more likely to share? A post that re-hashes the same old material, or a post that offers real insight. People want to share insightful and valuable information with their connections. When you provide this, you are going to get more likes and shares.
Longer posts convey authority.
Along with valuable content, people are looking for authoritative posts. If you are able to write an extended reflection or analysis on an issue, that conveys that you are an authority. If you do this a few times a week, then you really demonstrate your expertise. You have shown that you have something to say about the important issues of your field.
Longer posts win back-links.
Bloggers are looking for great information to reference on their blogs. They know that by including a few authoritative links, it enhances their SEO. If you provide authoritative posts with solid arguments and substantive data, then people will start linking back to your post. These back-links are important for your search engine rankings as well.
How Long Should Your Posts Be?
It is clear that the conventional wisdom on blog post length is changing. Long posts are probably better for you if you are looking to enhance SEO and social shares. You should think carefully about your post length and how it fits into your overall blogging strategy.
Consider your goals.
If you would like to generate comments and discussion on your blog, then shorter is better. Studies show that people respond to shorter focused posts by commenting. If you are looking for social media shares, then the magic number seems to be 1,000 words. Finally, if you are looking for back-links and enhanced SEO, you should aim for 2,000 words.
Consider your personal style.
If you are Seth Godin, don't change a thing. Whatever you are doing is working. If you are writing short posts because that is what the experts say, but you feel like you want to say more, be free. Go ahead, and write more. That is your style. You can make it work for you. The search engines will reward it as well.
Consider your posting frequency.
You probably cannot churn out three to five 2,000 word posts every week. If you are going to write longer posts, you may have to post less frequently. You might post short posts a few times a week and medium to long posts once or twice a week.
Consider your audience.
Ultimately, you have to keep your audience happy. You have to make sure your content meets their needs and corresponds to their passions. If longer posts help you do that, then you should write longer posts.
Ultimately, only you can decide the ideal length for your blog posts. You have to experiment and look at your analytics to test the results. Try a few different lengths, and see what readers respond to. Finally, you have to be authentic. Your blog reflects your personality and passion for your field. Make sure that comes through whatever the length.