You have an idea for a blog post that you know will resonate well with your target audience. You’re excited about the idea and have started to create an outline for the blog. The only thing stopping you from moving forward with the blog is that you’re unsure of how long to make it. In this post, we explore the advantages and disadvantages of various word counts and how to evaluate other factors to make the right choice for your readers.

Different Lengths for Different Outcomes

Before you draft the outline for your blog post, it’s a good idea to know what you hope to accomplish by publishing it. There is no right or wrong here and the answers will vary from one blogger to the next. For example, are you looking for your post to receive a lot of engagement and comments? Shorter posts are often the best to reach these goals. On the other hand, you may want to publish a longer post up to 2,500 words if you’re trying to earn higher rankings with Google.

The following guidelines should help you decide what to choose for a word count:

  • Short posts up to 600 words: This is a possibility if you think you can pack all the information you want to share with your readers into several paragraphs. It won’t get you a lot of social shares or improve your search engine optimization (SEO) standings, but it can be a great way to drive reader engagement.
  • Mid-range between 600 and 1,000 words: The mid-range word count is the most commonly used in journalism and for blog posts. It will get you more social shares and high quality backlinks than shorter posts, but it still isn’t long enough for the search engines to see your content as authoritative and rank it as such.
  • Long range of 1,000 to 2,500 words or more: Writers who produce posts of this length should make sure that they conduct heavy research so they can present solutions for pressing problems experienced by the reader. Although people typically comment less on longer posts than shorter ones, it doesn’t mean that they’re not reading them. This post length is likely to get the most social shares and the greatest bump on the search engine results page (SERP).

To summarize, shorter posts typically receive more comments and reader engagement while people tend to share longer posts with their social media connections more often. The longer and more authoritative the post, the more likely it is to receive high rankings Google and other search engines. However, you should always write what your most comfortable with and provide readers with information you know they need.

Know Your Audience

You may or may not have had a specific audience in mind when you first started blogging. Now that you have been at it a while, you should at least have a basic understanding of the demographics of your audience and the types of content they expect you to produce. One way you can get to know your audience better is by reading and responding to their comments. If the commenter includes a website link, take a moment to click through to learn what might have driven this person to comment on your website.

If you don’t already use free tools such as Buzzsumo to see where people are sharing your content, consider starting now. This can lead you to more reader websites where you can glean even greater insights into the people you’re reaching with your blog. It’s also important to know where readers are sharing your content so you can tailor it to a particular audience.

Determining the source of your referral traffic can tell you a lot about their interests as well as where they are in the sales funnel. You can them segment your readers based on whether they are just beginning the search for information about a product or service or they have completed their research and are ready to buy.

Lastly, make sure you understand the type of content your readership enjoys the most. Consider producing a survey to ask them rather than making assumptions if you don’t feel clear in this area.  If it isn’t blog posts, present them with the option of watching a video, reading a whitepaper, or downloading an eBook instead.

Know Your Topic

When you know your audience well, you know what problems they face and the solutions they might be looking for on your website. It will also help you know which keywords and phrases to include in your blogs to attract new readers to your site.

Regardless of the topic, it’s essential that you come across as an expert. You don’t want people to simply skim your blog post and then move on to another website to get more in-depth information. You may need to spend several hours researching if you feel you don’t know enough about the topic or you can always outsource the job to a professional.

Another way to establish yourself as an expert on the topic is to insert your own writing style and personality into the blog post. As long as the information you present is factual, you can take liberties with how you present it to your readers. However, you should decide if you want to present basic or advanced information before you start writing.

A basic blog post appeals to curiosity seekers who want to expand their knowledge simply for the sake of having that knowledge. You can appeal to them by answering how, what, and why questions to increase their understanding of basic principles. The purpose of writing about advanced topics is to answer specific questions you know the reader has and offer immediate and practical solutions for them. A basic understanding of the topic is already assumed.

Write for Users, Not Search Engines

The days of publishing keyword-stuffed content with no real value for the reader are long past. Search engines caught on to this tactic and started penalizing those who published poor quality content with low rankings. When planning, writing, and creating your blog content, do so with your target audience in mind. They will be the ones reading it and it needs to provide them with real value in exchange for their time. Keywords should flow naturally so as not to distract from the message of the post.

Writing using longtail search terms can help you achieve higher rankings so people find your content while still providing readers with high value. When you remember that the needs of the reader always come before your own, deciding on the length and other variables for your blog post will be a much easier task.