It’s the marketing equivalent of the “How long is a piece of string?” question. And it’s also the one I’m asked all the time: “How long should my blog posts be?”
“Long articles are more effective” shout the wordsmiths. “Look at Seth Godin” counter the microbloggers.
Then there is this gem from Hubspot – “As long as it needs to be“. Accurate, but not very helpful for the beginner.
Let’s go back to basics and think about your audience. Who are they and what do they want that you can give them?
Short and Sweet
Are they dropping by your site during their coffee break and want a few words of wisdom, something to make them think or something to make them smile?
In that case, short is sweet. Give them a few nuggets that they can take away and hopefully they’ll come back for more.
Seth Godin’s blog posts average around 200 words – but Seth has built his reputation over many years and he doesn’t need to be found by Google.
This style of blogging is all about brand building – engaging with your readers and helping them get to know you. It probably won’t help your SEO but it will (if you do it well) bring you a core following of people who love what you do and tell others about you.
My favourite short blogger is florist Miss Pickering. A few (beautifully written) words, some gorgeous pictures and some real insights into her work.
Long and Meaty
However, if your audience are looking to you for advice and guidance, then you need more than a soundbite.
Longer articles allow you to go into more detail and provide more information for your readers. And Google will get a better sense of what your article is about. But it does need to be well written and not padded out for the sake of Google.
Make sure you break up longer articles with sub-headings and images – most people will hit the back button if faced with a dense page full of text.
What’s right for you?
I tend to advise my new blogging clients to aim for something in between. Around 500 words is a good average. Some will be shorter and some longer.
If SEO is a key part of your motivation in blogging then you do need to avoid lots of short posts. Aim for a minimum of 350 words.
I’m assuming you are running a small business and a blog is just part of your online marketing – so creating a 1,000 word masterpiece twice a week is probably not going to happen. But including a longer, more detailed post from time to time is well worth doing.
If your article is very long – more than 1,500 words for example, then think about breaking it up into a series.
Once you’ve been blogging for a while, look at your Google Analytics and social stats. Did long or short posts get the best response? Is there a pattern? If so, you can adjust your blog publishing plans.