How long should a blog post be? Well, as with many marketing questions, the classic “it depends” is a good answer.
The experts behind content analysis tool Yoast say a standard page should be at least 300 words long and cornerstone content should start around 900 words. HubSpot looked at its data and puts the ideal blog length at 2,100 to 2,400 words. Widely ranging expert numbers do little to help you understand the real answer to how long should a blog post be, but we’ve got actionable advice to help.
How Long Should a Blog Post Be?
The answer is: as long as it needs to be to meet your objectives. Understanding why you’re writing blog posts is the first step in determining the best word count.
One of the problems with numbers published by expert SEO and marketing firms is that they tend to arrive at those answers in the same way. They look at pages showing up in the top spot on Google, figure out the average word count of those pages and consider that a good place to start.
But word count doesn’t directly impact your SEO performance. You could write 2,000 words and never show up on the first search results page if you’re not attending to other factors. And SEO performance isn’t your only objective, so it’s important to take all your goals into account when determining word counts.
We reached out to marketers to find out what word counts are working best for them for different objectives. Find your main goal for content in the list below and see what word count ranges might help support it.
1. Ranking on Search Engine Results Pages: 2,000 to 2,500+ Words … Usually
Writing blog posts that rank on Google is very important for most businesses. When considering ranking content, it’s important to realize that you’re competing with other content that already ranks. With that in mind, you need to look at a number of different factors:
- Word Count
- Matching Search Intent
- Topic Comprehensiveness
- Visual Appeal
- Behavioral Metrics (bounce rate, time on page)
You should always focus on writing for the user first, so matching their search intent and comprehensively covering the topic is key. But, there’s a lot of evidence that ensuring your content is longer than what’s already ranking can help you rank better.
Our advice is to know what word count the top search results clock in at and ensure you’re at least in the ballpark.
How Do You Benchmark Your Content?
The simplest way to find out how many words blog posts that rank well in Google are is to look at the top results for your targeted search term and note their word counts.
That’s also the most tedious way.
Fortunately there are many great tools available that automate benchmarking for you, suggest word counts, and also give you reports on what topics to cover to deliver comprehensive content.
All of these tools can help with your benchmarking:
They all work slightly differently and produce different output, so be sure to find the one that works best for your workflow.
But, How Many Words Should I Really Write?
The old “it depends” answer isn’t always satisfying, so we will mention some benchmarks we think are worthwhile.
When it comes to showing up in SERPs, Goldie says 2,000 to 2,500 is a sweet spot, saying studies have shown diminishing results as content drops below the 2,500 mark. But he was quick to point out that there are always numerous outliers here — that means content that performs well consistently falls outside this word count range. So, it’s important to note you don’t have to write 2,500 words to drive SEO performance for a blog.
That being said, Cannon gets even more specific. “The best-ranking articles on Google are most usually 2,450 words. If you want to place well on search engines and get thousands of novel readers per month, this is the most suitable length to write,” he says.
But Cannon also has caveats. “Make sure you write regarding a topic that audiences are actually searching for.”
2. Getting Social Shares: 1,000+ Words
Julian Goldie, CEO of the Goldie Agency, specializes in helping websites rank higher on Google. He says, “Studies have found an association between content that’s 1,000 words or more and the number of social media shares those posts collect.”
According to Goldie, content that gets a lot of social shares is engaging and draws the user in, but it’s not too long. People can read it in a short amount of time, increasing the number of people who get through the entire post and think to share it with their friends.
One thing to keep in mind here is that content with great visuals is more likely to be shared as well. Don’t just add 1,000 words of text and expect visitors to click your share button. Add interesting images, graphics and interactive elements to boost your shares.
Some of the most shared types of content on social are very visual heavy like listicles and quizzes. You can definitely learn from their example.
3. Building Links: 750-1,000 Words
Goldie said that research has found that, “blogs with approximately 1,000 words gained more backlinks than their much more pointed and much longer counterparts.”
He points out that word counts ranging right around the 1k mark are succinct while offering enough to be valuable. And value is what gets people to link to your pages. You’ve explained something they want to share with others, provided expert opinions that are unique or helpful or offered entertainment that can’t be found elsewhere.
Will Cannon, CEO of Signaturely, says you can go a little lower with word count and get the same results if your posts are high quality. He points out that around 750 words is the “standard length for professional journalism,” and says that he, “finds it’s rather good for obtaining links from different bloggers.”
4. Drive Comments and On-Page Engagement: 75-600 words
If you want to drive on-page engagement to create community or shepherd people down your funnel, shorter content may be better. Cannon says that very short posts are great for enticing discussions. These aren’t going to drive a lot of social shares and Cannon admits that they’re terrible for SEO. But when you leave things unsaid, your readers are likely to show up to pitch in.
As you get toward the higher word counts in this range, such as 300-600, you get content that drives comments as well as potential for social shares and SEO.
5. To Build Authority
If you want to build authority in your niche, you need to write content that’s long enough to cover the topic in a user-friendly and effective way but short enough to be as accessible as possible. Write as much as you need to comprehensively cover your topic and no more. Fluff can destroy user experience.
Jeff Proctor, the co-founder of DollarSprout, provides a concrete example to demonstrate that the piece with the most authority isn’t always the longest post. “At the time of this writing,” he says, “the number one result for ‘federal tax brackets’ is 755 words. The number seven result is 1,230 words. The number one result is more user-friendly and less confusing.”
It’s interesting to note that often times when you aim to build authority you’re sharing some unique knowledge and expertise you have. Often there won’t be a ton of existing content that also has this information, so you might not need to focus on word count as much.
6. For Sales Enablement
Sales enablement content is any content that helps your Sales team nudge prospects towards converting. That could include blog posts, case studies, videos, white papers, testimonials, and many others.
Good content that addresses customer challenges and pain points is like gold to your Sales team. By having blog posts for each of your target persona’s biggest pain points you can empower your sales team to help prospects understand how to solve these challenges (hopefully by leveraging your service!).
That can really help your team nudge prospects towards becoming customers.
When creating sales enablement content, word count tends to be less of a factor than with other objectives. Here, you really just want to ensure you’re writing enough to comprehensively tackle the pain point you’re addressing. That said, nine times out of ten you’re still going to want a reasonably long blog post and want to understand how it stacks up to competing content.
8. For Sharing News
One common type of blog post is when you share company news with your audience. This can often overlap with the other objectives we’ve listed here (you want social shares, people to comment on your post, etc) but more often than not you’re not competing with any other existing content out there.
The news is all about specifically happening at your company. So, just write as much as you need to convey that news while encouraging your audience to comment, share, and interact with it.
Word Count Isn’t the Only Factor That Matters
Proctor says, “It’s no longer an arms race among publishers for who can create the longest, most in-depth piece of content but rather who can create the best experience for a user’s search query. These are not always the same thing. People don’t like sifting through a 3,000-word post when their question can be answered in a well-constructed” shorter post.
To sum up his comments: User experience, comprehensiveness, and quality count more than the number of words you’re using.
How to Choose Word Counts for Your Post
Avoid choosing a one-size-fits-all length for your posts. Choose word counts for each post or each type of post. You might start by:
- Looking at the top results for your target keywords. See if there’s a trend in how many words are being used.
- Using an SEO or content optimization tool such as MarketMuse, Ink, Surfer SEO or SEMrush to get recommendations about how long your word count should be.
- Choosing a word count range from this post that aligns with your main objectives for a post.
- Understanding your budget and how much you have to pay per word for the quality you want.
But don’t tie yourself down to those answers. If you can cover your entire topic in a high-quality, user-friendly way with more or less words, start there. You can always come back and make changes to your content to add or remove word count in the future.
Am I Competing?
We’ve mentioned competitive benchmarking several times in this post, but it bears repeating. You should always ask yourself if your blog post will compete with other existing content.
If it is, like when you’re trying to rank for SEO, then you absolutely have to understand the competitive landscape for your content. That means understanding what word counts posts that are doing well feature, but you also need to look at other elements as well.
If you’re not competing, like in the case of writing a post about a company news item, then you don’t necessarily need to focus on word count as much.
Most Posts Have Multiple Objectives
We’ve listed out multiple reasons why you’d want to write a blog post here. Just remember – they’re not mutually exclusive. Most posts satisfy multiple objectives.
Focus on understanding what objectives are most important to you and prioritize writing an appropriate word count for those. For content where you’ll be competing with other content, understanding the competition should really guide your targeted word count.
Fill Your Word Count Goals With Quality
Whether you’re looking for 75-word pithy posts or 3,000-word thought leadership, Crowd Content can help. Reach out to find out how we can help or sign up and start placing blog post orders today.