Plus tips for overcoming blog shyness

In this blog we explain:

  • Why longer blogs help your customers
  • How to write blogs that attract more readers
  • That what people say they do is different to what they actually do

What’s the ideal blog length?

We promote regular blogging as a business strategy a fair amount here at CBL and this is one of the questions we get asked most often. Unfortunately the answer can be quite daunting, especially to the novice blogger.

So let’s get the bad news out of the way. The ideal blog length – according to the latest statistics from Orbit Media – is 1,236 words.

That was the length of the average blog in 2019, according to their research. They also point out that the word counts have increased by over 50% the last six years. This may have been driven by editors and content managers increasing the required article length, but when you consider that plenty of other research confirms that longer blogs have more impact with readers and rank higher in search engines, that’s a reasonable instruction to their writers.

For example, another study from Hubspot suggests that the ideal blog post length is even longer at 2,100 to 2,400 words! That’s based on their top 20 most-read blogs in 2019. We hardly dare look at any other research in case the word count goes up again!

But before you throw your laptop out of the window in despair, please remember that not every blog needs to be a two thousand-word epic. According to Hubspot a third of their most popular blogs were under 1,500 words so there’s plenty of opportunity to make your presence felt without the need to write the next War and Peace.

The more frustrating answer to the question of the ideal blog length is “the longer the better”, or “as long as it needs to be”. Admittedly if you’re the sort of person who deals in absolutes that’s not helpful. But if blog writing is a new discipline for you then the more you get used to writing about your business and yourself, the more you’ll find the word count will increase naturally. You won’t feel like you’re writing a “long blog”, just your next blog.

But surely shorter is better? Don’t people only want “short and sweet”?

We still encounter people who believe “less is more” in all areas of their business, including blogs and online articles. That’s an admirable if somewhat quaint sentiment, since it originates from an old-fashioned sense that somehow brevity is their friend when it comes to promoting their business. They believe that online readers have short attention spans and don’t want to read long articles. The only way you can get more readers, they say, is to write posts that are short and sweet. And anyway they’re put off by long articles themselves so why inflict them on other people?

No, shorter is NOT better

What’s clear from the statistics when it comes to blog length (and most other things in life) is that what people say they do and what they actually do are often poles apart. We’ve spoken to lots of people who firmly declare themselves to be in the “shorter is better” camp. But this is 2020, and the facts are that short posts rarely get shared on social media and certainly won’t cut it in SEO terms.

While it’s true that 21st century attention spans are reducing, especially when reading online content due to the myriad of other distractions, average word count per article and landing page is increasing.

It’s the very nature of our progressively online world that drives people towards long form content.

Because millions of people are searching online every hour of every day for the answer to life’s questions. To attract their attention you need to increase your visibility by expanding your footprint on the internet. The more helpful and valuable information you put out there, the more people are going to turn to you for the latest knowledge and advice. Which means creating lots of useful – and lengthy – blogs and articles.

The argument for longer blogs

Search engines love expansive, well-written and authoritative content, especially when it focuses on a particular problem that your target readers suffer from. Long-form content such as blogs or online articles that are useful and relevant serve to demonstrate that you are the go-to person in your industry. That’s how you get more readers, more website traffic and more links. And it can’t be done in a couple of short paragraphs.

Longer blogs provide more value for your readers and your website can become the place they visit and revisit to find the answers to their questions. That doesn’t mean revealing all your trade secrets, but it does mean showing that you know your stuff. Plus the longer your blogs are, the longer readers stay on your website. The longer they stay on your website, the more likely they are to take a look around at what else you have to say. According to Neil Patel, readers dwell on long form content 40% longer than average and look at 25% more pages within the same site. Isn’t that worth investing a few thousand words in?

The way people read online may mean that they don’t consume every word on every line, so you can be forgiven for believing that there’s no point writing all those words in the first place. But good quality long blogs with the right keywords, professionally written, informative, original and providing the reader with a fresh take on the topic will get picked up by search engines. Which means the content is more likely to appear in online searches, which means more people will see it and click through to read it.

Still not convinced? Well so far you’ve read almost 900 words of this blog!

But I don’t know what to write about!

If you’re shy about writing longer blogs or believe that (a) you don’t know enough or (b) your writing isn’t interesting or good enough, then help is at hand.

First of all, you do know enough. You are an expert, you have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share. You just need to think about projecting yourself in a slightly different way. Take a look at our recent article about where to find blogging ideas. We’re confident that once you get into the habit of keeping your eyes and ears open and discovering through various resources what your readers are interested in learning about, the ideas for blog topics will start flowing.

Secondly, if you’re not a confident writer you can always engage the services of a professional copywriter to help you out. We write for a living and we’re skilled at finding out all about you, your business, your target customers and what you want to achieve. Really good copywriters can also adapt their style and tone of voice to create written content that’s spot on your brand and reads exactly as though it was written by you.

Tips for keeping your readers engaged

As we said, people read online differently to the way they do offline. When reading online your brain has been looking for particular clues, so keeping your readers’ attention is vital. You may have noticed that we’ve used a number of tricks to keep you reading up to this point:

  • Headings and sub-headings
  • Pictures
  • Links
  • Bullet points
  • Text in bold and italics

The objective was to create a flowing, cohesive story that’s easy to read and easy on the eye, adding in style points to draw your attention to our main messages. We wanted you to come away from reading this thinking that it hasn’t been a chore, that it wasn’t a slog to reach the bitter end.

And if we’ve done our job right, it won’t feel like you’ve just read a 1,400-word blog 😉

For help with your blogging or SEO strategy, please give us a call.

About the Author: Helen Say is one half of CBL Copywriting & SEO, and award-winning SME marketing consultancy based in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. She loves writing long blogs and articles for her clients and for CBL, although sometimes she needs to be reminded to step away from the keyboard occasionally and take a break.