mistergin asks – “I notice most of your blog entries are short. I have a habit of not necessarily being long winded, but very detailed. I want to cover all the bases and make the article “full”.
However, I realize that I start running into posts that scroll through 2 sometimes 3 pages. I keep paragraphs short, try to use to accentuate, and bold/color where possible, but I still can’t help but feeling that while my site is great for content, some folks may not want to read all that.
Any suggestions on the length of my articles? I keep thinking that right now I want to build “pillar articles” as I believe you called them, and then link to them later on. It seems to me that long and detailed articles now will help get me indexed and linked, and then shorter articles may keep the feed readers happy.”
Hmmm – one of the longer questions that I’ve been asked (sorry – couldn’t resist).
Let me answer with six points:
1. Both Can Work
I believe a blog can be successful based around both short and long posts. Check out sites like Engadget or Gizmodo for short post sites (often newsy based ones like short posts) or Read Write Web or Steve Pavlina for longer, deep and/or analytical ones.
I think the key is to develop a rhythm in the style and focus of your blogging so that readers come expecting to get what you offer them.
2. You’ll Attract Readers Who Like Your Style
You’ll probably find that the type of post that you write will attract a certain type of reader also. For example I know with Steve Pavlina that I often hear extreme views expressed about his writing. Some don’t have the patience for his long posts – others thrive on it and wouldn’t have him change at all.
3. Consider the Life Stage of Your Blog
One factor to consider is the age and life stage of your blog. One strategy that many bloggers use in the early days of their blogs is to build up a good number of longer ‘pillar‘ or ‘cornerstone‘ posts on a blog. These can help you to build credibility but will also be articles that link to later on as you blog.
4. A Tip for Long Posts
If you are someone who goes with a longer post strategy I would suggest that you do think about making your posts scannable as most people who read content online don’t read every word. Work hard at drawing people’s eye down the page to ensure they get to the end of your posts.
Overall I’d advise bloggers to be yourself, experiment with different styles of blogging until you find something that works for you and then go with it.
5. Post Length and Links
Your comment about longer posts getting more links is an interesting one. To some extent I think you have a point. I’m sure if I did some analysis of the posts that get linked to most on my blogs I’d find that they tend to be on the medium to longer side – however it’s not always the case. In fact some of the smaller posting blogs that I mentioned above get linked to ALOT (check out the first post in my list of suggest reading below on A-Listers).
6. Post Length and SEO
I’m sure there are a few SEO types lurking around that can give better advice on this – but from those I’ve talked to the recommendation has generally been that very long posts can actually hurt your Search Engine ranking and that a better approach is to have posts well focussed upon one topic and of a length somewhere between 400 – 800 words (although there’s lot of variation on what ‘experts’ say). Having said this – I think most good SEO types will tell you to write posts at the length that it takes you to communicate what you want to say.
Are you a long or short post blogger? What works for you best as a blogger and as a reader?
Read more on this topic at: