What is the ideal length of a blog post? When it comes to writing blog posts, less is not necessarily more. In fact, longer blog posts, with a word count of around 1,600 words, perform the best in search engine rankings. For many of us, that means changing the way we approach blogging.
Your company’s blog is a powerful content marketing tool. It enables your content to reach a broad audience. Blogs are highly adaptable and can target a B2B as well as a B2C audience. You can even use blogging internally to enhance your company’s employer branding and boost employee engagement.
All these advantages, combined with relatively low costs and easy maintenance, make blogging a very smart choice. But how can you make sure you’re getting the most out of every blog post? Are your blog posts ranking high on Google searches? Are they creating a buzz so that readers share them with their friends and colleagues?
If your content is struggling to reach the top of the search results, there may be a simple explanation. It’s time to look closely at your word counts. Read on to find out why you should be writing longer posts.
Why short blog posts don’t rank well
Researchers have found that the highest-ranking blog posts on any topic always contain at least 300 words. This may come as a surprise to even long-time bloggers. Many of us are dedicated to the “KISS” (“keep it short and sweet” or “keep it simple, stupid”) mentality when it comes to our blogging. It seems logical. After all, we know that online readers are easily distracted. No one has hours of free time to sit and read blog posts, right?
It’s true that shorter texts are more accessible to readers. But another important indicator of a blog post’s performance is how well it ranks on Google and other search engines (but mostly Google). And the truth is: short blog posts do not rank as well as longer ones.
Any post below 300 words in length is very unlikely to appear in Google’s top-ranking search results. Let’s look at some of the reasons why.
Reason #1: Lack of SEO features
There are technical reasons why short blog posts underperform. For one thing, search engines like Google find it difficult to identify the context for the content in smaller posts. This makes it harder for them to match your posts with keywords that people commonly search for.
Short posts don’t give you enough opportunities as a blogger to integrate SEO features. Short content usually lacks the important components that search engines like Google pick up on. These include:
- headlines and subheadings
- repeated use of keywords
- alt tags and metadata
- bulleted lists (like this one)
Reason #2: Short posts aren’t really as good
We like to think that “less is more” and “short and simple” is the goal of blogging. However, short blog posts don’t give you enough space to explore topics in the level of detail that people really find useful. Because they are so superficial, they don’t really add much value to people’s lives or deepen their understanding. That means people are less likely to engage with the content or share it with people in their network.
Why longer blog posts perform better
So, how do we determine the ideal word count for blog posts? The clever researchers at Medium did this by looking at the amount of time people tend to spend looking at a blog post before clicking away. They found that seven minutes is the sweet spot for holding your online reader’s attention. And, on average, that is the amount of time it takes to read 1,600 words.
“Seven minutes is the sweet spot for holding your reader’s attention. That’s around 1,600 words.”
It’s not to say that every blog post from now on must be 1,600 words in length. But, 1,600 is a good ball-park figure for bloggers to keep in mind. Just be careful: the quality of content is becoming more important than ever, especially with the introduction of Google BERT.
Also, if you’re trying to create a buzz around your content, longer posts are also the way to go. Research by Forbes finds that blog posts with over 1,500 words get over 68% more shares on Twitter and over 22% more likes on Facebook than shorter posts.
Quantity AND quality
Google BERT is designed to replicate human language more realistically than any previous search engine algorithms. That means authentic, natural-sounding content will rank higher in search results than ever before. And that brings us back to word count: it takes more than 300 words to write a high-quality, authentically engaging piece on any topic.
With Google’s new focus on providing high-quality, value-added content, it’s time for content marketers to focus on producing excellent blog posts. This poses some challenges for marketing teams. Let’s take a look at some of those.
Challenge #1: Producing engaging content
Just because your blog post is written for the seven-minute reader doesn’t mean it will actually hold the reader’s attention. That takes good writing skills. This is why it is essential to work with professional writers if you want your content to perform.
Professional writers are good storytellers. They know how to hold on to your readers’ attention. This enables them to create an emotional impact and engage with your target groups.
With BERT, Google is better than ever at telling high-quality texts from inferior ones. That means that the days of sloppy clickbait-style texts are numbered. The future of B2B/B2C blogging is high-quality text written by professional writers.
Challenge #2: SEO still matters
A higher word count is not a guarantee for SEO performance. You still need to follow the rules of SEO to make sure your content ranks well on Google. This is another good reason to work with professional writers who live and breathe SEO.
If you’re still committed to producing your own content, just remember to do your keyword research. Make sure your blog posts provide answers to the questions your target readers are asking.
“Professional writers are the future of B2B/B2C blogging.”
Choosing the right word count for your content goals
We know that longer blog posts rank higher on Google. But remember, there are different ways to measure success. Above all, you’ll want to keep your own content goals in mind.
Shorter blog posts can still serve important purposes. There are also some advantages to creating them. They are cheaper and faster to produce, for example. Also, if your goal is to produce short, concise content with a fast call to action, then a 300- to 500-word post may still be a smart choice.
Still, it’s hard to ignore the research, which clearly shows the advantages of longer posts. For most B2B and B2C bloggers, an important goal is to attract new readers. And that’s where longer word counts can make all the difference, thanks to their SEO benefits.
So, are your blog posts the right length for SEO?
As always, it’s advisable to use a mix of techniques for engaging with your readers. While some of your readers appreciate a nugget of information that gets straight to the point, others will prefer an in-depth post with storytelling elements.
So, what is the ideal length of a blog post? Bottom line: while quantity clearly matters, quality matters even more. A well-written shorter post will add much more value for your readers than a longer, badly written text. And with Google BERT’s commitment to showcasing good writing, quality should be the top priority for any blogger today.