We know it’s all about quality over quantity, but when it comes right down to it — how long should a blog post be?
Blogs represent a huge opportunity for businesses — they can be used to attract target customers, to convert them and to rank for valuable keywords. We all want our content to be seen, so we need to play the SEO game. We need to know how to create content that can climb the rankings, gain more comments and attract more views. There are so many aspects to consider — from URL slugs and keyword placement to internal links. But one question I bet you’ve asked before, as you’re writing regular, quality content for your business is — how long should a blog post be?
You’ll likely hear two varying opinions, both of which aren’t entirely right and aren’t entirely wrong:
- Not too long. People don’t have the patience, and they don’t have the attention span. Keep your posts short, sharp and to-the-point.
- The longer the better — your content can never be too long.
Unfortunately, as with most things SEO-related, the answer isn’t entirely clear-cut. Certain tests have been carried out that demonstrate longer posts perform better — to a point. But it’s how you use those words that matter more than anything.
So how long should a blog post be for SEO? Why does blog length matter and how can you create skyscraper-style content to dominate the rankings?
Related: While you’re here, check out this guide on how to get backlinks to your blog
Why Does Blog Length Matter?
First things first — is this really something you need to care about? I mean, you’ve already got so much on your plate. You’re already meticulously planning your content, scheduling it regularly, ensuring you have the right keywords, anchor text and internal links in place. You’re spending far too much time on social media and you spend hours tweaking your website to ensure it’s healthy and up-to-scratch. Does blog length really matter?
The short answer, for SEO anyway, is yes — size matters. The longer your blog post is, the more value you are able to add. The more you are able to use your keywords, synonyms, related keywords and long-tail variants — the better able Google is to decipher what your blog post is about, and what it should rank it for. The longer your post is, the more headings, images and links you can add.
A long blog post does wonders for your onsite SEO, but it also does a lot for the reader. It gives them real in-depth content that explores the topic in great detail. Google wants people to land on your page and get all the answers they need for a given topic — they don’t want the user to have to keep bouncing from one page to another. You’re providing a real deep-dive, rather than a shallow paddle — something any content creator could do in half an hour.
Knowing all this, it’s easier to see why, in general, long-form content is more engaging. It’s also more shareable, meaning it has a bigger chance of being shared across social media. Furthermore, longer blogs stand a greater chance of earning organic backlinks over time — after all, if your content is the best possible answer to a given question, why would anyone link elsewhere? And that’s the aim of the game, really, for any content marketer — to produce the best, most in-depth, most valuable content for your target keyword.
Size Isn’t Everything
Having said this — there’s always a ‘but’, of course — length isn’t everything. Google won’t decide your blog post’s ranking based on length alone. You need to have all the right factors in place, you need to know what you’re talking about, you need to back it up with the right sources, and you need to avoid committing cardinal sins that wind up Google. One great example is keyword stuffing. If you create a 1,500 word blog, but 900 of those words are merely your keyword repeated over and over, it doesn’t look good for anyone. Your content isn’t going to rank and nobody will want to read it.
If you’re confused, I don’t blame you. This is why SEO is more of an art than a science. There are a lot of rules, but also exceptions to those rules, and a million ‘ifs, buts and maybes’. Essentially, Google wants you to create content that will appeal to real human beings — they don’t just want to rank content written by savvy content marketers who are intent on playing the system. So if you keep your target reader in mind — what they are looking for and what they care about — you can’t go wrong.
Let’s check out a few studies that were carried out and see what they say about how long a blog post should be
How Long Should a Blog Post Be: Notable Studies
One commonly-quoted study in this area by SERPIQ looked at the top ten results in search engines by content length. You can check out the results below:
From this test, the general lesson we can learn is that the longer the content, the more likely it is to rank. The first result in Google has roughly 2,400 words, with the tenth result in Google having just over 2,000.
So now we’re armed with data relating to content length and ranking — what about those all-important backlinks? Can long-form content help you gain backlinks to your website? According to a study from Hubspot, this certainly seems to be the case. Have a look at the correlation between content length and backlinks below (graph by Hubspot):
As you can see, generally, the longer a piece of content, the more likely it is to gain backlinks. This is likely down to the fact that the content is valuable — and the content more than likely answered more than one question and addressed numerous topics. And, of course, we know that the longer content is, the higher it generally ranks — and people are more likely to link back to high-ranking results than those lower down the SERPs.
How Long Should a Blog Post Be?
Different sources have come to different conclusions regarding ideal blog post length. According to HubSpot data, the ideal blog post is anywhere between 2,100-2,400 words. A study from the Hook Agency, however, found this number to be a bit lower, at 1,760. Medium has similar findings, suggesting that the ideal blog post is a 7-minute read, which equates to roughly 1,600 words. It’s worth noting that all of these results are higher than the standard length of a blog post, which is apparently 1,142 words long.
Caveats to a Long Blog Post
So clearly, word count matters when it comes to blog posts. But although it’s an important element, it’s not the be-all-and-end-all. Be cautious of these caveats of long blog posts:
- Long blog posts need to be informative — they need to add real value.
- They need to be well-written — nobody will stick around for a blog that is poorly-written and painful to read.
- Long blog posts should be separated with headings — headings help to keep readers engaged and they also help us to navigate to relevant sections.
- Long blog posts can’t be crammed full of keywords — Google hates keyword stuffing. By all means, make sure you use your keywords in the right place, but don’t force them in where they don’t belong.
- Check out the length of the top-ranking competing blog posts — It’s always worth checking how long the competing content is. It might be that your niche or subject area is so niche that the top five results only average at about 700 words. If this is the case, there’s probably no need to write a 2,500 word blog. Just make sure it’s longer and better than your competitor’s content.
- Does your target reader want to read 2,500 words? — Let’s use recipes as an example. We’ve all been there — all we want to do is find a good cookie dough recipe, but before we even get to the ingredients list, we have to read a three-page essay about the first time the author of the post ate cookie dough, and how her great aunt taught her how to make cookie dough and how she hopes to pass this special recipe down for generations. It’s painful. In this instance, all the reader really wants is the recipe. Having to navigate thousands of words to get to the recipe might just make them bounce.
How to Create Longer Blog Posts (While Adding Value)
I’ve worked with some really niche clients over the years. They are passionate about what they do but their area is insanely dry. I’ve written content for oven cleaners, for packing suppliers and for PPI management software. Sometimes it’s not easy, but it’s always possible to write long-form blogs.
One technique we love and live by at Enchanting Digital is known as the “Skyscraper Technique”. It helps you to create long blog posts but it also increases your odds of ranking by ensuring your content is the most comprehensive option out there.
The essential idea is to take your keyword, the general subject and related questions. Once you have a list, you take to Google and see what your competition has written. I like to take the top ten results of Google. Then it’s as simple as taking what they wrote, but writing it bigger and better. Your content is new, it’s fresh and you can include new references and sources. It’s simply a matter of compiling all the research from the top results and presenting it in a way that readers will appreciate, while giving it your own stamp. It is not about plagiarising — that’s a cardinal SEO sin that isn’t easily forgiven. It’s just about learning, doing your research, and writing better content. It’s a great way of creating long-form content because the result will, inevitably, be longer than your competitor’s.
But you can always go a step further. When creating your blog post, think about what tangential questions and issues your reader might leave your page to Google. Don’t make them do that — answer the questions in your blog. Give them everything they need to know and keep them on your site for longer.
There are great tools that serve this purpose, including Answer the Public, BuzzSumo, Also Asked and People Also Ask. You can also get the Ubersuggest Chrome Extension and Keywords Everywhere, which will present you with a list of related search queries whenever you type anything into Google. But if you don’t want to go to tools, that’s okay — there’s another easy solution (if you’re all about SEO tools, check out this post on free SEO tools for bloggers).
Go to Google, type in your search query (as an example, let’s look at “How to calm a crying baby”) and scroll down to the bottom of the search results. You’ll see a selection of related searches:
These suggestions are great opportunities to answer commonly-asked questions on your topic while extending the word count, and value, of your blog.
We hope this was helpful! Anyone can write an incredible blog, given enough time, focus and attention. If, however, you have a lot of other tasks demanding your attention, we can help. Check out our blog writing services today and see how we can help your brand grow.