Should Your Blog Posts Be Longer?
Critics may claim that attention spans are getting shorter—but how can that be the case when content is getting longer?
In the early days of blogging and SEO, shorter was often viewed as better; a 300-400 word blog post was sufficient as long as it got a lot of keywords into the text. Now, though, with the popularity of platforms like Medium and design elements like continuous scrolling, blog posts have begun to lengthen and become more detailed.
If you blog regularly as a part of your content management strategy, you may be wondering if it’s time to add a few inches to your typical post. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time or ability to write the next American novel once a week.
Here are a few things to consider when determining the length of your next post:
Yes, blog posts are getting longer
A report from Orbit Media Studios found that not only is the average blog post longer than it used to be, but that the length of posts is increasing at a fairly remarkable clip, year-over-year. According to their research, the average blog post in 2016 was 1,054 words, up from just 887 the year before and 808 the year before that.
That’s a sharp incline—19% in a single year—and one that is likely to continue.
“The percentage of posts that are 2000+ words long has doubled every year,” according to the report.
Readers don’t necessarily expect it (or need it)
However, the increase in length seems to be more about a trend that serves itself, and less about what readers are coming to blogs for.
For ages, bloggers have struggled with a perplexing problem: Readers will click through an article because the headline is catching and the photo is attractive, but they won’t finish it. In fact, according to research from SumoMe, 80% of readers don’t read the entire article—and you can bet that the longer the piece, the less they’re seeing.
That means that even if your content is incredible top-to-bottom, it’s likely that most of your readers are only getting the first quarter, and that’s an argument for keeping it short.
Consider your motives
That said, there are reasons to keep your blog posts a healthy length—around 600 or 700 words—especially if one of your goals is to increases your SEO.
Yoast, the popular WordPress SEO plugin, has a thoughtful blog post on the importance of length on SEO rankings, which explains that “If you write a really long blog post (1000 words or more), you have a higher chance of ranking well in Google.” However, “the downside of blog posts containing more than 1000 words is that they can become hard to read...Also, large pieces of text could very well scare off your audience.”
But if SEO is your peak priority—and you’ve got the chops to write a longer post that really is compelling and meaty—a mix of long and short based on when you have time can be a good balance.
Longer isn’t always better
It should go without saying, but writing a longer post just to add words is rarely conducive to quality content. If your goal is to get shares and clicks—or better, to drive conversions—it likely won’t matter to your readers whether the post is 400 words or 1,400 words.
As long as you’re following SEO best practices, including adding keywords, using images, linking to outside sources, and updating regularly, your blog will be strong regardless of the length of your pieces.
However, if you’re curious about expanding your content offerings, drop us a line. Our blogging experts can help you workshop ideas and come with truly meaty subjects if you’re interested.
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