[This is part of the Developing Great Blog Content Series.]
I’ve received this question a number times in the past and I thought I’d answer it as best as I can. There are a number of different factors to consider and ultimately there is no one right answer, but, I definitely do have some very strong suggestions.
Here are the things that influence and help characterize the answer to the question:
How many words (per post) should a professional blog (post) have?
What’s interesting is that the following considerations can (and should) also be considered for a blogger who is not a full time blogger either (even a TentBlogger too)!
[Quick Answer is 300 words, especially as it relates to SEO results, but you should read the full post for more info on all of the considerations and 5 other strategies at the bottom!]
These helpful tips are good for any blogger, both big, small, and everyone in between:
1. Focus and Structure
One of the biggest deciding factors for the amount of words per post is simply the content that you choose to focus in on.
If you’re blogging about research articles and cover large editorials then I’d imagine your posts would be well into the 4 figures (1,000+ words per post).
If you’re talking about what you’re eating during the day (and that’s it) then I’d imagine that you’d spend far less words (or maybe not…?) talking about it.
The point here is that this can fluctuate depending on the focus of your content, which also has a lot to do with the “structure” of your content as well.
For example, you might be big into “Tutorial” and “How To” type of posts which require a lot of words, typically, to walk through a visitor, step-by-step. These would, and probably should, be rather long posts for comprehensiveness and completeness. Other such types of structure might be “List” posts which typically have more than a few words associated with them.
Ultimately your goal is to provide the most complete and helpful post (entertaining as well!) possible.
2. Type & Form of Content
The type of content you blog about can inform you of the amount of words per post. For example, if you’re just shooting photography and sharing your pictures you might not have any copy beyond just the images, thus making the amount of words in the posts zero (essentially).
If you’re using other such rich-media, like podcasting, music, videos, embeds, and you’re consistently using these types and forms of content then it’ll change the amount of words that you have.
A very important thing to note is that if you spend time using more media than copy you’ll want to spend a bit more time tagging and providing meta element and keywords for those pieces of media, especially for images.
3. Culture and Context
This factor is one of the most significant since it will help you greatly in determining the amount of words in your post.
For example, if the demographics of your visitors is one that doesn’t read much but is more of a visual community, then the amount of words in your content might be very small.
On the other side of the fence you might be writing to a community that spends it’s time reading/writing research papers, which would in turn inform the amount of words that you blog on any given blog post.
Maybe it’s a mix of a number of cultures. The so-called “Mommy Bloggers” out there typically have a bit larger posts than the average blogger, going into detail about the kinds of diapers they buy and how to create home cooked meals from scratch for a $1.00.
The technology field is a very culturally diverse and rich market where there are sub-cultures of the technology fields that range from small posts to very large posts. It all depends on the niche that you’re trying to engage in and the specific culture and context in which you sit.
Of course, there is no reason that you have to necessarily follow these online cultural norms but it may help earn faster readership if it “fits” a distinct and acceptable mold, if that makes sense.
The next two considerations are the complete x-factor as it relates to the amount of words for your blog. Ultimately you simply have to ask yourself:
How many words do I want to type?
And perhaps even a better question:
How many words per post do I have time to write?
It all depends on you for the amount of words per post. You can take the above suggestions and toss them out the window if you simply want to write 3,000+ words per post, every single time, regardless of industry, culture, and content focus/type.
Or you could, as I mentioned above, “break the mold” and do whatever you’d like, which is one of the benefits of being self-published blogger!
5. Your Community
Finally, as your blog grows you’ll come to realize that their is a culture that surrounds your particular blog that is unique to you and them. You may begin to realize implicitly that you get a better response when you write short, pithy blog posts rather than long rambling ones.
Or, you may poll the community explicitly simply asking them how long they’d like the posts to be (which isn’t a bad idea at all actually). Your community can help set those cultural boundaries and help you determine what your blog looks like per post.
The Bottom Line and 6 General Strategies
All this to say, there are Professional Bloggers who make serious money who write super-long posts and who simply put pictures on their blog posts. The range is as wide and diverse as it comes!
But, here are some very strategic things to consider that I have proven to work really well when it comes to length:
- Google and other search engines apparently really like a minimum of 300 words per post. There’s something magical about that number. I have seen my posts index faster (and better) if they hit this number.
- Including an image and/or piece of rich media (with associated meta keywords) in every post helps in SEO.
- Categorization (and other meta elements) are just as important as the length.
- Organization and design of the structure, content, and layout impact the effectiveness of the amount of copy and word count. Poorly designed blog posts, regardless of size, fail to attract, be read, and ultimately indexed well.
- Keyword research and management can help smaller posts knock it out of the park. Using tools like Google’s Keyword Tool is a must!
- Practice makes perfect.
What are your thoughts? What have you seen work well?
[This is part of the Developing Great Blog Content Series.]