How Long Should a Blog Post Be?
Have you noticed blog posts are getting longer? In 2021, the average blog post was 1,416 words, according to Orbit Media. That’s more than 500 words longer than the average blog post in 2015.
A corporate blog was once a way for an organization to produce a high volume of content in a short time with lots of brief posts. But now, blogs are proving to be an effective channel to deliver in-depth content your audience will want to spend time with. And that change has a lot to do with search engine algorithms.
Understanding Algorithms and Search Intent
Google’s algorithm is designed to satisfy search intent. That means it elevates web content that contains the terms people search for and aligns with what most people seem to want from searches with those terms.
For example, a person searching for “best smartphone” is probably looking for ratings and recommendations; they’re not ready to make a purchase. Webpages and blog posts that satisfy that intent will get a boost, appearing higher up on the search engine results page (SERP). A person searching for “iPhone 13 Pro Max” probably already knows what they want, and Google will return vendors that sell that model.
Is There a Magic Number?
Writing to satisfy search intent often calls for a longer blog post over a shorter one. Long-form content helps search engines determine if your post addresses the intent of a search in a way that doesn’t look like keyword stuffing, explains Tim Otis, head of SEO at Dreamscape, GLC’s sister company and part of SPM Group. Lengthy posts have more points to attract links and build authority from an SEO perspective.
“Most Google searches are informationally driven,” Otis says. “Our recommendation is to write longer blog content that is highly specific.”
While the average blog post is more than 1,400 words, some SEO experts say it takes around 2,500 words to optimize a blog post’s SEO. Otis generally considers 600 words a minimum.
Don’t let those numbers get you down. There are plenty of ways to create quality, in-depth content without too much effort.
Quality Topics Outweigh Quantity of Words
While there is a good amount of data showing posts with 1,500 – 2,500 words perform better in search engine rankings and number of shares, Google says word count is not a factor in its SERP rankings.
So, don’t aim for a specific word count. Rather, choose your topic with care, considering your audience and what you’d like to achieve with the blog post. It helps to think of a question your audience is likely to ask. Then, focus on answering that question with examples, research and lots of useful details and resources. The length will naturally follow.
Consider a cluster topic model, which involves creating an authoritative piece of content that acts as a hub, and multiple pieces of related content branching off it. Be sure to include internal links within the cluster of posts, so readers can easily navigate among them. This “closed ecosystem” has the benefit of passing the SEO value of the main post to the other pieces. “It doesn’t matter how long the pieces are with good internal linking,” says Otis.
In addition, tackling a topic thoroughly and from multiple angles helps establish your thought leadership.
Keyword Strategy: If You Can’t Beat Them, Avoid Them
If your blog post is highly specific, your keywords should be, too. This gives you three advantages:
- Your keywords are closely aligned with your content, which search engines like to see.
- You are not competing with a hoard of other returns on the most popular search queries.
- Searchers who visit your blog post are more likely to be truly interested in your topic.
The billions of specific terms that each have a small volume of searches are called long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords, when they are very relevant to your content, are low-hanging fruit you can gain quick wins on because competition for SERP ranking is low.
Here’s an example of how to take advantage of long-tail keywords: “Mental health” is a term searched on Google about 100,000 times each month, according to the Moz’s keyword research.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have the highest-ranked returns for that term. Your blog post on mental health is not likely to compete with these authoritative sources.
To reduce the competition for a coveted SERP position, consider narrowing your blog post’s focus—and keywords—to “employee mental health,” which garners about 240 searches a month. Even better, focus on “how to promote mental health in the workplace,” which gets about 27 searches a month.
You’re exchanging quantity for quality, so you may have fewer searchers. But because your terms are more specific, those who find your blog post are more likely to spend time reading and engaging with it.
Other SEO Must-haves: Links, Media and Engagement
Once you’ve settled on the right length for your blog post, give your audience ways to engage with your content and your organization.
Internal links are a great way to keep readers clicking around your website. And don’t be afraid to include relevant external links. Search engines favor content that creates multiple opportunities for readers to engage.
Think beyond text, too. Visuals, like infographics and videos, as well as fun or interactive elements, like recipes, checklists and quizzes, encourage readers to click and share, increasing the SEO value of your blog post.