What Types of Posts Draw the Most Comments and Links?

Like most bloggers, I’m always interested in increasing the quality and quantity of comments and inbound links to my posts. I decided to do some analysis to see if I could find any patterns or trends by looking at some of my existing posts.

I started by breaking them down into 3 classifications:

  • List posts (primarily links to other resources)
  • Articles under 1,000 words
  • Articles over 1,000 words.

I tend to write longer posts than many bloggers and I was curious to see if this had any effect on the links and comments that were received. My thought was that maybe some readers tend to ignore longer posts, which would lead to fewer comments and links.

For this experiment I analyzed posts that were published between August 1 and September 13 (I didn’t use more recent posts because they still have comments and links coming in). During this time period I had 4 list posts (101 Ways to Monetize Your Website of Blog, 89 Community Sites for Webmasters, 31 Sources of Quality, Free Icons, and 77 Resources to Simplify Your Life as a Web Designer), 14 posts under 1,000 words, and 8 posts over 1,000 words.

This is what I found:

  • List posts averaged 24.3 comments and 19.8 links
  • Posts under 1,000 words averaged 11.6 comments and 3.6 links
  • Posts over 1,000 words averaged 10.8 comments and 3.5 links

(Note: When counting the links, I ignored internal links from this blog as well as links from blog carnivals that I submitted to.)

As you can see, the difference between short posts and long posts was very minimal, but there was a huge jump for list posts (these numbers have actually increased since I counted as new comments and links are still coming to these posts). That is not surprising since those posts have received much more traffic than many of the others.


So, after seeing that there has been virtually no difference in the number of comments and links due to the length of the post, I decided to look at one more factor. During this time period I published 5 posts (excluding the 4 lists posts mentioned above) that included a number in the title (30 Keyword Tools to Use for Your Website, Top 10 SEO-Related WordPress Plugins, 9 Essential Tools for Bloggers, 8 Tools to Help You Find the Right Domain Name, and 10 Tips for Making Your Blog Posts More del.icio.us).

These posts didn’t fall into the list category because they provide a significant amount of written content as opposed to just links to other resources. However, having a number in the title seemed to draw more attention from readers as these posts averaged 16 comments and 5.8 links. The list posts also all included a number in the title, so it seems that using numbers in titles can affect the success of the post.

If you want to prove me wrong you can leave a lot of comments and links to this post since it doesn’t have a number in the title.

What factors have you found to increase comments and links on your own blog?

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32 Responses

Comments are now closed on this post.

  • WarriorBlog, September 24, 2007

    I alway find that writing post that impact the readers somehow get them to comment – posts that either make them feel bad or good dramatically.

    I never had too much success with making lists post.

  • Vandelay Design, September 24, 2007

    WarriorBlog,
    Thanks for your feedback. Yes, you have a good point. I think an example of this would be my weekly links posts (which I forgot to mention that I didn’t count these posts at all for this analysis). People tend to feel good when they get a link to their blog and many will leave a comment to say thanks.

  • Mason from SmallFuel Marketing, September 24, 2007

    I’ve also found that when my posts link out to more blogs they tend to generate more comments.

    I have been getting more feedback lately encouraging me to write some posts that are shorter. I think, as you showed in your examination, that a mix might be the best way to go as far as post length.

    What do you think about the difference between posts opening with a “how to” versus posts opening with a question, like “do you…”

    I think in the next few months I may run a similar analysis on my blog to see if my results correlate or differ. I imagine it’s something that could vary depending on the target market.

    Thanks for the good info,

    – Mason Hipp

  • Vandelay Design, September 24, 2007

    Mason,
    Your question about How-to posts as compared to posts starting with questions is an interesting one. I don’t think I’ve used a whole lot of either on this blog. (I have only 2 How-to posts). That’s something I would be interested in seeing the results of. I would think the question would lead to a few more comments, but that might not be the case.

  • Subconscious Mind, September 24, 2007

    i definitely think short posts are the way to go, must people dont read anyway and when they look at a massively long post it just puts them off and they cant be bothered to read it anyway. i think short posts broken up with headers are the best type of post, and pictures are allways a bonus!

  • Barry Cox - Scottsdale Homes, September 24, 2007

    I love reading lists, like “The Top 10 Reasons To ….” That way, I can skim the information easily that appeals to me. These definitely hold my attention, and I’m much more apt to read the post.

  • Karen Zara, September 24, 2007

    I think in your case the longer posts get as much attention as the shorter ones because 1) your writing style is pleasing to the eyes, and 2) you do have relevant things to say.

    Many blogging-related articles state that one should avoid long posts because they make the readers “tired”. Your examples prove that in reality it’s only a matter of quality (and of reaching the right audience).

  • Real Estate Editorial, September 24, 2007

    I myself like to read short posts, I’m surprised that the results of the 1000 word cutoff was so close for short posts and long posts.

    I knew lists posts were more effective, but didn’t think it would be by this much.

    Thanks for the info, I’m going to keep it in mind when writing future posts on my blog.

  • Tibi Puiu, September 25, 2007

    Interesting research, I find generally found that longer posts attract more links, while smaller posts attract comments.From my experience, creating controversy or asking question to your readers attracts the most comments.

  • Symbian, September 25, 2007

    Also you need to know that all numbered things should be free or free to try or access. Posts like 10 most interesting articles from paid archive of NYT won’t get any traffic.

  • Adam Donkus, September 25, 2007

    I guess I need to do a little analysis of my posts and the comments.
    I’ll have to do a list post to test your hypothesis.

  • Madhur Kapoor, September 25, 2007

    If you try to challenge something that many readers believe , that will to generate a lot of comments .

  • david, September 25, 2007

    Interesting theory. But there are still a lot of factors and elements that needs to be calculated. Some of the elements may be “top commentator plugin”, traffic, loyal readers, quality of the post and etc.

  • Vandelay Design, September 25, 2007

    Thanks everyone for the feedback. I appreciate hearing your opinions. It sounds like many of you prefer shorter posts, which I think is probably the majority opinion for most blog readers. Some detailed posts require a lot more length in order to effectively cover the subject, but length just for the sake of being longer isn’t a good thing.

    David,
    I completely agree with you that there are a number of other factors that weren’t considered here. However, I think there is some significance that every post that includes a number in the title outperforms the others in terms of comments and links. These posts (for me at least) consistently get more traffic than other posts, so the real issue is that increased traffic leads to more comments and links. I wasn’t implying that simply putting a number in the title causes people to want to comment. You listed several of those factors above. Thanks for your contribution.

  • Tay, September 26, 2007

    Interesting research, Steven. You broke it down with just the basic factors. If you’re ever going to do something like this again, you could measure other types of the posts’ titles and bodies.

    Everyone loves a good list post. People like to read quickly, and they scan. Lists, bullets, numbers, and good titles for the post and throughout it are always vital.

    I also think shorter posts a bit better than longer ones, but it depends. If the long one is a big tutorial or introduction, such as a post helping a new blogger get started from thinking up what their new blog will be about to posting and designing, then that would make a great long post if it had good subtitles throughout it to scan. Otherwise, shorter is the way to go.

    Great, interesting read as usual. :D

  • vincent, September 26, 2007

    I personally prefer to read short article on blogs. Because that’s the reason I come to blogs. Read short but effective materials.

    If I needed more documented materials I go to wikipedia or some articles website.

    I think that numbers will always catch people’s attention as maybe it make them think about money :)

  • Vandelay Design, September 26, 2007

    Tay,
    You’re right, it was a pretty basic analysis. All I really wanted to find at the time was if post length was affecting the comments and links. It would be beneficial to go more in depth. I completely agree with your thoughts on long vs. short posts. Long for the sake of being long is no good.

    Vincent,
    Thanks for your feedback. I think sometimes longer blog posts provide valuable content that you may not have necessarily been looking for, but something that you’ll still learn from. You may not be seeking out the information, but it can still be relevant and practical to you.

  • Vince, September 28, 2007

    The best way to get comments on blogs is sparking up interest in the reader. It needs to be well thought out and well written. Short and to the point is the best way to go.

  • Reem, October 4, 2007

    When it comes to reading blogs, I like to read either a short post, or lists. Sometimes you lose interest when a post is too long.

  • Vandelay Design, October 4, 2007

    Reem,
    Thanks for your feedback. I think that’s a pretty common opinion.

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