Blog Post Length and Total Views Comparison

There was a point in time, just a few years ago, when I typically referred to Amdall Gallery as both an art and data analysis blog. In fact, I still even have it in the sub-title at the top of the site. I’ve been consistently writing posts every month since August 2017 (almost five years running now), and at the beginning of that streak, most of the posts were related to some sort of spreadsheet data crunching. Eventually, I started gaining momentum with my interest and improvements in portrait drawing, so that just sort of took over as my primary hobby. Now, it seems like I rarely venture into non-artwork writing.

Pondering things like this presents a great opportunity; a chance to do some data crunching! In this case, it was easy enough to export my blog’s post data to do a blog post length and total views comparison using Microsoft Excel. I had to do some data cleaning and VLOOKUP functions to combine the views and word length data sets (check out my old Excel function cheat sheet if you want to learn more about functions). After that, I just started experimenting with pivot tables (more pivot information too) and charts until I found some data representations that provided some insight.

Figure 1. Post categories over time from 2011 to 2022, grouped by artwork and then everything else. The hypothesis of a trend towards more drawing and less analysis was supported by data, but wasn’t as dramatic as I thought.
Figure 2. Total post categories from 2011 to 2022, grouped by artwork, tech, analysis, and other. It seems overall, tech and analysis posts account for a larger proportion of traffic than expected.

In my last post, which of course was drawing related, I mentioned the above trend and my recent lack of data analysis, and that it might be fun to crunch some numbers again. One particular topic of interest I referenced was post length, which was relevant because I had just written a fairly lengthy narrative about a particular drawing. I get the overall sense that my posts have generally become much longer than they used to be, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. I exported the data for all 229 posts I’ve written, cleaned it up, and then created pivots to visualize the trends. Results definitely support my original thesis – I have definitely gotten more wordy over time.

Figure 3. Average post word counts by month from 2011 to 2022. Even without the trendline (dashes), this still shows a clear increase in post lengths over time.

Ultimately, whether it’s good or bad that these posts are trending higher in word counts, it doesn’t matter much. I blog because I enjoy writing about these portraits (or other topics), so that enjoyment is largely the point. But, it is still a fair question; are longer articles better? I think in terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), longer form content tends to rank better in search results. But SEO is also dependent on many other factors, including what that specific content is and if it’s “authoritative”/relevant (and other fun things like backlinks, keyword use, etc).

On the flip side, it’s arguably more important to ask what does my core audience prefer? Most of the repeat traffic I get on this site comes from other artists within the WordPress blogging community. Are those artists more interested in just seeing the visual representations and moving on? I know from my “bounce rate” on Google Analytics that most visitors don’t spend enough time on a given post to read the entire thing. An analysis of the relationship between post length and views does not show any meaningful correlation. But does that tell me anything about what the core audience prefers? Unfortunately, I don’t think any of these results provide insight on that question. An additional complication in everything is that older posts naturally accumulate more views, so that skews the data to some extent.

Figure 4. A scatter chart of post views and lengths from 2011 to 2022. There doesn’t seem to be a clear relationship between views and length. For a strong correlation, I would have expected a trendline angle closer to 45 degrees.

So, what does this all say about the questions I’ve posed on this topic? Well, for starters, the data clearly tells a story of steady word count increases. It’s not just my imagination – these posts are definitely getting longer. And certainly the vast majority are related to artwork. But, based on the scatter chart, there doesn’t appear to be much of a correlation between post length and views. Fortunately, while there’s no positive correlation, there also isn’t a negative one, so these longer posts don’t appear to be hurting anything in terms of web traffic and views. I’ve posed quite a few questions on this topic, both in this post and in my most recent one, so perhaps I’ll summarize below:

Is there a relationship between post length and views?

There may be a very slight positive correlation, but after analyzing post data on Amdall Gallery over the last five years, results are all over the place. The trendline’s R2 value is 2%, which means the model doesn’t fit observations (100% would mean the model explains all variations and the results would be tighter to the predicted trendline). In other words, this data doesn’t show a reliable correlation.

Have posts gotten longer over time on Amdall Gallery?

Most definitely. The average length in 2017 was 562 words per post, rising to 1,010 words in 2020, and is now 1,245 words per post on average in 2022. There has been a steady increase each year, with the average length going up each year since the beginning of this blog. There are some outliers, for example when I went crazy writing long posts about Elden Ring, or perhaps stressful times when I’ve felt less like writing. But the trend holds steady overall.

So, are longer posts better? Or shorter posts?

Unfortunately, I don’t think the data gives us any insights into this question. Total views don’t seem to be impacted by word counts based on the data analyzed in this write-up. Longer posts are supposed to be better for Search Engine Optimization. But older posts overall have more views on Amdall Gallery, which tended to be shorter…of course, they have had more opportunity to be viewed since they’ve existed longer. I think ultimately the “best” length might be simply up to the writer’s preference.

More to the point – does anyone want to read long essays about some guy’s artwork?

Maybe so, but it’s complicated. The available data across these 229 posts shared over five years does not provide an easy answer. The non-art-related content (technology, analysis, etc) overall tends to attract more views than the art-related content does. But the art posts seem to pull in more interest from the WordPress community, which tends to be other artists. These artists are most likely my core audience representing repeat visitors to the website.

Are these results surprising at all?

No, not really. I expected posts had gotten longer over time, and had a feeling the analysis/tech posts were more broadly popular than artwork. Considering the fact that Armdog Reviews, which I update quite infrequently compared to Amdall Gallery, gets roughly twice the web traffic, I shouldn’t be too surprised. I did think there might have been more of a correlation between views and length though.

How did you analyze the data?

The short answer? First, find the information you need and figure out how to get it into a spreadsheet. Once it’s in excel, the goal is to process and clean the records until they can be pushed into pivot tables. Once you’ve got pivots, there’s no stopping you! For more information, check out these helpful pages:
* Microsoft Excel Function Cheat Sheets
* Microsoft Excel How to Make Pivot Tables
* Microsoft Access Form and VBA Basics

And finally, just to add some icing to this cake, here are some “Top 20” lists. Basically, I’ve compiled the top posts of all time (from 2011 to 2022 across 229 total) in terms of total views and word counts. I thought about pasting the entire data tables here, but looking back at some older data analysis posts, it doesn’t look like I did that even back then. And in those days, with only a year or so of blogging under my belt, I had significantly less posts in the archives. So, I think a couple of “Top 20” lists are a pretty good compromise.

2 comments

  • That was interesting! I must admit, I mostly look at your pictures, but skim the written material, too. I write and paint, and I can tell by feedback that sometimes my readers like the writing and other times the paintings. Like you, I keep on because I enjoy it (weekly, since 1998)

    • Wow, you’ve kept your blogging streak up since 1998?! That is indeed impressive, definitely something to be proud of. I hope to stay on that track over time as well, although I do have a ways to go to match that writing level!

      And honestly, I’m right there with you about blog-reading habits. There’s just so much great artwork out there, even just within the WordPress blogging realm. It’s sometimes a challenge to keep up with everything, so I also find myself skimming text and focusing on the images. I try to read more closely when something seems instructional, because it’s always my hope to learn something from the more experienced artists out there.

      But I certainly agree with you – the best thing is to go with what you enjoy, and this has been a great outlet for channeling some creative energies, both in terms of writing and drawing.

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