You might have heard these two pieces of conventional wisdom when it comes to ideal blog post length:
People have a short attention span; they won’t read a long post.
Short posts don’t work anymore; longer posts get more engagement.
So which is right? Should your blog posts be short or long?
I’m sure you’ve read blogs that have short posts and do pretty well and blogs with long posts that do pretty well. So clearly this is not a one-or-the-other issue.
Yes, people have short attention spans. For stuff they don’t like. They know they don’t have to watch a video or read a blog post they don’t enjoy, because there’s always something better around the next corner.
But people do have long attention spans for things that interest them. That means you can write long, long posts – if your readers are interested in the topic and you give them value.
And while some data sets show that longer posts get more engagement and more shares on social media, that doesn’t mean that writing long-form content is right for you.
You’ll have to decide for yourself.
Figure out your goals first
I’m guessing you want to do some or all of the following with your blog: get more traffic to your site, get more engagement on your site, convert readers to customers, improve your search engine rankings and show off your expertise on a topic.
Your posts should be as long and as frequent as they need to be to accomplish your goals. It might take some tinkering around to find the optimal formula for you. So if you don’t know where to start, I’ve got some things for you to consider.
Consider these 5 factors to determine how long your blog posts should be
How often do you post?
If you post more frequently – daily or a few times a week – shorter posts may work best for you. Readers coming to your blog frequently will know that they will always find something new. If, like me, you don’t post that often, then you might consider writing medium-length posts (around 500-1000 words) or longer posts (posts over 1000 words).
Having long posts frequently would be great, but it takes to write long posts, so take that into consideration.
What do you do with your posts?
Getting a new blog post up is a good reason to email your subscriber list (if you have one) and get on social media to tell everyone. For that reason, you may want to put up shorter posts more frequently.
If you don’t have a list you email, and/or you’re not hurting for things to put on social media, then this shouldn’t be a factor.
What do you write about?
If you’re writing the basics, like “101” guides, cornerstone content, evergreen content and the like, you’ll need longer posts. Many people have written on these topics and the basics are always the same, so to give any kind of value, you have to go deeper, provide more information, or give your own unique spin on an issue.
The good news is that long, comprehensive articles are more likely to get backlinks and shares on social media, both of which are great for SEO.
A short post on something very basic won’t give readers any value. Shorter posts are appropriate for trending news topics that you don’t expect to have staying power and responses to other blogs and articles. If you have a blog series – say, every Wednesday you write about a customer and their success with your product or service – then posts in the series can be shorter, too.
What do you post?
For SEO purposes, it’s a good idea to have some text on the page, even if the “meat” of your post is a video or photos. There’s no “magic number” here, but the idea is that Google and other search engines need to have enough information to understand what your post is about. You can give them that information by writing text containing your keywords. So even if you only want to share a video, you’ll be better off by also including a text description of what you’re sharing.
What’s working for you and your audience?
Look at your data, like analytics and insights, to see which posts get the most traffic and the most engagement on social media. You may notice that your readers are more likely to share one type of post over the other. Knowing that, you can create more of what works.
Summing It All Up
Whether you write short or long posts, just say what you’re trying to say – no more, no less. Write enough to get your point across clearly but don’t pad your post just to hit an arbitrary word count. After all, you’re not writing for you, but for your readers.