If you’re a content marketer, you’ve surely asked the following question at some point:
How long should my blog posts be to rank on Google?
There’s a lot of advice on the internet about the ideal length for a blog post, but there’s not much that helps you figure out how long your blog posts should be.
Let’s start by looking at what the studies have concluded about blog post length best practices, before exploring how to come up with a target length for your blog posts.
What the studies have concluded about ideal blog post length
There is a lot of data out there that connects blog post length with performance.
Here are the findings of a few of the leading marketers:
HubSpot says that blog posts should be 2,100-2,400 words for SEO purposes.
Semrush concluded that 7,000+ word articles performed best, driving nearly 4x more traffic than 900-1,200 word articles.
Backlinko found that 3,000+ word blog posts generated the most backlinks… which is a huge part of ranking on Google.
As you can tell, longer is usually better in the eyes of the almighty Google.
Why does Google like longer blog posts?
To understand why Google tends to reward longer blog posts, you have to understand the purpose of Google: the search engine tries to provide the result that best matches the user’s search intent.
So, if a user searches, “How to make money online,” a 3,000 word article that lists 20+ ways to make money online with details on how to get started on each is going to rank higher than a 500 word article that touches on 5 ways to make money online – all things being equal.
Here’s one reason why:
The “20+ ways” article is more likely to match the user’s search intent (probably to read about several different ways to make money online) than the “5 ways” article. Google is notoriously secretive about its algorithm, but they clearly have ways to detect the comprehensiveness of a resource. One possible way is dwell time – the amount of time that a searcher stays on a page before going back to the search results. There are clues and signs that Google uses dwell time as a ranking signal.
But another big reason why the comprehensive resource is likely to outrank the shorter article is because the longer article is more likely to attract backlinks.
To fully grasp why, let’s look at an example:
Let’s say someone has a travel blog and wants to help her readers learn to make money online and make their long-term travel dreams a reality… but she doesn’t have the time or expertise to write the article herself.
Is she more likely to link to the short article or the comprehensive resource?
(That was a rhetorical question.)
All that said, longer isn’t always better. If a query can be answered with a short blog post, then you should write a short blog post – the Google algorithm is advanced enough to know when, well, enough is enough. But longer is usually better because there is usually more to say about a topic.
But aren’t attention spans lower than ever?
The data is pretty clear, but you may be thinking:
Aren’t attention spans shorter than ever? The average human attention span is now shorter than a goldfish, right? (It is.)
But you should still cover topics in full.
Here are a couple of reasons why:
First, your target audience wants to read in-depth resources about the topics your blog covers. Going back to the make money online example, if someone has a short attention span, but they want to make money online and travel the world more than anything else, they are likely to devour any content on the subject.
Second, many users don’t read your entire article… and that’s okay. According to an NN study, users read around 20% of the words on the average page. This does not mean that users aren’t getting value from your articles; it means that they are scanning the articles and reading certain parts. But different users are going to get value from different parts of your article… so you have to write the whole thing.
To expand on that second point, we all want to be above average, so we’re going to strive to get the average user reading more than 20% of our pages. Also, these are averages; those most likely to turn into paying customers – i.e. your target audience – is going to read more than your average user. All that said, don’t be worried if every user isn’t reading every word.
How long should your blog posts be?
The answer to “how long should your blog posts be” is not as obvious as it appears because producing longer blog posts is typically more resource intensive. The ideal length for your blog posts depends not only on your available resources (what you can invest in production), but also on the likelihood of getting a payoff (this can be imperfectly measured by domain authority).
Brian Dean is a brilliant marketer, but he is able to justify large time and financial investments into his content because he knows that he is going to get an excellent ROI. If Google “loves” your site and you have resources, then by all means, produce 2,000-3,000+ word blog posts!
But if your site has a low domain authority and is getting very little traffic, on the other hand, your “investment” might not generate much traffic.
Here’s a four-step plan to execute with your blog posts if you fit the latter category:
- Write several shorter, but quality posts – perhaps in the 1,000-2,000 word count range. Try to include some visuals, but don’t go overboard on production.
- Keep an eye on your rankings.
- If you notice that you are ranking on page 2 for a key term(s), and you feel like page 1 is there for the taking, then you should invest time and resources into making the article better and getting onto the first page. You can make it longer, invest in visual assets, add in certain keywords… the whole nine yards.
- Watch the traffic roll in!
Too many content marketers think that their work is done when they hit the publish button. But in reality, the work is just getting started.
There’s more to blog post performance than length
Even though length is an important part of your rankings, it’s far from the only factor. Here are 200 Google ranking factors.
It is difficult and/or expensive to optimize for some of the ranking factors. For example, it’s really tough to get backlinks from authority websites.
But it’s a lot easier to optimize for other ranking factors, such as on-page SEO.
Go for the low hanging fruit before reaching for the stars.
Not sure how long your blog posts should be?
It’s not always clear how long your blog posts should be. Maybe you’re in a niche where there isn’t much of an appetite for long-form content… or one where your readers would prefer extra-long articles. Or maybe you have the resources to invest heavily in content creation, but your domain authority isn’t too high.
If you haven’t been able to determine the perfect length for your blog posts, SERP Builders can help you out.
Based on your budget, domain authority, niche, and content marketing goals, we can find the right length for your blog posts.