It's become common that blogs form part of your traffic strategy. They can be a useful source of generating relevant traffic for your products and services. It's now the case that most B2B businesses will blog, that wasn't the case five years ago. But, it still seems that many people are making some simple mistakes. Mistakes that if rectified, could lead to blog articles that generate a consistent flow of traffic to your website and generate leads for your sales team. One of the most common questions I'm asked is 'what is the best length for a blog post?'. When searching for an answer, most results for the best length for a blog post will be vague.
But, we thought it useful to create a set of guidelines to help you get better results from your blogger efforts. In this article you'll learn which topics are good for long-form articles and others as shorter pieces. When it comes to word count, it matters more about the content than it does about a number of words on a page.
Word count is a factor in your blog posts, of course it is - you need to know where you could lose your readers while they indulge in your page. However, word count is not the only factor that counts. For example, a 10,000-word article is a large piece, but if the writing is low quality, then it doesn't matter whether you’ve written 10,000-words or 100, your article doesn't deserve to get ranked. How long should a blog post be? Well, this article is going to cover all the factors that influence your word count.
There is a lot of debate that surrounds how many words content marketers and bloggers should write in their posts. Some people believe sticking to short, sweet articles is the best option as people don’t have either the time or the inclination to read huge articles that are overly wordy. Plus, people pay a lot less attention to articles these days, and you have to account for the lack of attention span.
When it comes to content marketing, the longer form posts can often better engage the reader, allowing you to boost the performance of your SEO and gives the reader more space to have their questions answered. It’s also assumed that the longer the content, the better it will perform based on the fact that most users online prefer subjects to be covered with depth. This then adds value to their experience.
Just before we get started proper, let's talk about one man. Seth Godin. Godin is the king of short blog posts. Every day he posts on a broad range of subjects and manages to get complex points across in anywhere between 50 - 300 words. But, before you run off inspired by Seth, consider he is an authority. Respected and revered throughout the industry for his skills, knowledge and experience. So, he can get away with what the average business cannot - sadly. Unfortunately, that reality leaves the rest of us working in long-form in the meantime!
You have first to ask yourself what you want to accomplish with your post. Different content lengths will be suited to different SEO marketing goals, so let’s take a look at the varying post lengths and how they match your content marketing goals.
When you are writing up a landing page that is focused on converting traffic, you want to stick to content that is relatively short. The only issue with this length is that it can be so short that it won’t make a dent in your SEO goals. If the primary goal is page views, short content isn’t a bad idea. Google’s Panda SEO algorithm isn’t a fan of very short content, but lots of static pages stick to around 300 words, and they’re doing great.
Articles that stand around 500-750 words are used primarily by reporting journalists. They can get their information into the post and add great value to the writing, and it’s a length that the reader can consume easily. The downside? This is usually not enough to provide real depth to answer the questions that the readers may have
Did you know that posts that have around 1000-1500 words cover a three to four minute read? It’s posts of this length that tend to get the most views, because they’re long enough to engage the reader, promote SEO keywords and get all the information out at the same time without boring the person who has clicked through to the article. The post is big, but not too big, which provides the perfect balance. We find that the average length of a blog on this site for example is 1,600 words.
If you are aiming for a post to engage the reader, then around 2,000 words would be perfect for longer blog posts. You will be well into content that is long-form, detailed and rich in information and the perfect post length for SEO. Readers go away fulfilled, and it’s at this point in your writing that you will get the most search engines rankings with the likes of Google. For HubSpot, it’s this number of words that earned the second-most social shares online.
This is a huge word count, and it’s one that’s usually reserved for comprehensive resource pages known as pillar pages or other long form content. There is no minimum or maximum word count for a pillar page, as some topics will require more in-depth content while other topics will be shorter and more concise. Keep in mind that a pillar page is supposed to be a comprehensive guide, so the bigger the word count, the better your article will rank.
Earlier in the article, we mentioned that word count and length doesn't count if the content is of low quality. Bloggers can waffle on for thousands of words, but if the keywords aren’t hit and the content makes no sense, then it truly makes no difference how long you choose the word count to be. An article that you post on your website or your blog should answer all the questions that are raised. If you have gone through 4,500 words of a comprehensive guide and not arrived at the answer you were looking for, then none of that matters.
Think about the content quality and information; depth is always the best thing to focus on, and if you can reach that depth while getting the blog post you are writing to the desired word count, you’re going to win every time.
While you’re focusing on the length and word count of the articles that you are planning, you need to touch upon how you’re going to add depth. It’s so much more than just packing the article with fluff content just to stretch out the count. You need to have an understanding about the person you are hoping to attract to your post. If you can understand the reader, you’re going to have a better time with giving them the answer that they seek. For example, if you are running a marketing blog for businesses, then you’ll need to step into a professional set of shoes and write as if you are the reader; write in a way you would want to see.
Once you have achieved the right tone, you can then expand on your answer. Your blogs should be layered, comprehensive and structured in a way that offers two sides to an argument and a conclusion to both. You should be genuine in your content, with plenty of your own opinion and the opinion that would be opposed to your own. It’s an uncomfortable thing for some businesses to do, to address a subject that they wouldn’t usually address, but if you take it head on and be open about something you aren’t comfortable about, you will gain a lot of respect and more readers for it.
Your articles should have clear sections. One long paragraph doesn't add depth; it only adds confusion where instead there should be clarity. People seek answers, and those answers in your blog post should be structured in a way that is easy to digest. With that in mind, paragraphs shouldn’t be too lengthy, either. Break up giant chunks of information with bullet points and space to allow the brain to take in the information instead of skim past it.
While you are writing, you should always keep an eye on the keywords that you want to add - but don’t overstuff the article and don’t make the keywords dominate your piece. Not only does Google not like it when that happens, (yes, Google is smart enough to know!) you have to remember that you are writing for people, not machines. Sometimes, keywords don’t fit an article easily, so if you pepper your post with them, you’re not going to make much sense. It’s not what you want when you’re trying to gain readers.
When you are in the middle of writing a post, it can help to know where you are. Obviously, you won’t be stopping dead on your exact word count as you type, but it’s nice to have a rough idea of where you are. Regardless of where you choose to write your articles before transferring them over to your site, you need to be able to keep an eye on the word count as you go.
If you are writing in Word, it’s super easy to figure out the word count, as the information is there for you at the bottom of the screen to click on as you type. Some people prefer to write directly into the post space on their blog site - whether WordPress or elsewhere.
The two most popular spaces to write a blog post are Grammarly and Google Docs. Grammarly helps you to structure your post, correct your spelling and alerts you to bad grammar, the use of prepositions and whether you have used to correct voice to type in as you go, so you can correct yourself while you write. Google Docs will save your work as you go, allowing you to structure it the way that you want to and gives you a little more freedom to edit. It also allows people to make suggestions on your writing when they give you feedback. Here’s how to find the word count on each of those:
It’s very easy to find the word count on Grammarly, as it’s all counted for you as you type:
The bottom of the page has a light grey word counter, and when you hover over it the number of words used, the characters and even how long your document takes to speak and read will be available to you. This can make Grammarly a sound option for your word counting while you are writing a blog. Knowing the reading time can also keep you in line with the optimal reading time for your blog length.
Google Docs isn’t as clear as Grammarly, and you need to instead use the following combination to bring up the word count easily:
Doing this all at the same time will bring you the following screen:
You don’t get the same reading time or speaking time alert, but you still get the chance to see how far you are into your post, which can be really helpful while you are writing. As Google Docs is online, it does save as you go, too, which can help you if you have an unexpected shut down.
When you are starting out with your blog, whether this is a standalone blog or something that you are expanding for your business, you should consider using keyword tools and AnswerThePublic to get more ideas about your content.
You can type your keywords into the search area with AnswerThePublic, and you can work out which topics the public have questions about. From here, you can expand on that and write articles that address those questions and provide answers that are linked to your industry, directing them back to your business and how you can help.
Most blogs fail when people think that there is nothing more to say, but there is ALWAYS more to say! People are sponges when it comes to seeking information, and you can provide that information if you actively look for answers.
Now that you have some clarity on the word counts for your blog posts, you should understand that word counts have their place. Short posts are great for landing pages as they’re designed to catch the eye and start engaging the reader.
However, it’s long-form that is great for search and for engaging your audience further - the more that you aim for longer posts, the better traffic and conversions you can have for your blog posts over time. Hopefully, this article has given you the confidence to do longer form posts, knowing you’re going to engage people correctly. All that’s left to do now is write confidently!