The results are in!
– Along with a passionate trail of comments from committed readers bemoaning long and waffly posts! (Many from Norah Colvin who is now way out in front as the person who comments most on this blog! Norah I love you ❤️)

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 09.08.15I set up this poll because I’m interested in the behaviour of the casual reader on sites like mine. If this were science I could claim little ‘proof’ for my own views from a one question questionnaire with less than 100 participants, but I’ll share them nevertheless!

Initially I was quite surprised that post length is ‘not often a factor’ for 41% participants but then I considered the number of factors we all quickly take into account when we open a post, like topic, novelty, how well it’s written and whether the writer manages to ‘grab’ you in the opening paragraph. I do asses most of those things if I have bothered to open up a post in the first place. Mostly this is driven by the title sparking some curiosity or confirming something I have been searching. However once I’m there, post length is a significant factor in whether I read on and to the end.

My views and these results are sort of backed up with some of last week’s comments. Personally:

1. I like to read shorter posts because my time and attention are limited.
2. I like to write shorter posts for fairly much the same reasons.
3. I also enjoy and appreciate the craft of making succinct, plain English enjoyable to read.
4. There are exceptions to all of the above, when for example, I am seeking detailed information to help with a problem or gap in knowledge. Occasionally something novel will also intrigue me and I will keep going with almost anything that makes me laugh.

When I analyse my own blog traffic, it is clear the CHEMOBRAIN series of posts is head and shoulders above anything else I have written. These posts still attract views nearly every day and they’re my longest posts by far. (I might guess that that is because there isn’t an unending supply of information out there for people dealing with this issue.)
Last week I didn’t attempt to properly explain what Google’s new ‘quality drive’ is all about. I’d only caught site of an article about it on LinkedIn – enough to give me an excuse to have a go with for the first time!
For those looking for a succinct explanation, Charli Mills offered this (Thanks Charli 😊):

“The 2,000 word ranking covers a category they launched in 2014 called “in-depth.” Their intent is to curate well-researched content and there’s more to it than word count (evergreen, take-aways, headlines, unique, pagination, logos). Why the feature? Because marketers got good at supplying content to promote or sell products or services, but some marketers got sleazy about supplying cheap tricks to get higher SEO rankings. In-depth, evergreen content overrides all that promotional-based content so readers can find actual information and not a gilded sales pitch or affinity reviews masquerading as content.
So, as a blogger, do you want the in-depth rankings? Say I was a serious journalist who wanted to write Rock Creek as non-fiction. I’d be better served to have a strategy that fit the in-depth model because I’d build credibility as a researcher. But I’m writing fiction. Yes, I love the research, but I’m not a serious journalist — deep within me is an imaginative soul who can’t help but ponder human motives and what if twists. I’m an artist as much as a writer. My canvas is the page, words my paint. Therefore, what matters to me are readers who like to read what I craft…readers who like my style, voice and imagery. I doubt I’d find those readers on Google’s in-depth category.”


So to sum it all up, whilst I prefer shorter posts, if you grab my attention I can be drawn to read a longer post when there’s a sense of it being worthwhile. Is it fair to say it seems the same may apply to many of you?

(PS: Word count 693 with 225 of those to be credited to Charli Mills!)