Are you considering a blog to boost your online marketing presence? Good move. Blogging can help position you as the expert you are in your field, which builds credibility. Plus, well-optimized blog posts provide search engine optimization (SEO) to lift your presence in search results.
I am always asked, “How long should a blog post be?”
Well, it depends.
There are no strict guidelines when it comes to blog post length. That said, it is still a good idea to research the matter. Here are some factors to consider while determining the optimal length of a blog post for your business.
What Does Google Need?
Let’s start with Google since you are probably hoping your post will appear in Google search results.
Google will only rank pages that have substantial content that provides value. Everything else is deemed ‘thin content’ and can worsen your ranking on the results pages.
The search engine giant needs at least 300 words on-page to index and rank it, which means the best length for a blog post is undoubtedly above 300 words. Small posts with 200 to 250 words will get lost in the crowd and won’t rank high on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if you create a series of pages with definitions of technical terms in your field, you don’t need to worry about the word count. These pages still provide significant value to the audience and will be ranked high even if they have less than 300 words. Google’s machine learning (artificial intelligence, or AI) is highly intuitive, and will notice the real value of such posts.
What Do the Statistics Say?
Looking at hardcore data is one of the best ways to understand what your audiences and search engines want. In 2016, Backlink.io studied over a million Google search results to understand rankings. The study revealed that the average word count of results on the first page was 1,890. This data is three years old. More recent research shows that almost no first-page ranking post is less than 2,000 words long.
Research conducted by Hubspot showed that posts with more than 2,500 words had the highest number of backlinks. As backlinks are one of the top three ranking factors, it is essential to consider this statistic.
Google’s first page results feature posts that range from 2,000 words to 10,000 words. Any content that falls within this bracket is more likely to get attention from Google and other search engines.
Post Length in the Past
Despite all evidence to the contrary, many bloggers continue to believe that 300 to 500 words are the ideal length for their posts. While such content is easy to write and can be valuable to the target audience, it doesn’t always garner the attention you need.
The 500-word articles worked well until a few years ago because Google and other search engines weren’t as sophisticated as they have become today. No AIs were looking at context, picking out relevancy, and understanding user intent. Search engines found content based on keyword matches, and word count didn’t play a vital role.
This trend changed with updates like RankBrain. Today, 300 to 500-word blogs are the bare minimum that search engines expect from online content.
The Question of Attention Spans
Hundreds of articles proclaim that human beings have short attention spans and can’t focus for more than 8 seconds. Many inexperienced content creators believe this means modern audiences require more concise, easily digestible content.
But it’s not true. Evidence shows that most online audiences gravitate towards longer articles. Google’s first page results always reflect its user base, and lengthier articles show up on the first page because users prefer them. If you shape your content well, include bullet points and images, and maintain a good flow, you can retain the audience’s attention.
Longer articles showcase your authority and help you earn the audience’s trust. If your post contains lengthy and factual content, it will attract more links and cement your reputation as a thought leader in the industry.
Length Depends on the Topic
The ideal blog post length depends on the topic and the target keyword. The last thing you want is your content to be redundant just because you tried to hit a particular word count. Sometimes, it is just not possible to write a 2,500-word article on a specific topic. So, don’t force the issue and fill the post with content that isn’t relevant or valuable. Instead, focus on finding topics that provide better opportunities. Here are some factors to consider:
Average Word Count for the Keyword
Before you start writing on a topic or keyword, conduct a brief search on it. Count the words of all the posts on the first page to get an idea about the average blog post length for that particular keyword. That should give you a good starting point.
Consider the Topic
If the topic is “How tall is Mount Everest,” you don’t need to write 2,000 words of content. However, if your topic is something like “a detailed guide to backlinks,” your content should be well over 2,000 words, and it has the potential to reach 10,000 words. In short, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to content length.
Focus on Value
Google and other search engines are always looking for content that provides value to users. Content creators need to focus on the value of the blog post. Will the content satisfy the user’s curiosity and answer their questions in the best way possible? Will they have to look for other sources to get more current information? If you can pique the reader’s interest in 300 words, that is the best length for a blog post. If you can only satisfy the user’s query in 5,000 words, that could also be the ideal length.
In our opinion, the length also depends on the venue. So, a 500-1,000 word post is unlikely to rank nationally. But with keywords localized for, say, Santa Rosa, it’s not unusual for an optimized blog post of that length to rank in our area.
As you can see, the optimal length of a blog post depends mostly on the subject matter and what your target audience wants. Just focus on the quality of the content and make sure it is worthy enough to rank high on search engine results pages.