How long should a blog post be? Ask me this question and you’ll see my face squinch up. That’s because I’m about to give a reply that nobody likes to hear. “It depends…”
Sorry guys, there is no exact magic number for blog post length. That’s going to depend on your topic, your site format, your audience, and your writing style. However, I can tell you what you should focus on in your blog posts. Giving Google the information it needs to know what your page is about is a key factor in bringing organic search engine traffic to your website.
Your website and it’ content are crawled by a little guy we like to call “Googlebot”. You’ll know he’s visiting when you see traffic in your analytics from one or several user-agents that you probably won’t recognize. Most often, those are “bots” or “spiders” sent by search engines. They’ve stopped by for a look at your site. Google crawls several of your website pages on each visit and your site may be crawled numerous times per day.
Instead of worrying about exact post length, you need to make sure that you’re not producing thin content. Loren Baker, the Founder of Searching Journal (SEJ) explains that “This new Panda algorithmic update reinforces the fact that Google is not a fan of thin content and that crawl efficiency along with serving clear and direct data messages to Google are becoming more important than ever.” (Panda was the September 2014 update to the Google search algorhythm)
What is thin content?
Thin content is considered anything on your website that gives the site a shallow or low quality vibe. It includes text that you’ve borrowed from other websites (even other websites that you own) and content that doesn’t have enough detail to be helpful. Long gone are the days of keyword stuffing and fluff writing. Website copy and blog posts must offer high quality value to its readers.
How do I avoid thin content?
If I could offer one piece of advice it would be to give your readers information that is incredibly useful and well thought out. To avoid producing thin content you need to:
- Write on topics that your potential ideal clients want to read about; don’t focus on topics just for the sake of getting ranked in Google.
- Write your content to communicate a powerful message to your readers; don’t whip up low quality content just to meet your blogging deadline.
- Write your own take on popular topics and quote or site other sources; don’t use large chunks of content from other websites.
What if I have thin content on my website?
While I’m sure it wasn’t your intention to put thin content on your site, chances are that it’s there. Unlike a broken link or too many plugins, thin content is not as easy to spot. There are a few things that you can do to find and repair your already published content.
Take a peek at your already published posts and the copy on your webpages and try to be objective. Look at it from your visitor’s point of view. Are you blog posts long enough (at least 500 words) and do they provide valuable and usable information? Does the copy on your various webpages really support what your website message is all about? If you answered “no” to either of these questions, than it might be time for a little makeover.
Find areas where you have the opportunity to add more detail or give additional information. Streamline wording that feels bulky and unnatural. If you find content that just isn’t up to par, now is the time to determine if that page still serves your purpose. It is not uncommon for a page to no longer support the goals of the brand. Let’s face it. We all wear out our welcome from time to time. If that is the case, just scrap the page all together and redirect.
Also take a look at your analytics. Is your bounce rate higher on some pages and not others? Thin content may be the reason. There are other reasons, such an ineffective calls-to-action but we will save that for another time.
Make Googlebot Smile
To be effective, blogging can’t be a random process. Being intentional with your blogging efforts can pay off with increased traffic which should be a goal for every business site. And not only increased traffic but the right traffic. If you want to learn more about how to make the Googlebot happy the next time he stops by for a visit, check out the Do-It-Yourself SEO for Small Business online course.