The first question once through finding a niche and getting the website started will be about the content itself, as most new bloggers will really want to know the number of words they need to write per post.
In a perfect world, this would be simple to answer but there is no one definitive answer to what the ideal blog post length is. The subject you are writing on may dictate a longer post or shorter post, it may need a list or a guide from steps a to z, you need to instead understand the needs of the SERP presented to you.
However, there are a few things to keep in mind when determining what the perfect length for your content should be as many common Google questions can probably be done with 1000 tightly written words omitting the cheater “extender words” that are common in long-form content.
The Ideal Post Length
The optimum length for blog articles, according to data gathered by Better Marketing(1), is around 1,600-2,000 words which works out to approximately seven to eight minutes of reading time.
While this may be the average word count to attention span for most readers of blog content it is not the only thing that matters in the creation of the best content for your visitors, much is more aligned to the subject matter.
Some simple questions online can be answered in content as short as a word or two, no one asks questions like “can rabbits eat carrots” and is looking for a 5000+ word essay on carrots and rabbit consumption.
They ask this question because they are wanting a piece of content that answers if they can feed their pet rabbit carrots and need an answer as to relative safety and understanding.
How to Determine the Length of Your Blog Post
There are some ways to really determine the best content length for what you are writing which can dig into so that you can create the perfect blog post length to get to those top three spots:
Determining your Audience
Understanding who you are writing for can help determine what the right length may be, if you are writing for young adults who are in college then they may want something a little longer so that they can understand what you are talking about.
On the other hand, if your target market is stay-at-home moms they may not have a ton of time to read and will want something shorter that still gets the point across without taking too much time.
Understand the SERP Query Overall Search Intent
What is the query actually about, is it to help understand a question or maybe a list of places to visit. Is it about a product or service and about making a buying decision?
A huge key to ranking well and getting positive user signals like time on page is aligning your content to the actual search intent required by the searcher themselves, miss and you miss big.
Understand What Resonates With Your Ideal Visitor
Your angle to set yourself apart from the other entries on the SERP may be to take a different direction that may be shorter or longer than what the average is, what you don’t want to do is copy what everyone else is doing in every circumstance, you want the optimal blog post length.
The Length Depends on the Keyword(s)
Another key to length is to understand the keyword or query you are answering, the goal is to answer it in full but without the fluff and generic boilerplate content to pad out the length.
This means cutting out those words that just allow you to extend a sentence but provide no more real data to the reader and if anything slows down passing along information, much like how recipe sites tell you about some fake history to pad out the length.
Try not to make content just to manipulate the SERP and search engine, the better content rises with user interactions and signals sent to Google, focus on the best, not the most gamified for a search engine and crawler.
Study SERP For What Already Ranks
The other thing you can evaluate is to look at the top ten posts on the SERP for your given query as this will give you a general clue as to what is needed from the information to be ranked positively overall.
This isn’t a perfect solution but it also lets you see the commonality between content like similar headings and what the general image count is which can help you structure what you need to cover and how to cover it.
The Differing Lengths of Blogs
There are many different types of posts and content you can create online that have different needs based on the types of content they are along with the intended blog readers.
Content that is considered a “pillar” or supporting work of your entire identity and site will frequently be incredibly long, and details where lists may be shorter to tens of thousands of words.
How Long Should a Pillar Content Be?
Your strongest and best content is what is known as pillar content, this is those pieces that are so good they can be used and linked to over and over again to answer queries and help you rank.
This type of content will frequently be incredibly long, some going into the 50k to over 100k words because it needs to be an all-inclusive resource on that topic.
These would typically be built on much shorter keywords aiming to cover the subject in great detail and leave the reader with complete knowledge of what they were looking for and not just quick answers.
How Long Should Your Listicles Be?
Listicles are a valuable post as they tend to be more shareable by default leading to easy and free links from many sources, especially social shares, this makes their length a little harder to isolate down though.
They can be listed with hundreds of items and the more items and the more detail the more words you will have in total to complete the post, hundreds of items lead typically to 10k+ or greater length.
It isn’t uncommon to see listicles that are 5k words and more, but they can also be shorter like 1k words as well if the items or information is easier to cover.
How Long Should “How-to” Blog Posts Be?
Your how-to guides need to be long enough to explain what needs to be done in a complete and concise manner without skipping steps, this can lead to confusion that may cause the entire post to be less effective.
You will find that the average post will frequently be a couple of thousand words because they need to cover what is being done in detail while still allowing for some explanation of what is going on.
The key here is not to leave anything out that may confuse the reader but also to keep it short enough they don’t get overwhelmed with what is going on.
Minimum Blog Post Length
There is no minimum, but the cost of shorter content is the lack of clear context for Google and others to rank your content well, along with ranking for less tertiary keywords where longer content can do better.
Optimizing Blog Length for SEO
Now we reach the gamification of blot content creation as much of the “optimal” length comes from the search engine optimization world. Including keyword variations and details takes far more words in many cases.
This isn’t always bad, as your posts or page ranking requires providing some content to the crawl and scoring side of search engines. This part of the writing is as vital for your overall ranking factor as the human side of the content but can frequently lead to a little disconnect in writing style.
Your blog posts need to be long enough to cover what they are meant to while also providing the search engine what it needs to index you well. This often leads to a sweet spot of 1k words being a good minimum, with many posts hitting 2k or more.
This gives you the ability to write what you need to while also including what the search engine needs without feeling like you are stuffing in keywords or being excessively long.
Helpful Tool: SurferSEO
When you are looking for tools that can help you build up content that hits on all the visitor needs your visitor is looking for there is a useful option in the form of SurferSEO.
- Show Image Count Average Per Post
- Show Common Words Used and Count Of Use
How to Break Up a Long Form Content
There are some nice adjustments and ways to break up a longer post to help keep the reader engaged and scrolling as they read what you have to say.
Using images, infographics, and videos can help break up what would otherwise be a very long wall of text that can intimidate potential readers.
You can also break your content into smaller paragraphs with headlines to help explain what each section will be discussing so the reader can quickly scan and find what they are looking for without reading the entire post.
Pick Strategic Keywords For Your Content
Knowing the keyword or keywords you are targeting helps you to plan and create a quality flowing document that hits all the marks without feeling like you are forcing something in.
Your content should naturally include these keywords as you write what you need to without sounding like a broken record that just keeps repeating the same word or phrase over and over again.
Create a Detailed Outline Including Headers
A way to keep yourself fully on point and without wandering is to take and build out your entire post in headers only, from H2 to H5 so that you know the direction you will be writing in any moment.
Use of Unique and High-Quality Images to Break Up Content
You need to have your content change from time to time to help the readers’ brain have to adjust and engage, images are one of the simplest ways you can change up their engagement as they need to take a moment to understand what they are seeing.
This break in reading can help keep them from becoming lost or confused as you continue on with what you are trying to say.
Make sure that your images are high-quality and add to what you are saying rather than just being there for the sake of having an image as that can quickly become a negative if not done well.
Vary Sentence Structure
You also need to keep your sentence structure from becoming too repetitive as that can quickly lead to a reader’s eyes starting to glaze over what you have written.
Much like using images, varying your sentence structure helps to keep the reader engaged and interested in what you are saying as their brain needs to adjust to the new input.
This can be something as simple as changing up the length of your sentences or adding in questions that you then answer to help pull them further into what you are saying.
Include Specialized Formats Like Blockquotes, Bullet Points and Numbered Lists
Using content like lists and blockquotes allows you to quickly show what you are trying to say in an easy-to-read and understand format.
This can help when what you are discussing is complex or highly detailed as it allows the reader to see what the main points are that they need to remember without getting bogged down in all the extras.
Utilize CTA’s And Links To Other Relevant Content
You also want to include links to other relevant content, both yours and others, as it helps to solidify what you are saying while also providing the reader with more information on the topic should they want it.
This can be a great way to not only improve your SEO but also help keep the reader engaged and on your site for longer which can help lead to more conversions.
Add Your Personal Unique Perspective or Twist
Instead of just writing the same content add some of you into your post.
Your experiences, what you have learned, and what you think about the topic, this is what can help set your content apart from the rest and make it more memorable for those that read it.
Make sure that it is still relevant to what you are discussing but don’t be afraid to let your personality show through as that can help create a connection with the reader.
The Benefits of Long-Form Blog Posts
- Increases Time Spent on Page – Long-form can help you to keep the reader engaged and on your page for longer which can help to improve your SEO.
- Gives You More Opportunities to Include Relevant Keywords – By having more content you have more chances to work on relevant keywords without sounding repetitive or forced.
- Allows You To Go Into More Depth – This is especially helpful if what you are discussing is complex or detailed as it allows you to fully explore all the ins and outs of the topic.
- Builds Trust and Authority – By providing in-depth and well-researched content you are helping to build trust and authority with your readers.
- More Shares on Social Media – People are more likely to share longer content as it is more valuable and provides more information.
- Improved Engagement and Conversions – As mentioned earlier, the longer someone spends on your site the more likely they are to convert whether that be through a sale, sign-up, or simply taking action on what you have written.
It’s Not All About the Word Count Only
It is easy to get pulled into a content and length game where you just try to out-word the other competition but that is not what is going to help you succeed.
Your content still needs to be well-written, researched, and engaging even if it is long-form so don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.
This is often overlooked in hopes of “making money” but what you really want to focus on is providing content that is helpful to those that read it.
This could be something as simple as teaching them how to do something or providing information on a topic they are interested in.
When you provide value first the rest will follow so don’t get caught up in what you think you should be writing and instead write what will actually help your audience.
Make Sure Its Easy To Read
This isn’t a college term paper the most successful content can be read by people as young as 4th to 6th grade, make sure to go through it and when possible make your content digestible by everyone and anyone.
Taking this into account can help to improve the overall quality of what you are writing as well as make it easier for those that want to read it to do so.
Benefits to Shorter Content
There are some good reasons to keep your content shorter as well, so don’t feel like you need to write a novel every time.
- Easier and Faster to Read – Shorter content is much easier and faster for people to read which can help keep them engaged.
- Can Help You Make a Point Quickly – If what you are trying to say doesn’t require a lot of explanation then shorter content can help you get your point across quickly without boring the reader.
- Much Simpler to Create Consistently – A shorter blog post can actually be much simpler and easier to write consistently which is important if you want to maintain a regular publishing schedule.
Drawbacks to Shorter Content
- Search Engine Ranks Less Tangential Keywords – This means fewer overall visits to your site as people may not be able to find what they are looking for as easily.
- Search Engine Has Harder Time Understanding Context – Understanding your content is harder with less information for the search engine to go off of.
- Less Chance Content Speaks to Readers – There is less chance for them to get an impression of you and why what you are saying is important if there is less content to read.
Benefits to Longer Content
- Increased Dwell Time – The time someone spends on your site is increased which can help improve your ranking in the search engines.
- Search Engine Ranks Many Related Terms – You want to be ranking for as many related keywords as possible and longer content allows you to do that.
- Builds More Trust and Authority – Longer content helps to build trust and authority as it shows that you are an expert on the topic and have a lot to say.
Drawbacks to Longer Content
- Lose Attention Of the Reader – You can go astray and off-topic and lose reader interest if you are not careful.
- Takes More Time to Write – Creating longer content can obviously take more time than shorter content so you need to make sure you have the time to commit.
- Higher Cost of Outsourcing – To get this made requires a much larger expense as you are paying for more content along with better writing as these are much more detail-oriented.
FAQ and Content-Length Myths
There are loads of myths surrounding content length that need to be debunked so let’s go over some of the most common ones.
Shorter Posts Are Better
Many love to bulk create “cookie-cutter” trash posts and then this allows thousands of posts to try and find what the “valuable” keywords are but the issue is that this takes loads of time to find that many keywords and writing short content doesn’t mean you gain any meaningful rank.
This leads to a lot of wasted time and effort when you could have just written something more in-depth to begin with.
Longer Posts Are Better
This also isn’t correct, and it’s all too easy to go on and on without providing any real value. You must ensure that what you’re writing adds value or else you’ll be wasting your time and your readers.
You also need to make sure that what you are writing is interesting and engaging or else people will quickly lose interest.
Make Content 500 Words Longer Than Top 10 SERP Average
This is the common SEO myth spread by many “YouTubers” and “personalities” but it’s basically just being lazy and trying to make it add more fluff to rank, it won’t work.
Instead, look at their actual content, look to cut out the cruft, and write a tight and well-balanced piece of content that solves the whole query.
Final Thoughts on Ideal Blog Post Lengths
In the end, there is no definitive answer for what the ideal blog post length is as it will vary depending on what you are discussing and who your target audience is. Finding what works best for you and your blog is what is important.
Test out different lengths and see what gets the most engagement from your readers and don’t limit yourself to making content that’s just a clone of what everyone else is doing.
Be creative, be yourself, and most importantly have fun blogging!