October 25, 2016

Short blog posts are bad, long posts are better, series is the best!

You might have come across advice to go for long posts as Google likes them. Or that writing one post a day or near-about that frequency helps you dominate your niche. Such advice often emerges from experts, who give the advice in a context, and copy-pasting experts spread them all around as stand-alone tips with fail-proof results.

But why this bashing of fake-experts was required here, you might ask.

Yes, there is a purpose. If you go for a fixed length or frequency of blog posts after getting convinced of a tip and without applying your mind, the tip is going to hurt the blog.


Should I have long articles on my blog? Google loves them, isn't that a fact?

Yes. Google loves in-depth articles and long articles. Some sites doing research on what search engines love have found that longer articles are generally better placed on search pages.

But the importance of length needs to be judged in many terms: whether it is liked by readers, whether readers read all that is written in long articles, to what extent do search engines prefer long articles over short ones?

Nothing describes the readers' response to the length of articles on the web than this data analysis by Medium on 'optimum post size'. It was found that most readers prefer articles that can be read in 7 minutes (that comes to about 1600 words), which is way too high as compared to normal blog articles. However, at the end, Medium concluded thus: Great posts perform well regardless of length, and bad posts certainly don’t get better when you stretch them out. https://medium.com/data-lab/the-optimal-post-is-7-minutes-74b9f41509b#.xe3t367ii

Such long articles or blog posts, when written by experts and after due research, are gems and are referred by readers and shared on their own web-spaces. These add to the reputation of the blogger and the website/blog itself. Google has advised on its own blogs and webmaster guidelines that longer articles with quality content are likely to rank higher on search pages. Google's in-depth articles are a class by itself, and Google wants them to be...

Different search engine experts have found different optimal lengths for blog posts, ranging from 1500 words to over 2000 words.

As for SEO, long posts are more amenable to keyword management. They would also get more back-links when referred to by readers. If their content is ever-green, which is more likely with long posts, they keep getting traffic for a long time without any additional effort.

Before we answer the question whether you should, therefore, have very long articles on the blog, let's consider other factors.


Are short articles really bad for reputation and SEO?

Short articles are, by their very nature, small takes on something. They cannot analyze a subject deeply. Serious readers looking for information or advice would find them superficial.

Short articles also take very little time to read. So, readers are likely to quickly browse them and go away.

Short articles lose badly against long articles especially when they are churned carelessly at a high frequency as they are seen by search algorithms as without much value. In extreme cases, they look spammy.

On a short article, you can apply keywords only once or twice, as any more would be seen as 'keyword stuffing'. which is hated by search engines.

But short articles also have their good points. In this age of short attention span and competition with Facebook and Twitter, short posts are what are likely to be fully read, shared and commented upon. Short articles can also be full of value when they are focused on a narrow subject, and this suits internet searchers very well when they look for specific information.

Short posts are mobile-friendly. As more and more people are accessing the web on their smartphones, short posts are naturally the winner.

Some types of posts are better written in short. News snippets, gossips, quotes, daily prayers, quick DIY tips, etc are more effective when served in small dozes. Photo essays, posts with info-graphics and static pages (e.g. about me, landing pages) also are better with just a small reading passage.

The best part of short posts and articles is that they can be written fast. This could be a virtue for busy bloggers who would not be able to write at all if they were to write only long posts.


Should I write a few long posts or many short posts on my blog?

Let's come to the decision point now. The ideal or optimal numbers prescribed here are an average; you should adjust them according to your blog platform (standard blog? Medium/ LinkedIn/ Facebook? blog as part of website?), goal (how-to? book review? local sale? hobby blog?), niche, type of readers (young? urban? highly educated?) etc.

Have a mix of length and frequency. Many short posts followed by a long one. Internally link short posts to the long one (only if it is relevant). If you have a serious blog (we consider this blog, ITB, in that category), have majority or all posts of long type.

Maintain a very high quality of long posts. They must serve value by analyzing a topic from many angles, giving wide information and links to reputed resources,

Break the long post with photographs, illustrations, headlines, etc.

If new to blogging and did not have time to build resources before launching the blog, write many short posts in quick succession but sprinkle the blog with one or two long posts at least once in a month.

Don't ever inflate the post by repeating the same thing again and again.

If you have a lot of matter that is going a bit too long (beyond 2000 words), think of breaking the post into a series. Series suits especially when individual articles can stand on their own. When read together, they act like a compendium on the subject. We discuss this aspect in the next post.