People often ask me what’s the ideal blog post length? There has been plenty written on the subject with some people saying 500 words, others 1000. But before we go into what exactly is the best blog post length let me share a bit about my experience with writing and numbers.
Throughout my career, I’ve had to follow many rules concerning the length of articles and stories. In the early days as a television journalist, I would write a script that would go for almost three minutes only to be reprimanded by editors.
“Even the top story of the day doesn’t get three minutes Nadine so go and halve it,” they would shout.
In print newsrooms, it was a similar scenario. The editors would just cut the story from the bottom, which taught me very quickly to ensure all relevant information is in the first few paragraphs. What I would consider an award-winning 2000-word article would be cut back to about 500 even less.
“We didn’t ask you to write a feature Nadine,” the editor would shout as I protested the butchering of my story. “There’s a lot of waffle in there so go and sit with the sub and watch him cut it.”
Holding back the tears and my confidence guttered, I would make my way over to the subs desk to learn how to write a story succinctly and to the point.
In PR I aim to write a press release no longer than one page and it’s straight to the point. Quite simply journalists want to know your pitch in the first paragraph and don’t have time to read waffle.
My ability to write succinctly has its good points and bad however when it comes to writing for SEO. Yoast, regarded as the leading SEO plugin for website creation tool WordPress, recommends each blog post and content on a webpage should contain at least 300 words to rank well in search engines.
Yoast still has a red dot on some of our pages because there’s not enough content. While a proponent of writing succinctly, it appears from research, interviewing SEO consultants and successful bloggers posts anything shorter than Yoast’s magic 300 words will struggle. Many bloggers have attributed their longer posts with growing organic traffic.
Why word count is important to increase Google ranking?
So just why was Yoast picking up on us for not writing enough words on some of our web pages and why do they say blog length is important for SEO?
According to a post by Yoast partner Marieke van de Rakt on blog post length, longer is better for numerous reasons, including Google crawlers just have more clues to decipher what your text is about and rank accordingly.
“You’ll probably have more headings, more links, and more pictures, in which the keyword will be mentioned,” Marieke writes.
She says you’ll also probably rank long-tail variants of the keyword for which you optimised your post, further giving you the chance to boost your organic rankings.
What is the ideal blog post length?
A few years ago, while relatively new to inbound marketing, I interviewed Robert Rose, an early pioneer and one of the true thought-leaders in the field.
I naively asked Robert so how long should I tell my clients to write their blog posts? His answer reminded me very much of the old sub-editor who guided me with the length of a story.
“The answer is frankly as long as it needs to be,” Robert says.
“There is no template answer to this as short content works, long content works and both are appropriate for mobile.
“The real answer is understanding the context for where our audience will consume the content and providing the length as a contextual attribute to our strategy.
“For example, if we’re reaching our target market through a channel on their mobile device and are catching them in transit then snackable, short pieces are probably optimal.
“But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also create the 1500 essay blog post to pay off that short content because the answer is truly in understanding our audiences.”
A colleague of mine Genroe founder Adam Ramshaw has been blogging for about 15 years. Genroe’s expertise is in customer feedback and experience management. The amount of input and interaction on their blog posts is impressive.
Adam says his company aims to write a blog post of about 800-1000 words.
“It should be long enough to give a good response but not too long that people never get to the end,” Adams says.
“We’ve tried very long posts of 3,000-4,000 words, but these seem to lack engagement as it’s too much to read which I think impacts on the search engine ranking.
“Also, short posts can be great, if they are targeted and answer the customer question, but that is more uncommon.”
Leading Inbound marketing platform Hubspot’s new pillar page and subtopic cluster model for writing blogs, pillar pages can be up to a few thousand words covering topics on a whole subject matter. In supporting subtopics, the word count is much less as only a single topic from the pillar page is being covered.
Writing, Readability and blog post length
Blog posts that are more than 1000 words can be more time consuming and difficult to read. To keep your target audience engaged takes skill. We will tackle effective writing techniques in future articles.
Written poorly they will probably not be read through, people may click away, chances of sharing will diminish and poor user experience will mean they probably won’t rank well in the search engines either.
If you are going to write a successful lengthy blog post then don’t just waffle. My teenage children often have strict word counts on assignments and nearly always write substantially over before coming to me for pruning help.
Like the skilled sub-editors who taught me I help get rid of the waffle and make every word earn its place.
If you’re writing a long post, then make sure it is well-structured and readable. Break up the text with sub-headings and images or even add an index. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short and to the point.
So, what exactly is the ideal blog post length?
My apologies, you’ve got to the end of this article and just like Robert Rose I’m not giving you a definitive ideal blog post length.
We learned from Yoast it should be more than 300 words, otherwise, your post will have too few words to rank in the search engines. There is no right or wrong answer for the length of a blog post.
Remember, you should always be writing for humans not just the search engines and your blog should be long enough to explain a concept, attract new leads to your site of offer some thought leadership on a subject.