How long should a post or an article be?

As long as it needs to be. Or to put it another way: as short as it needs to be. Whether it is a blog post, an article on a website, or a post on a social networking site, I find this question – what is the best or optimum length of a post? – rather puzzling, and that is reflected in the answer I wrote at the beginning. The length of text required to address adequately the issue in one topic would vary from another. Complex topics would require longer expositions than something that could be answered aye or nay. That seems bleeding obvious, yet I have seen many questions asking for a formulaic and definite answer, whether in terms of SEO (search engine optimization), SMO (social media optimization), and AdSense. Some people believe that there is a perfect length that would magically increase that piece’s rankings, engagement, and revenue.

If not the optimum, then people ask for the minimum length of text required for that piece to appear on search engine results page, or on someone’s wall or stream. A random figure is quoted as being the minimum quota, and there is a tortuous attempt to stuff more vacuous words to meet that illusory target. I think it is fair to say such attempts are doomed to failure, and that they result in a much poorer quality of writing. In my student days, I have waffled on many occasions to pad out my meagre essays, thinking that it would not be too noticeable, but later I was in a position to mark student essays, and I realized how painfully obvious such desperate attempts at inflating word counts were to the reader.

If stretching a piece of thin content beyond the possible is an issue, there is also the opposite problem: meaningless verbosity. No one wishes to read too verbose an article, which could have done with a good editing. I should not be casting stones, as I am guilty of such on a number of occasions. There is a tendency towards unnecessary waffling, when there is no editor to prune the text. Some people do seem to like to read their own words. Unfortunately, this trend seems to be the most observable when there is a wide gap between the self-assessment of the writer, who thinks that he or she has been endowed with the gift of writing, and the actual output. At times, I feel there is an inverse correlation between the two.

This article could have been padded up with more details and more arguments, or perhaps it could have been served well by an eagle-eyed editor, but I hope I have put my point across. Or may be, just may be, I should read up on all those formulaic answers, since I might be missing out on ranking and on revenue.