There’s been a lot of moaning about our shortened attention spans, which are just 8 seconds in length — shorter than that of your goldfish.
Apparently, our dynamic, tech-laden world has made us busier than we’ve ever been — we’ve got inbox overload, and Attention Deficit Disorder, and . . . oh, look — a chicken!
And yet, the wizards of the marketing world would have you believe that long-form content — those posts, white papers, and other e-content that passes the lofty peak of 1,200 words or so — is supposed to be king for getting results in the form of traffic.
These two things certainly don’t go hand in hand.
How long should a blog post be, really?
As we approach 2019, I thought this would be a useful topic to tackle, as you’re prepping those content pieces for the New Year calendar. Read on and discover the startling truth about blog post length best practices.How long should a blog post be? @JuliaEMcCoy discusses the long and short of it (yes, pun intended!). #contentmarketing Click To Tweet
Size Matters — The Ideal Blog Post Length for 2019 Is . . . Long
So, you’ve heard, right? Gone are the days of short-form content, those bite-sized posts of less than 600 words?
(Actually, they’re not dead yet, but more on that later.)
And gargantuan posts that might take you — gasp — seven minutes or more to read are here to stay?
You’ve got your fingers pressed to the keyboard and you’re ready to start writing, but you need a goal, a number to reach for. Well, it’s . . . it’s . . .
You see, “long form” means something different to everyone. Take a look as some of the experts weigh in.
1. Moz and BuzzSumo — Contented with 1,000 Words
SEO-focused Moz coordinated with BuzzSumo to analyze over a million articles to understand how shares, links, and content are intertwined. Here’s what their research showed:
- Content that was at least 1,000 words or more got higher levels of shares and links than shorter pieces, particularly when the material dealt with research and fact-finding.
- They also found that most of the content online — over 85% — doesn’t reach the 1,000-word threshold, so it will be easy for you to perform well if you can surpass that high-water mark.
- Their research found the boost in search rankings and links diminished when content got over 2,000 words.
That’s a lot of in-depth study, but it’s not the last word on content length. Check out the next one:
2. Google Says It’s So — SerpIQ — Contented with 2,416 Words
SerpIQ, the keyword research tool, conducted a study in 2012 using over 20,000 keywords to find the average content length of top 10 results.
Survey says — all of the content sitting in the top 10 spots in Google was over 2,000 words and the average of the content in the number one spots across all keywords was 2,416 words.
Looks like Google like the long stuff. And yet . . .
3. Backlinko – Contented with 1,890 Words
Backlinko also conducted some research on factors that affect search engine rankings by using a million search results from Google.
They found that the content featured on Google’s front-page results averages 1,890 words. And in case you weren’t confused enough . . .
4. Hubspot — Contented with 2,250 Words or More
Moving along, we asked, “How long should a blog post be, Hubspot?” Their answer was in line with Google’s estimates, coming in at 2,250 words or greater.
However, once you tip over the 2,500-word count, traffic drops off sharply.
On the flip side, content with over 2,500 words has more backlinks and is shared more often on social platforms, so if your goal is more social media sharing, then aim for >2500 words.
You’ve seen all the data. So, how long should blog posts be in 2019? The answer is — it depends on your goals. Let me explain — remember my three-bucket content strategy?
While content should always — let me repeat — always be high-quality, the length will depend on your specific goals and where you are in your marketing cycle.How long should a blog post be? The answer depends on a lot of things. @JuliaEMcCoy shares her insights, alongside the experts, in this new blog post. #contentmarketing Click To Tweet
How Long Should a Blog Post Be If I Want to Rock SEO?
In determining how long a blog post should be for SEO, it’s important to consider trends in the world of search engines.
For example, if you asked how long should a blog post be in 2017, your answer would be totally different than this year’s response.
Because Google’s adopted a mobile-first index for this year. That means your content needs to be optimized for mobile to achieve the rankings you desire, which may affect rankings for even posts with spot-on length.
Nonetheless, research pegs the best content at about a 7-minute read.
But that still doesn’t help us discern the absolute right blog post length for SEO success.
And do you know why?
Because it’s not just about length.
You need to outpace your keyword competitors by producing longer — and stronger — posts, not just copying what they’re doing.
To do this effectively, you need to set two goals for your content.
- Answer your audience’s questions or fill their needs
- Exceed competitors’ content length
And then you need to realize that content length is keyword-dependent.
For example, if your research shows the average length of posts for your target keyword is 600 words, then you need to write at least 600+. If it’s 3,000 words, write more than 3,000.
If the average post length for your keyword is 200 words, you can probably slide into the number one position with a post of 1,000+ words.
Post length signals the search engines that you’re giving readers more value than your competitors, justifying a boost in ranking.
The Fly in the SEO Ointment
Seems like you have your answer now, right? Not so fast.
To really filter all this “how long should a blog post be” data requires stepping back from the results and giving them a broader look to understand why the longer posts are doing better.
Brian Dean from Backlinko has the answer, and it’s short and sweet:
Longer blog posts rank better because they’re filled with details. These details are what is giving readers value. Reader value is driving ranking.
So, this takes us back to my favorite mantra, “High-quality content is more critical than quantity.” People invest in you because of the quality of your content, not the quantity.High-quality content is more critical than quantity. People invest in you because of the quality of your content, not the quantity. More on the truth about #content length via @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet
And the data from the Backlinko study backs me up, showing that high-quality, comprehensive content helps websites achieve higher ranking than shallower content.
The secret sauce in this recipe is your authority.
How Long Should a Blog Post Be If I Want to Target Brand Awareness?
I am so glad you asked this question because here’s where the blog-post-length plot thickens. Let’s untangle the mystery by starting with some basics.
What Is Brand Awareness?
Brand awareness is the extent your audience can recognize — and connect with — your brand. It’s the first association they have when they hear your brand’s name or see your logo. Examples?
- Mercedes — luxury vehicles
- Toyota — reliable vehicles
- Jeep — rugged vehicles
Your goal in creating this awareness for your brand online is to have a positive association with your brand — using content, of course.
Short-Form Content Shines for Brand Awareness
Ideal blog post length is less of an issue for businesses with brand awareness goals.
That’s because the focus of this content should be shouting like a Who down in Whoville — “We are here! We are here! We are here!”
There are many great ways to accomplish this, including repurposing some of your long-form content blog posts into snappy infographics, cheat sheets, and checklists.
These provide real value for your audience in a short, easy-to-consume format. Other ways to leverage the power of short, but mighty, content includes:
Interactive content, like video, helps your target audience understand your brand better. In fact, 97% of marketers claim video has performed exactly this way for their brand.
Add that to the fact that 72% of people would rather see a video to learn about a service or product and you’ve got short, interactive content that packs a punch.
Remember, using video still requires the creation of actual content — in this case, a script — to relay your point succinctly and accurately.
But, you can fit a lot of words into a short time frame with video. In fact, a Forrester study showed that one minute of video can contain up to 1.8 million words!
Even if you choose video over “standard” content, you’ll need to craft those words carefully to ensure they’re providing value for the viewer — or no rankings for you!
Social Media Content
Social media is the ultimate short-form content venue, with the added plus of increasing engagement among your audience.
Brands like GE, Airbnb, and IBM have mastered the art of brand storytelling on these channels with creativity and aplomb, pulling their followers right into the narrative.
Standard Short-Form Posts
Part of short-form content’s bad rap stems from the fact there’s so much crappy short content hanging out there.
How can this be?
In part, because it’s incredibly valuable to his audience, whom he knows well (read: develop a persona, people — it works!).
Okay, okay — so you’re not as recognizable as Seth, how does this affect you? Well, have you heard of IFLScience? Most of you probably haven’t.
Yet this brand’s customers know them very well, indeed, as witnessed by their performance:
And their content is made up almost entirely of short-form — under 1,000 words — content. Why does this work?
Because they’re grabbing their target audience’s attention through their short posts by:
- Providing shareable content that’s unique, educational, informative, high-quality
- Using a single topic as a focus to each post
- Adding striking graphics to underscore the point
- Writing creative, hook-oriented headlines
What do all those features distill down to? Knowing your audience and providing high-quality content.There is no one-size-fits-all template for content length. But there is one thing more important than content length: high-quality content. #contentmarketing Click To Tweet
How Long Should a Blog Post Be for Sales Enablement?
Have I mentioned how important content is to your sales efforts?
All of those posts you’re creating — including blog posts, white papers, case studies, and more — are building trust and authority with your audience.
This positions your brand with them as the go-to when they’re ready to make a purchase.
If you look back to what we learned earlier in this article — that long-form content is critical because it provides those salient details your customers crave — you’ll realize that how long a blog post should be is directly related to the topic you’re sharing.
You want to create deep, highly informative content on your topic. If it’s a complex subject with lots of layers, then you’ll need to explore it in as much detail as possible.Complex subjects require longer, more comprehensive blog post lengths. @JuliaEMcCoy on #blogging Click To Tweet
Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to always write 5,000-word posts. For information that requires this kind of depth, consider a series of posts or a white paper.
Any way you slice it, your posts should be offering potential clients all the reasons they need to choose you over your competitors through high-quality content that trumpets your expertise in your industry.
Blog Post Length — The Long and Short of It
There you have it — the whole story on blog post length as it relates to each bucket in your topic strategy, for results as well as maximized profit.
You should have all the answers you need to forge ahead — whether you’re a new brand wondering, “How long should my first blog post be?” or an existing brand looking to fine-tune your content marketing strategy.
Just remember, there is no one-size-fits-all template for content length. It will vary depending on your industry, your keywords, and your marketing goals, so don’t let word count get in the way of your ultimate goal.
Can you guess what that is? (If you’ve been paying attention, I bet you can!)
That’s right — length doesn’t matter at all if the content you’re writing doesn’t have information, actionable steps, and real value for your audience.
For best results in rankings, awareness, and sales, the final target should be producing exceptional content that stands head and shoulders above your competitors’.
And hey, if you’re not sure about how to do that, I’ve got about a hundred of the finest content writers on the planet that can help you with that.