Breaking Down Post: One Big Post, Or Several Smaller Ones?

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As usual, I’m of two minds when it comes to epic-length blog posts. I know you come here looking for exact answers, but sometimes one answer just won’t do. So let’s take a look at both sides of the story: Should you write one big blog post, or should you break it up into several smaller ones?

When One Big Post Works

There’s no doubting the fact that those epic-length blog posts make great bookmarkable content – and that’ a good thing. But you have to use them the right way. It’s important to remember how people read online. They’re looking for short bursts of information that quickly answers their questions. Too much information and they won’t be able to absorb it all. Therefore, a really big blog post works best if you only answer one question. For example:

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As you can see, these would all be very long blog posts, but they’re also packed with information that answers one specific question. It’s way more information than the average reader would ever be able to remember in one sitting, but they don’t mind bookmarking it for future reference because it’s so informative.

When One Big Post Doesn’t Work

One the other hand, there seems to be a trend lately where bloggers start off answering one question and then start throwing in everything but the kitchen sink. They link out to 10 or 15 previous blog posts and throw in quotations from this blogger and that, and before you know it the post is a mile long. Again, it’s more information than the reader can absorb and most of it isn’t necessary.

Most of your readers are going to land on your page from the search engines, which means they were looking for a specific answer to a specific question. If they have to dig through a mile-long post to find that one answer, they’re not going to do it.

When It’s Better To Use Several Smaller Posts

While there’s no set word count carved in stone somewhere, shorter is generally better. I try to average around 500 words per post. It’s just enough to answer your readers’ questions and they’ll be able to easily read and absorb the information.

So the first thing you need to do is answer that one question that you’re addressing with your title, and include as much information as necessary, but only what’s necessary. Chances are, you’ll hit somewhere around that 500-word mark.

If your post goes beyond that 500-word mark you need to look at it and see why. Maybe you’re just using too many unnecessary words, in which case, you should remove some so your reader won’t be distracted.

If your post is too long because you’re tempted to start including related information, write another blog post and link out to it from the original post. If your visitor wants that additional information he’ll follow that link. And, as a bonus, you’ll have another URL on the search engine index.

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  1. Pretraveller

    Interesting issue.

    Initially I wrote the story of our trip to Outback Australia as a set of 8 shorter blog posts, and I also provided links to the whole set. This was also before I had learnt anything about SEO. These posts received some traffic but nothing spectacular.

    Six months later I decided to rework the story into a single blog post – I prewarn people by using #longform in the title. The traffic has totally eclipsed the previous effort – note I also SEO optimised the post when I reworte it so that probably also helped.

    So in this case the longer option was definitely a winner!

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience Anne. As I said in the post, there is really not any cookie-cutter approach to this question. The best thing to do is to test and see what works best. You did a very good job.

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