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Post Length – How Long Should a Blog Post Be?


We might as well continue exploring the topic of writing good content with a topic that has been debated by bloggers rather hotly over the years, the length of the optimum post. There are a number of ways of looking at it:

  • Reader Attention Span – It is pretty well documented that the typical web reader has a short attention span when it comes to reading content online. My own little investigation into length of stay on blogs found that average blog readers stay 96 seconds per blog (I’ve seen other more scientific tests that show similar results). What ever the number – it’s generally not long. As a result many web-masters purposely keep their content length down to a level that is readable in short grabs.
  • SEO – There is a fairly strong opinion among those considered experts in Search Engine Optimization that both extremely short and extremely long web pages are not ranked as highly as pages that are of a reasonable length. Of course no one really knows how many words are ideal – but the general opinion seems to be that a page of at least 250 words are probably a reasonable length. Similarly, many advise keeping pages under 1000 words.
  • Quantity of Posts – One theory that goes around is that shorter posts allow you to write more posts and that more posts are better for generating readership with RSS and in Search Engines. While I don’t know their strategy personally, some believe this is what sites like Engadget and Gizmodo do with their high number of short posts which make up the majority of their content.
  • Topic/Genre - The type of post that you’re writing will often determine it’s length. For example when writing a review of a product you’ll generally write a longer post than when you write a news related post where you link to something someone else has written.
  • Comprehensive Coverage of the Topic - Ultimately this has to be the main criteria that bloggers go with. I can’t remember who advised this but at some point in the last year I read someone saying that you should write enough to comprehensively cover your topic and then stop. Long posts for the sake of them are not a wise move – but so are short ones that don’t cover the topic well.

In the end you need to find your own way on this. Here at ProBlogger I tend to mix it up a fair bit. I try to write at least one longer post per day that gives readers a bit of meat to chew on (whether it be a tips post, a review post, a rant etc) but I also throw in ‘newsy’ posts throughout the day.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. CapeLinks says:

    “Reader Attention Spam” — that’s a good one ;-)

  2. Mark Daoust says:

    Capelinks, you beat me to it!

  3. Veridicus says:

    “Reader Attention Spam”… freudian slip? ;)

  4. jim says:

    I think length also has to do with how you break it up. You don’t want long paragraphs without visual breaks like headings or lists, people just aren’t going to have the patience to figure out what you’re doing. This is especially true if you use san serif fonts since the reader has to do more “work” when they read.

  5. Darren Rowse says:

    doh – fixed.

  6. Sampsa says:

    Darren,

    First of all I wan’t to thank you for your site. You’ve shared some great links and advise that have helped me a lot while starting my blogging addiction.

    You mentioned that posts are typically shorter if one is writing about news. I disagree, news agencies already provide such a brief news articles that it would be almost criminal not to “open them up” for readers. With this I mean revealing the biases and covering the backgrounds of the story .

    I’m slowly finding my blogging niche with this subject, along with briefly linking my readers to usefull sites and web applications or softwares. So, I agree on your way to mix the length of posts. I also think that if I’d only write about in depth, serious stuff, it would depress both me and my readers.

    Thanks again,

    Sampsa

  7. Darren Rowse says:

    Sampsa – I should qualify what I was saying – what I’ve found is that when I write a review of a topic I find that posts can end up being many thousands of words long (if it’s a comprehensive one), where as when I (and most other bloggers that I know) write newsy/link posts that they tend to be shorter, even with my own comments added.

    I agree that there is a place fo bloggers to open stories up and go deeper than the agencies do – but in comparison to a comprehensive review they are usually shorter.]

    I think your strategy of mixing it up is a good one and will definately keep your readers attention better.

  8. A.H says:

    Aha, I switched from long informative posts to short compyling ones, the formula works better and i’m even enjoying not having to go into all of the little technical stuff =)

    A.H

  9. The average visit length is an interesting statistic though I wonder if it could be further dissected. Is this average pretty steady across all users or does is it skewed by a large number of over-caffeinated click-mokeys?

  10. Joshua K says:

    In my experience, it seems like my more lengthy articles get much more search engine traffic on one blog.

  11. Joshua K says:

    One of my blogs receives much more traffic on the lengthy posts from search engines.

  12. Paul -V- says:

    Many people forget is that blogging is a style of writing with it’s own flow – in much the same way as haiku poetry.

    IMHO, a blog post that is over 500 words is too long and needs to be scaled back. (There are exceptions to this, but that’s my rule-of-thumb.)

  13. binoculars says:

    Here’s what I do. Lets say I have 500 words article. Usually, I just take the 100 – 200 words of the article and post it into my blog. Then I ask the reader of my blog to click a link if they like to read the rest of the article.

    By doing this, we can avoid the issue of duplicate content.

    And it works like a charm.

  14. Idaho says:

    This was a great site. I needed to find something for my Homework and This site helped me out so much! Thanx alot!!!!

  15. Mr. Rehab says:

    A post’s length varies according to it’s purpose. If it is an informational post, regarding a detailed theme it’s only normal that it is a long one, as where it it merely a response to a question, such as this one, it shouldn’t be longer than 250 up to a maximum of 400 words. Of course, this is a personal opinion and it may be argued.

  16. Big E says:

    I am definitely in the camp of less is more. I believe you should be able to explain any idea with three to five sentences (no run-ons, please). The real determining factor for length has more to do with subject matter than anything else. Of course you want to be brief and to the point, but if you introduce a side thought in your blog, it needs to be supported. As a rule I try to keep my posts under 1000 words but no shorter than 250. On occasion I will go longer than 1000, but it was necessary to give a clear description or definition.

  17. Asako says:

    Reading comments, I am probably an exception that I like a blog site with longer posts. What is the average length of posts on problogger? I really like this site, because each post has high quality, is very well thought out, and complete. As far as I find the title I am looking for, it is for sure that I will get everything I want to read on that topic within one post. Particularly, on this kind of topic, it is good to have a long high quality article.

  18. Darren,
    I don’t know yet if this is a good tactic, but Ive been putting my posts through a word counter and starting each new post with the word count. Those who have a short attention span can click an ad and go.

    ;-)

    I do write longer posts, but around the 3,000 word mark, I break them up into smaller chunks. A good reader can readily handle 3,000 words in 5 minutes or so and what I write won’t appeal to those who have trouble choosing a crayon from a box of four.

    I did just post a topic titled “What Color Was Noah?” that was about 5,700 words long on my religion blog. I broke it up into three pieces along lines that appeared to be natural divisions. I also took advantage of the tag to put ~20-50 words out there so potential readers can get some idea of the content.

    I can remember when i was on dial-up and had to choose wisely before I clicked anything. Dial-up is still fairly common … my own son has it because he seldom uses the internet and his wife is basically only interested in snagging business e-mails. So I try to keep graphics down and to let my readers know what’s “behind door number two” before they click.

  19. sanjeevbabu says:

    What is the font that should look good .Will bold letters help?

  20. Kelly says:

    I prefer shorter posts with links to more information. Implant an idea, then give easy access to more information if the reader wishes it.

  21. Thank you so much for valuable piece of advise, I was looking for the answer today, and found it on your blog. Great JOB, brother…

  22. james says:

    thanx for that mate found it very useful

    i try and mix the lengths of my posts

  23. I am collecting some details on how to write an effective blog with in a short span and i find this particular blog has much more tips and tricks. more over easily understandable

    Thanks for the blogger

  24. Drug Rehab says:

    A blog post should be, as a general rule of thumb, around 4oo words. The issue with this general rule that most bloggers observe is that if your topic calls for fewer words, fewer words are acceptable. On the other hand, if your post needs more words to make sense, etc., then more words are okay also. If your site has articles on it, I would suggest that if a post is more than 750 words, make it an article.

  25. Barb says:

    I’m a new blogger and have found this site very useful…thank you! As for the topic at hand, I will always remember the English teacher who taught me the “skirt rule”. A woman’s skirt should be long enough to cover the topic but short enough to keep it interesting. The same goes for a blog post!

  26. Rivo H says:

    Hi!
    My posts are usually 300-400 words. I know some people make it 1000s but thats not for me right now. 5000 word posts are for deep details and dedicated readers imo.

    Its good to know I CAN write long articles though.

  27. red says:

    I LOVE “THE RANT” BLOG!! Keep it short and sweet ;)

    red

    http://www.mybitterblog.com

  28. Guillaume says:

    Hello Darren and thanks for your blog

    To go further into that :
    I am planning to launch my first blog in March and I know that the ideas that I want to express will require posts with far more than 500 words (it will be about personal development).
    I thought I could break the longest posts into several short ones. in my opinion the advantages would be :
    1. Not to overwhelm the reader
    2. Post more regularly without increasing the effort
    3. Fidelize the reader as he will (hopefully) be looking forward coming back the next day to have the end of the post.

    Do you think that’s a good idea?
    Thanks in advance for the answers

  29. David Brice says:

    A great blog with useful information. The length of a blog post depends on the article. It shouldn’t be padded out to get more keywords for search engines. As long as you write the post for the reader then thats fine. Some will be short and to the point and some will need to explain the details. If its a helpful post about something I want to learn I personally love the longer posts crammed with as much information as possible, but equally short sharp and to the point is good as well.

  30. I agree, short and to the point should be most blog posts. If we wanted to read a two or three page post we would just read books.

  31. Dianne says:

    As a former journalist, I stick to newspaper style, even for Web content, i.e.
    1) Well-crafted headline;
    2) First paragraph is most important (as it may be all anyone gets to/through);
    3) Newspaper columns were roughly 700 words and were well-read (Perhaps shorter for WWW for reasons mentioned above;
    4) Short paragraphs;
    5) Excellent images tweaked in Photoshop specifically for the Web.

Trackbacks

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