It may be unclear if social shares have a direct impact on Google search rankings, but the indirect benefits of aligning both channels are indisputable.
Content Marketing | Apr 9
Masooma Memon on December 23, 2020 (last modified on January 4, 2021) • 32 minute read
Wondering what blog post length gets you ranking in the search engine results page (SERPs)?
“Everyone will say ‘it depends,’ and it totally does,” writes Alex Birkett of Everything But The Plant.
The exact blog post length “depends on the industry you’re in, your domain authority and topical authority, the topics you’re writing about, and the quality and relevance of the posts.
But all things equal, writing longer content gives you more meat for search engines to index on. Especially if you’re fighting uphill against most authoritative websites, one weapon you have at your disposal is writing more thorough content.”
And thorough content typically ends up being 1500+ words. But, these aren’t just Birkett’s thoughts. The majority of the experts we talked with share these thoughts.
Want to learn what the experts advise about the optimal blog post length? The short answer is between 1500-2000 words.
Let’s walk you through the details now including tips on the best word count and what to include in it:
Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media Studios, an expert on this subject, shares, “Every year we ask 1000+ bloggers how long their typical article is. Every year, the length of the average post goes up.
Over the last seven years, it’s gone from around 800 to more than 1,200 words. We also ask bloggers if they’re getting results. The bloggers who write long are far more likely to report ‘strong results.’”
Here’s the data proving this:
Summing up, Crestodina notes, “In SEO, your job is to make the best page on the internet for your topic. If you’re not doing that, you’re not doing SEO. Great content is thorough, detailed and comprehensive. That usually means long.”
Savology’s Kristian Borghesan shares their team’s experience: “We take a thorough and well-thought-out approach that involves a combination of identifying opportunity keywords, while also look at trends in searches.
Length is important, but it differs depending on the subject matter and the ‘question’ or ‘problem’ we are solving. While we typically aim for 1200+ words in any article, what it really boils down to is whether or not the article is clear, concise, high quality, properly addresses or answers a question, and maintains the user’s best interest.”
Kevin Panitch from Just Start Investing also adds to this: “We try to write articles that are the right length. If something can be answered in 500-1,000 words, we do it and have articles that rank in that length. Though, typically we’re coming in at around 1,500 – 2,000 words for most blog posts in our niche.”
Editor’s note: If you’re only just SEO optimizing blog posts, it helps to track performance. But instead of pulling out metrics from different places, see them all on one screen on this Blog Post Performance After SEO Update dashboard. Here you can learn your position by queries, CTR by pages, position by pages, and much more.
“I’d recommend you err on the side of blog posts being thorough rather than bite-sized,” writes Liston Witherill of Serve Don’t Sell. “Longer posts allow you to cover a topic more in-depth, but also give you the opportunity to rank for a group of closely related keywords and topics instead just a single one.”
The Best Interest‘s Jesse Cramer is of the same view: “We use a few different tools to find on keywords and support those keywords with ‘contentful’ support. We typically target at least 1500, and we’ve seen strong correlation between length and organic SEO. Longer articles = better SEO.”
Not only Cramer sees the relation between long blog posts and SEO, but most of the respondents we talked to think the same. In fact, a whopping majority of 82.4% think long blog posts equate with a higher ranking:
To put this another way, “Your post should be as concise as possible, but long enough to be clear and get across all your points,” in Best Price Nutrition‘s John Frigo’s words.
“It’s not really important whether that’s 200 words or 2,000 words. I feel like when people shoot for a specific length the quality of their content suffers as they are dragging out a post just to read a certain word count.
Typically, longer content will rank better, but don’t write long content just for the sake of writing long content as people don’t want to read something that drags on, that content won’t be shared and it will suffer from an SEO perspective that way as well.”
That said, blogging for SEO “helps you target long-tail keywords,” adds Catriona Jasica from Top Vouchers Code. “Some of the main points we make sure to add when blogging on our website include using transition words, related keywords, linking to previous content, and the usage of Yoast SEO plugins.
And when it comes to length balancing is the key here. Google likes long articles but to grab the most eyeballs for long-duration, we write an SEO-friendly blog post with normal length.”
This is an important point – one that Frank Olivo from Sagapixel addresses well: “Often, it is difficult to tell the difference between ‘long’ and ‘comprehensive’ when looking at content that performs well. Comprehensive content often is long, but long content is not always comprehensive.
There are 500-word blog posts that rank extremely well because they cover the topic comprehensively enough to satisfy the search intent. The internet is also full of 1500-word meandering blog posts about the same topic that get no search traffic.”
Olivo continues, “At Sagapixel, we use three methods for determining the comprehensiveness of a blog post.
👉 First, we review the top results to see what subtopics each covers, then create an outline that addresses them in a way that flows naturally, but answers the most pressing questions earliest in the post.
👉 Second, we check the ‘People Also Ask’ (PAA) results to find additional valuable subtopics to add to the outline.
Following the PAA, we’ll use autocomplete to mine for topics we have missed, as well as throw some of the top results in the Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to check for keywords related to topics we may have missed.
👉 Finally, we need to rely on the writer actually having insights into the topic. The goal is not to write a blog post summarizing the page 1 results; we want to provide as thorough an answer to the query as possible, and the best way to stand out and do that is to bring something new to the content. The only way this can be done is to have unique insights into the topic that the writer can share.”
One thing to keep in mind though: don’t stretch or write fluff to meet a word count goal.
Todd Kunsman from Invested Wallet comments, “Adding content that offers no value just for blog length won’t help and can cause readers to bounce off when there is unnecessary content.”
Instead, use Kunsman’s approach: “in order to achieve the length, I do research on the topic I plan on writing about, what people are searching for in related to the topic, what might be missing from the top-ranking posts, and how I can add my own unique voice to the content. This is always plenty to get me to the desired length on most topics.”
Summing up, K B from Spreadsheets for Business shares, “The number 1 result, for a particular query, is the benchmark in terms of length, detail, and scope. The goal is to improve upon that. ‘Improve’ doesn’t necessarily mean longer. But, if you cover the topic in more detail – it often *does* mean a longer article length.”
An important pointer to take into consideration as you figure out the ideal blog post length for your content is your reader’s search intent – exactly what they are looking for.
“Different queries have different search intent – sometimes a reader just wants one quick piece of information, and sometimes he or she might be looking for an in-depth tutorial,” highlights SoftwarePundit‘s Bruce Hogan.
“The key is understanding the search intent and creating high-quality content that meets the reader’s needs.” Hence, “it’s more important to understand the search intent of the reader and create an exhaustive piece of content, than to always aim for the same content length,” suggests Hogan.
Michael Pozdnev from Wanna Be a Blogger explains more: “If a person needs a quick response, then the content should be short. If this is an information query, when a person doubts or does not know the topic, he needs a detailed answer. This is where long and in-depth blog posts win.”
Keeping this in mind, PozdnevI shares, “In the past, I manually estimated the word count of competitors. Now there are free tools. For example, the Keyword Surfer (Chrome extension), where you immediately see the search results the number of words on the pages.
Or an awesome SERP analyzer from Samuel Schmitt—Thruuu. You see all the detailed information about pages, including average word count, subheadings, age, and other useful information.
My approach is simple. You need to estimate how many words are competitors have written. Then write. Almost always, it turns out to write more than competitors’ blog posts.”
Chima Mmeje from Zenith SEO Copywriting Services echoes the same: “I don’t think there is a definitive word count that serves as the magic number for every blog post.”
So, what you can do is: ask yourself: “’What is the word count for the top 10 results on Google search for that specific keyphrase?’ and use that as a guide,” Mmeje advises.
“Content marketing tools like Frase and SurferSEO can help automate this task,” adds Mmeje. “Don’t write long-form content for the sake of quantity. Write as much as you need to comprehensively cover a topic and solve the user’s search query. Usually, that’s between 1,500 to 3,000 words in length for me.”
In short, “some problems [translation: some blog post topics] require more detailed answers while some can be quite simplistic. The trick is to provide them with what they want and perhaps, pique their interest in something else via internal links to other content (e.g., commercial intent page),” sums up Daniel Cheung of Daniel K Cheung.
Or, as Brandon Towl of Words Have Impact, LLC puts it: “Length does matter for SEO, but only if you have informative, helpful content, not repetitive content or ‘fluff.’”
While the length of your blog post is important, it’s essential you don’t forget about making it easy to read.
The Daily MBA’s Jarie Bolander talks about this: “We take an approach that’s akin to the job that needs to get done. We figure out what we have to say and then say it. The length does not matter as much as how well it’s written and if the post is easily digestible.
For us, we want to give the reader a break every couple of hundred words as well as easy entry and exit points. That way, someone that’s skimming an article can take what they need from it and move on.”
Editor’s note: See how well your blog is doing with the help of this free Blog Performance Tracking Dashboard. You can grab your subscriber count and blog engagement details from here.
Give your blog post different formats.
Tyler Tafelsky of Better Triathlete comments on this: “As chief editor for a triathlon blog, we’ve been seeing the greatest SEO success with long-form content between 2k-4k words and lots of supplement imagery. However, the length of our top-performing blog posts is just a byproduct of producing the best possible piece on a given topic, which is the main objective.
One post might include a combination of listicles, product images, FAQs, research studies, and other bits of information that address a vast spectrum of related search queries.”
As we’ve been discussing so far, a long blog post isn’t the be-all and end-all of improving your ranking. Other factors play an important role too such as how relevant your content is.
Laura Peters from Mike & Laura Travel sheds light on this: “In 2019, we discovered that the secret to growing our blog was mastering SEO strategies. We began implementing both on-page and backend SEO strategies including increasing page speed, building backlinks, and optimizing every blog post so that they include proper keywords.
An important factor when it comes to on-page SEO is blog post length. It’s no secret that Google likes longer posts. For a while, our content strategy including analyzing all of the blog posts that ranked in the top 10 for the keyword we were targeting and writing more than what we found.
But the truth is, writing more doesn’t always mean that you’ll win a spot on the first page of Google. Instead, we’ve realized that’s it’s more about relevancy.
So, our current strategy includes writing the most relevant information about a topic. We answer every question and cover every topic that is directly related to the keyword we are targeting.
Typically, this means that our blog posts contain several thousands of words, which is great. But what is most important is that our post is a one-stop-shop for that specific keyword.”
In fact, this point is the heart of the entire discussion on the ideal blog post length. If your content isn’t good enough to answer your readers’ questions, it’ll fail at ranking well.
In this regard, FiG Advertising + Marketing’s Niles Koenigsberg highlights, “Search engines want to provide searchers with the most valuable, engaging, and relevant information possible. So, we believe that it is more important to create quality original content for client blogs rather than just stick to the word limit.
When you are creating engaging content with new conclusions and original thoughts, we have found that Google responds more positively to those pieces of blog content over generic articles.”
Josh Hastings from Money Life Wax makes a good point too: “While word count was more closely linked to ranking prior to the Google E-A-T adjustment, word count with high-quality content still matters. Word jamming isn’t ideal, however, longer quality posts that answer user intent rank higher.”
Put simply, “Word jamming isn’t ideal, however, longer quality posts that answer user intent rank higher.”
Not only do you need to understand your reader’s search intent, but you need to know your target audience to know what will resonate with them.
Katherine Pomeroy of 45/RPM outlines, “The length of the blog is not as important for SEO. However, length is important to understand what content will resonate with readers. Your blog needs to be long enough to contain value, but not too long that the reader stops reading it.
The sweet spot for a valuable, but still concise blog is between 500 and 1,000 words. That range allows you to explain a topic in enough depth that adds value for the viewer, but is still easily digested.”
Struggling to figure out how to cover a topic and hit a reasonable word count for it too? Mostly Blogging’s Janice Wald has the answer for you: write in-depth guides.
Here’s how according to Wald: “The blogger takes the reader on a journey to the solution to their problem.
The structure: The introduction shows you can relate to the problem. The subheads include steps or tips for solving the problem. The conclusion wraps up by giving key takeaways from the post and including a Call to Action compelling the reader to take action.
I also include an FAQ box since Google likes structured data. Google your keyword. Make sure the number of tips in your post is higher than the tips on Page 1 Position 1 of Google. This will take you many hours. I spend approximately four hours per post, but the traffic is worth it.”
Samuel David shares they take a similar approach at Attrat. “Our approach to blogging at Attrat involves addressing readers’ pain points with detailed and actionable guides. While striving for brevity, depth is also important as it eliminates confusion and increases readers’ understanding and participation.
Longer posts also give peace of mind since they help to spread the risk of losing traffic or rankings suddenly, especially when related keywords are mentioned. At the end of the day, we’re writing for humans whose actions will influence Google’s decisions.”
David talks about relevance too, saying, “Relevance is key, which is why we wouldn’t advise adding words just to make up the numbers. We often look up the top three pages on the search results for our main keyword. We base word length on avg. of the top three pages, which may come out to be more or less.”
Tia Says’ Ekta Swarnkar makes a good point, “I don’t worship the fact that only long posts are more effective in search results but I do believe that longer posts are generally more informative than shorter posts.
According to me, a post must be enough informative that my reader doesn’t have to go anywhere else to look for similar information. So I mainly focus on providing as much value as possible and I think that makes my blog posts 2000 words long.
However, I also believe that a long post (3000 to 4000) is boring for readers. I think that they want quick access to information and a post this long will only test their patience level.
Therefore, the ideal length of my posts is generally 1500 to 2000.”
Eric Izazaga of Webstacks shares what their team has learned about this too: “The Webstacks Blog is pretty fresh. We’ve published 25+ posts on the blog in a span of 5 months and have generated a pleasing amount of traffic and leads.
Within that span of time, our team used Ahref’s to build our strategy and find keywords that made the most sense to us. We created content around those keywords, published it, and shared it to increase visibility both on search engines and social platforms.
As for length, we think some pieces of content will be 2,000+ words. Those are pieces that can be turned into pillar pages, or even a knowledge base. Our company doesn’t think the length of a blog is important, as our posts range from 1,000-1,200 words. Some are short, some are more lengthy, and some are pages on pages—The point is to find a way to create value and share with those that will find the resource useful.”
It’s also essential you pay attention to competitor research. Dylan Gordon from HustlerSource shares they do the same: “At HustlerSource, we approach blogging with a user-focused process. Instead of trying to hit the perfect length blog post or tricking Google, we use a specific process to maximize our efforts!
Simply put, we’ll find all the competitors ranking for a specific keyword and see where we can improve. Is their blog post thin, or not fully answering the query? Would a video help for this specific problem? We’ll make sure to include all of the missing pieces.
While we try to make sure all of our posts are at least 1,500+ words, if it isn’t necessary, we won’t add in content for the sake of adding content! There’s already enough fluff out there, we want to keep our readers engaged and happy.”
VisualFizz’s Marissa Ryan outlines their approach too. “We approach blogging for SEO from 3 perspectives:
Length is critical SEO health, but content length should not be based on arbitrary numbers. Yes, there are best practice lengths for minimum word requirements, but from there, the length of the content should be based on the competitive landscape and how well your piece answers the ‘question’ or explains the point of the blog article.
For example, if your competitors are all writing 5,000-word white papers, but your content is only meeting the 600-word minimum, your content likely isn’t helping to support your goals the way it could. Vice versa, if all of your competitors are all writing very thin blogs and sticking to the bare minimums themselves, you can likely be very effective with 1,000-word pieces.
Content should be a complete piece that performs competitively with what’s out there – not just based on arbitrary metrics.”
Besides value and quality, it also helps to be helpful! Kyle Kroeger from Freelancer Nomads comments on this: “We use SEO to expand our reach while also helping our ideal customer, which is both freelancers and businesses looking to use freelancers. Content is our product so it’s important to have both greater educational content but also providing thorough information about a particular topic.
Length is important but don’t take it too seriously. You can spend wasted hours over-covering a topic that could be answered in 800 words. Imagine from the reader’s point of view if they want to just learn 2-3 sentences but they open a 2,000-word article, lose track of what they were searching and then close-out. Not good. Prioritize being helpful.”
“Blog post length is dependent on the competition and the type of post that we’re writing,” says Vince Massara of Sports Cards Rock.
“Sometime, if it’s a topic that needs a deep-dive, we’ll look into writing 3,000-word articles. However, there are times where we only write 500 words if that’s what the article requires.”
In the same vein, Vye’s Travis McGinnis writes, “It would be great if there were a magic number, but there isn’t. A blog post should be as long as it needs to be in order to provide enough value to readers.
The longer a post, the higher the perceived value to both Google and readers.
How long a given post should depend on the topic and current top-ranking pages in the SERP. If those pages are all 5k+ words long, then yours better be just as long and much more valuable to have any chance of breaking into the top ten.
It should follow the same format as the other ranking posts as well. For instance, if they’re mostly list posts, then you should follow suit. Or if they’re product reviews, best of, or how-to articles, yours should be as well.
Google has determined that users searching for a topic want to read the types of content served up in the top 10 results. Again, if your post is not that same type, it won’t rank.
Then there’s the issue of links to the post and domain authority, but that’s a whole different topic!”
Laura English of Sonder Digital adds to the discussions: “Every so often, we will notice a trending query and create an optimized blog post around that keyword. We follow the typical SEO rules — a few internal links, a few external, and we consider our word count by the average count on the first page of Google.
Typically, though, we actually use blogs to generate traffic. So, we try to be creative with blog content and create content that will encourage clicks from socials, Google My Business, and through our monthly newsletter.
We find a direct correlation between our best-performing blog posts in terms of clicks and our rankings in that time.”
Charles Wenger of Level Up Chess outlines, “Creating content is at the heart of our SEO strategy so content length is something we’ve spent a bit of time thinking about.
We don’t prescribe any particular length to any particular blog post. What we aim to do instead is to create the best post for the particular topic we’re writing on.
If it takes 1000 words to do that, then fine. If it takes 5000, then so be it. The main thing you’re trying to do with content is to please the reader, so focus on that and rankings will follow.”
But it’s not necessary you pre-decide the blog length. 60% of our respondents strive to reach a word count goal. 40% don’t. So, it’s entirely up to you to decide the ideal length beforehand or go with the flow.
Mainly, however, “You want to write for your audience, not for search engines,” summarizes Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers Marketing.
“You want to blog to educate your audience and share insightful content with them,” Aufray continues.
“Once your blog post is ready, you can optimize it by adding relevant keywords in it. Be cautious though. You don’t want to stuff your blog posts with keywords. These keywords have to be added in a natural way so the article stays readable and nice to consume.
Length is an important part of blogging and we usually recommend to write blog posts that are at least 1,500 words. Why? Because a longer blog post brings more value to the readers and shows that you did more research.
From an SEO perspective, having a long blog post has many benefits too. Indeed, visitors will stay longer on a page with 2,000 words vs a page with 500 words, and search engines know that. So, if a visitor stays more time on your blog post vs your competitors’, your post will rank higher because Google will see it as more interesting, engaging, and authoritative.”
So, “It makes sense that longer posts have the potential to keep readers on the page longer if there is more to read.
This can lead to adding words for the sake of hitting a target word count. Adding this fluff of little to no value is likely to have an inverse effect on a reader. If the content takes too long to answer their initial question, the reader my head back to the search results and view a competitor’s article.
This is a bad sign that your content did not fill the initial query and Google pays close attention if this keeps happening.”
To make sure your reader stays on your page, zoom in on writing valuable content that’s easy to read. It’s also a good idea to work in supplementary content in your blog posts.
In this regard, John Locke from Lockedown Design & SEO says, “there are cases where a short article can rank at the top of Google, so long as it solves the problem or answers the question posed by the search query.
For keyword phrases where longer-form content is dominating page one of Google, we look at not only the word count, but also what topics are covered in the article, and what supplemental elements are in the article, like a diagram, video, or table of data. Once those necessary items are outlined in the draft version of the article, we look at the word count.
By doing a copy-paste of each of the results on page one of the SERPs into a word count tool, it gives us a bottom and top range of how many words should be in the article. If it seems like the top five results are all a higher word count than the bottom five results on page one, then we use that range instead.
The blog article we’d want to create would be at least as long as the lower end of the top search results. But if someone is looking for a quick answer to a ‘how to’ question that isn’t elaborate, a shorter article can be sufficient to rank.”
Ideal blog post length depends on the audience and competition as well.
“To increase ranking probability for all blog posts, there are always a number of variables at play,” notes Copyhog.com’s Carla Dewing. “Every company is different and has data to support a decent growth strategy.
There is a positive correlation between length and higher ranking, namely due to factors like quality, keyword potential, media inclusions, and the way a post addresses search intent with both keywords and content.
Correlation doesn’t imply causation though, so bloggers will have to conduct deeper research into their data to reveal which events matter the most.
It doesn’t make sense for a single entrepreneur with a small audience and limited resources to spend 10 hours on a 5000-word post. In this case, post frequency, quality, and marketing (of optimized shorter posts) would ultimately get their content ranking faster.”
Similarly, Dewing goes on: “medium to large-sized businesses that operate in highly competitive spaces have other fully populated, extremely high-quality posts to compete against. In this case, length is a key predictor of quality, and usually attracts the most links and social shares as a result. This is generally why longer posts rank better – they have more measurable value for people and search engines.
Length increases in importance as audience size and competition increase. The easiest approach to creating blog posts that rank is to rely on the data, and on audience experiments to make actionable decisions. If you’re not measuring your posts, you’re not in the game.”
Emily Joans from Parka London talks about the same. “We’re in fashion, but a lot of our blog posts are written with SEO in mind. I would say that we don’t approach every topic the same, with length in mind. The length depends on what the competition is doing and we assess if there’s any point of doing a longer blog post.
As we’re in a specific industry, where it’s more important to visually present yourself, we don’t so much focus on length.”
Lastly, don’t forget to look at what your topic requires and how many words would justice.
BrandExtract’s Chris Wilks is of this view: “the ideal length is going to be largely dependent on the topic at hand. We typically don’t start with a target length in mind but instead focus on making sure we fully address the topic we’re covering.”
At the same time, Nikola Roza of Nikola Roza- SEO for the Poor and Determined shares, “For me, length is synonymous with content thoroughness. So when writing a piece of content. I don’t intend to make it of ideal length. But I do intend to make it an ideal post for the searcher to find.
And, usually, that entails covering the topic in-depth, and covering anything in-depth usually means going way beyond 500 or even 1000 words. So the goal for me is to leave no stone unturned and content length is just a byproduct of that.”
With all this out of the way, let’s also tell you how experts plan their blog content to meet their ideal blog post length. Here’s how they go about planning things:
You can also adopt the steps that Milestone Localization takes. Their team’s Nikita Agarwal shares:
To achieve this, we look for relates keywords and searches and include them as sub-topics on the blog.”
And here’s Sendible‘s process that their Inbound Marketing Manager, Veronika Vebere lays out: “Organic search is a major driving force of traffic for our marketing site and blog, so we always take SEO seriously.
We know what our best pieces are and regularly update them to increase search traffic and rankings. For new blogs, we have a good mix of articles we write for SEO and ones we write on topics that readers care about, but that is not as widespread yet.
For topic generation, we look to the pain points of our customers and their most frequently asked questions, and then see what kind of keyword opportunities are there.
The way we’ve simplified the desired blog length is this:
And, if you’re wondering what to include in your blog posts, here are some ideas:
“For all new content that’s written, we have a benchmark of 2000 words per post. This sets the appropriate expectation for the writer to completely and fully answer all the potential questions of a reader. We also aim to include a step-by-step guide with a numbered list and a description of each step. Including quotes or referencing research conducted by others adds value and credibility to the article.
Longer blog posts also transfer much better into audio blogs, an increasingly common tactic. Marketers are using automated synthetic voice to convert their blog into audio.
Alternatively, blog articles are read on podcasts which serve to set-up a discussion around the topic. Having a lengthy blog post allows for the conversation to continue during the podcast as there’s much more to discuss and debate.”
Contentbulb‘s Georges Petrequin suggests this: “It’s important to use your word count to add practical examples, show data-points, and show people how to solve the problems they have. Don’t add words that don’t add value.
For example, Petrequin shares, “most blog posts we write for SaaS companies are 2500 words or more simply because they’re full of examples, screenshots, and show actionable steps to doing what the reader wants to find out.”
Even though the ideal length for blog posts averages 1500-2000 words, know that this isn’t set in stone.
As Eric Bergman of Serendipit Consulting puts it, “When you are around 1,500 – 2,000, that is the sweet spot but not always needed depending on the subject and how well you can articulate what you want to say.”
Put simply, look at what your reader’s question and search intent are, then address them comprehensively, irrespective of the word count. A thorough answer typically ends up being long, which is why 1500-2000 words is a benchmark that most commend.
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