Short or long blog posts: Which do you prefer to read?

tablet computer

Tablets: Not just for paper anymore. Image courtesy of DTL, Morguefile.

So I’m talking to a marketing friend of mine the other day and we discussed the ideal length of a blog post. At this time, search engines such as Google favor long-form blog posts of 1,200 to 2,000 words. That’s not the only requirement, though — getting your blog post found involves several SEO (search engine optimization) techniques such as interesting content, hyperlinks, proper keywords in your blog post title and paragraphs, and properly labeling your photographs. SEO undergoes regular changes and you have to keep on top of those changes since they affect where your website/blog post is found on the search engine results page.

Although it’s a good thing for your blog post to be picked up by search engines, I wonder how much of the longer blog posts actually get read from top to bottom in today’s fast-paced society. As far as my personal blog is concerned, I like to keep them short since I know my readers have lives outside of social media. (GASP! Really??!!)

I consider it a gift when someone takes a few minutes of their time to read what I’ve created and to watch any video I add to the post. (Bonus points if they comment and extra bonus points if a thought-provoking discussion gets going between me and the readers!)

It depends upon the story I tell. I use as many words as I need. If the story gets seriously long, then I think about breaking it up into two posts.

There’s the mobile users to consider. According to a recent article by Smart Insights, 91% of people use their laptops or PCs to do searches, 80% use a smartphone and 47% use a tablet. Since smartphone screens are so small, that’s a lot of scrolling for the longer blog posts.

I’ll read long blog posts — business or personal — if I’m interested enough in the topic. It’s the headline that hooks me first; sometimes the art helps draw me in. A funny or entertaining video helps too.

I’m curious, my readers: Do you like the short posts or the long posts, or does your preference vary according to circumstances? What pulls you in — some art, a search for that topic, a video? Let’s talk about it.

Advertisements

48 Comments

Filed under Social Media

48 responses to “Short or long blog posts: Which do you prefer to read?

  1. Shorter posts for sure. When I see a post going over 1200 words I put it aside until I have time and sometimes that doesn’t happen. Of course, there are times I do read it right away depending on my interest in the subject matter and the writer. My favorites bounce around 600 words. You can say a lot in 600 words. I find that longer posts often have a lot of extraneous information that I skim over.

  2. I’m always drawn in by the content. (Like this post!) I’ve considered the same question. As a diehard reader, I will take the time to read something I’m interested in, short or long. I do find long and efficient is best. It’s annoying when a writer is repetitive (something I often see in academia). Pictures and videos usually put me off, unless they support good content. For me, it’s all about content!

  3. This is tough to answer ’cause what is a blog? I read Tech Republic on a regular basis, and the powers that be there frequently call themselves bloggers and their platform a blog or collection of blogs. Often they have long pieces, but they usually are of interest enough to me that I will wade through them. Take the piece on City of Munich’s long drawn out transition from Microsoft to open source software. The piece was as you might expect fairly long and drawn out, but I hung on every word because the subject matter was important enough to me to do so. However, the intent of the article was stated in the title and then again in the first sentence or two. That was key, and is often how I decide if I’ll hang with something. If the first statement is misleading, it’s not uncommon for me to abandon the piece.

    • I call it a blog if the entry reads like an online personal journal or if it appears in the “blog” section of a business website. You’re right, Frenz, you could say that the distinction between articles and blog posts is blurring a bit.

  4. I like shorter posts. Occasionally I will read a longer post, but so many of them could have been shorter if they tried just a little. I tend to skim long posts.

  5. travelrat

    When I started blogging somebody told me that nobody reading a post wants to scroll down more than twice. So, typically, my posts are around 300 words … 500 top weight … and, if I want to show more than 2-3 pictures, I put them in a ‘slide show’.

    As for SEO … it reminds me of those pointless school exercises, where you had to construct a sentence containing the words ‘artichoke’, ‘cumulus’ and ‘wheelbarrow’!

  6. I am a fan of shorter posts. 600 to 800 words works well for me, both in the post I write and those I read. Blogs are a tricky thing because they vary so greatly in quality. If I’ve read and enjoyed posts from the same author before, then I’m willing to read an occasional longer post. If they’re new to me, then I have to stop and consider whether I have the time to devote to reading 1,200 words that may end up just wandering aimlessly, never to arrive at a clear point. Or in the time it takes me to stop and consider, I could have already moved onto another post. It sounds really heartless when I put it that way, but I think that’s the reality.

  7. I am with you as far writing as many words as the content requires for a post. I really believe if the title grabs your attention and the content holds there, that should be the goal period.

  8. Servetus

    I prefer posts that are long as they need to be. When a post is less than 1000 words I’m often suspicious that it will repeat platitudes or things I already know. That said, when I blog and I have a post that goes over 2,000 I often break it up.

  9. I tend to prefer reading 500-800 words. Much shorter and there’s no substance, much longer and it’s too big a commitment. There are exceptions on both the shorter and longer of course. I try to write in the 500-800 word zone mainly too.

  10. Depends on the weather – if it’s nice, long posts get skimmed. I seem to get more traffic on my posts if I keep them under 500 words.

    • Now THERE’s a factor I hadn’t considered — the weather! 🙂

      • It’s a variable I’ve noticed a few months ago. Considering overlay of weather maps to stat maps – it’s probably real. People stuck in airports or houses. (power outages and number of bored out of school children stuck inside household may also play a role)
        Funny right? (Started out as a joke, but realistically, it’s hard to wash the “research habit” off…) Add lots of sunny giggles – nice here today, so not staying inside long – front coming in tomorrow. Ready the flip-flops!

      • I am SO ready for spring. This time of year, I get hungry to see any kind of outdoor color — flowers, trees, etc. But I have to wait a while yet.

      • No waiting…OK only pix in today’s post – we are between fronts and I’m outta here to enjoy it…It’s coming your way…Eventually. This time of year is when my dad always gathered seed and flower catalogues…I’m beginning to appreciate that now…

  11. Linda Tharp

    Shorter does it for me. I love to spend free time reading but when I’m checking email (and subsequently reading the posts on blogs I subscribe to), it just doesn’t seem like “free time;” it feels like I’m slacking off and getting sidetracked…again.

  12. I prefer interesting posts, but if you write for yourself that might not work. Frankly my dear, I am retired, and write for me.

  13. Is this a short or long post? Personally, I think it’s a medium. Any longer I would have skimmed for content. Now–since I’m a dedicated follower, I would read it through. So, one consideration is connection. I tend to read longer posts if I have an established rapport as in comment exchange.

  14. The title is what will draw me: and I definitely prefer shorter posts. Because yes, I too have a life outside of the internet (gasp again 🙂
    It’s nice to know that many other people feel the same.

  15. travelrat

    Can’t remember who said it, but: ‘An article is like a lady’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to be interesting’ 😀

  16. I prefer 600-1400ish. It takes a little effort to come up with that amount of content. Anymore than that then I might skim read. And try to have a mental note to come back to it later.

  17. Jill Kurtz

    Reblogged this on Jill Kurtz, APR.

  18. I’m for team short post! I just find it hard for my eyes to read longer post, too much scrolling is annoying and it tampers concentration. 500-600 words is ideal to read, although I write even shorter and try to stick to 300 words max. From a writing point of view is a good “shaving” exercise: it forces you to have a very specific point to make, once you’ve pinned that down, the topic seems to fall into place easily. I guess the right lenght of a post also depends on the content you want to deliver, so this lenght works for me but might be restrictive for people that want to explore brader topics.
    I do read longer posts as well, but the contents has to be really interesting.

    • Thanks for your input! Other bloggers have said that regular blogging has made them better writers, and your answer goes a long way toward reinforcing that.

      The reactions coming in for this post are fascinating. I had a feeling that most people preferred shorter posts, but it’s fun to see people’s reasoning behind choosing to read a short post or a long post.

  19. I’m firmly in the “It Depends” camp. When a story is well told, I don’t ever want it to end. Unless the author is getting windbaggy and taking too much time to get a simple point across.

    Yesterday I put up the longest post in my blog’s 3+ year history (approx. 1700 words). I was happy with the post, but I sensed going in that it probably wouldn’t get the number of comments I have come to expect.

    I am pleased to report, however, that I was wrong. People still do read long posts! Woo!

    • *raises hand for fist bump* Good for you! I’m glad people took the time to comment.

    • Servetus

      I find they still read long posts, as well. I am writing for an audience of people who is just as interested as I am in the topic I write about, though, and perhaps many of them would themselves like to blog about it, so perhaps appropriate post has something to do with the audience as well.

  20. The “sweet spot” for me is under 800 words (although sometimes my post go over that). Also, breaking up a sea of words with short paragraphs, lists, or pictures also helps keep me reading. I know facing a big block of writing is daunting for me because I have so many blogs to read.

  21. I like them, like Goldie, just right. I don’t mind long posts. If reading on the phone is a pain (and it is) I just make it a point to do most of my reading on a proper screen. I have a 20 inch screen attached to my Macbook Pro for that very reason.

    Yes, I have to work on my headers, for some weird reason, my headers only talk to me and do not grab readers…..

    • Think of the header as a teaser ad. It should intrigue the reader enough to keep reading further without being “click bait”. It’s also a good idea to include a keyword or two to help the search engines find it.

SPEAK!!!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s