Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May of 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Over the years, there have been a thousand articles written on this subject.
And all those articles throw out complicated statistics and numbers about an ideal blog article length.
All the sources, graphs, data, and conflicting numbers are confusing, mind-numbing, and (often) misleading.
So for this article, we’ve done all the reading and researching for you. We’ve taken a look at all the studies, collated the data, and broken it down.
- The ideal blog length for your readers
- The ideal blog length to get your articles to rank
- The ideal blog length to get your articles shared
- The ideal blog length based on your resources
These are the numbers you need to know, with expert analysis.
Is there an ideal length for blog posts?
Before we get into this, we need to ask the question again: Is there really an ideal length for blog posts?
If there isn’t, this is going to be a very short article.
As you might expect, it’s a complicated answer.
Rand Fishkin has said (with passion) that blog post length all depends on your industry, your business objectives, your keywords and a dozen other variables.
And he’s not wrong. But it doesn’t help you.
You’re here because you want a place to start, not the be-all-and-end-all answer.
So is there an ideal length, even if we know it’s not the be-all-and-end-all answer?
And we’ll get into what that answer is in the next section.
However, there are a few things we need to address first:
- Length of posts doesn’t matter without quality.
Writing an ideal-length blog post doesn’t make it succeed. It has to be good.
What makes a good post?
- Be sure your article flows well and keeps readers on the page.
- Create an introduction which says something and then use the rest of the piece to prove it.
- Check your grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Nobody’s going to read a piece with glaring errors.
- Back your arguments up with statistics and cite your sources.
Creating good blog posts is more important than creating ones of a certain length.
- Your readers are more important than any of the numbers below.
Use this article as a place to jump off from. Start with these ideal blog post lengths and see what happens.
If your analytics tool says you have a high bounce rate, or your heatmapping tool says nobody is scrolling past the 10% mark on your pages, change something.
Don’t just follow this (or any other) article blindly.
Listen to the data and make an informed decision.
- Not every article needs to be one set length.
If you can say everything you need to in 1,000 words, don’t write 1,000 more because you’ve read this article.
That’s the same as writing a bad article (which, if you’ll remember, was point #1 above). Quality is way more important than length.
With the necessary caveats out of the way, let’s dive into the research.
The Ideal Blog Post Length For Your Readers
Let’s start with the most important variable in a successful blogging strategy: making your readers happy.
Without happy readers, ranking on Google is pointless. People will click and then bounce off your website without engaging at all.
In fact (and despite what your CMO might say), traffic is a vanity metric.
|What is a vanity metric?
Vanity metrics are defined as those metrics which might make you look good but do not actually help you drive revenue or understand the effectiveness of your efforts.
You could rank in the top spot for every keyword you want. You could drive a million readers a day.
But if none of them do anything when they arrive, what’s the point?
You could say “brand awareness,” and you’d be on the right track, but still off.
If your visitors aren’t finding anything on your website worth loving, you’ll be getting huge numbers of unhappy people now aware of how unhappy your business made them.
That’s not brand awareness you want.
That’s why it’s essential to find the ideal blog post length for your readers before we start messing around with ranking, social shares or anything else.
Luckily, Medium did in-depth research on this topic several years ago. The perfect article for your readers takes about seven minutes to read:
What’s the ideal length for blog posts that make your readers happy?
This makes logical sense.
Seven minutes is an amount of time in which a writer can provide enough value to keep readers engaged, but not so much that they start to grow bored.
Alright, one down. Three to go.
The Ideal Blog Post Length For Ranking on Google
Now that you’re creating blog posts which your readers like, you should know how to put those articles in front of the largest number of people.
That would be ranking on your target SERP.
Several years ago, SerpIQ conducted research on the average length of the top-ranking posts on Google.
They found that the posts in the top 10 results averaged about 2,200 words:
Why Do Long Blog Posts Rank Better?
There are a few reasons why longer blog posts tend to rank better in search results.
- It’s easier to add backlinks, and you’re more likely to receive them.
Backlinks are the backbone of SEO.
Longer posts offer more opportunities to link (and, with more comprehensive coverage of a topic, more of a reason to be linked to).
Here’s a quick look at the correlation between a high number of linking domains and word count.
- Longer blog posts get more social shares.
This post will get into blog length and how it relates to social sharing in the next section, but it’s worth noting here.
Social shares aren’t just a nice thing to get, they’re also (somewhat arguably) a serious SEO factor.
So the more social shares your content gets, the higher it will rank on Google. And longer articles get more social shares.
Simple math, right there.
But more on that in a second.
- Longer blog posts offer Google more chances to understand what the post is about.
Google’s RankBrain is the algorithm used by the search giant to understand what people mean when they search for something.
When you write longer blog articles, you can’t help but use more keywords and phrases.
The more keywords and phrases, the more likely Google will understand what your blog posts are about and serve them when people search for relevant terms.
Now that your articles are enjoyable and ranking well, let’s drive some social media engagement.
A few years ago, social media analytics giant BuzzSumo took a look at 100 million articles, analyzing what gets a blog post to be shared, and what doesn’t.
They examined the top 10% most-shared articles and noticed a clear correlation between length and share count:
Hubspot noticed something similar:
And Quicksprout confirmed the findings:
It’s a bit of an “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine” scenario: the better you rank, the more traffic you’ll get and (as a result) the more social shares your posts will receive.
The more social shares your posts receive, the better you’ll rank and the more traffic you’ll get.
Unfortunately, we can’t be 100% sure that longer blog posts don’t receive more social shares simply because they have higher traffic.
- Longer blog posts are, by definition, more comprehensive than shorter ones. This makes them more valuable and worth sharing with the reader’s network.
- Longer blog posts offer more chances for the author to include shareable call-to-actions (like tweetable links and images).
- Longer blog posts take longer to read, meaning a scrolling social share toolbar will be viewed for longer than on a short post.
The Ideal Blog Post Length For Your Resources
If you take the advice of the publishers and studies above and want to write longer posts, you may want to publish less frequently.
Otherwise you, and your readers, will burn out.
You have finite resources. Much of marketing is learning how to better use those resources.
No matter the size of your business – whether an early-stage startup in your parent’s garage, or a mega-corporation operating out of a dozen countries – return on investment is the name of the game.
A breakdown of what it takes to write great, long-form blog articles:
- Step 1: Research keywords and come up with your subject and working title (20 minutes)
- Step 2: Outline your blog post. Lay out your introduction, each section header and conclusion. Write the estimated word-count next to each section. (1 hour)
- Step 3: Research your topic. Find screenshots, business examples, statistics, etc. Add them to the relevant sections within your outline. (1 hour)
- Step 4: Write. Fill in the blanks of your outline. Add personality and ensure your post flows well and every assertion is backed up by a cited source. (2-3 hours)
- Step 5: Optimize. Check your blog posts for keyword density. Add links to relevant content within your domain and externally. (10 minutes)
A 2,000-word blog post should take a good writer about five hours to write. Anything less and you should be concerned about the quality or the originality. Anything more and they’re not as organized as they should be.
Ultimately it comes down to your own business’ resources. How do you want to use them?
If you have one full-time blog writer, they should get through five or six articles each week, with enough time left over for miscellaneous tasks and unplanned responsibilities that (inevitably) arise.
Do you want them writing six 2,000-word pieces or ten 1,000 word pieces?
Do you want high-quality, long-form articles which drive links, SERP rankings, shares and leads, or short-form posts which fail to cover the full subject and have proven to get fewer of pretty much every metric?
Especially knowing that publishing ten times per week may result in uncaring readers, lower your newsletter open rates, and leave you less time to promote those posts.
Here’s are the two strategies we recommend:
- Publish four times a week, and use the other two posts to build links and create relationships through guest posting on other sites.
Businesses that publish blog content 16 times per month generate 3.5x more traffic than businesses who publish two or fewer times:
- If you’re in running or marketing a business in the early stages, publish as much as you can. Try things. Throw subjects, content formats and even blog post lengths against the wall to see what sticks.
Keep an eye on the data and keep doing what works for you.
Don’t take these numbers as gospel.
You need to test.
Every business, every product, and every reader is different.
Studies of 1 million blog articles aren’t studies of your 1 million articles in your industry and with your readers.
Almost every one of the sources for this post was a SaaS or B2B business. Studying their results gives you a foundation from which to better understand how blogging works.
Their results aren’t your results.
You need to test it for yourself.
This post has effectively summarized all the most respected and essential data answering the question, “is there an ideal length for a blog post?”
But it doesn’t end there. Knowing the ideal blog length for your business objective and resources is only half the battle.
- The first step is creating the blog posts.
- The second step is publishing and testing your blog posts on your readers.
- The third step?
Unfortunately the third step is waiting.
SEO takes time. Social sharing takes time. Blogging success takes time.
No blog article ever written got to the top page of Google on its first day. So don’t expect it to.
But, hopefully, with a better understanding of what length your blogs should be, and why, you’ll have a higher chance of getting there and driving traffic to your business.