Whether there’s an ideal blog post length for SEO has been the subject of debate for as long as search engines have been on the web.
If I may borrow a phrase from Google itself, the answer to that question is “it depends.”
The two main variables to consider when deciding how long your posts should be are:
- Subject matter.
- Searcher intent.
The ideal length of a blog post on how to take the perfect selfie is going to be different from the ideal length of a post on the invention of the digital camera.
Why? For starters, one subject demands more information than the other in order to provide a complete answer.
Say what you will about the intricacies of selfie-taking, there’s simply more to cover when talking about the invention of the technology that makes selfies possible.
Secondly, searcher intent is a major factor to consider in the length of a blog post. Do they want to read a short or long article?
It’s likely the person who wants to learn about the history of digital photography is looking to consume a more substantial article than the person looking for selfie tips.
Despite the fact that global attention spans are narrowing, long-form content still performs exceptionally well in search.
However, short content is more than capable of ranking alongside longer content in search results. One isn’t necessarily better than the other.
There are literally hundreds of factors that go into ranking search results.
Is article length one of them? If so, what is the ideal word count?
Let’s look at what the statistics say.
Statistics Don’t Lie
Stats offer a pretty good starting point, but we all know they can sometimes also be manipulated.
So, let’s get something clear from the get-go: regardless of length, there is always going to be good content and there is always going to be bad content.
Studies examining hundreds or thousands of pages of content, like the one mentioned above, are probably not examining which content is really good, which is really bad, which is mediocre, and so on.
It’s analyzing article length and how that may affect how good or bad that content ends up being based on simple practicality.
It’s probably true that shorter content is easier and faster for people to read; I’m not going to dispute that.
But does that one-word answer satisfy the question/query a user is looking for? Sure, some questions can be answered in as little as one word, but that’s not usually quality content.
That’s a one-word answer with no explanation or sourcing, and Google (usually) knows that’s not enough to distinguish a piece of content as high-quality, educational, and resourceful.
Of course, there are one-word answers that would be deemed useful and could score the featured snippet in Google, also called Position Zero.
Plus, good content comes in many forms; it’s compelling and often easier to digest because of sourcing, rich media, and sensible structure/formatting.
Google wants substance, evidence, and facts from authority entities on whatever the topic may be. Turns out, longer content typically has these elements baked into it.
That’s a big reason why long-form content ranks better in organic search than short content.
According to a HubSpot study from 2021, the ideal blog post length for SEO should be 2,100-2,400 words.
That’s a lot longer than the 200- or 500-word blog posts most writers or webmasters think is ideal.
Depending on the query, the search results on Page 1 may not be flooded with blog-style content, but the content that is going to be deemed resourceful by users — and Google — certainly may include well-constructed, thoughtful blogging content that satisfies a search query.
And that should be your goal as you begin planning content ideas and article structure for your website’s blog and other written on-site content.
What Does Google Say About Blog Post Length?
Google stands firm that word count is not a ranking factor.
There’s an entire episode of SEO Mythbusting dedicated to the topic of 0n-page content.
Google’s Martin Splitt confirms the number of words on a page is not taken into consideration when ranking search results.
What he means by that is Google does not total up the number of words on a page and use that number as an indication of quality.
A page with 1,000 words is not automatically seen as higher quality than a page with 500 words because it has twice as much content, for example.
That messaging is consistent whenever Googlers are asked about word count, which is a topic that comes up quite often.
Here’s Google’s John Mueller getting asked about it on Twitter. He states:
“Word count is not indicative of quality. Some pages have a lot of words that say nothing. Some pages have very few words that are very important & relevant to queries. You know your content best (hopefully) and can decide whether it needs the details.”
It’s important you don’t read that statement and think you can publish the bare minimum amount of content because Google doesn’t care how many words are on a page.
The number on its own means nothing to Google. However, Google’s algorithm is designed to satisfy user intent, and the intent of the search may call for a longer article over a shorter one.
What you should take away from Google’s position on blog post length is to focus on satisfying searchers. If a short post satisfies the query, then there’s no need to extend the length in hopes of pleasing Google.
Quality Over Quantity: Don’t Focus On Article Length
Too many people put too much emphasis on the average word length for articles and the misunderstood importance of having more than a certain number of words on each page to rank well.
Sure, it’s important to have some substance (and length) to the piece, but it’s not worth publishing a 2,500-word redundant review of a movie talking about the main character’s bad hair and foul language four different ways throughout the entirety of the content.
Surely the movie offered other elements and scenes that make the movie good or bad. Talk about them. Expand on real situations with reactions and in-depth explanations.
That’s what people are looking for when they search for information about a movie. “Was the movie good?”; “Why was it good or bad?”; and “Should I watch it?” are the real questions. The best movie reviews answer all three of those questions and don’t make it hard to figure out.
Give users what they want regardless of how many words it takes to say it. If it feels like you’re writing uninteresting copy for the sake of inflating the word count, know that your readers can feel it as well.
Moreover, Google is capable of recognizing content that contributes little to no added value to the web. That means longer posts can actually hold your site back in search if they don’t say anything useful.
Choose Your Target Audience: People, Personas, And Keywords
Like all good web content, you need to have a goal — a target.
You need to study your target audience. Who’s going to search for and consume your content?
You also need to consider that person’s level of intent as well; are they looking for basic discovery information, or are they trying to buy something right now in as few clicks as possible? Your content will reflect that person and their different stages of user intent.
Ideally, good content is mapped out before it is even created. It should connect the goals of your website/business and the content you are publishing with the goals of the users looking for it.
If you’ve done your audience research and still aren’t sure how long your posts should be, you can get a better idea by looking at the content they’re already consuming.
Search for keywords you want to target and examine the content that shows up on the first page. The length of those blog posts is a good source of insight into what it takes to answer those queries.
Content should satisfy a user’s search query. Thus, content should satisfy the user.
And, most importantly, there may very well be similar content on a website that satisfies various stages of user intent for one specific topic. That isn’t an accident.
Don’t Just Focus On Written Page Copy
Quality content goes beyond just written words. The best content connects thorough research and respectable writing with a user’s interest (their search query).
Even a great video should be accompanied by well-written text that explains the video, it’s concept and goals, and any other resources that may improve the content to better help the user.
That’s our ultimate goal as content strategists: offer the best information, in the most appropriate format, on the right platform.
For some topics, a blog post may not even be the best way to communicate the information to searchers. A detailed tutorial, for example, might be more suited for a video demonstration.
Content like an interview with an industry expert may be more preferable to consume in audio format than in plain text.
Sometimes the written word is the best way to communicate information. But other topics are more suited to visual, requiring photos or video. Sometimes, audio files will be the best type of rich media.
When you use visual or audio content, be sure to accompany it with written content that can connect the dots and make sense of everything on the page, as well as help users find your content.
That’s not only a good practice for readers, it’s necessary for Google as well. Word count is irrelevant, at least some written content is required to provide context to photos, videos, and audio shows.
Your content can take many forms, and it can be discovered and consumed in numerous ways.
It shouldn’t be your goal to write 2,500 words on a blog post because that seems like the “perfect length” to rank well in organic search.
If you’re worried about hitting an ideal blog post length for SEO, then you’re missing the point entirely.
Your goal should be to supply the best, most useful (and optimized) version of the content for your target audience that matches their intent.
Your audience will appreciate it – and your website analytics will reflect that.
- Word Count & SEO: What Content Marketers Need to Consider
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