Updated: May 16, 2019
What's your ideal article length? How long should a blog post be for SEO or for business?
Sadly, there's no one fixed answer. But there are some guidelines you can follow to get close to one which will work for you.
But remember, one thing's for certain:
Whether you write a 100 word blog post or a 10 000 word article, your content needs to be good. In fact, it needs to be pretty darn perfect...
Because there's a lot of competition out there these days. Blogs are in. Everyone seems to have one.
Of course, there's a reason why so many successful people blog – and why successful bloggers earn the big bucks. It works. Your blog can be an incredibly cost-effective inbound marketing tool. Yet there a whole host of factors which determine which blogs get killed and which kill the competition.
Length or word count is definitely one of them.
So, while there's no single universal winning word count, surely there are some guidelines when it comes to blog post length best practices?
1) The perfect length used be shorter – now you want long-form
The “classic” blog post length which I started off writing as a freelance copywriter was around 500 words. 500-800, let's say. Now?
Long-form content leads the way. We're talking over 3000 words here. Perhaps as many as 10 000.
That said, various studies seem to show there's also a case to be made for somewhere towards the top end of 1000-2000 words being your ideal article length in terms of how long a blog post should be for SEO purposes.
But why this general trend towards long-form?
i) Longer posts appear more knowledge-rich
If you're searching for information online – unless it's a quick-answer query like who was that actress in that film – you're probably going to want to know everything about it.
If you click on an article and see it's 450 words long, you probably won't be convinced you're getting all of your bases properly covered.
Click on an article and discover it's 10 000 words long with loads of graphics and clearly headed sections...
Well, your brain tells you, this must be what we were looking for.
ii) Most people skim read – at least at first
Is reading this article you've just found, written by somebody you've never heard of, worth the five minutes it's going to take to read it?
Very much tied to the above, most people won't commit to reading an article in full until they've quickly skimmed through it to check if it looks like what they've been looking for.
Think of all of those other things you could be doing in those five minutes! Drinking tea. Eating a biscuit. Your brain has plans. It doesn't want you to waste your time.
iii) More words mean more keywords (and other benefits)
On top of numerous other benefits for good SEO, you can fit more keywords into longer articles. You can do this without them appearing stuffed too, which is really the main point.
You can start including plenty of semantic keywords as well. Phrases which are related to your main long-tail keywords. More little flies to wave at Google to tell it that your article is the answer to the question when it spiders through your lengthy, high-quality content.
You also increase your chances to:
Get backlinks: especially if you're just starting out, having people link to your blog is very difficult and oh-so-very important. Any content writing agency worth its salt will talk to you about backlinks until they're blue in the face. Handily, the longer your post, the more likely it is someone will decide it's worth linking to.
Gain social engagements: the same seems to be true on social media. The more words you have, the more chances you have that someone will like something you have to say and share it. Or, conversely, that they'll... ah... take issue with what you have to say and feel compelled to comment about it. Hopefully the former!
2) It varies by your industry
How long should a business blog post be?
It depends on your type of business.
Not all blogs in all industries are created equal. The industry you're in will indicate to you – or, more accurately, the clever people who do in-depth research about what works in the industry you're in will indicate to you – your approximate ideal blog post length.
Some very rough numbers, culled from various studies would be:
Most industries: 1800-2500 words makes for a pretty standard, long-form post.
Travel, film and food: 1400-1800 words for industries where there's usually more of a visual element and the topic is weighted towards being more in the line of entertainment.
Fashion, technology and anything else highly visual: under 1000 words for industries where lots of your post is going to be about the images is generally thought to be ample. Sometimes as few as 300 words.
Most of these represent no small commitment of time. Especially when you factor in that those words need to be of high quality, relevant to your audience and their interests. Professional SEO copywriting services have sprung up for a reason.
Not everyone can find the time to write even a 1000-word blog post every week – or however often you decide your ideal blog post frequency is.
3) You can take a look and see for yourself
Look at your data. If there was one main contender for the top of the “blog post length best practices 2018” charts, this would be it.
If you're just starting a blog, you won't have that much to look at on the data front. Don't worry. Soon though, you'll want to start checking out your:
Social shares and engagements
Click-Through Rates (how many people click on your link after seeing it)
By doing this, you should be able to work out which of your posts got the most attention and which your audience found most relevant and helpful.
4) Your ideal blog post length can also vary by subject
What are you going to say in your latest article?
Is it an informative piece about an aspect of your industry?
A how-to guide for a common problem you see that your customers are having?
Or is it essentially advertising for one of your products or services?
This will affect what makes a suitable length of post. Most people who end up clicking on your blog for information will be looking for a longer, all-encompassing answer. They will see greater length as an indication that you probably have that answer and be willing to read or skim through to find it.
On the other hand, if they see that the post is advertising...
Well, you're probably not going to hold their attention for very long at all. Thus, short posts are permissible – as long as they're for a reason. Aim for 200 words. Get your call to action in there powerfully. Probably don't do it too often.
5) You don't always need to go with the crowd
Are all of the highest performing blog posts on the topic you want to write about the same incredibly heavy length? Or do all of the articles you get back from your Google search results clock in at roughly the same light weight?
Might there be room in that field for something a little different? Who knows. But there's certainly a potential opportunity there for you if you can:
Hit the nail on the head in fewer words: are all the other posts in the thousands of words, yet you can cut out all of the nonsense padding and sum up everything someone needs to know in a couple of hundred words or even fewer? You might have a featured snippet in the making right there.
Show that you have way more data or authority: if you've got numbers, resources or information which most people don't have, could you not answer a normally swiftly-resolved query in a more complete, in-depth way?
How long should a blog post be?
How long should a blog post be in 2018 (and on into 2019 too, no doubt)?
In general, longer. Longer than it ever has been before. There are exceptions to this, yet there are all sorts of advantages to long-form blog posts. But don't forget this will change by your industry, by your article subject, by what your data is telling you and even by whether you think you might be able to offer the information in a different way...
No matter how long you go though, do bear in mind that one critical point we talked about at the start:
It doesn't matter how long your blog post is if your content isn't any good. Make sure you write a good title. Choose good, long-tail keywords and semantic keywords.
And, above all, make sure that the words you use in your word count, actually do count for something.
Need to know more about choosing the right length for your blog posts?
Leave a comment below or fire me a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org