Should your blog posts be long or short?

How many words you should include in a blog.

How long should your blog be? Well, like many things in life, there is no clear-cut answer. My philosophy: The less often you blog the longer your blogs should be. For example, I write a weekly blog of 500 to 800 words; my friend writes a 3000-plus blog once a month.

Studies show that longer posts often get better results. In this post I explain why. If you find this useful please share. I’m also interested in your comments, so please leave them at the end. 

Related posts:

How to squeeze a little more from your web copy

Will Hummingbird affect writing for the web?

 

Less is more?

When it comes to web copywriting, there appears to be a general belief that “less is more.” After all, readers are impatient; they skim and don’t read all the words. I have heard some people say a blog shouldn’t be more than 300 words. This is wrong.

It’s true: readers are impatient; they do skim read. However, this doesn’t mean that they won’t read longer content. In fact, sometimes they crave it. What it does mean is that blogs should be scannable,  with bold headings, short sentences and bullet points, etc., so that readers can find what they’re interested in quickly. (Visit Word Works for more information on scannable content).

Google likes long copy

Why does Google like long copy? Well, because people like it too. Now, people don’t like long copy just because it’s long. They like it because it’s more likely to answer their questions. And that’s what Google cares about — answering users’ questions.

Blogger Neil Patel  looked at the word count of the top 10 websites ranking for a particular keyword (see the graph below). There is a direct correlation between the number of words on a page and how highly it ranks.

The relationship between word count and page ranking.

Why does long copy rank higher?

Google takes a number of factors into account when judging the value of content. Here are two of them:

  1. how often the content is shared on social media
  2. how many sites link to the content.

 

If your content is shared and linked to, that’s a reliable indication to Google that it is of good quality.

The longer your content is, the more likely it will be shared and linked to. When I read a blog or white paper that’s packed with information and answers my questions, I want to share it within my network. Why? Because it’s important that those who follow me to see me as a provider of useful information within the area of web copywriting. I am also likely to bookmark it for future reference and link to it in my own blogs. Let’s face it, the likelihood of a 300-work blog becoming reference material is rather slim.

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Here is another graph from Neil Patel showing the relationship between links and the length of content (by the way, I wouldn’t link to Neil’s blog if I didn’t find it useful).

Web page word count.

Links to web pages

Long-tail keywords 

Longer content enables you to include more long-tail keywords. In case you don’t know, a long-tail keyword is a phrase containing three or more words. For example, “How long should your blog be?” is long-tail and “blog writing” is short-tail. Though less people search for long-tail keywords, they are much more valuable. For example, if someone searches “How long should your blog be?” they are highly likely to get value from this post.

Long copy gets more sales

Okay, I know I’m going off the track a bit, but long copy is often best for landing pages — particularly if you are selling a high-value, high-risk product or service. In fact, legendary copywriter Joe Sugarman believes you can’t have too many words. Why? Because you must create a buying environment; address the readers’ concerns; answer their questions. You need words to do this.

How long do you think a blog should be? I welcome your comments. 

  1. Hey Andrew,

    I read another post today similar to what you’ve shared here but I’ve also read Neil’s post as well.

    I honestly don’t think the length has anything to do with it, it’s the quality. I don’t see though how someone can really create a quality piece of content in just 300 words so I think when people say don’t write short ones that would be the reason.

    As you know, I post twice a week and my posts are well over a thousand words. I can’t help myself, I just have a lot to share. I rarely write one under that number but I have.

    If they’re shared and commented on a lot then I believe Google sees those as quality posts but I think it’s really just up to the individual. People definitely have their opinions on this subject though which makes great content for us right. 😉

    Great share and thanks.

    ~Adrienne

    1. Thanks for your comment, Adrienne.

      It’s funny because Seth Godin’s posts are usually very short and he’s a blogging rock star. However, he is a great writer and people love his stuff.

      You’re dead right; it is about quality. Of course, what I was getting at in my blog is that the more valuable information you include in your blog the better. The keyword their is “valuable.” So, if you include valuable information in a 300-word blog, you would still be achieving something. However, you should be able achieve even more if you included more valuable information in a 600-word blog.

  2. Hi Andrew,

    Wow, I need to start writing longer posts! With so much on my plate at work other than the blog, I decided to cut down on the time spent planning and writing, and I am thinking maybe I should try, especially now that I know what you have said here, to write a few posts that are a bit longer.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Amiti, thanks for your comment. It’s tough I know. I wish I had time to write longer posts and more often. The key thing, as Adrienne said in her comment, is quality. I guess what I’m saying in this post is that the more quality information included in a blog the more successful it should be. This, of course, takes words.

  3. Hi Andrew

    Very insightful thoughts in what seems to be a constant debate. I agree with Adrienne about quality. I also think, it all boils down to honest copy that is true to a subject. Sometimes, 50 words will say more than 500. It comes down to the subject.

    Cheers
    Namrta

    1. Thanks for your comment, Namrta. You’re right: It does boil down to quality. However, what I’m getting at is that a high-quality 50-word post isn’t likely to get as much traction as a high-quality 500-word post.

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