The perfect blog post doesn’t exist.
However, content marketers should still strive to create it. Constant improvements and optimization are needed so customers can find your content and hear what you have to say.
One of the most common questions copywriters or those learning how to start a new blog ask themselves when they sit down to write is: how long should I make this post?
The answer isn’t the same for every business.
You should want readers to be engaged with your writing, moving quickly from line to line, and consuming every sentence.
However, you don’t want it to be too brief and not provide a full overview of the topic.
It’s important to strike a balance between the two and set your target before you start drafting your post.
After looking at posts that did (and did not) perform well, it’s clear there is a science behind finding the most optimal length for blog posts with different objectives.
To understand what works the best, you need to see how blogs of different lengths perform, rank, and delight customers from various companies around the web.
Before we dive in, though, we must examine why optimizing your blog for SEO is such a critical part of your marketing strategy that you shouldn’t overlook.
Why Optimizing Your Blog for SEO is Important
Blogs are popular channels companies use to attract new customers, connect with their audience, and promote content that complements their products.
Acquiring customers is not always an easy task. In fact, approximately 9 out of 10 startups fail.
When leveraged effectively, blogs can be a major source of inbound traffic to a company’s website. They are an important part of demand generation.
By adding lead capture forms, newsletter subscriber widgets, or links to gated assets natively in the blog, you can capture prospect information from passive shoppers.
Better yet, blogs can even be tied to revenue. With Google Analytics set up, you can evaluate how many customers purchased your products after seeing your blog.
This is important, but it only takes place if shoppers find your blog in the first place. To do so, your blog needs to be optimized to ensure it ranks high on major search engines.
SEO plays a major factor in the success or failure of your blog. After all, Google is the most visited site in the world.
According to Aaron Haynes, CEO of Loganix, “Don’t just write engaging, informative content. Make sure your content is aligned with your SEO strategy. Blogs that are optimized for search will reach new audiences of engaged shoppers that are ready to make a purchase.“
There is plenty of SEO software available to help you include the right keywords in your post, benchmark against competitors, and perform the proper tagging to ensure your blog is optimized.
SEO software can also help you figure out what is the right blog length specific to your business.
The post’s length will impact where it ranks on search engines, how many times users share it on social media, and how many prospects are converted into leads by it.
Let’s take a look at some of the factors to consider when determining the length of your posts.
Factors For Determining Blog Post Length
When creating a blog post, determining its length can be one of the most consequential decisions you’ll make.
As you evaluate what’s best for your marketing strategy, you should consider the intent of the post, readability, dwell time, and competitor ranking when deciding how much you want to write.
In my experience, it’s typically best to plan these projects using a platform such as Monday.com or Asana to lay out your editorial calendar and outline the specifics while ensuring your team is set up for success when it comes to writing the content.
Intent of Post
Let’s start with the intent of the post. What are you trying to accomplish through this writing?
Some common objectives for your post may include:
- To inform – focuses on delivering essential information in a simple, straightforward way
- To entertain – focuses on delighting the reader with light reading
- To convert – focuses on acquiring the customer and moving them closer to purchase
The intent of the post should be the initial guiding factor of your blog. This is because posts with different objectives have different recommended lengths.
If you’re not yet sure which objectives you’re going after, I recommend having an online whiteboard session with your team to brainstorm ideas and to collaborate on initiatives. This is especially helpful for those who have transitioned to a remote-first company in light of recent events.
Posts that are intended to entertain readers should be shorter (300-600 words), while informative posts like how-tos or competitor analyses typically would exceed 1,000 words.
For most businesses, informative posts are often the most popular type of post.
Take a look at this example post of a Medical Alert Buyers Guide. The post analyzes the best medical alert systems for 2020 with a detailed comparison written to inform their audience.
The post was optimized for the keyword phrase “best medical alert systems.”
The post is driving traffic to the site and is effective. It is the second top-performing page on the website and allocates for 18.35% of their overall traffic.
To get this type of traffic, it needed to rank for a lot of keywords—and do it well. The post was optimized and is ranking for 1,400 keywords, including “best medical alert systems.”
While many factors contribute to making the post successful, it’s important to note that both the format, content, and length all played a role in how it resonated with readers.
If we isolate the length as a singular variable, we can see that the post was a long-form article comprising 2,349 words.
Research shows that long-form articles over 2,000 words result in an increase of shares on social media sites.
It isn’t enough to simply say that informative posts should simply be over 2,000 words. There are plenty of other factors for each industry that play a role in determining optimal length.
Traffic can’t be the only factor in determining the length of content and whether or not the post is a success.
Look at this post about a GarageBand tutorial.
It’s 2,469 words and is the fifth best-performing page on their site to drive traffic. A total of 1,200 visits have resulted from this page.
That doesn’t sound like a lot, and it’s only 1.47% of Buzzsprout’s overall traffic. However, in a niche industry, this can be huge for a brand.
By considering the intent of the post, you get one step closer to understanding how long it should be.
Readability, or the ease in which a customer can navigate and comprehend the article, is another important factor to consider when deciding your post’s length.
For this, I highly recommended using a grammar checker tool, which can give your content an overall grade on its readability.
The article’s format (list vs. paragraph form) and varying elements including titles, bullets, bold text, italic text, images, and length of article all contribute to readability.
Some posts stick to mostly text with few images at all. Others make custom graphics to highlight specific points in the article. Both are effective strategies for writing online.
Take a look at this blog that highlights the ultimate list of sales automation tools.
Each tool outlined is structured in the same way: under a different H2, with an image and a brief 200-description of that tool. This makes it easy to navigate the article.
However, the article is very long with approximately 5,772 words.
Since informative articles over 2,000 words perform better on social, the question now is how many words over 2,000 is the right amount?
By examining this article, we can determine that upwards of 5,000+ words might be too long for some readers.
The article is only driving 0.54% of traffic to the site and has 80 keyword terms ranking.
While it is their fourth top-ranking page on the site, it seems they have targeted the wrong keywords since the traffic is not translating to visitors.
Woven took a similar approach and highlighted only the five best scheduling apps instead of every app on the market which was much shorter and easy-to-read.
Striking a balance for length on your blog is key, though. You want visitors to spend time on your post for a while, so it increases their dwell time—another factor contributing to your ranking.
Dwell time refers to the amount of time that a user stays on your site.
This is another factor that contributes to search engine ranking, because it indicates whether or not your article was relevant to the specific keyword that was queried.
Longer, well-written posts that captivate your audience will result in higher dwell times.
Each Night, a mattress review site, published a post about the best bed in a box mattress. This post has 4,049 words but is performing well on the site.
It is the third top-performing page on the site and allocates for 9.57% of their overall website traffic.
This is striking a balance between 2,000-6,000 words. You will have to test articles of different lengths to see if your audience responds well to long-form content in the upper 4,000s.
Dwell time is not an excuse to keep writing if you don’t have anything to add.
There is no point in adding paragraphs simply to extend the word count, forcing the reader to keep scrolling.
These superficial tactics will only frustrate the reader and contribute to your bounce rate—a factor that negatively impacts your SEO ranking.
It’s important to continue to evaluate, test, and see what works well with your audience. I recommend simply outsourcing this type of work to freelancers who can produce multiple “variants” for you to pick from.
After all, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to content strategy when you have unique competitors in your landscape.
Competitor Ranking and Length
Lastly, you need to benchmark against competing content. This can help you determine how long your blog posts should be.
You want your posts to be more thorough, informative, and complete than your competitors’.
This requires evaluating the landscape before you even begin. Competitive content can impact the performance of your own content.
With multiple companies chasing after the same keyword phrases, you need to make sure your content is written and optimized to reach the top.
This post about Amazon repricers targets the keyword phrase “best Amazon repricer.”
The word count for the article is 1,910 and it is the fourth-best page for driving traffic to their site.
However, it only ranks for 12 keyword terms. This doesn’t sound like a lot, the Amazon repricer market is competitive.
It even ranked as the third post on Google for the keyword phrase “best Amazon repricers”, now sitting on the 5ft position.
Ecommerce plugins like Amazon repricers are extremely competitive when it comes to SEO.
You can also use a Chrome extension like Word Counter Plus to easily view the word count on competitor pages to ensure that your content is longer.
Thus, it’s important to evaluate the top-ranking content for the keywords you’re seeking and ensure that your post is more thorough, engaging, and optimized than those.
Blog posts are an important asset to acquire new customers and educate consumers about your products.
When optimized correctly, blog posts can increase revenue and have a dramatic effect on your bottom line.
Content marketers and copywriters need to understand how to optimize their posts to rank high on specific search keyword queries.
The length of a blog post plays an indirect role in how it will rank for SEO.
The sweet spot for informative blog posts is around 2,000 words, but there are variations across different industries.
Marketers should consider the intent of the post, readability, dwell time, and competitive rankings when determining how many words to include.
By testing and optimizing, businesses can discover which types of posts work well and perform the best for their audiences.