Writing about the most important ideas in your topic of choice is the heart of your job as a blogger. After all, being at the forefront of the discussion within your niche is critical, whether you’re in the marketing space or prefer to talk about your day on a mommy blog. However, as easy as it might sound, simply writing about what you love is often complicated. If you want to ensure decent rankings on Google, you’ll need good SEO. Your journey to good SEO includes making your posts the right length.
Because it’s so important, I often get asked how long should a post be? In a recent question in my Digital First Group Coaching Membership Community, one of the members asked if the 1,500 to 2,000 word blog post length was the most appropriate. The truth is that there’s no hard and fast rule. With that said, there are some great data points which we can use as a jumping off point for each topic. In addition, there are several generalized findings within the industry.
The most important thing is producing quality content.
Let’s be honest: people read blogs to get information, not to waste their time. To that end, if you are writing junk it won’t matter if your post is 500 words or 5,000. You deserve to not rank well on Google. Why do I say this? Simply put, the creators of top-quality content deserve the best real estate, both on Google and other search engines.
Let’s look at this another way. Would you rather read 5,000 words worth of fluff, or see a blogger “get to the point” with 500? Chances are that you’ll stick to the summary. A few years back, many airline magazines and in-air catalogs would include an advert for business book summaries. Nowadays, there are several websites that sell them, often formatted for e-readers and mobile apps. Why are there so many of these services? They’re popular. People want to get to the bottom line quickly.
Deciding how long should a blog post be isn’t always easy.
Although it’s easy to understand that nobody wants fluff, what’s more difficult is deciding how long you need to treat a particular topic adequately. After all, some topics have more information available than others, or enjoy a greater complexity. Another concern is your keywords: some have different expectations in terms of length or contents. In order to earn eyeballs, you need to produce relevant, engaging content.
The approach that I recommend you take that I will provide more detail around is to consider what the competition is doing and then outperform them.
A little history of my personal blog
My personal answer to how long should a blog post be has changed over time. Part of this is a result of changes within the marketing space, part of it is based on SEO trends, and part of it is an outgrowth of my expertise. However, these changes have been significant.
I used to say that 750 words was the minimum.
Way back when I was a new blogger and still getting started as an independent consultant, my minimum word count was about 750 words. In my thinking, this let me show my expertise without going too in-depth about everything. Social media marketing was my major specialty, and it still is. But I wasn’t taking as broad of a view, either. Besides, longer blog posts weren’t as fashionable back then as they are now.
1,500 words became a better solution to how long should a blog post be.
Later on, as my blog and business grew, the minimum word count became around 1,500. The area of social media marketing had expanded significantly. Influencer marketing was a big enough thing to attract attention, and people were starting to ask questions about it. Besides, the competition for top search engine rankings was getting much fiercer. And with more people talking about the same things, I had to start saying more to get noticed.
Nowadays, 2,000 words is the right amount.
These days, I won’t publish blog posts that are under 2,000 words. I have found that this length lets me give good information without a lot of fluff, and without saying so much that people get bored. This length also lets me look at the topic in-depth, even with people skimming the post as a whole. Plus, I have found that my search engine rankings are best with this particular word count minimum.
Longer post lengths get you more leads.
As the saying goes, content is king. And in the world of blogging, this is typically long-form posts. People love these, because they explain an issue thoroughly. If a post is engaging enough, people will feel comfortable lingering on your blog, or on your website generally. When people linger on your blog, it encourages them to engage with your content, from sharing or commenting all the way to purchasing something. All of this happens when people find your blog.
Long form content can handle more keywords.
One reason why I answer how long should a blog post be with “make it long form” is that this kind of content handles more keywords and concepts. While my posts usually have just one targeted keyword, and this is appropriate for my business, your mileage may vary. Many businesses will choose to use more than one form of each keyword in their blog post. This is especially true of e-commerce and other B2C brands.
Long form content invites better search engine placement.
Another thing that we’ve found over the years is that Google prefers long-form content. It’s not that Google actually prefers one type of content over the other. It’s the fact that not only does long-form content give you the ability to use more keywords more efficiently, but it also means that those sticking around to consumer your longer content mean that they are spending longer reading time. Google uses the amount of time people spend on your website as part of the equation when assigning your ranking for relevant keywords. In addition, more keywords within a post give you more chances to “win” the placement lottery.
This isn’t to say that you should stuff keywords or add fluff, of course. Doing this will backfire pretty quickly, because Google is getting better at detecting stuffing, and when people find your content on search engines but don’t stay to read your article, it is sending bad signals to Google that will sink your ranking very quickly. So in this case, quality over quantity is the key.
Long form content showcases your expertise.
How long should a blog post be? It should be the perfect length to showcase your expertise. People can only write quality long-form content if they’re able to do good research or already know plenty about a given topic. Otherwise, blog posts are very short because the writer doesn’t have much to say.
By contrast, true subject matter experts can write long-form blog posts with consistently high quality. Their content is well worth reading, because you can learn something valuable every time. This is especially important for bloggers who write about their profession, like I do. While there are plenty of opportunities for me to show my expertise in webinars and customer consultations, my blog is a major way for people to see what I’m all about. This leads to a lot of other opportunities.
A few numbers about how long should a blog post be are available.
Let’s face it: while all of my above points are important, they don’t give any hard numbers besides my own blog. However, there are some data points available that can help you decide on the perfect length for your blog regardless of industry or niche. You’ll need to combine these numbers with other considerations, such as the specific subject and your own experience, to arrive at the right length.
According to Hubspot, the median high-performing blog length is between 2100 and 2400 words.
Every year, Hubspot does a study on the best length for blog posts. Like me, they emphasize that the most important thing you can do is employ sound SEO principles. This includes adding backlinks and leveraging keywords, among other things. And although the 2,100-2,400 word window seems to perform the best overall, you can definitely be successful outside those numbers. In particular, Google considers domain authority to be a major reason to rank your content well for any given keyword.
Hook Agency: Consider the 1760-2400 word answer to how long should a blog post be.
At least, if you want top SEO results for your blog in most niches. The magic of this length range is that it’s not too long, but not too short either. Here, you have plenty of options to impress your audience without boring them. If a topic needs less space, shoot for the 1,800 range. More complicated posts can run closer to 2,400.
Of course, my friends at Hook Agency wouldn’t suggest you keyword stuff. The content should always be well-written and engaging, even if it comes in a bit short. They also offer another hint: average the 10 or so best-performing posts on your blog, then average their length. This is often the ideal answer to how long should a blog post be for your particular site. Remember, experience is often your best guide.
Other tools for finding the perfect blog post length.
Here’s the thing: no matter how many experts recommend a particular blog length, it’s always good to get accurate numbers for your specific content and your unique competitors. In many ways, knowing what to blog about is only half the battle. Not only is your own blog a good guide, but so is the experience of others. Finally, some marketing and SEO tools will give you hints for a particular keyword.
One of my favorite tools for SEO is Frase. For any given keyword that you want to rank your content for, among other things, they will tell you what the average word count for the top 20 posts that appear in Google search rankings for your target country for that exact keyword phrase is. This is a good number to leverage and aim for a post that is of at least equivalent word count if not 25% to 50% more.
SEMRush is another tool that helps you rank better in search engines. While their tool is a comprehensive tool for search engine optimization, one of their tools is called the SEO Content Template report. This report will analyze the top 10 results for any given keyword and provide you the average blog post length in addition to a host of other information. You’ll be able to take that information and optimize length for each keyword and the type of blog you’re running.
My take: Outdo Your Competition.
At the end of the day, the best answer to how long should a blog post be is longer than your competition. Within reason, of course. While you should never put out fluff, if you can make a high-quality post that’s longer than the top 10 or 20 competing blog posts you should. Overall, the principle is to make your post better than anything else on the Internet. My experience is that it’s usually OK to beat the other guy’s length by 50% or so.
In many ways, this is why my blog posts have gotten longer over time. Short-form content has largely fallen by the wayside, especially in more professional leaning blog niches. With greater length, I can educate my audience much more easily, and teach them that I’m a trustworthy source of information. This in turn has increased my domain authority.
Most of you probably started reading this blog post hoping that I’d give you a hard and fast rule on how long should a blog post be. Unfortunately, as with many other things in marketing, there isn’t a firm rule. While experts find that the best SEO results are usually found in the 2,100-2,400 word range, this isn’t the only consideration. You should always write with quality in mind, or you risk losing the advantage of a longer blog post. Besides that, keeping the competition in mind and employing sound overall SEO techniques is critical to success.
Photo by Melanie Deziel on Unsplash