In these days of text speak and 140 character tweets it seems that bloggers are being pressured to truncate their posts in order to secure and maintain readers. I have previously shared my opinion in an earlier post called Better Blogging: Post Length. In a nutshell I believe that anyone who actually does enjoy reading will read any length of post, provided that it’s well written and it holds their interest.
There is no rule of thumb for post length aside from adequate coverage of the topic at hand. SEO experts say that both extremely short and extremely long web pages are not ranked as highly as pages that are of a reasonable length. No one really knows how many words are “reasonable” but at least 250 words – 1000 words are recommended.
Pillar posts AKA flagship content that provide timeless value to readers are longer posts and I have discussed this in an earlier post called Blogging: Characteristics of pillar posts.
My over arching objective for my blog is to have a mix of high quality posts of varying lengths that contain relevant information presented in a reader and search engine friendly manner.
When crafting blog posts I consider:
(1) what is the main message or theme?
(2) who are the readers?
(3) what information is essential?
(4) how can it be organized and most clearly expressed?
I think a blog post should be as long as it takes to cover the subject you are writing about adequately. Therefore I focus on what my readers want and need to know and I try not to say more about the subject than I have to.
Here are a few ways I choose from to organize my posts:
(1) from general to specific
(2) from specific to general
(3) from positive to negative
(4) step by step
(5) from most important to least important
I have four goals for every post:
(1) Adequacy – I write enough to comprehensively cover the subject. I use as few words as possible, and I use adjectives and adverbs sparingly so those I do use have more impact.
(2) Brevity and balance – The type of post and subject matter that I’m writing about will usually determine it’s length. Robert Stevenson has a posy that I recommend called An Exercise in Brevity.
The Yale Medical School site offers lots of advice to people creating Web pages in the section devoted to Editorial Style in Web Style Guide: 3rd Edition Lynch and Horton, the authors, urge concision but warn against shortening text too much because “There’s enough dumb stuff on the Web already.”
(3) SEO – I make sure that the basic SEO techniques are incorporated into each post I create, as it makes no difference how wonderful my post may be if it’s not readily found in Search engine results by interested readers.
(4) Engagement – I try write in an engaging manner in order to maintain reader interest from the beginning to the end of the post.
Readers, how do you determine post length?
Related post: How to Become a Better Blogger 4: Essentials