Friday, August 2, 2013

How long should a blog post be to get the most traffic?

How long should a blog post be?

Ball of string
How long should a blog post be?
Public domain image by Ryj

A common question among bloggers- how long should blog posts be?  Blog posts that are too short won't do well in search engine results, and advertisers may not value advertisements on short posts since readers may only spend a few seconds on the page.  Blog posts that are too long take a long time to write and people will not read the whole thing.

What is the best length for a blog post?

When I was in high school English class, we were assigned to write a term paper.  One of the students asked, "How long should the paper be?"

The teacher replied, "How long should a piece of string be?"  That was his entire response.  After some thought, this makes perfect sense.  The best length for a piece of string depends on its purpose.  If you are using a string to make a straight row in your garden that is 10 feet long, the string should be pretty long- at least 10 feet.  If you are using the string to tie around a small package, then a 1 foot length of string may be just right.  My teacher was telling us to make the term paper the right size to carry its message.

Selecting the best length for a blog post is a bit more complicated because you are really trying to make several parties happy.  You want your readers to read and value your post.  You want search engines to rank your blog posts high in search engine results.  And you want advertisers to see your blog post as a valuable property so you can get maximum advertising rates.

So how many words in length should a blog post be?

Google seems to like longer articles in search engine results pages.  Blog posts about 1000 words in length seem to rank well.  This length seems to satisfy readers, search engine bots, and advertisers pretty well.

If you have a lot of content on your topic, a longer post makes sense.  Some writers break their writing up into multiple parts.  As a reader, I find this really annoying.  For example, you search for the answer to a question and click on a search engine result.  This takes you to a page that is labeled page 1 of 10, and the answer is not on the first page.  I click away from this sort of website.  It is simply to tedious to click through page after page looking for information.

I would rather see a longer page with everything on one page, or multiple posts on separate topics.  Blog posts divided into part 1, part 2, part 3, etc. make it hard for me to start reading.  If I am on part 1 and see that there are more parts to the article, I might not even start reading.  If a search result takes me to part 2 of a multi-part post, I might think I need to read part 1 first, so will not start reading part 2.

The longest post I have published so far is about 2500 words.  This post was meant to be a reference with all of the essential information on my topic on one page.  The intent was not necessarily for the reader to read it all at once, but to find parts of it relevant and bookmark it for future reference.

Here are some thoughts on blog posts of different lengths:
100 word blog post: too short
250 word blog post: OK for a short answer to a specific question
500 word blog post: OK for a topic of limited scope
600 words: Google issued a recommendation in 2014 that posts of 600 words or more will maximize appearance in search engine results
750 word blog post: Shortest length for an in-depth article
1000 word blog post: Best length for a blog post.  Works well for readers, search bots, and advertisers
1150 word blog post: Great length if you have enough content, even better than 1000 words
1500 word blog post or more: Consider breaking your post into separate topics 750 words each

Sometimes a short answer is what people are looking for, but to make a successful blog post, you may need to go beyond the short answer.  For example if you are writing about "What color is the sky?" you might come up with a one word blog post: "blue".  You can include your one word answer, but then expand on why the sky appears blue, what colors appear in the sunset and sunrise, etc. to make a complete blog post that will perform well on your blog.

Blog post length advice

Remember that longer blog posts give you more opportunities to use your keywords and rank higher in search engine results pages.  Also you get readers to spend more time on your blog, which is valuable to advertisers.  Plus longer blog posts give you more time to showcase your writing and perhaps get readers interested in you as an author.  If you have short blog posts, try to think about ways to increase the scope of your topics a bit to reach at least 500 to 600 words.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Pro Blogging Journal

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