How Long Should a Blog Post Be? (2021)

If you’ve dabbled in content marketing for your business, this is a question you must have asked at some point. It’s a common question for a few reasons. 

Knowing the ideal length for your blog is a key part of being more visible than your competition. There are SEO benefits to a good, balanced, word count. Then there are also readability concerns. If you miss the ideal word count range, your search engine positioning may often suffer and potential readers may never find you.

In short, the ideal blog length gets you:

  • More readers
  • More clicks
  • More engagement and links
  • Eventually, more sales

There are a few factors that determine why blogs should have a range of length. We will go over those factors.

What’s the ideal blog post length? 

There are many sweeping statements on ideal blog post links. Some marketers claim that “shorter is always better” or “you need at least 3,000 words”. These people are normally wrong.

Fortunately, we have several useful indicators based on intensive research and experience driving traffic:

  • Marketing software company HubSpot found that the most-read blogs in 2019 were 2,100 to 2,400 words
  • Backlinko found that out of 11.8 million analyzed Google search results, the average first result has 1,447 words

These two quick insights are based on solid research, yet the results are quite far apart. While having too short a blog certainly harms SEO, how long should a blog really be?

Blog length matters, but the ideal length can vary

 The truth is that there are ideal word count ranges, but they can vary widely based on a few critical factors:

  • The industry you’re producing content for
  • The keyword you are trying to optimize 

The industry you’re working in has its own vocabulary. It will have a certain list of concepts that business owners and consumers discuss. For SEO, this normally means that a certain list of phrases will come up, each phrase a certain number of times.

Sometimes, your SEO goals may require you to write more extensively to cover all relevant keywords. But even if they don’t, you want to make sure you’re covering enough ground to ensure you’re not leaving important keywords and interesting insights on the table. If you are lazy, one of your competitors won’t have too much trouble covering more keywords and providing more useful information. This is why, overall, the highest-ranked posts tend to be longer. 

To be at all effective, a blog post will need at least 500 words. However, several online marketing giants have found those ranges of 2,000 to 2,500 to perform best. 

How do you know the exact ideal range? 

On your own without the help of software or SEO tools, it’s hard to get it right. But with some research of the competition, you can get a general idea. Simply type the keyword you want to rank higher for into Google. Then, open the top 5 results, add up their word counts, and divide the total by 5. This will give you a general idea, but it’s not a scientific method.

Tools like SurferSEO and PageOptimizerPro are often used for these purposes. These SEO tools analyze the top results and compile a mix of:

  • A list of phrases for your title
  • A list of phrases for your headings
  • A list of keywords for your main content
  • The recommended word count in which you should capture all of the above

These tools are more reliable for determining an ideal range because they automatically assess your top competition. You don’t need to follow their word count recommendation down to the exact number. But you can aim for that approximate number/provided range for better results. 

How long is the average blog post?

The average blog post is 1,269 words, according to OrbitMedia. The same comprehensive research showed that this average is 57% higher than it was in 2014. The trend is an annual increase in average word counts. Blogs are getting longer, just as the use of keywords is increasing year by year.

The average blog post isn’t the top blog post. While the average is 1,269 words, the most successful blogs are still at least 200 words longer than that, on average.

What’s the absolute minimum blog post length?

According to YoastSEO, 300 is the absolute minimum word count if you want to rank at all. If a page has a lower word count, you can expect it to perform exceptionally poorly on search engines.

The effective minimum word count for a blog post also depends on what kind of blog it is.

Pillar pages

The longest minimum word count for blogs is for pillar pages. Pillar pages are meant to cover far more than most generic blogs. They are full of links, and serve as a topic’s pillar, supporting all the other blogs on its sub-topics.

Pillars are normally comprehensive guides to a broad topic. If you want your pillar page to compete with your competition’s, you will normally want anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 words.

How-to

Everyone Googles answers to their burning questions. Any complex task can be explained into utter simplicity with a how-to blog. However, competition for a how-to key phrase is normally very high. After all, people looking for an answer to a problem they have are more easily converted into customers.

How-to blogs can vary greatly, but longer is normally better. The overall range should fall between 1,500 and 2,000 words, depending on the complexity of the task. Including additional content (like more “tips and tricks”) after you’ve written the “how-to” information is fine. Writing over 2,000 words is also fine, or even good, if it’s called for.

Listicles

List-based blog entries are simple to interact with and cover a topic moderately comprehensively. They are one of the most common types of blog entries. In general, the more items you can list and explain, the better.

Listicles are normally in the mid-range we discussed, including 2,000 to 2,500 words. There is normally nothing wrong with exceeding that range.

What’s the ideal length for SEO? 

This is the easiest question to answer. That’s because SEO tools make it easy to know how long a blog needs to be. They’ll also give you a complete list of keywords for the title, headings, and main content. Then you can cover those keywords in the allotted length.

If you’re using WordPress, there are several insights offered from the platform. Their tool, Yoast SEO offers a simple way to produce optimized articles. They offer a few very important pointers for ranking:

  • Write at least 300 words if you want to rank at all
  • Writing more than 1,000 words gives your blog a much higher chance of ranking well under almost all circumstances
  • You need the writing skills to engage readers and make your SEO efforts worth it
  • If you tend to write fluff or ramble, it’s better to just reduce the word count

In general, higher word counts are better for SEO. That’s because it’s not just the main keyword that counts; people will type in many different kinds of searches surrounding the main keyword. For example:

Your keyword is “diving”.

According to one free keyword research tool, the top searches including the keyword are:

  • Diving Olympics 2021
  • Diving board
  • Diving bell
  • Diving bell spider
  • Diving into the wreck

Of course, “diving” is a very broad keyword. But if you wanted to rank for it, you would want to cover the above if you wanted the article to capture more peoples’ browsers.

Longer blogs enable you to cover alternative searches. At the very least, you can include similar searches word-for-word. Whether you want to do this the simplest or most professional way, you’re always able to cover more ground with a longer-form blog.

The ideal length for social media shares

When the goal is social media shares, the goalpost shifts. You don’t need to write a lengthy blog if you want social media shares.

Short-form blog posts of 600-1,200 words work well on social media. If you also want decent SEO, you will want to aim for the higher end of that range.

Social media users have short attention spans. You will want to make your blog posts targeted at them shorter, sweeter, and more compelling. It’s more important to focus on headlines than on the most complex aspects of the subject matter.

The ideal length for engagement 

This is where things can get even trickier. Keywords are great, they bring potential customers to your blog section. But it doesn’t help them stay there long.

The thing is that engagement is an important part of SEO. But as we discussed before, there is no set universal length that is good or bad for engagement. The ideal length for engagement depends on:

  • The complexity of ranking your article higher and how many phrases it demands
  • The amount of content needed to meet the audience’s needs
  • The kind of engagement you need

Engagement can be captured with a wide range of blog lengths. As we said, if you want social media users to get engaged and click the “share” button, you don’t need a very long blog post. But if you want SEO visibility as well as engagement, you will still want a longer blog post. This normally means the same approximate range of 2,000 to 2,500 words. However, for some industries or highly niche topics, you can engage audiences with just 1,200 to 1,500 words.

One common mistake new marketers make is assuming longer blogs = less engaging. This simply isn’t true. You should never clog a blog entry full of fluff just for the sake of making it longer. But if you have a lot of interesting, insightful, and engaging content to put out there, there’s nothing wrong with a 3,000 or even 4,000-word blog. 

Going long is very wise in some cases. Long-form blogs can cover a lot of SEO ground, all while offering detailed yet concise explanations for several sub-topics.

How to keep it engaging

Do the background research and use SEO tools for length and keywords. Then, just use industry-standard writing techniques and keep the article engaging. 

Make sure to use separate tools for engagement. SEO tools are great for ranking higher on search engines, but they won’t edit for:

  • Long/run-on sentences
  • Fluffy language
  • Overly elaborate descriptions

For these issues, writing tools like Hemmingway Editor and Grammarly are more useful.

Bounce rate

Your bounce rate is a metric for your blog’s engagement. It’s also the metric that ties engagement and SEO together.

A blog’s bounce rate is:

Single-page sessions / all sessions

So, the bounce rate is the percentage of readers who don’t take any action after visiting a blog page. They don’t click onto a different page of the site or click on anything on the page. 

Enticing engagement can help you increase your bounce rate. This will help your SEO as well.

The bottom line

Longer word counts, when gained through useful, engaging content, tend to do better. But including too much fluff content won’t impress Google or your readers. When using SEO tools and ranking high, you’ll find you’re normally going to have to write more to compete. But in some cases, you can explain your point with a much smaller word count.

Blog length should depend on the blog’s goal and the complexity of what it covers. Some of the aims we’ve discussed don’t require much length. But with some research into each medium, you’ll be writing quality blogs of appropriate length in no time.

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