Marketing Blog Writing Styles: 12 Pros By The Numbers
Were you surprised by any of these results? Let us know in the comments.
I’ll relay some of my observations, then tell you how I got the numbers below, if you’re feeling nerdy.
Before we go any further, here are links to the bloggers: Seth Godin, Mitch Joel, Chris Brogan, David Meerman Scott, Marcus Sheridan, John Jantsch, Brian Clark, Derek Halpern, Darren Rowse, Rand Fishkin, Spencer Haws, and Pat Flynn.
Words Per Sentence
This is the most evenly distributed of the data sets. The takeaway: there is no common or “right” style. Darren, Rand, and John use longer sentences with more phrases and Seth and Derek keep the thoughts short and digestible.
Words Per Post
One thing jumps out quickly. Pat Flynn pours a lot of time into his posts (a lot more than he used to, see below).
“Epic Posts” are considered to be 1000 words minimum and the median of 838 is getting pretty close. Experts like Yoast (WordPress SEO Guru) say you need at least 300 words to rank well on Google. Only one of the bloggers I analyzed averages under 300 and only three average under twice that (600).
How long is the median 838 words? This post is exactly 838 words long (because I wrote these seven words here).
The two guys who write the most words per post are very concerned with search traffic. Spencer and Pat write on SEO topics quite often, so if you are looking to get more traffic, you may want to follow their lead and spend more time on each topic.
Sentences Per Paragraph
This is the statistic that spurred this entire study. I had been reading a lot of guys who hit the enter key an awful lot. The result is more white space and the reading seems to go faster. So I wondered if this was a trend industry-wide and decided to do some calculations.
I did count bullet points as paragraphs, so if the blogger used
their sentences per paragraph went down.
This is the most bunched up of the data set, so you may push toward the center on this one yourself. Most of the top marketing bloggers are breaking up their content — less than two sentences per paragraph on average.
If you are going to read Pat Flynn’s blog, be prepared to scroll. He’s writing monstrously long posts and his pinkie is sore from hitting the enter key so much.
Words Per Post Change Over 3 Years
I compared five blog posts from the Fall of 2014 to the Fall of 2011.
The median is pretty close to no change at all, but you can see that the guys who are writing more are writing A LOT MORE. The guys who are writing less per post are writing A LITTLE LESS.
Overall, words per post are trending up at 31%.
Sentences Per Paragraph Change Over 3 Years
My initial guess was that this set would trend negative — guys are hitting the enter key more than they used to. But I was wrong. Some are and some aren’t.
A Note On Rand Fishkin
Rand from Moz has changed roles at the company and his blog purpose has changed so significantly that I didn’t think it was worth putting him in the 3 year comparison. 3 years ago he actually wasn’t writing many straight-up blog posts. He produced a lot of White Board Friday videos, but didn’t often sit down just to write text content.
Why did I include him in the 2014 data? Besides the fact that Rand is just awesome, it is no-shave November and I couldn’t not have that beard in the infographic!
How I Got The Numbers
Several of the numbers depended on character and word count. I used Word Count Plugin For Chrome – simply highlight text on a page and you get an instant calculation of the words and characters in the selection.
For sentences per paragraph, I used the find tool in Chrome to highlight periods. I visually checked for the highlighted periods, question marks, exclamations, elipses, etc.
Did headings count as paragraphs? Depends. Some guys used full sentences as headings and some used a couple of words. If they used full sentences, the headings counted as paragraphs.
Did every blog post count? Some of the bloggers produce other types of content like videos, podcasts, and interviews. I only counted normal writing blog posts, not text that accompanied videos and podcasts. I did not count interviews because the interviewee was the one doing the writing/talking and not the blog author.
If you want to see the raw numbers, check out the spreadsheet.
What Surprised You?
Let us know in the comments.
One more thing that surprised me: the z and the y are switched on this stock image of an old typewriter. What’s up with that?