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How Long Should a Blog Post Be?

WordPress BlogIf I could pick one thing that most people get wrong when first looking at Internet Marketing and SEO it is the tendency to try and turn marketing, what should be a largely creative endeavour with the some technical overtones into a procedural, bullet pointed list of tasks that must be acted on with rote repetition.

Blogging certainly falls under the Internet Marketing / SEO umbrella and therefore we end up with people trying to take this procedural approach to writing Blog posts and it is this approach, this mindset that leads these people to fail and try ever more desperate and hopeless measures (*cough* buying links *cough*) in an effort to ‘market’ their website. 

So, in light of the freshly updated advice from Google on how to promote your site in search and to focus on quality rather than building links this post takes a look at the typical dry SEO advice on how long a Blog post should be. We will also look beyond the typical guidance and try to provide some simple advice you can use to research and find the answers that are right for you and your audience.

The Useless Generic Advice

First up, lets get the old school advice out of the way. So, if we do a quick Google for ‘how long should a blog post be for SEO’ then we see the typical advice. 500 characters, 300 words. Well, that’s just great. So, your average wannabe blogger then sets out with his main criteria for writing his blogs posts to be some arbitrary magical length that will make Google love his blog post. Reading this, you just know that’s kind of stupid – right?

How long should a Blog post be then?

The answer to this one is simple: a blog post should be long enough to answer the question posed by the title and short enough so it is not boring or tiresome and certainly so that the user can finish it without wanting to put a pistol in their mouth.

There are solid posts out there on technical topics that are maybe 100 words and do the job perfectly and there are great lengthy posts on weighty matters and data analysis that run into the tens of thousands of words.

The simple point here is a post should be as long as it needs to be to get the job done and to do it well. It should be as long as it needs to be and no longer.

Some real world advice

I appreciate the need for real world advice but rather than trot out some other generic (useless) advice how about we try to arm you with the skills to determine what is needed here.

  1. Review similar articles that do well and determine length and detail. Can you do better? Critique the current posts and look for opportunities where you can do something better and make that your guide. This should also clue you up to general ideas regarding length that are suitable for your audience.
  2. Where you have a long topic consider breaking it up into smaller pieces and publishing a series of posts. You can always write another overview or summary that then links out to all parts in the series. This approach gives you the ability to create posts that are more focused on sub topics but also target the higher level keywords with your summary post (win win).

Absolutes make life easy but there are no absolutes in search marketing and Blogging. Be creative. Do something better than the last man or do something that no one else is doing.

A parting thought

I read a quote several years ago that said ‘tough answers make for easy links’ and that is still true now. This really means if you search around a topic and there is no good answer, creating that answer and doing it well will generate interest and ultimately links. Well, maybe we could revise that and say ‘tough answers make for great blog posts’ and if you can do something better than what currently exists or tackle a matter with no authorative answer then you are already well on your way to success and blog post length does not even have to come into it. Let quality be your guiding light!

What are your thoughts?

Marcus Miller

I am an SEO Consultant based in Birmingham UK and with clients all over the world. I have been working in and around search for 15 years and currently focus on SEO Consulting, Website Consulting, Local SEO and Technical SEO Audits.

Comments (2)

  • comment_avatar

    Chris Menke

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    Hey Marcus, I happened to be researching this same question and found some research indicating that of researched serps in their study, the average number of words on the landing pages of page one search results was between 2000 and 2500. I’ve never heard of the company and their data set isn’t shown but its interesting info. You can see it over here: http://blog.serpiq.com/how-important-is-content-length-why-data-driven-seo-trumps-guru-opinions/

    Reply

    • comment_avatar

      Marcus Miller

      |

      Hey Chris, it’s an interesting read for sure and I agree that posts around the 1000 to 3000 word length tend to do better as do posts based on other research or data. Point is, I don’t think it is this specific length that is some kind of secret sauce and I think this is the wrong way to go about deciding how to put a post together. Sure, use it as a guideline and if your post is too short double check to ensure it has enough detail and fulfils the promise of the post title. Likewise, if it is over 3000 words consider whether you can chop it up and make a series as you will likely get more visibility chopping a topically broad and detailed post into manageable chunks.

      I grow ever more weary of SEO metrics and tools and tend to advise people now to focus on their own sites rather than being paralysed by attempts to identify a list of mechanical points that tick Google’s boxes.

      Just do something great and you will be okay. :)

      Reply

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