One Big Post, Or Several Smaller Ones?

By Daniel Scocco

questions and answersThis post is part of the Friday Q&A section. If you want to ask a question just send it via the contact form.

Destination Infinity asks:

There are two ways to approach writing an article about a particular topic — One is to write a long article covering all the sub-topics in a single page. Another is to write shorter articles about each sub-topic, and publish them on different days. Which approach do you think is better?

The first one, hands down.

In fact this is an issue I faced on one of my websites recently. I hired a new editor to take care of the content, and he asked me if it would be fine to break long posts into smaller ones, and publish them as “Part 1”, “Part 2”, “Part 3” and so on. My answer was that publishing the long post in one piece was preferred.

Why is that?

Because one big post will bring much more traffic than two or three smaller ones, both in the short and in the long term.

When you publish a long post covering all the nuances of a particular topic you are basically offering a complete solution to someone’s problem, a one-stop shop. As a consequence people reading that post will be much more likely to share it on social media (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Digg), and this will increase your traffic on the short term.

Additionally bloggers and webmasters coming across that long and structured post will be more likely to link to it, increasing the search rankings of that post for related keywords. Over the long term, therefore, the post will keep getting traffic from Google and other search engines.

Breaking a post down into smaller parts and publishing it sequentially has some benefits too. For example, it’s a nice way to create loyalty among your readers, as they will develop the habit of visiting your website more frequently. Most of the times, though, the benefits of publishing the post in a single piece weight more.

Finally, keep in mind you can do both things as well. Suppose you have one post listing the top 20 websites for learning how to play the guitar online. You could start a series and write one small post with a single website every week, and once all the 20 post have been published you could publish a big one summarizing the series and including all the 20 websites. Using this technique will make your big post lose some buzz (as most of your readers will have seen that content already) but it’s a good compromise to get the best of the two approaches.

Thoughts?




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33 Responses to “One Big Post, Or Several Smaller Ones?”

  • Roger

    Initially, I think longer posts are better too, unless making a series. There may be some things you just can’t make in one post. Like you said though both have benefits.

  • Abhishek Bharadwaj

    It depends on the type content you are writing in the post.
    But as a thumb rule, small and shorter posts are considered best(dont make it too small anyway).
    A reader gets bored reading long small para and would someday skip reading your posts

  • Sandeep

    A post needs to be cover … the subject, whatever is written in the title. And, the length of the post should go according to the needs … if matter is conveyed in 150 words — it’s fine. And, if in 2000 words, then it’s also fine.

    Extra stretching or extra compressing looks ugly. The natural is the best.

  • Devesh – Technshare

    Nice Post Daniel. Long posts works very well and much much better then several small ones.

    I’ve done this myself and have to say long posts works awesome.

    Thanks for sharing. Retweeted.

  • Bash Bosh

    I absolutely agree that longer posts are usually much effective and better than a few smaller ones.

    But we should not post too long posts because our readers might just get bored with reading too much info.

  • Fiona

    Timely, I had this debate with my business partner about a week ago.

    I agree, longer posts are generally better as they allow you approach a topic and provide a thorough answer in one fell swoop – and people are gererally looking for an answer, as you say!

    BUT if you’re facing having very long periods of time between these long posts, then I think it is a good idea to post a short but informative ‘tip’ or insight now and again. Unless you can pump out the long posts a couple of times a week!

  • Toby

    thats really interesting your train of thought over long or a number of shorter ones. Several marketers I know suggest the opposite. i suppose the only way to find out is to test it

  • tushar

    i too thought this once when i was new to blogging but frankly now i have realized that people do not like to read big post. Personally i hate when the posts keep getting longer and longer and longer.

    for me, an ideal post length is 400-500 words

  • Destination Infinity

    Thanks Daniel, for answering my question.

    I too have the same observations. In a technology related blog, long posts almost always get more search traffic than shorter ones. So, I guess its good to have long posts for getting a good number of search engine traffic. But I have noticed that the regular readers do not read such posts, unless it interests them at the moment, as reading them takes time.

    On a personal blog though, short posts with nice images goes very well with regular readers.

    The last approach you mentioned about several short posts and one long post summarizing it all with links back to those short posts, might be the best approach if someone wants to satisfy both regular readers as well as search readers. Thanks for this suggestion, I will try it out.

    Destination Infinity

  • Mark Harai

    I’m definitely a fan of smaller posts. I often just click out of longer post, as I just don’t have time to put the energy and focus it takes to effectively consume the message.

    Love the insight on breaking longer posts into smaller chunks. That, I believe, will help your audience consume your message more effectively and provide you the writer content that can be posted over a few days vs. just one.

    Makes sense to me – cheers to the recommendations here!

  • Winning Ideas For Life

    Nice post ! Even in my opinion , writing longer posts are better than short posts ! Longer posts allow the writer to create the depth in the article and a particular subject can be handled end-to-end covering various aspects ! However its good to mix up long and short posts as well ! Naveen Kulkarni

  • Tuan

    I think the important thing is finding balance between them. Readers will get bored soon if your blog just has series, hardly they want to keep track of its sequential parts. However, creating a long post is not a good idea too.

  • eTipsLibrary

    I agree the long post create interest for the reader and gives more as compare to the short post. Search engines also loves long posts ( the posts rich of new content)

  • Carolee a.ka. Blogging Biz Mom

    I have tried both and I think I agree with the longer post. Give ’em what they came for….

    No one likes to walk away hungry…they may also think it was a waste of their time.

    And we all now how precious time is!

  • Paul Odtaa

    If your look at the technique of various bloggers you can see that both techniques work effectively.

    Steve Pavlina writes extremely long posts and believes he owes his success to long tailed searchers, ie unusual combinations of words – which are more likely to be found in a long article. He does, however, work hard and his website has a couple of million words.

    On the other hand Seth Godin’s success is down to his numerous, short posts. I note does tend to write slightly off the wall and again will catch unusual searches.

    The again Copyblogger and Daily Blogging Tips tend to write frequent medium sized blog posts.

    All are successful and all are rated well by the search engines. All use different techniques of posting.

    Being English can I suggest a compromise: write a longish post with your material, but also write a couple other posts. Then link the articles.

    Leave it a couple of days and you can usually generate a number of other linked posts to a long article. Build the internet links on your blog to boost its SEO rating.

    Then, be a recycler, can I suggest cutting down the larger post a little for a guest post. Then split it down to the small posts, rewrite them and then post them to free article directories. In this way you build one or to backlinks.

  • Umesh

    I have used both style on my blog. And like somebody said If I break my post in two part, I usually link them so that they don’t have to search for it.

  • Yoichi

    I always thought that with the short attention span of people browsing for info would prefer the shorter articles but the idea of one-stop shop makes sense.

    People do not want to keep searching for everything, they want to solve their problems as instantly as possible.

    This article was helpful and will consider this in my next article.

  • Matt

    Doesn’t it make a difference whether you are trying to build up subscribers vs. search engine traffic? Digestible bits are better for subscribers, but if you want to get tweeted and search engine traffic, it’s better to get it all out there.

    No?

  • Bamboo Forest – Tick Tock Timer

    Considering every approach has potential, hard to say what’s better. You’d have to factor in so many things, like what the niche is and who the audience is. Of course, that goes without saying.

    My preferred technique is to do both. That makes things more interesting, at least to me.

  • Mary E. Ulrich

    Thanks so much for the affirmation. My posts always seem to come out longer than others. I’ve worried about this, tried to reform, and can’t do it.

    Now, I feel better.

    • Paul Odtaa

      Hi Mary

      I’ve had a quick look at your site and I can’t see how you could write shorter posts.

  • Jeremy Myers

    Hmm, I have a blog where some of my posts are 5000 words. That seems a bit too long. Ha ha.

    On a related note (for a different Friday question maybe?), how many posts is too many per day? Some bloggers seem to post once per day. Others as often as 5 times per day. I am annoyed by the second option, but those blogs seem to have the most readers. Did they get this many readers by blogging so frequently, or is that something you do only once you get a lot of readers?

  • Glenn Ferrell

    As a reader, I think I prefer the longer posts because many times I walk away from the shorter posts feeling I didn’t get enough meaningful content. “Social Media Examiner”‘s posts are great examples of the perfect long, highly informative blog post.

    However, if the shorter posts are done well – really well, and allow you to post more frequently, there are obvious SEO benefits. Each post can potentially serve a separate phrase and Google also sees a greater frequency of content change — both of which are positives.

    Quality comes first. Then SEO. Quality without SEO is fine. SEO without quality leaves your site looking like a content farm client.

    Great discussion !

  • Brian Cormack Carr

    Thanks, Daniel – this is quite the comfort! My blog post are usually very substantial. I get great feedback from readers, but often worry that others will miss out because they’ll think “too long” and not read. I’d come to the conclusion that a comprehensive post shared by a few avid readers was better than a shorter one read (but not shared) by a few more. Your article has affirmed what I was thinking – so thanks for the inspiration!

  • HP van Duuren

    Thanks for your post,

    I do think that especially for longer posts it’s good to carefully think
    about how to structure your post, for example by making it into one of those well known ‘Tips-lists’ also for longer posts using compelling sub-headings, or things like short bullet-lists to make it
    more easy and attractive to read. (BTW on my Writing Lifestyle Blog you can find a lot of other interesting tips, and resources for your writing or share your own ideas with other (blogger) writers.)

    While reading your post I thought about an other thing that might be an interesting do do is to do – both – by just once in a while rewriting a bunch of previous short posts – with a specific central theme – and make it into one new big one.

    All the Best,
    To your Happy – Blogging – Inspiration,
    HP

  • Dipesh

    You are right. Selecting best out of 2 is the path for success for those who have limited time.

    If someone works with dedication on both the options then it will definitely workout. It would again require huge content to follow both the methods.

    Writing multiple post is also a good way to approach visitors through new and different topics.

    Thanks
    Dipesh Patel

  • zaki.alakhdar

    OK, thanks very much, this post come in the true time for me, Im going to publish a long post.

  • Abhishek Bharadwaj

    Thnks Paul Odtaa for such a analytical answer. I would suggest to break long posts into short ones and link them sequentially

    • Paul Odtaa

      Abhishek – thanks for your praise. Thinking it through I think you’re right. Looking at Steve Pavlina’s posts I realise that the reason they’re so successful is that he puts his whole life – including his unpleasant break up with his wife – into his posts.

      I need to be careful as I tend to write long posts and I find it difficult to write the 400-500 word post. This is why this post is important to me.

      I also think it is important to link one post to another. DBT and Problogger definitely use internal links. It keeps the visitor on the site.

  • Ari

    I preferred to publish to separate post, make my reader curios and back to my site.

  • James

    True story. I just finished a long post. Wondered to myself–should I break this up? Dailyblogtips will have some good advice, and there it is on the front page. Thanks!

    To Ari, “I preferred to publish to separate post, make my reader curios and back to my site.”

    I think that writers vastly overestimate how “curious” people are, and how much they care about you. Like this article said, people come with a problem and are looking to solve it. I think if it takes 2,000 words to solve the problem, then just solve it. People don’t come back to have half-answered questions answered, they come back to solve a different problem.

  • Steve Stillwater

    I recently made the choice to break a long article into three parts. Now I will follow your suggestions and create a single large article (about 2000 words). I feel like it shoudl be posted somewhere else than my blog, so I am thihnkning of maing a special page for it and try to drive traffic there. Is that a reasonable approach?

    • Paul Odtaa

      Hi Steve,

      You’ve helped solve my problem. I tend to write long articles that are relatively easy to break up. I was thinking of breaking them all up.

      But

      The solution is simple. (It’s obvious the second I read your post)

      A number of different categories – a serious longer article section and a quick fix section. This sorts out most types of blogger.

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