The optimal word count for blogs these days seem to range anywhere from 140 characters to War and Peace. Finding the ideal length for a post or article — for the sake of both user experience and search engine optimization — depends on what you are writing, who your audience is, how they’re reading it, and a variety of other factors.
Some general rules on length
As a rule of thumb, blog posts should be at least 300 words to appear high in search engine results, according to Hook Agency. The shorter the post, the less likely it is to address readers’ questions and, therefore, the less valuable Google’s ranking algorithms will find it.
Longer posts generally dominate short posts in the battle for SEO. However, long, readable posts call for superb writing skills, which many content creators lack. Google built its search algorithm to hunt for credibility, meaning lengthy but poorly written articles will also receive a low ranking. Don’t publish a long blog post just to hit a specific word count. If you need to add length, you can always use other forms of content, such as videos or infographics.
Pinpointing the optimal word count for your content depends on your customer personas, niche, and the type of device they’re using. Alistair Dodds, the co-founder of London-based marketing firm Ever Increasing Circles, said you must decide, “Who is your audience? Age, gender, location, interests, habits, etc. What outcome are they looking to obtain from your content? Are they looking to learn something thoroughly, get a brief understanding or overview on a topic, or looking to pass the time?”
For example, video tutorials and screenshots with very little text may be ideal for how-to content like recipes, while lengthy text explanations are best suited for discussing more abstract concepts, such as complicated economic topics. Posting a transcript of your videos increases the word count on video posts, which supports the ranking for your targeted keywords.
Google Analytics data shows that eight of the top 10 of Dodd’s blog posts this year have been between 1,600 and 1,800 words, although some of his “ultimate guides” and lists that run past 3,000 words have also been very popular with his followers.
You can also use SEM Rush, an SEO tool that can tell you the average word count of your competitors’ content and analyzes how your content compares to theirs for a given keyword. This can help you decide if you need to beef up, shorten, or refocus your content.
How long is too long?
There’s no shortage of experts who suggest a specific number for your optimal word count. But given that each blog is unique and quality is somewhat subjective, you should experiment with blog posts of varying lengths to see which ones attract the most page views and have the highest “average time on page.” For example, blogger Charles Edge of Krypted has found that the Yoast plugin’s SEO scoring system gives him high scores for 700-word articles. Yet his most popular and most cited articles were much longer and got low scores from Yoast.
“Just writing a blog post packed full of keywords will not rank better than a short post that answers a reader’s query in detail,” says Dominic Kent, director of content marketing at software firm Mio in Austin, Texas. That said, “There is no such thing as too long if your content is quality.”
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