Of all of the questions I am asked about search engine optimization the one I hear most is”how long should my blog post be?”

It’s a good question with no easy or definitive answer. Ask ten professional content writers and you’ll get ten different answers.

300 words? 500 words? 800 words?

The answer is a resounding — it depends.

Certainly a longer post must be better than a shorter one, right? Maybe.

Can you say all you need to in a concise 300 word post? Can you clearly and confidently get your point across, without ambiguity, with fewer words than more?

You see if you write an 800 word blog post but the content lacks structure, readability and especially value, you’ve done nothing but create spam.

When to write a short post – 300 words or less

If you’re updating or adding multiple products each day probably want to stick with shorter posts that simply describe the product. If your blog posts feature media such as images or videos you really don’t need to provide more than a brief description so your readers know what to expect (this is especially true if you push your content out to social media sites like Facebook or Twitter which use a short intro to your posts to entice readers to click).

When to write a medium post – 300 to 500 words

Medium length posts are more suited to updating projects on a regular basis. If you update your website 2-3 times per week this is probably a better length (and one you’ll be able to stick with).

A medium length post is easier to maintain because you don’t need to edit words down or find more words to fill it out. While more words is better for SEO (you can check out a not so scientific analysis of longer vs shorter posts here) you do need to write in a style and format that you can maintain.

When to write a long post – 500 words or more

Still there is a case to be made for longer posts. If your website is dedicated to reviewing books or movies you’re going to need more than 500 words to get to the point. You’ll likely use 1500 – 2000 words to provide a valuable review for any product whether you like it or not. Do you tell stories on your blog? Unless you’re a brilliant wordsmith you’re going to need a couple thousand words. And, if you’re like most writers, the difficulty will be in writing shorter posts than longer posts.

It’s good to keep your readers in mind when deciding on the length of a post. Most of us, myself included, have little time to read all of the great content that is available on the web. Many of us visit the same websites each day because we know what to expect when we arrive. When I come across a longer blog post, I find myself more and more bookmarking the post because I know I won’t have time to read (and comprehend) five long paragraphs of text. Sadly, there are times when I have simply moved along (without bookmarking) because I know I simply don’t have the time to read all those words.

The bottom line is to use as many words as needed to say what you have to say.