Blog posts are typically the most frequent and most integral elements of a business’s content marketing strategy. Posted regularly and shared through social media, blog posts are responsible for adding more indexed content for a website, thereby increasing page rank in search engines, and increasing overall web traffic by encouraging links with interesting material.
The rules that govern which blog posts are effective are neither straightforward nor clear. We know that Google has a preference for well-written, authoritative content, but those are general terms. Accordingly, the question of appropriate blog post length—and how long is too long for a blog post—is difficult to concisely answer.
First, it’s important to understand that the length of your blog post isn’t what matters most. It’s true that cutting or extending your posts to a given length can be advantageous, but there are several more important factors in your blog strategy, including:
You need to come across as an authority in your field, no matter what that field is. Blog posts need facts and clear information, no matter what length they are.
Your headline, especially, needs to grab readers’ attentions immediately. It’s possible that your long post is catchy but your short post is not—so make catchiness a priority.
Shareability is what gets blog posts circulating. In order to be shareable, your blog post needs to be concise, clear, surprising, informative, entertaining, and valuable.
Voice is another important yet underrated factor. Your blogs should all be written in a consistent voice that fits your brand and is tailored to your target audience.
The frequency of your posts matters more than the length. It’s better to make several shorter posts on a regular basis than it is one long post over the same period.
Blogs should be easy to read no matter how long they are, which usually means including subheadings, bullet points, numbered lists, and images to guide readers’ eyes.
Short blog posts, typically between 200 and 500 words, but sometimes as short as 25, do have a number of distinct advantages over their longer counterparts. If you find that short blog posts work better for your overall strategy, 5-600 is a general upper limit (of course, nothing can be strictly defined out of context).
There are several key advantages of short posts:
Attention spans are lower today than they’ve ever been, and that means getting attention from your readers is harder. Shorter blog posts require less time to read, and therefore, they attract a wider audience of time-compressed, distracted individuals. If you find that your target audience prefers easily digestible, short bursts of content to longer, more detailed posts, consider adding shorter blog posts to your schedule.
“Shareability” isn’t exactly a measurable quality. However, writing posts that are punchy and witty is easier when you have less overall material to work with. Cutting your content down to its absolute core is a good strategy to concentrate your messaging, which is appealing for individuals who are looking for something that accomplishes a lot in a short amount of space. This quality tends to increase the likelihood of people sharing your post on social media, since it’s quick and unobtrusive.
Greater Post Frequency and Consistency
Writing shorter blog posts usually means you have a greater ability to post frequently and consistently. When writing posts of several thousand words, it’s tough to find enough material to cover in a similar length—however, there are thousands of unique topics that can easily be condensed or split into pocket-sized versions. Posting frequently and regularly is more important than hitting a specific word count, so if you’re concerned about your post frequency, consider a shorter blog.
Finally, shorter blog posts require less effort to complete. Intuitively, it generally takes a writer less time to produce 400 words of content than it does to produce 1500 words. That means as a writer, you won’t need to dedicate as much time to writing posts, and as an employer, you won’t have to pay as much for your content. While this can be an advantage, it’s important to note that spending effort is a good thing, and generally, the more time you invest in your strategy, the better.
Long blog posts, which are usually more than 1,000 words, have plenty of advantages of their own. While short blog posts have a narrower range, long blog posts can be 1,000-2,000 words, on up to 8,000 words or more. There is no strict upper limit for “long” blog posts, but if you get too detailed or cover too many topics, you start getting into
Greater Depth (and Therefore, Authority)
Authority is a big deal. If your readers view you as an expert, they’ll keep reading. Otherwise, they won’t stick around. Longer posts generally give you more space and more opportunities to show off your knowledge; you have a chance to explore a given topic in far greater detail, exploring more facets of the subject and presenting more facts and data to support your claims. It’s possible to present yourself as an expert in a short post too, but longer posts give you greater potential to do so.
Short posts tend to get repetitive, especially if you explore similar topics or use the same formatting. On one hand, consistency is important in a blog because it gives readers a familiar, brand-specific experience that keeps them coming back. On the other hand, diversity is important. Longer blog posts allow you to explore a wider range of topics and incorporate related ideas into the bodies of your posts.
More Shares and Backlinks
While shorter, more concise content is easily shareable in the form of a social media post, longer, more detailed posts tend to be cited more. They are shared as presentations of information rather than as passing talking points, and as a result, they generate more backlinks. As you’re likely well aware, backlinks pointing back to your site are extremely important for SEO and are becoming more difficult to build naturally because of Google’s Penguin update. Writing long content attracts more natural links as external sources cite you as an authority.
Google’s main web crawler, appropriately called Googlebot, scours the web and indexes every significant piece of information it can find, adding it to a massive store of information that Google uses to generate search results. Having longer stretches of content on your site means Googlebot spends more time scouring your information, and Google will view you as a higher authority. Sites with long written content tend to perform better than sites with short content—but only when posted regularly.
Technically speaking, a blog post cannot be “too long.” However, consider the main intention of the blog post: to present a digestible amount of concise material on a specific topic to a relevant audience. If your blog post becomes so long that it is:
then your post truly has become too long. You could hit these “too long” qualifiers with a 10,000 word blog post or with a 500 word one. Context is the key.
For most businesses, there is no “perfect length” for a blog post. While longer blog posts tend to perform better as a whole, different topics and different intentions will necessitate different lengths. Include a variety of different blog lengths, from short and punchy to long and detailed, to get the best results for your campaign, and try not to worry about your numbers as much as the more important factors for blog post success.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.