At some point, the vast majority of people who have ever written a blog post have asked the same question – “how long should I make this blog post?” It’s a logical question, but one without a simple answer.
An ideal word count is an elusive number for content marketers, especially when SEO norms change with every Google update. Still, there are some important tenets that we can identify when it comes to an ideal length for a blog post. Let’s examine what matters when it comes to word count and how you can improve your blog content efforts.
How Many Words Should a Blog Post Be?
If you’re looking for an exact number, you’re going to have to settle for one of the least exciting phrases in existence – it depends. Content marketers have completed a lot of research to narrow down a more exact sweet spot, but the ideal blog post length for SEO varies based on which person, organization, or robot you ask.
Some organizations have their own idea for an ultimate word count. Hubspot argues that the ideal blog post length is between 2,100 and 2,400 words. Meanwhile, Backlinko analyzed nearly 11.8 million Google search results to determine that “the average Google first page result contains 1,447 words.” That’s a pretty notable gap!
Of course, total words aren’t the only way to measure the length of a blog post. Medium identified that “7-minute posts capture the most total reading time on average,” which comes out to be around 1,600 words. That same research also highlighted that 3-minute posts on Medium tended to garner the most views. It’s also important to note that their study also showed a notable amount of variance where both shorter and longer posts had success.
Buffer even went as far as to recommend an ideal “width” for paragraphs. According to psychology studies, paragraphs that are 40-55 characters wide makes content appear simpler to understand. Therefore, using fewer characters per line and larger fonts to make it easy for readers to jump from line to line without losing focus. Meanwhile, Buffer pegged their ideal blog post length at 1,600 words.
There are plenty of other sources that suggest other exact word counts or ideal ranges, but the general takeaway is that same, unexciting “it depends.” Fortunately, there’s more to figuring out how long your blog posts should be than a few averages or estimates.
How Do I Determine the Right Length for a Blog Post?
Exact words counts are easy, but a set number isn’t always right for your content. In general, long-form content tends to perform better for several reasons. However, there is no hard rule for content length and posts of all sizes can enjoy success in the right situations. Instead, we suggest abiding by the following logic.
Your blog posts should be as long as necessary to thoroughly and effectively address your topic and your readers’ expectations.
The point of writing a blog post is to provide your audience with the information necessary to answer a question or address a key topic. Word counts can vary, but the goal is the same – write as many words as it takes to make your point and educate readers.
Google and other search engines favor longer blog posts because they tend to be more heavily researched and authoritative. Google is a business, after all, and it wants users to have a good experience. However, it’s just as bad to drag out a blog post hundreds of words beyond reason as it is to leave out info. Do your readers a solid and focus on solving pressing issues and providing readers the information they need, whether that calls for 500 or 5,000 words.
What Impacts the Ideal Length for a Blog Post?
What can we learn from all this information so far? One takeaway is that there’s a lot of flexibility when it comes to crafting content that connects with readers. Another factor is that the right blog post length can be a bit subjective. Fortunately, there are some considerations that can help you figure out the right length for your blog posts.
What type of information do your readers want?
When you write for an audience, it’s important to give that audience what it wants. There are countless blog post topics out there, so there’s no way that a single word count will make sense for all of them. As such, you need to think a bit about exactly what your audience wants from your target keywords before you aim for a standardized blog post length.
A good place to start is to think about search intent. What is your audience trying to gain or address when they search for something? People don’t always need massive guides or pages worth of information if they’re searching for something straightforward. Sometimes the most valuable posts are the ones that give readers quick answers to their questions. In that case, it can be very normal for a post to be fewer than 1,000 words.
Of course, there are occasions where it’s going to take quite a lot of information to truly delve into a specific topic. For example, a pillar page or a post on everything that a small business owner would need to know to handle payroll taxes requires a rather comprehensive article. Such a post could easily require thousands of words to truly go into depth about such a layered subject.
Simply put, cater your content around what type of query you want to address. If your audience wants and needs a glut of information, give it to them. If a quick explanation will do, keep your post short and simple.
What is your industry and general audience?
The exact nature of your business also plays a part in your ideal post length. Digital marketing guru Neil Patel offers his insights on recommended word count ranges for multiple industries, and his suggestions showcase quite a disparity between different markets.
Patel suggests that sales industry blog posts have a sweet spot of 2,500 to 2,700 words while tech companies have a much shorter sweet spot of 800 to 1,000 words. Plenty of other industries like retail, home and garden, and more fall between those targets, giving businesses even more to think about for their own content.
So why such a notable difference between the various types of companies? As we mentioned before, this gap between industries largely comes down to audience expectations and depth of information. Someone looking for posts on new gadgets has different priorities than a user scouring Google for financial information.
What did other people write about the topic?
One of the best ways to get a sense of an ideal word count is to conduct some competitive research. If you have a specific keyword in mind for a post, do an anonymous search in Google to see what ranks on the first search engine results page (SERP). These are the pages and posts that you’ll compete with, so don’t be afraid to see just how much info they provide to set a baseline for your word count. This is also a great opportunity to see what these other sites do well so that you can do it better.
While you can manually investigate word counts, there are tools available to help identify a potential target range. At Aztek, we utilize Semrush to investigate many of the previous factors – SERP evaluation, industry impact, audience analysis, etc. – to come up with an estimated word length for blog posts based on specific keywords. Usetopic.com also provides a free calculator where users can plug in a keyword and see the word counts for the top pages ranking for that term.
What Other Factors Impact Blog Post Performance?
It’s also important to remember that size isn’t all that matters. The quality of your content is a critical part of your blogging success. As such, you’ll want to focus on the following factors when writing your posts.
Concentrate on quality
Average word counts and other numbers are great, but it’s critical to remember that you’re writing for humans. Even our robot overlords at Google want to make sure they deliver well-written content to users! Quality of content is one of the key ranking factors that Google uses to determine which results are delivered for each query.
Remember that previous comment about how Google wants to provide a good business experience? Sloppily written posts littered with typos aren’t going to do your content any favors. Neither is stuffing your post full of unnecessary paragraphs designed to inflate word counts. You’re likely to have more success if you make sure that your post is well-written and easy to read.
Keep your blog posts relevant
Thorough is a good quality for a blog post. Everything that your audience should read in your blog post should be relevant to your topic.
It can be tempting to add in a section about tangentially related statistics or a lengthy backstory to fill in gaps (we’re looking at you, unnecessarily-long online recipes), but stick with information, data, and links that are truly pertinent to the topic in question. If you answer every question and cover every topic that’s directly connected to your target keyword, you’ll do just fine in terms of blog post length.
A related mistake that marketers make is that they focus too much on themselves or their business instead of what the readers want to, well, read. Yes, your blog posts should tie into your business (otherwise, why are you even writing about that topic?). Just don’t focus on selling in what’s supposed to be a helpful article. People want good information, not skewed takes or clear excuses to shill goods or services. Keep your posts educational, helpful and that CTA short and simple.
Stay fresh and up to date
It’s no surprise that users prefer content that isn’t outdated. Google very much agrees and even “favors recently published or updated content, especially for time-sensitive searches.” The good news is that this ranking factor gives you an opportunity to give new posts and older content a boost.
Keeping your blog posts as up to date as possible is only going to make your content more effective. Using the most recent, trustworthy sources to support your articles will help Google trust your post as worthwhile content. When it comes to older posts, giving your content a bit of a face lift can make a major difference. Check all the external links and other information and update them as necessary to keep your content as up to date as possible.
Incorporate other mediums
Words are great, but content expands well beyond collections of letters. Images, videos, infographics, and more can all add value to your blog posts in ways that word count can’t measure. Still, both your users and Google will appreciate the extra visual aids that address your topic.
Create Content That Benefits Your Audience
Content marketing is both an art and a science. By utilizing data and quality writing, your business can enjoy the digital marketing success it deserves. Need help converting visitors into leads and sales? Drop us a line to talk about our content creation services.