A myriad of factors influence the popularity and circulation of articles. I’m talking about things like content, headline, pictures, and writing style. But there’s one factor that’s often overlooked: word count. During the last year, I’ve consistently observed that 1) relatively shorter posts tend to do better in the WordPress Reader and 2) relatively longer posts tend to better with search engines.
I get the sense that many bloggers follow a large number of blogs and value broad familiarity with what’s going on in the blogosphere. They often seek creative inspiration or something to improve their lives with no particular agenda in mind. This translates into an interest in relatively shorter posts. Search engine users, on the other hand, know exactly what they’re looking for. They don’t have a Reader full of blogs they follow and must go out of their way to find particular content that appeals to them. This makes them more eager, once they do find that content, to linger over it.
Another factor is Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which determines how search engines rank the order of webpages. Based on my research, search engines like Google prefer relatively longer posts in the 1,000 to 2,000 word count range. I doubt the Reader has this same preference (without any hard data). Also, when you follow a blog, you get a notification for every new post, even if it’s as short as Word of the Day. As an author determining when to cap your posts, you should consider your audience. Is this post targeted to other bloggers in the WordPress Reader or to readers who will find it via search engine?
I routinely check the site stats WordPress collates, and more than 85% of the the traffic for Creator Villa comes from search engines. That is partially why many of my articles tend to be on the longer side—I believe people will read them and benefit from them. However, I also know an article like this one is likely to generate more interest among bloggers via the Reader, so it’s wise to take into account particular articles as well as overarching site trends.
Is article length something you are intentional about, as a blogger and/or reader of blogs?