There are many topics in content marketing open for debate, but few have been as elusive to evidentiary proof as the length of the “perfect” blog post.
To some, the longer a blog post the better, and there’s a clear argumentative case for it; more words in an article mean more “guts” for web crawlers and readers, and indicate that an article is thorough and in-depth.
But, let’s look at some high-level stats related to blog post and content length that will be applicable:
- The average 1st result on Google has a blog length of 1,500 words. Source: Backlinko
- Content with >7,000 words gets more than 3x the number of shares and links. Source: MarketingCharts
- Blog posts are getting longer: the average blog post length is now over 1,400 words long. Source: OrbitMedia
- When it comes to the first five positions in Google, shorter length appears to have a higher correlation to first page rankings. Source: CognitiveSEO
- Longer posts (2,000 words+) tend to rank higher and more readily appear in the top 10. Source: CapsicumMediaworks
- While a correlation exists between longer length, the correlation is small and gets even less important as you look at larger data set (i.e. beyond the top 10 search results), likely due to the fact that more content is getting longer overall. Source: CanIRank
- There is a strong correlation between content length and the number of acquired backlinks to a particular blog post. Source: Hubspot
- Longer content (>10,000 words) can actually hurt your rankings, especially when content is not “on point” and fails to nail search intent for users. Source: SurferSEO
- 75% of content on the internet is never shared, referenced or linked to. Source: Moz
On the other hand, constantly shooting for super-high word counts can leave you with fluff, or can alienate the vast portions of your audience who are interested in a quick read.
So what’s the answer? The evidence suggests the reality of an “ideal” blog length is much more complicated than a simple answer of “long” or “short.”
Table of Contents
Ambiguous Results of Ideal Content Length
More important than word count is this:
Your article should answer the intended query of the visitor. If it does that in 100 words better than another site can do in 10,000, then you win.
Unfortunately, a thorough answer is typically not 100 words long.
Having a popular blog is all about keeping your content updated with fresh and informative content.
Your visitors are going to like seeing that the blog is kept updated and that the articles they are reading provide them with some information that they happen to be seeking.
Whether you make the decision to write your own blog entries or hire someone to do this for you, it is a good idea to carefully consider the word count so that your visitors are kept entertained when reading the content on your site each and every time they happen to visit your blog. For some examples please visit the SEO.co blog to learn more. Keep in mind, many of our blog articles range from 500 words to nearly 20,000.
Average Content Length of Top 10 Google Search Results
There’s no simple answer for the “ideal” length of a blog post, but there are some interesting trends when it comes to post length for SEO. According to this recent analysis, about 85 percent of the articles in this golden 25 percent contained fewer than 1,000 words. About 12 percent of articles shared had between 1,000 and 2,000 words, and less than 2.7 percent contained more than 2,000 words. According to this information, the shorter your article is, the better.
However, when it comes to the number of shares an article gets, the longer an article is, the better.
Average Article Page Views & Shares by Length
Articles of under 1,000 words tended to get an average of 3.47 shares and links, with 1,000-2,000 word articles getting an average of 6.92, and articles of 3,000 words or more getting a massive 11.07! According to this information, the longer your article is, the better.
This leads to a tricky conundrum, but let me try and simplify it: shorter articles have a higher likelihood of getting shares, but they also tend to attract a fewer number of shares. Longer articles have a lower likelihood of getting shares, but when they do, they attract large numbers of shares.
Average Word Count of a Post by Rank
But, when it comes to the top 5 results in Google, the length tends to shorten, compared to those further down in the search rankings:
Median Content Length by Rank for Top 40 Results
When you expand out the view for the top 40 results, the results clearly conclude there is a small (but still evident) correlation between length and rank:
Word Count vs. Average Linking Domains
There is also a strong correlation between the length of your post and the number of backlinks pointing to it:
Average Total Content Shares
The vast majority of content online is never shared or referenced:
So What is the Ideal Blog Post Length?
If you have a niche that specializes in one type of content over another, the answer to “what is the ideal blog post length?” is pretty simple.
Both long-form and short-form content have advantages and disadvantages, so you might as well keep focusing on the type that works best for your brand. However, if you’re in that position, you’re probably not reading this article since you’ve already made up your mind about what type of content works best. In some cases, the optimal blog post length will include long-form content, while in others, you will want to tighten up your copy.
You really need to let the data speak for you in determining the “average length” you should be using.
If your blog post is nailing user intent in search engines, then it can be shorter.
How many words a blog post is matters less than answering the user’s intent from the search query.
For the average brand, the best strategy is to capitalize on the advantages of both ends of the spectrum. Write short-form articles to maximize your chances of quickly answering search intent, with the understanding that those shares will be few in number, and write longer blog posts and long form content to get a chance at a higher number of shares. But understand you will need to spend more time promoting.
Use both types of blog posts as complementary means of getting more backlinks and shares.
If you want to read between the lines on the data, I might suggest:
- Spend your time creating massive, authoritative pieces of pillar content or power pages. Make sure the content is high quality and readily shareable. Make sure to create content focused on topics, not keywords. Pay attention to the length, quality and type of the content already ranking in the top 20 position in the search results. Quality content always trumps the length for SEO. Thin content is a big “no-no” but your SEO ranking will be more driven by how users react to your content after they click through. User’s reactions remain one of the strongest ranking factors in Google’s algorithm.
- Publish, promote, share and gauge rankings performance after 1, 3, 6 and 12 months. Promote substantially enough so you know the content SHOULD compete with other top 10 results.
- If the SEO content gets shares and links, but does not rank, then revamp trim and cut out the fat (perhaps preserving some of the content for future use as separate posts, subposts or content hub pieces).
- Publish and promote again. Gauge performance again at similar intervals.
- Test and update. Your un and underperforming content should always be up for scrutiny. Adjust the length, title, meta and core content copy to try and better target your ideal client or ideal searcher intent.
If longer content works for a given target phrase, update, but not extensively. If your strategy fails for a particular term or you see rankings drops in your content, revamp and repeat, keeping in mind that:
The ideal length of any content piece is dependent on many factors including the industry, search intent, the search term, your website, the quality of the content, dwell time. etc. etc. etc.
Earning Links: A Note on Content Types
Though this article mostly focuses on length, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention one other feature of this recent survey: an analysis of the types of content that get shared and linked to the most. Out of all the articles the analysis explored, the types that generated the greatest number of shares and links were:
- Listicles (and list-based posts)
- How-to posts
- Posts that answer “why” questions
And when it comes to longer form content on more reputable sources, research-backed content and opinion-forming articles tended to get the greatest amount of attention. Varying the length of your content can help your content strategy, but be sure to focus on these sub-types of content as well.
Shooting for shorter content, such as 200-300 word “tidbits,” means you can produce more articles in the same amount of time, catering to the quick-digest crowd. On the other hand, short content is necessarily brief, and has few deep points to attract links or build authority from an SEO perspective.
It also means you may be able to nail search intent more readily and rank more quickly.
Regardless of blog post length, you need to promote!
The vast majority of articles you write or produce will receive zero shares and zero links. It’s only a fraction of articles—less than 25 percent (according to Moz & BuzzSumo)—that ever get picked up in a meaningful way.
Obviously, you want as many of your articles as possible to fall into that 25 percent category.
Blindly producing content en masse, especially when you just start your blog, is liable to set you up for that 75 percent pit, no matter how long your articles are.
That’s where we come in! We help to write and promote in a white-hat way and at scale. Contact us today!