This is one of the most common questions small business owners and new bloggers ask. Blogging is uncharted territory. What should I write about? How often do I need to write? How long should a blog post be? Good questions all, but I’m focusing on the last one in this post.
First, though, I need to share my perspective on what a business blog is. This is how I described it at the GetListed Spokane event earlier this month:
It’s your chance to be real, to be yourself, and to be part of the conversations that are already happening online. It’s your voice, but only with more legitimacy than your main business web site offers. I love Jeremiah Owyang’s quote in this blog post:
The corporate website is an unbelievable collection of hyperbole, artificial branding, and pro-corporate content.
There’s a lot of truth in that, I think. And blogs can provide the opposite — more believability, less artificiality, more real content. So keep that in mind as we get back to the original question.
How Long Should a Blog Post Be?
My answer: As short or as long as it takes to say what you need to say.
1.) There’s no perfect length for a blog post. It’s like the idea of keyword density in SEO; there’s no magic number for keyword density on a web page, and there’s no magic number for how long your blog posts should be.
2.) A variety of blog post lengths is a good idea. For me, the most enjoyable blogs to read are the ones that offer variety; the ones that offer the unexpected. I think a blog is easier to read when there’s a mix of short posts, mid-length posts, and long posts. Too much of one type of post can be monotonous for the reader, and invites the reader to start tuning out.
3.) It’s natural to have posts with different lengths. If you believe that a blog is conversational in nature, then think about your blog posts as individual conversations. Important question: Is every conversation you have the same length? Of course not! You have conversations that last 10 seconds and you have conversations that last 10 minutes (or longer). This is how we communicate. So, if you’re trying to be natural on your blog (and you should be), your blog should have a mix of blog posts, some short and some long.
Blog Post Examples
I’m going to use this blog as an example to answer the question, How long should a blog post be?
Short Blog Post
How to Choose the Right Category in Google’s Local Listings — the main point of this post was to share a link with my readers to Mike Blumenthal’s Google categories tool. Aside from a quick explanation of why categories are important, I didn’t have much to say. The results:
Medium Blog Post
Alerts on Place Pages? I Want More From Google — the point of this post was to share a list of things I wish Google would add to its local business Place Pages. It was written when Google announced that business owners could post alerts on their pages, and I had seven other ideas of my own to share. So it needed more depth than the post above, but I didn’t need to write a novel. The results:
Paragraphs: 6, plus a list of 7 items
Long Blog Post
Why Reputation Management Matters for Small Businesses — this post was written to expand on one of the concepts in my SEO Success Pyramid. I knew I had a lot to say on this subject and, to be frank, I also wanted to write the type of blog post that others would link to, and that would have a shot at ranking highly for a term like “small business reputation management.” The results:
Paragraphs: 26, plus three lists
SEO: number one ranking for “small business reputation management” on Google (not signed in), Yahoo, and Bing
This last post — the long one — also received a very healthy 29 comments, which is often another benefit of the occasional long blog post.
Final Thoughts: How Long Should a Blog Post Be?
I consider all three of those example blog posts to be successful, because they accomplished the goals I had for them. If you’re a new blogger, keep this in mind:
- Don’t feel like you have to limit your blog posts to a certain length — whether short or long.
- If you can say what you need to say in 150 words, stop there and hit the Publish button. If it takes 1,500 words to say what you need to say, that’s okay, too.
- For best results, I think a variety of short and long posts is a Good Thing. It keeps your blog from getting predictable.
Your turn: What are your thoughts on how long blog posts should be? If you’re a marketer, what do you tell clients who ask about this?
Postscript: Having published this post about 25 minutes ago and now just going through my feed reader, I’ve discovered Glen Allsopp’s excellent and related article, Bloggers: This Is How Long Your Posts Should Be, in which he examines the average length of posts in the top 5 blogs across various industries.