The Best Blog Post Length Test

One of the most common concerns for new and experienced bloggers alike is the length of the post.

Finding the Right Length

Some folks will not read a blog post that is more than 500 words. That’s understandable, because many of them are puffed up pieces that dance around a topic and never clearly make a point.

Blogs where the posts are typically short, because they are racing to be first to report the news, also fall short of expectations. They only give you a taste, thereby sending you away hungry, and on a search for more.

Is this what you want for your audience?

In our post Panda and Penguin digital world, quality content that thoroughly covers a topic is highly valued by Google and your audience.

This is why lengthier magazine style articles, such as those published by Social Media Examiner and Copyblogger are well received and often highly ranked in search results. These longer posts are a complete meal – but you don’t have to consume it all.

When a topic is covered completely everyone feels satisfied, regardless of their appetite.

It’s the completeness of the message that matters – not its length. There are a few rare authors that have mastered the skill of accomplishing this in very few words, with Seth Godin being one of the more notable ones.

Choosing the Best Content

Authors like Seth Godin defy definition. Many of us have endeavored to imitate his style, but here’s the deal. Seth has practiced his craft like no other, having published over 10,000 blog posts in the past decade.

How about you?

By his own admission, he doesn’t just sit down and lay down those pearls of wisdom in a matter of minutes. He is “writing” them days in advance as he thoughtfully considers the topic, words, anecdotes, and stories that will capture it well.

This takes time – time to think, practice, learn, and express.

One of the most well received keynote speeches I’ve given in the last few years was one in which I had to cut my usual keynote in half to accommodate the allotted time – and on only two weeks notice.

The challenge is always what to leave in and what to leave out.

I consulted with a more experienced speaker who suggested cutting out my normal opening and close. What? That’s the cornerstone of any great speech.

Start in the middle, she said.

Think about it.  If some bloggers are leaving you hungry for more, it’s usually because you are only getting an appetizer. In contrast, other bloggers leave you feeling bloated because you are overserved.

Isn’t it better to go to the middle and carefully carve out the most tender center cut and serve it up just right?

That’s not something you can just throw together. It takes patience and practice.

A great blog post is like a great meal that nobody would consider measuring by its volume.

It is a work of art that is admired and readily consumed, thereby leaving the patron with one feeling – completeness.

That’s what really matters. Completeness.

That’s the opportunity.

What’s your measure of the perfect blog post length?

Leave a comment below and share this with your community.

Until next time, Jeff

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Comments

  1. Jeff,

    Just found your blog via Chris Brogan on Twitter. It’s something I think about before, during and after I write every post.

    I think your “start in the middle” idea and the meat metaphor to boot is how I approach it too, but I think about it in a different way.

    To me, a good post – like a good short story- resists paraphrase. You can’t take a sentence out without it loosing a part of its essence, its purpose or its meaning.

    To go along with your metaphor, you can trim away the fat around the edges of the cut and possibly debone it, but you can’t take out the marbleized flesh and fat that make the steak the juicy delight it is.

    Thanks for the post.

    • Jeff Korhan says:

      John – Thanks John. Yeah, nothing like a tweet from Chris to rise above the noise!

      The start in the middle idea has worked for me in many ways with writing, speaking, etc. Over time we compromise our best work by adding what we think is making it better, only to discover over time it becomes fat that needs to be trimmed so we can start fresh

      Exactly, trim the edges but not the essence.

      I like that. :)

  2. Wonderfully put – I love the meal analogy. I’m writing guidelines for my blog submissions. Would you mind if I linked to this post in my #2 rule about submission length?

  3. I think it is the art to come with the right text. It comes by experience.

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