How Long Should A Blog Post Be?

 
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So, you appreciate the benefits of having a blog on your website (if not there’s a little recap below).

You’re just not sure how long each post should be in order to get all the juicy benefits from it. 

As you might have guessed, it’s not a hard science. 

There are a number of factors at play which I’ll go into in more depth below but despite that there are still some pretty straightforward guidelines. Here are some figures to start us of: 

  • To improve your ranking on Google, get people to stay on your website and provide useful content to your audience, blog posts should be in the region of 1,200 – 1,600 words. This is the best blog post length for most audiences.

  •  Blog posts should be at least 300 words in order to avoid being considered ‘thin content’ by Google. *

    • * Thin content is deemed too short to be of significant value and is therefore unlikely to rank. 

  • For peak performance, articles of approx. 2,250 words are more likely to rank highly on Google as they will be seen as useful sources of information. These are hard to do though. 

I go into more detail about each of these things below as well as pointing out a few alternative strategies.

Now, I’m no data researcher so all figures have been taken from information freely available on the web. I’ve included links to a few reputable sources in the body of the article.

This infographic in particular from CoSchedule was particularly helpful and is definitely worth checking out.

 
From CoSchedule.

From CoSchedule.

 

 

A brief explanation of the positive benefits of blog posts

Before we go on… you do know why having blog posts is good, right? 

‘Urm to be honest no…’ ‘I thought they were just for updating people about my travels around Europe.’

Ah, ok. Well here’s a little recap: (skip if you already know why blogs rock) 

  • Google is the gatekeeper of the business world. You want to rank highly on Google.

  • The process of doing this is called SEO.

  • One big way to improve your Search Engine Optimisation is by updating your website with content relevant to your organisation/target audience.

  • This shows that your website is active and you’re providing information which proves that you are the place to go, locally, nationally or even internationally, for the thing which you sell.

  • This content in turn will hopefully funnel people to your website, either via Google – although this is harder to achieve – or more commonly via social media.

  • By attracting visitors, you’re getting your brand/service/product in front of their eyes but hopefully it will also increase their trust in your product or service.

  • Not only this but all this traffic that you’re now getting is also really helpful for your SEO. If a website is busy then it must be worth visiting, right? (not always true but Google has become increasingly reliable at this over the last few years)

So, there you go. If you didn’t know before why blogs are important for your marketing, hopefully you do now!

 

Bigger is better 

The reality is, many of the benefits listed above can only be achieved on certain conditions.

For written content to be truly effective, Google needs to see it as something which provides a substantial amount of information. A lengthier post will generally indicate that the text within is worth reading. An argument has been formed or a story has been told.

But it’s not just about Google. Readers want fully formed arguments. They want information which has been properly researched, has depth to it and is going to teach them something new.

When people open a blog post I don’t think the foremost thing on their mind is; ‘I hope I can close this again soon.’ I think it’s more likely; ‘I hope I can learn something here.’

The idea that people don’t read stuff anymore is twaddle. If something’s worth reading then people will read on. Sure, they might not get all the way through and according to Hubspot, 43% of readers admitted to skimming posts but they will happily look for the answers they need if they’re there.

It’s also the people who do read on who become leads. The reason they become leads is because they’ve been convinced that you’re the right person for the job.

Long form blog posts generate 9x more leads than short ones because they’ve provided substantial evidence to your claims.

 

The numbers

To stand a chance of ranking on Google, a good blog post should aim to be no less than 1,200 words.

But we do live in a noisy world. There’s a lot of information out there and people’s time is limited. The average blog does need to be digested fairly quickly.

The ideal length is probably in the region of 1,200-1,600 words with Buffer suggesting the latter figure as a good guideline. The infographic at the top includes some of these stats.

A marketing agency actually did some proper maths (not my forte I’m afraid) and got an ideal length of 1,705 words, based on engagement with their own blog. You can check out their workings here

Now if it’s organic reach you’re looking for, you need a blog post in the region of 2,200 – 2,500 words.

Something of this length is considerably more likely to include useful in-depth content. It’s pretty hard to keyword-stuff or waffle on about nothing in an article of this length and you certainly won’t get people sticking around. 

So, it’s much more likely to rank higher on Google and therefore more likely to be found by people eager for an answer to the question/s that you have attempted to answer. That is, if you have truly attempted to answer it.

Blog posts of this length need to be structured well and have engaging language or otherwise no one will read it. 2,500 words of drivel isn’t going to get you very far.

 

Small could be powerful

Keeping tight to these figures isn’t always essential though. Short posts could work for you.

Moz, the creators of an insanely useful guide to SEO, are less forthcoming on a specific figure for blog post length.

Their advice is to see what works for your audience. If you have a 2000+ word blog post but readers are spending an average of 10 seconds on it then it’s probably not that effective.

Short posts won’t have the same benefits to your SEO but they are more likely to be commented on. This is perhaps relevant if you’re regularly posting native articles on LinkedIn.

In the fast paced environment of social media, people don’t want to be disrupted from their scrolling for too long. They’re happy to read a small thought for the day perhaps but aren’t there to dig into a lengthy post.

When it comes to blogs on your website though they definitely need to be over 300 words.

It was once possible to create pages for each of the keywords you wanted to rank for. They didn’t say much other than the keyword stuffed into a badly phrased paragraph. These could be pretty unreadable and it didn’t really matter. The point of them was purely to be read by Google.

Over time though SEO best practice has changed as Google’s search engine has evolved. Blog posts that don’t appear to have much information on them could be marked as suspicious and won’t rank for that keyword.

Posts that are much shorter than say 800 words are going to be of less benefit to your SEO. But if someone is reading it then this doesn’t really matter.

 
A typical blog reading scenario. Of course.

A typical blog reading scenario. Of course.

 

 

Eyes on the prize

The most important thing is that people read it. This is going to have the most immediate benefits to your business.

Know. Like. Trust. Buy. That’s what this is all about.

If you think your target audience is going to respond better to a small bitesize thought for the day or factoid, then it’s probably worth putting some out like that. Maybe what you’re looking for is lots of comments on your site.

Having lengthier posts is always going to have its benefits but don’t think that if something doesn’t meet a certain word count it isn’t worth doing.

In fact, if you were to orientate your entire content strategy around short snappy posts that contribute real value, that would be a great way of standing out and being remembered.

The only way you can truly guarantee people are going to read your posts and then come back the next time is if you make each post engaging.

It’s harder to do that with a long 1000+ word post. You really have to have something to say and attempt to keep the person engaged throughout. Small paragraphs, lots of headings etc. You name it. That’s a whole separate blog post in itself. You could write a book on it. People have.

There’s no guarantee people are going to stick around for the whole post. I know I don’t finish every blog post I start reading. Don’t worry about that too much. Just try and get them to stick around for a bit. Longer than 30 seconds ideally.

One of the best ways to do that, surprise, surprise, is to hire a copywriter….

So, erm, hi.

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P.S. You are sharing your blog posts actively and regularly on social media aren’t you? If not, you should. There’s a lot of info out there so you can’t expect people to just stumble upon your blog.

Posting on social media goes hand in hand with writing quality content. Posting on social media and importantly giving people a reason to read what you’ve put up is vital if you want any of this to mean anything.