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Does length matter? When you’re writing posts for your business blog, you may be tempted to get the task over with as quickly and in as few words as possible. While this will save you valuable time, it can also cost you – in readers, social media shares, search engine ranking and conversions.
Some blog updates are always going to be short and sweet, and you should never pad out brief topics with unnecessary words just to hit a target word count.
Likewise, when you’re dealing with a more substantial topic, your readers are going to want the full story – not just the amount you could be bothered to tell them before hitting your word count and hitting publish.
For your blog posts to have the best chance of success, you need to know when to be concise and when to go in-depth.
Short posts tend to get the most comments.
Medium-length posts tend to get shared the most on social media.
Longer posts tend to do best in search results and get the most conversions.
Short blog posts (about 250 words)
Whether you’re writing for a business audience (B2B) or for general readers (B2C), shorter blog posts are popular with everyone. They don’t take long to read, which is important when your readers are pressed for time and you’re competing with other blogs for their attention during their coffee break.
These posts also tend to receive the most comments. This may be because they’re quickly digested and your readers are still engaged with the topic, or because people want to add their own input to expand on your brief overview. Some bloggers have built their reputation on writing short, such as Seth Godin.
Shorter posts are popular with blog writers too. Naturally, as they make it easier to update your blog regularly – if you’re a fast writer, you might be able to write a whole month’s worth of blog posts in just a few hours. However, this would mean missing out on the considerable advantages of longer posts, which can be well worth the extra time investment.
Medium-length blog posts (400-600 words)
Keeping your posts short may be appealing to save time, but as you get into the habit of blogging – and if you care about writing content that’s genuinely useful for your readers – you might find that you naturally start to write more.
Posts of around 500 words have long been seen as the ‘Goldilocks Zone’ of blogging – not too short to be unhelpful, not so long that the information can be overwhelming, just right. Most business blogs are built around medium-length blog posts, which tend to be shared the most on social media and can drive the most traffic to your website.
Long blog posts (more than 1,000 words)
You might not always have the capacity (or the motivation) to write long blog posts. But if you can spare the time – and if you choose a topic that justifies the extended word count – these posts can deliver serious rewards.
Analysing changing trends in Google’s search engine rankings and his own blog’s performance, Neil Patel of Quick Sprout found that:
- longer content ranks better for long tail keywords
- longer content gets more backlinks
- longer content gets more conversions.
Blog posts that show up on the first page of Google – the top 10 results for keyword searches – are now usually longer than 2,000 words, as Google promotes content that offers more detailed information to readers.
And why not? If you were searching for information on a topic, wouldn’t you want to read the ultimate guide too?
If your longer posts are really useful and well-written, people will be eager to share them. Neil Patel found that his content over 1,500 words in length got 68.1% more tweets and 22.6% more Facebook likes than his shorter posts.
How to write longer blog posts
If the idea of writing 1,500+ words on any topic feels daunting, you’ll find it becomes much more manageable when you set out a plan and structure for your blog posts before you write them. This helps to make sure you’re including everything you need to cover and organising the sections in a logical order.
If it makes it easier, you can think of each section as a separate blog post of a length you’re used to writing (short or medium length). If you’ve already written a shorter post on the same subject, could your original sub-headings be expanded on for a more in-depth write-up, or will you need to do more research?
You can get more ideas for what to include by seeing how other bloggers write their long posts (hint: the best ones are on the first page of Google) or by seeing how writers organise their chapters in e-books. Once you’ve got used to thinking of long blog posts as a collection of shorter posts, what’s to stop you taking the next step and turning these longer posts into chapters of your own e-book?
What length is right for you?
Long, in-depth content may be best for search engines, but it isn’t always practical and not every subject calls for a 2,000-word analysis. Most blogs benefit from a healthy mix of content types, but it depends on what you’re writing about and who’s reading.
The most important thing to consider when choosing the length of blog posts is: what does your audience want to read? As your blog grows over time, check your site analytics to compare how content of different lengths performed in terms of page views, shares, interactions and conversions, and use these findings to inform your content strategy.
Need to know more about how to tailor your content to your target audience? Read our guide to what your customers want.