In October, 2011, we originally wrote an article titled “How Long Should A Blog Post Be?”. Over the last nearly ten years, that article has received over a quarter million visitors. A popular topic? Certainly is.
Just one year after writing it, we landed at the time our biggest client ever through that same blog post. And since then, have brought on several other clients through that post.
In 2020, we decided to replace that post with the one you are now reading. In reviewing the content of that post, it, in part, said that:
In 2011, the length of your blog post really doesn’t matter. I know many of you “internet marketing gurus” don’t like this answer because you think that a blog post should be 442.323 words exactly but there is no formula. Think about it this way, if every single post you wrote was 450 words, wouldn’t that raise some suspicious over at Google? I bet it would. Vary it up–search engines LOVE good content, but there is no limit to the length of that content. I personally suggest staying around 400 words on average, but of course from time to time you are going to have 200 and 800 and 1,500 word blog posts. It’s all natural, and honestly these days if your website looks natural to search engines and looks of high quality that’s is a huge plus right off the bat.
While we still partially believe some of that information, in 2020, the reality is that the length of your blog post does matter. But there are also other factors at play when it comes to writing and ranking a blog post. This new article will still answer your question, but will also explain several other critical factors you must consider in 2020 and beyond for your blog posts to actually bring you traffic and value.
For organizational purposes, this article will be broken down into the following key sections all designed to help you maximize the traffic potential, value, and ROI of your blog posts:
- Why should I blog in the first place?
- What is the purpose of my blog post and via what traffic mediums?
- How long should my blog post be?
- How long should a blog post take to write?
- How can I maximize the conversion value and ROI of my blog post?
Why Should I Blog In The First Place?
Blogging has been around for over a decade and is a term many business owners hate because they don’t understand it. Whether you want to call it a newsroom, article repository, online content library, blog, or make up your own term, it all simply refers to content on your website.
Gone are the days of building static websites and reaping the benefits of gaining organic rankings, traffic, and most importantly revenue just by having a website. The internet of today is far too competitive — nearly 2 billion sites versus a mere 0.3 billion when we originally addressed the topic of how long a blog post should be — which means your content must be stellar to gain a coveted spot at the top of organic search results.
We believe every business should have a blog for the purposes of connecting with their audience, establishing themselves as an authority in their industry, sharing their expertise, opinion, and points of differentiation, and allowing them to reap the benefits of online traffic generation.
Writing content is something that search engines love. When it comes to SEO, we constantly preach the three main pillars of SEO are on-site technical aspects, off-site link building, and content creation. Without any one of these pieces, your SEO will not be successful.
SEO is one of the most powerful lead generation tools available when done properly. The ROI is second to none and quality of leads is difficult to beat. Put yourselves in the shoes of a consumer — more likely than not, your search for a new product or service will begin with a search on a search engine — so you absolutely want to make sure your business is the top result. Behind referrals and worth of mouth marketing, which can be difficult to scale and consistently rely on, SEO is the top source of traffic for the majority of our clients as well as our own business, and more importantly the top source of both new client acquisition as well as revenue.
Day after day I still speak with business owners who don’t engage in SEO. No matter how many times we explain the benefits, they think it won’t happen to them or they have been burned by low quality SEO providers. When you do SEO the right way, which includes proper content creation, the ROI is tremendous.
So in short, to answer the question of why you should blog, the answer is because blogging helps your SEO and SEO helps your bottom line.
What Is The Purpose Of My Blog Post? How Will It Get Visitors?
Not all blog posts are written for SEO. While the vast majority of content on a website’s goal is to drive traffic via SEO (especially blog posts), it may be that a blog post is being written from a completely different perspective.
For example, if you are engaging in an email marketing campaign and want to include a link to a post, that may be your end goal/traffic driver. Perhaps you are going to post something on social media for your followers to engage with leading back to your blog post, that may be your end goal/traffic driver.
For the purposes of this blog post, we are assuming your traffic goals are SEO, and that you are writing your blog post for SEO. However if you are writing it for other purposes, then the length, content, and information can really be whatever you wish, long or short, high or low quality.
There is one additional thing to keep in mind if your content is not SEO focused — and that is the fact that Google will still find it. Just because you are writing a post with the intention of only sharing it on social media or in an email or some other medium doesn’t mean it won’t potentially still impact your website. In 2019, Google released an update called expertise-authoritativeness-trust (EAT for short), which combined with other algorithms, looks at your website content and judges the length and quality of the content and information.
Gone are the days of your website’s pages and posts living in a silo. Google now evaluates both individuals pages and content, but also your website as a whole. This is nothing new, but something that has become increasingly aggressive over time, with EAT arguably being one of the most aggressive changes in recent history.
This means that your content should follow Google guidelines, be of the proper length, and be of the proper content quality even if your intentions aren’t SEO! So this leaves content creators with two options.
- Make all your content follow SEO best practices. This means even if your post is for social media or email, it will still follow SEO best practices.
- Do whatever you want for your “non-SEO” content, but be sure to set it to “noindex, nofollow” so Google does not count this page, index it, or follow the links on it. This will potentially help protect your site from any adverse impacts to your overall SEO for having pages that are not up to the latest SEO standards.
How Long Should My Blog Post Be?
Now on to the million dollar question — just how long should my blog post actually be? Don’t hate me, but there is no blanket answer to this question. But don’t worry, we won’t leave you hanging.
Many SEO experts will say your length should be secondary and that you should focus on quality content and engaging content that will resonate with your readers and attract natural links.
We say that while this is all true and sounds good, there is more to it than that. First off, length often directly correlates with the quality of a post and how well it connects with your target audience. And even if it didn’t, we would still disagree, because we have experienced first hand the importance of length on traffic and rankings.
As an exercise in this, one of the things we often do when examining a particular topic is examine the competition. For this purpose, we’ll give an example of an article we recently wrote for a client of ours. The title of the article is “What should I do if I’m injured in an Uber accident?”
In this example, our client is the #1 result (and actually another client of ours is the #6 result). Let’s examine the first 10 results and evaluate the length of their content:
- 1,353 words
- 1,468 words
- 1,909 words
- 2,145 words
- 1,209 words
- 1,302 words
- 1,022 words
- 803 words
- 872 words
- 822 words
Now, this isn’t an exact science, but in general, the longer posts rank higher and as we get further and further down the results, we see shorter and shorter content. Keep in mind that this assumes all else is equal which it is not (some sites are better optimized on-site than others or have better/more links than others), but what we generally see if that longer posts rank higher.
Similarly and more importantly, let’s assume your site isn’t in that top 10 list but you want it to be. You are doing a fantastic job with your on-site optimization and off-site link building, but just don’t yet have a piece of content that addresses this topic. Part of your research before writing the post should be examining who is ranking currently, and how long is their content. This is the silver bullet to determining just how long your content or blog post should be — what your competitors are doing.
If you are going after a topic with multiple articles in the 4,000 word range, then your best bet is to write just as high quality of an article or better in that same range. Similarly, if you are going after a topic where everyone has written 1,000 words, up the bar and write 1,500 or 2,000 words of high quality content and your chances for ranking and staying ranked will increase dramatically.
While the length of your post isn’t everything, this is the strategy we employ quite successfully to determine how long a particular post or piece of content should be when writing it for our clients. And we can say from experience it works extremely well.
How Long Should It Take Me To Write My Blog Post?
This is an interesting question and one that is also important to the discussion on how long your blog post should be. The reality is that we all have less and less time in the day as our schedules get busier and busier and we are tasked with wearing more than one hat.
But the reality also is that quality matters. You can’t just slap together a blog post and throw it up and hope it will provide value to you. Because at the end of the day, if it isn’t providing value to your visitors and readers, it also won’t provide value to your bottom line.
I could have easily written this blog post on how long a blog post should be in less than thirty minutes. I could have slapped up some generic information and published it and marked it off my to-do list. But, I wanted it to actually provide value to my readers, and ultimately and selfishly I wanted it to provide value to me and my business, so I took about four hours to organize it, plan it, research it, and write it. That may sound like a long time to some, but considering the post is around 4,000 words long, that really isn’t too bad.
The amount of time you put into your blog post is going to determine how much you get out of it. And that time doesn’t directly correlate with length. I have often written 1,000 word posts that take me longer than 3,000 word posts, simply due to whether or not it is on a topic that I am highly familiar with or need to heavily research, as well as how many graphics and supporting information it requires.
In general, however, the more research, graphics, and supporting information, the better the quality of the post, which will translate both into higher rankings, more traffic, more engagement, and ultimately more potential revenue opportunities.
How Can I Maximize The Conversion Value & ROI Of My Blog Posts?
This is a fun question to ask because at the end of the day, the goal of your blog posts should be to provide benefit to your website. Whether that benefit is more visitors or more revenue, if it isn’t providing value, there isn’t much use for it.
A well-researched topic is the first step. Writing a post about some random topic that no one is searching for probably won’t provide much value. Answer a question that people are searching for, and optimize your post to be about that topics as well as the solution.
Make sure you write quality posts that connect with your audience. We talked about this in the last few sections, but a low quality or short article probably won’t provide much value.
Determine the right layout for your posts, ensuring they are easy to read, but also have strategically placed calls to action to ensure people have a way to take the next step or action that you intended. After all, if your content lives in a part of your website with no call to action, it probably won’t have a very good conversion rate.
And last but not least, make sure your blog posts are responsive, load quickly, and read easily.
Original Post From October 2011
For those of you who still want to take a trip down memory lane, we are including the original post from 2011 below just for fun. It’s always interesting to see over a decade how SEO and writing online can evolve, and there are still some tidbits of wisdom in the original post.
Just how long should a blog post be? It’s one of those questions that I honestly get asked all the time–both from a reading perspective as well as an SEO perspective. In this article we’re going to talk a little more about writing blog posts, how long a blog post should be, and how to optimize a blog post for both your readers as well as search engines.
First off let’s start by saying that I never suggest writing blog posts for search engines or SEO. Some people write articles that make absolutely no sense at all to a human reader, but they probably make a lot of sense to search engines because every other word is one of their keywords they are trying to rank for. Just don’t do it–you will diminish the value of your blog, lose your readers, and honestly it won’t help much at all with SEO anymore–Google has some pretty darn good spam filters these days.
How Long Should A Blog Post Be?
Well it depends. What are you trying to do with that blog post? Tell a story? Explain how to do something? Give instructions? Vent how bad of a day you’re having? Share a time and location for an upcoming event? There’s millions of reasons why people post to blogs, and each reason has a different answer for how long the blog post should be.
Short Blog Posts: I rarely write short blog posts, but when I do they are typically between 150 and 300 words. These are usually reserved for simply making announcements or posting an event. These types of blog posts usually obviously can’t convey much information. As far as SEO goes, it’s our opinion that shorter blog posts aren’t as popular on search engines simply because search engines are looking for a good amount of content.
Medium Blog Posts: These are the majority of our blog posts and usually range between 400 and 750 words. These blog posts are long enough to convey a good amount of information about a topic and are well liked by search engines. I’ve also found that these types and lengths of blog posts often do well on social media and are more likely to go viral than other lengths.
Long Blog Posts: These are used by us from time to time to convey a good amount of information about a topic and usually are reserved for topics that obviously require a more in depth or step by step explanation. These blog posts are typically between 750 words at 1,250 words–it’s really rare for us to ever post more than 1,250 words in a blog post– and typically these posts also do quite well naturally ranking in search results.
How Long Should A Blog Post Be For SEO Purposes?
It doesn’t matter. I know many of you “internet marketing gurus” don’t like this answer because you think that a blog post should be 442.323 words exactly but there is no formula. Think about it this way, if every single post you wrote was 450 words, wouldn’t that raise some suspicious over at Google? I bet it would. Vary it up–search engines LOVE good content, but there is no limit to the length of that content. I personally suggest staying around 400 words on average, but of course from time to time you are going to have 200 and 800 and 1,500 word blog posts. It’s all natural, and honestly these days if your website looks natural to search engines and looks of high quality that’s is a huge plus right off the bat.
Overall when writing blog posts don’t be afraid to mix up the length of your posts–the more important thing is to have regular posts so you can develop a following and have you readers looking forward to the next post you publish.