Quantity vs Quality Of Blog Posts: Which Works Best?

Day 17 of the A-Z challenge.

Q is for Quality & Quantity

Let me ask you a question.

Imagine you’re a newish blogger. You don’t yet have many followers and the number of visits to your site is disappointingly low. To change that, do you think the best way would be:

  • to increase the number of posts you write OR
  • to improve the quality of posts?

Both are important. But the debate about what matters mostquality of content or quantity of content – has raged within the digital marketing and blogging world for at least a decade.

Once upon a time the mantra was “content was king.” That phrase was uttered in every digital marketing meeting I sat through. It came to be viewed as the magic wand solution for every ailing campaign, blog and website.

According to this concept, all you needed to do to get your viewer figures to soar, was to write and publish more. Problem solved. Everyone happy.

But things don’t always work out the way they do in theories.

The trouble with this particular theory is that it doesn’t take into account other factors like:

  • how often you already publish new material;
  • how much time you have available;
  • how much you have to say on your topic and
  • the appetite of your readers.

Don’t Be A Slave To Content

Your first hurdle is going to be time.

Let’s say you currently blog 2 or 3 times a week. Adding one more post per week maybe doable (depending on your work, family commitments etc). But if you are already blogging 5 times a week is it feasible for you to post almost every day of the week? It takes a lot of energy and time to keep up that kind of schedule.

Second hurdle: the more frequently you post, the more content ideas you have to generate.

Right there is the biggest issue. Because in order to post often, you may end up sacrificing quality. You don’t have time to research and write for your usual thoughtful reviews and discussion posts. So you fill the gaps with short insubstantial pieces which are much quicker to generate.

Some maybe little more than bullet point list or an extended photo caption. You don’t feel very invested in the topic but you’re doing because it’s a Tuesday and your plan says you post on Tuesdays. You need something to post that day and anything is better than nothing.

But that’s content isn’t necessarily why your readers have been following you. They don’t object to the occasional short piece or meme-related post but when it happens week after week, their patience gets stretched. They’ll stick around out of loyalty but they won’t be as engaged. You’re not providing them enough meat upon which to comment.

Going for quantity unless you can also maintain quality is a move that could hurt you. And not just because of reader reaction.

Google Favours Quality

Google pays very close attention to the quality of content on blogs and websites. Quality is one of the factors included in the algorithm that determines in what order you see sites listed when you do a Google search. Web and blog sites with the highest quality scores get to be shown on the first page and will be among the first sites you see. .

One element of quality assessed by the Google robots is the length of content. Google wants to send searchers to substantial content because it’s more likely to have answers to the searcher’s question. It doesn’t like very short articles. The more of these you have on your blog site, the lower you are ranked – and the less chance there is a Google searcher will ever see your material.

Google currently favours content 2,000-3,000 words long. Don’t panic! That doesn’t mean every article you write has to be 2,000 words long. Or that you can’t periodically do a 400-word piece. But if the number of short posts starts outweighing the longer ones, you could find the number of visits coming from Google to your site will go down.

Which is better: Quality or Quantity?

Content is critical. You need to have a substantial amount of it so that readers find plenty to interest them when they visit your site .

Quality is critical. Blog sites with articles that lack depth or are poorly written will seldom be very successful.

Quantity and quality are not opposing armies fighting for territory. They are allies. Used together they are a powerful tool to keep existing readers loyal AND bring you new readers.

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on April 22, 2020, in Blogging and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. I use tools like Semrush and Ahref to find out what keywords and topics people are looking for in my niche, then I build my next article based on that information from the Title of my article to key phrases I’m going to include, to subtopics I’m going to put. It always work. Thanks on this nice article!

  2. I have to really question that 2000 – 3000 word count that google uses. I always prefer brief and to the point when it comes to reading articles and looking for info via google. But now I understand why I’m often not satisfied by my searches….

  3. Google & the word count. I never gave this any thought. I write what I like, and when I’ve said what I want to say, I stop. And there it is. My readership is small, but that’s ok by me.
    Blogging is not my sole mission in life and if I were to routinely compose 1 000 – 2 000 word posts, that wouldn’t leave much time for anything else.
    Thanks again for an excellent article, offering thought provoking ideas.

  4. At a guaranteed minimum one a week post I’m certainly not in the quantity category but I have tried recently to increase output, with the introduction of specific promo posts. I’ll leave others to decide where they feature on the quality scale. I’m happy with what I do and don’t have the time (or inclination) to most more frequently. I don’t get too bothered about length either as I’m writing as much for myself as anyone, the fact that somebody reads it is a bonus.

  5. Interesting post, and like others I’m surprised about the Google length thing. I worry if my posts are too long because of people’s attention spans nowadays. I try to post 2 or 3 times a week, vary the books I write about and vary the lengths too. It’s a balancing thing. The only time I do more than that is usually for the Club weeks when I post daily and that’s a strain and has to be planned ahead – I couldn’t and wouldn’t do that on a regular basis!!

    • I can’t see a time when I would want to/be able to post daily – this current challenge is stretching me and wouldn’t be possible in normal circumstances. I don’t know how some people manage to do more than 3 a week.

  6. I’m in the shorter post camp having written for print media for a long time before blogging where space is at a premium and word counts need to be adhered to or copy gets the chop. I also tend to prefer reading short posts although I do follow some bloggers who write longer reviews but whose posts I enjoy.

    • Good point about whether the post is enjoyable Susan. If you are enjoying reading then you don’t notice the length so much. But I am struggling to think of a subject that I could write about for 2,000 words without the risk of boring people.

  7. Finally, I aim for three posts a week, so I usually end up with about 13 posts per month. This is about as much as I can manage with the reading, research, writing and commenting on others I do. I usually only exceed number that if I attend a multi-day literary festival, or there’s a week where maybe there’s an award, an event plus the Six Degrees meme all falling around the same time.

    Also, knowing how hard it is for me to keep up with reading other bloggers, I try to keep my own number of posts to the three per week. On those unusual occasions when I post three days in a row, Word Press congratulates me but I feel incredibly guilty!

  8. I was actually wondering yesterday what you would come up with for Q . I was expecting something like Blogging 101 Questionairre .. Now this is way better!!
    Great post ( as usual 🙂 )

  9. Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins

    Most of the blogs that I follow and enjoy reading post “less” frequently (say 1-2 times per week), but have well thought out and really engaging coverage of really interesting subjects. I’d be kind of bummed if they sacrificed that to start pumping out 5-6 posts per week. I’m also baffled by the 2,000+ words apparently preferred by the algorithm of our overlords – I’ve got a few posts of that length, but I think generally I’m around the 1-1.5k mark. Anything longer than that would feel like waffle 😅

  10. Question: is there a way in WordPress stats to see the average word count of total posts?

    When I’m writing a post that seems long to me, I notice that’s it’s usually around 1500 words.

    I love your thought that it’s a combo or balance of quality and quantity. When I was a brand new blogger, I focused on quality (content, format, structure, witting, links, etc). Once I felt confident that I could produce a quality post, I started gradually increasing my quantity ….from 1 post per week then 2 posts per week …. and now I can do 3 or 4 times a week and maintain quality. When I post 4 times a week, at least one of those posts is shorter or in list format. I did notice that my views increased proportionally as I increased my quantity. With quantity also comes increased time devoted to content creation and promotion. So it’s not just the number of posts, it’s the time spent promoting and responding to comments etc that need to be considered…..and the time to create that quality content (which for me involves hours of reading in addition to writing). Sometimes when I post 4 times a week, I evaluate the time spent in “reading hours.” Am I willing to give up the reading time to post more? LADT YEAR I PISTED 8 days in a row to participate in a Hanukkah meme and it killed me and I fought to keep the quality component. Eventually quantity will compromise quality as I have less to write about and less energy! Sooooo……BALANCE!

    • Yes Carol … it’s in Stats under Insights. You get average no. words, comments, likes etc per annum, plus total number or words, and comments, per annum.

    • I see Sue has answered your question about word count Carol. It tells you once a post has been published but if you are looking for a tool that gives you a word count as you create the content, I haven’t found one. I suspect its because a lot of bloggers write their content in a word processing package first and then copy into WordPress/Blogger etc. So they get the word count from the document not the blog site.

      Your approach when you started blogging sounds very well considered – and has clearly stood you in good stead.

      I hear you about the effort involved in blogging daily – this current challenge is far more difficult to keep up than I imagined. If I had thought about doing it in March then I could have prepared some pieces in advance. I’ll not do this kind of challenge again!

      • I’ve been worried about you!!! I posted 8 days in a row last year and I thought never again! Your project is ambitious and so very much valued and appreciated!!! Some of the best content I’ve read this year!

        Re word count…..I was curious where the stats are but…..honestly length is the least of my worries when I’m creating content! I write what is needed and feel satisfied whether it’s brief or long. Interesting that yesterday I pulled up an old post to update and my first thought was that the post was so short!!! That tells me that I’ve naturally built up my word count (and stamina!) over the years.

  11. I don’t know where I first heard this, but it’s commonly said that if you want people to read a letter or a report, keep it to one page. It was certainly true for me at work, if it was one page long I read there and then and then either filed it or actioned it, and if it was more than that I put it aside to do later. And sometimes never got to it until I was tidying up. (I had three document files on my desk: Do Today; Do This Week; Do Some Time This Term, or Maybe Never).
    So like Mary, I wonder about this advice. I do not often want to read 2000-3000 words about a book. OTOH I think 500 words might be a bit short: I like to see quotations from the book so that I can see the author’s style, and (depending) I also like an introduction to the author and their previous work if there is any.
    I do write long posts sometimes, and some of them are my best rating posts, the simple reason being that these books are classics which often show up in student reading lists and less ethical students harvest my thoughts and reproduce them in their essays. TBH I don’t care if Google brings students like that to my blog or not.
    But the majority of my posts are around 1200 words, and if they inch towards 1500, I rein myself in!

    • I can’t imagine writing 2000 words for a review – even for a book that has many levels. I would feel it was more of an essay than a review. I do like longish posts as long as they are broken up with sub headings and the paragraphs are not too long. Even with multiple quotes 2000 words would Feel over long.

    • I’m with you Lisa. When I started blogging, I was aiming to write posts of about 800 words but that crept up fairly soon to 1000 words. My annual average post length over the last 6 or so years is between 950 to 1050 words. But that’s because Six degrees, and some of my more general posts (awards etc) tend to around 500-800 words. Like you my reviews are usually 1100-1300. If they start getting over 1300 or so I try very hard to prune and edit. Occasionally I will let a longer one through if it’s a complex or really significant (to me) book.

      • 1,000 is a decent size post for a review. It gives you scope to explain some of the plot and themes but also include your own reactions. However I’ve seen lots of reviews that are longer and they spend far too long talking about the plot developments – almost as if they are padding out the review.
        I don’t have a “target” word count as such – I follow a principle of writing what I want to say and when I’ve said it, that’s how long the post is….

      • That’s a good point about books that are really personally significant. My review of Voss is among my very long posts, and I was exploring PW’s high modernism as part of reading that, and tracking down all the symbols and so on, and this was so long ago in the early days of my blog that the idea of anybody reading my ramblings would have seemed bizarre to me at the time. I wrote it for me, it was a grand case of ‘I don’t know what I think until I write it’.
        Now, of course, I realise that it is a gift as far as plagiarising students are concerned, but OTOH universities know about it, (and link to it in their reading guides) so plagiarists had better beware!

        • Haha Lisa re plagiarising students. I occasionally get emails from students who want to cite me but “need” to know my real name. Don’t they know about pseudonyms? Do they quote George Eliot as the author of Middlemarch or Mary Ann Evans? Still, it’s great that they ask. (I guess they don’t ask you because you give Lisa Hill as your name!

          I have a few reviews linked to school and university guides too. Weird isn’t it?

        • I think the linking good. It means that students are exposed to a range of ideas, but that the teachers/lecturers are signalling that they know about these reviews so they’d better be cited!

        • Haha, yes, there is that re they’d “better be cited”!

  12. Whoa! Google likes posts of 2,000-3,000 words long? That truly surprise me, because I don’t want to sit at my desk and read many blog posts that long. I recently wrote a post in which I intended to use 5 examples but I cut it down to 4 because I had reached 1,500 words. I consider that quite a long post. The posts that I most enjoy writing usually clock in at between 500 and 800 words. I don’t know how to do a word count on posts I read on other peoples’ blogs, but the posts I like best are probably in that 500-800 words category. I’d rather see content split into a couple of shorter posts than long posts of 2,000+ words. Sure, it’s harder to write short than to write long, but, when we’re talking exclusively about blog posts, I’d prefer short over too long. Just my 2 cents, of course. But I’m interested to see how other blog readers feel.

    • I freaked out when I saw that statistic Mary. I’m struggling to imagine a topic on which i could write 2,000-3,000 words and still keep my readers interested. I probably prefer posts to be a bit longer than you do if they are book reviews but other content I’m happy to read shorter ones too.
      The key thing for me is whether the content is interesting and has it been presented in a way that makes it seem relatively easy to read – I don’t like long paragraphs and dense text. I prefer lots of white space and sub headings to help guide my eye

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