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Long Posts vs Series of Posts

Reader QuestionsAh Pek asks – ‘I have started a new blog, and I will be doing a series of articles that are quite lengthy. I have divided it into a few parts. Is it advisable to post it as a regular entry with titles that says XXX Part 1 and so on or would it be better to put all the parts in a single page with a dedicated title? Which option will be better from a SEO point of view?’

Let me attempt to outline some of the advantages and disadvantages of Long Posts vs Series of Posts.

The Pros and Cons of Long Posts

As you suggest – one of the options at your disposal is to simply write one long post. The beauty of doing this is that your readers get all the information on a topic in one uninterrupted post that they don’t need to keep coming back to over time. For reader satisfaction alone a long post can be great.

The problem with long posts is that unless you’re an incredibly gifted writer – many of your readers won’t get to the end of a long post. Studies into how people read online have shown that they respond better to short sharp pieces (although I do find readers respond well when I write long pieces too).

Another problem with long comprehensive posts is that they can actually drain you of ideas that could sustain your blog for a longer period of time. For example instead of writing one long post with 30 tips in it you alternatively could have written 30 shorter posts with 1 tip in each over a full month. I’ve seen a few bloggers launch with incredibly comprehensive posts that cover almost every aspect of their niche. Those posts can do very well with readers an on sites like Digg – but the next day the blogger can often be left wondering if there’s anything on their topic left to write.

The Pros and Cons of a Series

The advantages of a series of posts include:

  • more posts to sustain you over time (see the 1 post with 30 tips or 30 posts with 1 tip example above)
  • more focused posts help SEO (search engines are better able to accurately assess what a post is about when they have one topic instead of many)
  • interlinked posts help SEO (search engines like an interlinked website)
  • frequent posting helps SEO (if you have the choice between one post a month or 30 from an SEO perspective I’d go for 30 as search engines like a frequently updated site)
  • a series can build momentum (regular posts that build on one another on a daily basis can create anticipation among readers)
  • a series can build page impressions (if you’re interested in monetizing a blog with CPM ads then a series can be good as reader will click from one post to the next)
  • a series can help motivate a blogger write a longer piece of work (the idea of writing a 30 point post can be pretty daunting – but setting yourself the goal to write a short post each day for a month (or shorter period) can be much more achievable).

Of course the downside of a series is that some of your readers will simply prefer to read all your content in one place at one time and could become frustrated with a ‘bitsy’ series.

Another negative of a series is that it can sidetrack your whole blog. For example – stopping normal posting just to write upon one smaller aspect of your topic for a month could disillusion readers who want you to cover a wider array of topics.

Another Option – do Both

Why make it a choice between a series and a longer post? How about doing both?

One of the approaches that I’ve experimented with a number of times is running a series and then combining all the parts into one post. For example when I wrote my Search Engine Optimization tips for bloggers I wrote it as a series initially but then combined it together into one longer post which I now link to from my top menus.

I find that some readers really appreciated this.

Some might worry that this causes duplicate content problems on your blog – but I don’t think you’d be penalized for it if it was an occasional thing and if you wrote a new introduction for the post (you’d probably also delete some of the connecting introductions to each individual post which would change it too).

For more information on how I generally construct a series of posts on a blog check out 10 Steps to Writing a Successful Series on Your Blog.

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. David Cheong says:

    I went into the Ahpek website, and it is really purposely being an AhPek or he/she really forgot to edit it or maybe it wasn’t necessary to mention.

    If you click on the About on the AhPek site, you notice what i meant.

    Darren, nice guides and tips.

  2. I think people that are online reading blog (as a general rule) have a pretty short attention span. Steve Pavlina is a great person who shares alot of good information, but his blogs posts are very lengthy. Over my blog I decided awhile back to switch to short quick posts about how to get up and get something done right now. My goal is to keep my posts short enough that they can be read, absorbed, and then re read in about 2 minutes.

  3. James says:

    I have had a few short posts that ranked very well for a while, but my feeling (no proof) is that a medium or longer post will do better in the long run. I think a little diversification on the keywords in a longer post will allow a bit broader result.
    Then again, it’s just somedays I can’t shut up.

  4. Mark McManus says:

    I’ve wondered about this for a while. Most of my posts are quite lengthy so I’m going to try some shorter ones and record what difference it makes. I have already done one series and am planning more in the future. Thanks for the advice Darren.

  5. matt608 says:

    That is very true about a series building up ‘hype’.

    What it all comes down to is the nature of what the series is about. e.g. If it is a series where a blogger is recommending domain names (for whatever reason) then it wouldn’t be good to recommened 1 domain name per day.

    i.e. Each division of the series has to be long enough to sustain a single post.

    Matt

  6. Carolyn says:

    I’ve begun two series of posts on my blog that will take place over time: one is a list of quotes by me, and the other is a monthly installation covering one topic. Since I post on everyday events, I’m able to always create fresh content for these posts. That’s why I decided to post a series.

    The list of quotes posts are short. I post roughly 5 to 10 quotes. The monthly posts look at a different aspect of one topic. My blog is still new, I’ve been posting about only 3 months, but I’ve found that this helps add dimension and, as Darren says, gives the reader something to look forward to other than an average post. Not that my average posts are boring, I hope ;-)

    I’ve also posted both long and short posts. I wouldn’t by happy posting monotonously standard articles that are the same length. That would inhibit the creative process.

    I loved this post. It’s really given me validation for what I’m doing with my series of posts. Thanks again, Darren, for the great ideas!

  7. If you have enough content to split into a series then it can be a good idea. Besides giving you something to write about to maintain your blog it can also help make sure you finish saying what you want to say.

    Writing a long article can be difficult. Turns of phrase begin to become repetitive and you can find your self starting many sections with the same words and getting bored of the sound of your own voice. Splitting it up not only helps you avoid this but gives you more thinking room.

    I wrote a series of three Introductions to Web Standards and the second and third parts became very different from what I intended to write when I started the first one.

    You also need to think it through before you start. If you are not going to write them all at once and are prone to self doubt, having to finish a series that perhaps you have lost faith in can be a damaging experience for your blog and for your creativity. Be careful therefore not to give yourself too much to do later on.

  8. Scott says:

    I for one like Steve P’s long posts. They are just long enough for me to finish a large coffee.

    I like long posts. If I’m reading other blogs, I’m there to read and I don’t want to have to keep coming back for weeks to get info that could have been put in one post. I’d much rather read it at my leisure, like a book.

    Also, I think long posts build stronger relationships with your visitors. They allow you to build up an argument and get your point across much more eloquently than shorter posts, especially since the visitors will have forgotten a lot of what you wrote in previous posts and are not likely to go back and re-read them.

  9. I agree with matt608. Another advantage of a series is that it will help the readers focus on one thing at a time and thus provide better feedback in the comments section. These comments can be used to sustain the series too.

  10. I like doing a series on occasion to break up the routine for myself and for my readers. My first was a weeklong series on basic banking hints. I’ll be doing another as a series of interviews of my favorite bloggers every other day in April as another change of pace. We’ll see how it plays out.

  11. Bozdemir says:

    I prefer between short and long, not to cause readers got bored…

  12. Ah Pek says:

    Thanks Darren!

    After reading your advise, I more or less know what to do now!

    I must admit I have yet to edit the “About Me” page as pointed out by David Cheong. As a matter of fact there are yet many things that I haven’t really got down to doing as this blog is still in it’s infancy.

    Thank again for the nice and invaluable tips Darren.

  13. caplondon says:

    I think shorter, concise posts are better. Most people seem to browse from blog to blog and do not take time to read everything. Too many sites with with similar information to keep reading all the posts the whole way through.

    caplondon

    http://lasvegasfun.blogspot.com/

  14. Besides the logistical reality that most readers won’t take the time to go through a long post, other advantages of short posts are:

    1) Heavier focus on one keyword
    2) Easier to “architect” the entry’s content based on one targeted topic
    3) Easier to get a “summary” picture (with keyword alt tag) that sums up the entry.

  15. Alan says:

    I agree with caplondon, many people want some short and to the point information. I can think of lots of articles that I have started to read and found interesting, but once I got to the bottom of the first page to find that this is page 1 of 6 I tend to start skimming from there on. Often I just skip to the last page or just move on…

  16. KC TAN says:

    Nice writeup, Darren :)

    I prefer short posts at least it will keep the blog or site fresh. Search Engine bots also like to visit sites with fresh content. In addition, breaking up long post can help to increase the re-visit of first time visitors (with an interesting topic).

  17. Armen says:

    Unless the post is highly targeted on a really important topic, then and only then will I spend 5 mins reading a single post.

    My preference for lengthy subjects is a series. However, I despise a series that posts randomly on a topic. (I’ve been guilty of it myself) I want to know when the next part in the series is coming.

    Good thoughts Darren.

  18. Fred says:

    depends on the story or topic which you’ll blog, in my opinion, a mixture of long & short posts will keep the readers afresh and not bored to death …

    sometimes, a particular title governs a long posts but it might be wise to break it up into multiple series/parts … just like how george lucas made you hooked with the star wars series … also it created the desire for the readers to return for more …

    readers nowadays are pampered with too much choices and you can only secure a couple of minutes of their time to your blog … maybe darren might be able to do an experiment by writing some damn long posts and see if there’re complaints or decrease in readership … should be an exciting experiment …

    http://stocktube.blogspot.com

  19. Ginene says:

    It depends on the author. I normally like short posts but if it has to do with anything that will teach me something of value then I prefer the longer posts.

  20. Interesting analysis Darren.

    By the way, from the perspective of running successful blogs, I’d agree that short posts in a series would work better than longer posts. I’ve also liked your idea of combining the two strategies; I think it’s a perfect fit.

    Longer posts (like your 18 lessons on blogging), however, could be gems that readers would appreciate and read with pleasure for some time to come if they are timeless pieces.

    Thanks for some more sound advice.

    Cheers!

  21. Robert says:

    Interesting comments. I would prefer the shorter posts for the reasons you mention. After one long, comprehensive post it may be difficult to come up with something to write about the next day because I do make at least one new post every day. I also agree that it may be difficult to keep a readers attention long enough to read a long post.

    I just write a post without thinking about the length. Some are short one or two paragraph posts and some end up being fairly lengthy. It just depends how much I have to say on a particular topic. That naturally provides a mix of longer & shorter posts.

  22. Mr. Apache says:

    Hah! this is such a coincidence that I stumbled upon this article..

    I started my blog with a really comprehensive article divided into 10 sections, all on 1 page. And people loved it. But once I got into adsense and site-ranking stuff, I changed the article into 10 separate articles, then the original page I changed into a table of contents for the 10 separate articles.. So far, so good!

    You can see the table of contents at http://www.askapache.com/htaccess/apache-htaccess.html

  23. jardel says:

    I still think the better way is by doing various posts and then show the tag link for the user, to see everything in one place, for example i’ll write a post about SEO:

    1)Set up a image (like pro blogger do for series) and a tag in common for all the posts
    2)in every post the image will link to the tag, then the user could see all the posts in one place or a text link also could work.

    Thats pretty simple, but could cause some mess if the items should be in chronological order(1, 2, 3, etc), the tag must be exclusive, if i used “seo” for my example, the other posts i’ll write about seo will appear in the same tag, then “seo-series” or something else is better…

  24. I have found that short posts are MUCH more effective.

    They also seem to engage readers more and encourage comments.

    However, this is a rather long post AND it has lots of comments.

    Mike

  25. Travis says:

    Thanks for the great post! I have been plumbing the depths of your site ever since I decided to take my blogging more ‘seriously’. Consistently useful stuff. I have not yet made the move toward trying to turn any kind of profit out of my blog since I am still building a content stream, but when I do I know the lessons here will serve me. This post specifically speaks to my emerging style of posting which is a combination of long and short pieces. Please keep up the good work!

  26. I’ve been here a couple of times now and the below is true:

    “although I do find readers respond well when I write long pieces too”

    I definitely find your blogs engaging.

    btw: has anyone ever told you that you look like Gelman from the Regis and Kelly talkshow?! Gelman is the show producer I believe.

    Anyway, great site, I enjoy reading here. I’m new to blogging as of last Fall and I love it (I love writing). Trouble is… I tend to get bored of my own blog (especially the templates). I’m never satisfied. How do you blog here with the same thing all the time? I don’t know why I can’t be content, but I never am. For instance, I just redesigned a site last week and already I’m sick of it that I don’t even want to post there and literally start looking for ways to change it.

    Why do I do that? Does anybody else?

    That’s what I’d like to know. I really want a cool flash site, like the movie sites, they’re always engaging and interactive, and then just add a blog tab in there… but I can’t afford the kind of money needed to buy Macromedia, etc. Plus I’m on a free blogging site at Blogger.com.

    Does anyone have any good advice for a “change-agent” like myself? It drives me crazy, but this is the way I am!

    P.s. my other website is http://mystereomagnetgirl.blogspot.com (there’s other blogs I have found on the main profile page). How am I doing for someone who is using the provided templates? On my ascreaming writer site, I’ve played w/ the template code a bit, but already I’m bored of that site too. I just changed the mystereomagnetgirl site yesterday actually and I’m starting to like it, it’s colourful and I like that (plus I love ‘orange’ b/c it’s a colour of adventure, which suits mystereomagnetgirl, and for whatever reason I always think of stereos as being orange too, or should be anyway, lol)

    I’d sure love your advice. I’m sure I’m always going to be hard on myself though and will probably always bored of my own “stuff.” I tell you this though, when I’m on a roll w/ my writing, I’m sure passionate about it. Thanks for all your posts here about writing, they were fun and interesting to read… I have a real attraction to ‘words’ as any writer would I’m sure.

    Thanks again.
    Kimberley

  27. omg, what about long comments?
    :) Yeah, I write a lot. Somedays. When I’m inspired.

  28. greg says:

    I just sent my post out today to my list.

    After reading your post here I must admit that I think my posts are too long. I will also admit that I send my posts out just once a month so I think I should send them out more often and make them shorter.

    Personally, I do appreciate short posts but I envy the guys or gals who write well enough to keep my attention on the long ones.

  29. I tend to take an ‘editors look’ at a post after it’s pretty well written. Sometimes a series presents itself.

    If there is actually a series in it, I back off and re-write it that way. If, despite being longer, it is actually reasonably well focused, it will remain in its long form. At that point I might edit for the –more– tag so as to leave a summary / teaser above the break and the filler details below it.

    I have in mind to do a series on the churches of Detroit which are significant for their place in the history of this city. That won’t fly as a single long document … it would be of book length … so it will need to be broken down somewhat. But it also would not serve my readers to break things out any further than to focus on a single church at a time. That’s what sub-headings are for. When I consider a church’s funding, its pastors, its theological shifts and so on, these should be broken out via sub-headings.

    Perhaps I would want first want to look at the overall picture of a churches membership growth, then breaking the membership figures out by decades. That would call for a sub-heading of “Membership by decade” with additional subheadings whose contents would include these numbers and relevant notes.

    We now have:
    (Title)Old McGillicutty Anabaptist
    Theology
    Some text lorem ipsum
    Political Influences
    Mo pizza, mo money, mo wank, mo lorem ipsum
    Membership to zenith and current.
    1900-1910
    1911-1920

    There is no rule of blogging that precludes intelligent editing of well-written material.

  30. I am also doing a series, but my posts are 3 pages long on average.

    I would like to break them up, but what concerns me is that it will break the train of thought; and when people get to the 3rd part ‘within a part’ so to speak, they might not recall what came before it, and be left thinking, “Where is this guy going with this?”

    It’s a tough call. But it I think it is worth experimenting with.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] With perfect timing, Darren writes a post that examines not the long post vs. short post issue, but whether you stick with a long post or break the content up into a series of posts. Notice that both options assume you’re developing original content, and you’ll see a pattern developing. [...]

  2. [...] Li um artigo no ProBlogger.net, onde Darren Rowse responde à dúvida de um leitor. Este, perguntou o seguinte (resumo): O que é melhor, do ponto de vista do SEO: publicar um único texto longo, ou uma série de posts curtos? Resolvi trazer a discussão para o português, a qual você acompanha abaixo. [...]

  3. [...] Series of posts have many benefits for a blog. They engage the reader, they break a longer concept into smaller, easily digestible pieces and they build momentum (you can read more about that on the article “Long Posts vs. Series of Posts“). [...]

  4. [...] Here’s Darren Rowse’s take on it:  Long Posts vs Series of Posts [...]

  5. [...] Long Posts vs Series of Posts [...]