Wherever I turn these days I find suggestions that long blog posts are the way to go.
Need more search engine traffic? Write longer blog posts. How about more social media shares? Write even longer blog posts. Cure for cancer? Well maybe not but you get the idea.
But is it really great advice?
The answer is…. it depends – at least from my perspective as a blogger and as a reader.
Attention Spans Aren’t What They Were
We live in a fast-paced world in which we’re bombarded with information 24 hours a day.
Time isn’t always on our side. Yet every free moment we’re drawn to our mobile phones for more information.
People make up their mind in seconds whether something’s worth reading. When faced with a huge block of text they may choose not to read.
They’ll either find the information they’re seeking elsewhere or they’ll move on.
If you’re lucky they may scan your post first to see if it’s worth their while.
But then if you haven’t structured it well they probably won’t.
The average attention span of the modern human being is about half as long as whatever you’re trying to tell them. – Meg Rosoff
Blog Posts Shouldn’t Waffle On
Nobody wants to read 6,000 words of waffle when 500 well written words would have done.
Enhance posts with things like infographics and click to Tweets instead. They can add value without increasing reading time too much.
It’s also good to write in a conversational tone. If you have a tendency to waffle though, you should cull any extra words that creep in.
Something I use to help with that is the Hemingway app.
It can’t tell you if you’re waffling; there’s no waffleometer. Though it can point out text that’s difficult to read or if you’re over-using adverbs.
Are You Writing For People Or Search Engines?
Since Google introduced “In-depth Articles” long blog posts are the way to go.
Yet, as someone who reads a lot online, I don’t read many posts that are longer than 1,500 words.
Not because I can’t but because I’m busy. My interest often wanes after that amount of text.
I’m also less inclined to read a blog post if it appears to be a list post. I’m fed up with them.
If you share 500 ways to do something because it builds on another post you’ve read, go ahead.
But ask yourself who you’re actually writing that stuff for. Are you adding value or just trying to leapfrog them in the search engine rankings?
Is Your Blog Post Length Driven By Ego?
If you write a long blog post do you think it shows off your writing ability? Or is it a case of “mine’s longer than yours”?
Blog posts should be as long as it takes to get your point across and no longer.
Writing posts of two thousand or more words might seem like a good idea but I can’t imagine readers wanting to absorb those long blog posts week in week out.
Longer blog posts intermingled with shorter more concise thoughts work well.
It will also depend on the type of material you’re writing about though.
So Writing Long Blog Posts Is Bad Then?
As I said at the beginning, it depends. For the reasons I’ve mentioned, I think it can be.
Writing long blog posts isn’t wrong and writing short blog posts isn’t wrong.
Maintaining a reader’s interest through the first paragraph and beyond is the key. Simple as that.
Perhaps the thing to do is to sleep on what you’ve written and go back refreshed the next day.
I find that works when it comes to editing. I’m much more ruthless with cutting out filler content.
Don’t forget to break up text with sub-headings, images and bullet points.
Long Blog Posts Can Work
There are occasions where long blog posts do work. By that I mean anything over 1,500 words.
“How To” posts and case studies tend to be longer in format because they need to cover all bases.
You’d feel short changed if someone showed you how to do something but left out key points.
Some people prefer videos to long blog posts when it comes to these things. For me it depends on what it’s about.
If I want to follow along on my PC, then video is usually no good to me as I don’t want to keep pausing the video.
That’s where a long blog post works with plenty of screenshots and bite-sized tips.
Some Interesting Thoughts From Around The Web
- Neil Patel finds that longer blog posts can attract more search engine traffic. There are other considerations to think about though too;
- Jon Morrow considers whether long blog posts scare readers away. He reaffirms the reason why editing is so important;
- Joe Bunting shares some thoughts on blog post length. In particular how it can affect comments, social media shares and search engine traffic;
- Ramsay Taplin adds that to provide value you need longer posts to cover all the points;
- Alice Elliott gives some good advice about both long and short blog posts.
What Do You Think?
Do you prefer long blog posts or short ones? Is that different when you’re writing a blog post to when you’re the reader?
How does blog post length correlate with comments, social shares and search engine traffic?