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SEO in 2020: How long should a blog post be

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SEO in 2020: How long should a blog post be

Long-reads vs. laconic posts is a longstanding SEO feud. More and more people are trying to find clear guidelines as to how long a blog post should be. Well, it all depends on the content. However, there are certain trends that influence the ranking in the SERP. The following information will provide a viewpoint for the text length required for making SEO strategy more effective.

Ideal article length evolution

The best blog post length has always been a rather volatile indicator of the post’s effectiveness. For example, in 2012, a post didn’t exceed 500–700 words which is about 4,000 chars. In 2014, the perfect blog post started decreasing and fell down to 1,600 chars because visitors wouldn’t read for more than seven minutes. 

Ideal article length evolution

In 2016, in-depth content became popular and blog posts became longer again – up to 2,500 words. The year 2018 was historic since Google started swapping to a mobile-first index and prioritized responsive websites.

According to Brian Dean and the SERPIQ’s case studies, the average blog post length should now feature about 2,000 words to have a chance of hitting Google’s top-10, as the graph below witnesses.

SEO in 2020: How long should a blog post be

Longreads: Pros and cons

Some marketers claim that people are too lazy for long-reads since they just scan but not really read the article. Others stress the necessity of providing users with valuable detailed content that, certainly, requires tons of words. Let’s sort it out.

Pros

  • Contain more valuable and detailed material.
  • Have more chances to win the first ranking in Google.
  • Drive more engagement and feature better responses from real content consumers.
  • Receive more shares and attract more backlinks.
  • Provide more opportunities to open up the issue from different perspectives.
  • Keep visitors on the website for a longer period.
  • Turn leads into customers/subscribers.
  • Ensure good conversions for an LP thanks to objections being addressed.

Cons

  • Become outdated faster.
  • Require a lot of time for writing.
  • Harder to edit and prepare for publishing.
  • Might be pricey for beginners or small companies.

Long posts do their job when it’s necessary to write an ultimate guide, review, narrative description of the sight, tour, any process (baking, fixing, etc.) or create any other heavily researched content. Such an approach makes a blog memorable since people always can find out how to solve their issues with the help of your content.

Short articles: Pros and cons

Short articles are also valuable, but they just have other objectives.

Pros

  • Take less time to be written.
  • People are more likely to read them all the way through, without being distracted.
  • It is easy to find a decent writer.

Cons

  • Google doesn’t rank short texts as well as long ones.
  • They’re not able to cover a wide range of issues within a topic.
  • Not enough space to insert the necessary number of keywords.

Short blog posts are pertinent when writing news or announcements, checklists, descriptions for subsequent infographics, diagrams and other visuals. They’re valid when it’s necessary to cover an extremely narrow topic within a niche or write discussion-based posts.

Here’s what the research says        

How many words should a blog be? The statistics we have today are attained through practice and research. The following data will be helpful for outlining your own content strategy. 

Noah Kagan of AppSumo claims that posts in the range of 3,000–10,000 words usually grab more shares. In addition, 2,000-word articles are also likely to become viral.

Moz in partnership with BuzzSumo audited a million websites and found that 85% of content features less than 1,000 words. That means fewer competitors for those who write more than a thousand words per article. So, they have a higher chance of grabbing better positions in the SERP and on social media platforms. On the flipside, Buzzsumo identified that longer posts are more likely to be shared on social media than short articles, as you can see from the graph below.

Buffer marketing platform defined that seven minutes of reading is equal to approx. 1,600 words, but they offer to reduce that number if the text contains visuals.

SEMrush stipulates that the narrower a topic is, the longer the text should be, based on the analysis of the top-10 Google pages for 600,000 keywords. Another research was conducted by CoSchedule. In the table below, you can see total and organic traffic as well as word count of the top ten performing blog posts: 

Define your own golden mean

As you can see, different studies offer different optimal post length. They all witness that the top ten results on Google search feature longer texts and are most often longreads. But, it’s up to you to decide on your article length, just take into account the niche and post objectives, when answering the question “how long is a typical blog post?”

Here is what you can do. Choose several articles from your blog that attracted more leads and converted more subscribers than other pieces of content. Sum them together and calculate the arithmetic mean of chars/words. This will be your optimal post length.

Consider your niche

Certainly, it’s crucial to bear in mind your topic when thinking of the ideal word count for a blog post. For example, if you write about celebrity news and gossip, long posts might be tedious for readers.

However, if your post aims at helping people make more informed decisions, it is necessary to dive deep into details, and short articles are not a great idea in this case. Look at the graph below to see the average blog post word count for different niches.

Thus, it is important to analyze the market and understand what length of the post works better in your niche. Also, pay attention to such indicators as engagement metrics, position in the SERP, CTRs, shares and so on. 

The best content length for SEO

Both longreads and short texts are able to satisfy readers. What about search engines? How many words in the post do Google algorithms “like”? In general, it prefers long texts since they get more backlinks. Google is more willing to rank long informative posts with plenty of passages that shed light on the various edges of the issue, as the picture below demonstrates.

The best content length for SEO

In terms of SEO, long texts contain more keywords. Thus, Google will be able to consider more users’ queries for ranking your website. To clarify the type of content that will be really successful, a SERP analysis is required where you’ll pay attention to a set of factors (niche, whether the posts include visuals, etc.). 

The optimal blog post length for your blog

Long articles deliver comprehensive information about a topic, but short posts draw attention to the key points. To find an optimal post length, explore statistics, read studies and research your niche. It’s a mistake to adjust content blindly to various agencies’ statistics instead of considering the whole range of factors.

The best length for a blog post depends on its content. Moreover, uniqueness and credibility are still in force, let alone the promotional balance between the blog post length, value and marketing is a killer mixture for competitors.