What’s the ideal blog post length? It’s a question new bloggers, small business owners and seasoned marketers ask themselves constantly. Rewind to a few years ago, and a 500-word post with some SEO was enough to get a place on the search engine results page.
But what about now?
Well, 500 words won’t be enough to improve your organic visibility, and as a long-form content writing agency, we know that longer posts always generate better results.
In this guide, we’ll talk about the changing trends of blogging, why long blog posts are better and the best content writing practices.
The Ideal Blog Post Length & How It’s Changed Over Time
If you’re old enough to remember life before the internet, you’ll know that it was a simpler time. People went to their 9-5 office job and spent time with their family in the evening. Weekends were full of days out, and Sunday mornings were reserved for reading the paper in bed.
Ever since that dial tone connected us to the world, the way we live, eat, communicate and work would change forever.
The internet has given us so much convenience, and most households in the UK have access to a broadband connection. But the ‘always-on culture means that we have less time to relax and shorter attention spans.
For this reason, many people believe that a short blog post offers more benefits, but that isn’t the case at all.
While people don’t necessarily want to sit and go through endless streams of information, they will read a longer blog post if it will benefit them.
The Average Word Count
Plenty of industry authorities have opinions about how long a blog post should be, including Medium, HubSpot and Buffer.
While Buffer thinks a blog post should be at least 1600 words, Medium advises a minimum length of 2000 words, while HubSpot looked at their most popular blog posts and found the ones between 2100 – 2500 words had the most engagement.
When we looked at how blog post length has changed over the years, we noticed that shorter content of 500 words or fewer gradually decreased in popularity over time, while longer posts became more common.
This table shows the distinct shift in trends from 2014 to 2020.
You’ll notice that most blog posts are between 500-1000 words long, but blog articles of over 2000 words will always perform better on the search engines.
Why Do People Still Write Shorter Blog Posts?
If it’s clear that longer blog posts are better for providing a better customer experience and more opportunities to rank on Google, why are people still choosing to keep their word count to under 1000?
Well, the simple reason for this is due to time constraints. Blogging takes time, and the average 1000 word blog post takes two hours to write – if you’re a professional.
The truth is, most businesses don’t have the time or willpower to craft a 2000 word post, so they stick with short posts and hope it’ll be enough to boost their organic performance.
In reality, most people would write long-form content if they could but worry about coming across as an industry authority.
The Benefits of Creating Longer Blog Posts
Imagine looking for a recipe online, only to find it had a list of ingredients with no clear instructions. That’s what a short blog post does because there’s not enough time to explore each topic in more detail.
Let’s explore the benefits of a lengthy blog post, so you can understand why they’re so crucial for your brand.
Longer Posts, Means More Time
If someone reads your blog post, and it’s over 1500 words, they’ll be more likely to stay on your website for longer – which helps your Google search position. Extremely short posts take two minutes to read at the most, but a more extended session with each visitor means Google will favour your website.
Not only that, but if you can provide value through one post, you can guarantee people will want to explore your other content too.
Make the Most of Your SEO Strategy
Search engine optimisation directly influences your website traffic, which is why it’s essential to write articles. A great content strategy will include a combination of impactive blog posts with keyword research, so the longer your post is, the more it will enhance your chances of appearing on the search results page.
With so many industry authorities offering conflicting information, it’s nearly impossible to find that perfect number for each post. In general, word counts of 1800 or more will achieve better rankings through Google searches than shorter posts.
The graph below, collected from numerous sources of information, gives you an idea of what it takes to grab one of those coveted positions.
It’s clear that longer blog posts have more opportunities to boost a website’s traffic, so taking an extra couple of hours to increase your length could result in much better rankings.
Build a Better Relationship With Your Audience
Let’s face it; we all love a freebie, and it’s something the retail sector knows all too well. Studies show that most in-store product purchases result from a special promotion (you can see The Guardian study on it here).
If you’re willing to offer your target audience actionable information without them having to make any financial investment, they’re going to like you.
Creating stronger relationships with your audience means they’re more likely to turn to your website for advice in the future. If they need a product or service, they’ll remember you and offer you their business.
Long-form content is a win/win solution for both businesses and consumers because each party gets to benefit from the value it brings.
More Shares On Social Media
Ahh, social media. Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying it’s an indispensable tool for businesses. With Instagram leading the way for e-commerce companies, Facebook being the all-rounder solution, and LinkedIn providing 80% of B2B qualified leads; you can’t not use social platforms.
Let’s not forget Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest, which all have distinct advantages too. If you create a strong presence on social media, you’ll drive more traffic to your website and set yourself apart as a subject matter expert.
Simply telling people why they should buy your products or use your service just won’t cut it anymore. Today, it’s all about creating relationships with your audience and showing them you’re so much more than a faceless business.
This infographic shows how valuable both LinkedIn and Facebook are for businesses that want to scale through content.
Finding The Ideal Blog Post Length For Your Needs
Hopefully, the tips and information above give you some clear guidance on how long a general blog post should be, but if you want to appear on the search engines, you’ll have to do some additional research to find that sweet spot.
Competitor analysis, common sense and a willingness to achieve great things are key to your success. But if you’re short on time or new to the world of content marketing, asking a content marketing agency that specialises in long-form blog posts could save you a lot of time and hassle.
Find Your Ideal Length By Looking at Your Competitors
Competitive analysis gives you valuable insights into how others in your industry connect with your target audience and what kind of interaction levels they’re generating. It’s also handy to find the right content length for your blog post.
Choose a keyword that’s most relevant to your blog post, and enter it into the Google search page. A list of results appears, and you can choose the ones that best match the user intent.
For example, if you typed: blog writing into the search bar, you should ignore service-based pages and focus on blogs with the keyword.
Count the Pages
Once you have a list of relevant blog posts, you should click on each one and use a free app such as Word Counter to look at the blog content length of each post. If there’s a comment section, you should include it because Google adds comments into the word count of each post.
Once you look at each post, you’ll be able to find a word count to aim for.
Use Apps to Gain Instant Word Counts
If you’d rather cut the small stuff and get straight to the average post length for your needs, it’s better to use a free app to generate the word count for each web page automatically.
Surfer SEO has a free keyword surfer tool, which enables you to create a search on Google, and it will immediately show you the results for each page – as you can see below.
As you can see from our ‘benefits of blogging’ search, the blog post with 2971 words achieved higher rankings than those with fewer words.
You can find the Keyword Surfer app here.
Invest In An Auditing Tool
At Green Tree Content, we know that providing our clients with the best chance of succeeding through long-form blog posts is essential to our survival. Writing posts is what we do best, but we’re only human and never underestimate the importance of advanced writing tools to make sure we deliver perfection every time.
Auditing tools let you look at a topic or keyword and gain in-depth information on content marketing trends that might make a difference in your post’s quality.
We use Surfer SEO to make sure we craft each post to perfection. Of course, tools can only do so much, but they’re worth the extra investment if you want to use blog posts to improve your organic visibility.
Remember, a reasonable word count might seem like it’s acceptable, but the last thing you want to do is invest your time in writing something that could have achieved better rankings for only 500 extra words.
How to Write a Long Post Your Audience Will Love
So, we’ve covered the importance of defining and meeting your target word count, but what about writing a compelling blog post? Well, we’ve been around the block a few times and have a pretty good idea about what gets an audience all fired up.
So, without further ado, let’s dive straight into the do’s and don’t of blog writing.
What Is Long-Form Content?
The thing with written content is it’s subjective to each reader and marketer. The general rule is that for writing to be classed as longer-form content, it should be 2000+ words. But some will argue that anything longer than 1600 words is long-form.
The most popular forms of long-form content are:
- How-To Guides
- Case Studies
- Ultimate Guides
- Resource Lists
- Industry White Papers
If you want to create targeted long-form content, e-books are ideal because they also act as lead generation tools. But we’ll go into the power of e-books in another post.
Five Steps to An Awe-Inspiring Long-Form Blog Post
Before you even start writing your blog post, you need to think about the content you want to create and its purpose. Think of longer articles as if you’re planning a recipe, and remember how each ingredient contributes to a delicious dish.
We often see people diving into their content creation with only the ideal word count in mind. This leads to a post with no direction or clear route for your readers to access and use the information they’re on your web page for in the first place.
So, with that in mind, here are four steps to keep your readers engaged and create a fantastic blog post.
Step One: Know Your Goals
Long-form content offers so many benefits, but you should never write longer blog posts for the sake of it. For example, if someone wanted our agency to write 3000 words on how to cross the road, we’d struggle to find relevant information to fill that word count.
If we did attempt to deliver a 3000-word blog post on pressing the crossing button, looking both ways and finally walking across the road, would anyone read it? We hope not.
In some cases, you don’t need that higher word count, and while long-form content will rank higher, Google rewards websites for relevance and clarity on a subject matter. In some cases it might be better to ask a specialist for support – especially if you’re not good at content writing.
Top Tip: Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. Save the in-depth content for topics that need it.
Step Two: Don’t Hog The Limelight
OK, so you’ve created a long blog post, done yourself proud with the on-page SEO and are generating some organic traffic – but for some reason, your Google Analytics account shows that readers don’t return to your site.
This worrying occurrence has happened to many a business owner (and marketers), but there’s a simple explanation; your content is boring.
Let’s look at the biggest mistakes people make when they’re writing for their target audience.
You might think analysing every single element of the GDPR legislation makes for an exciting post, but the chances are, your readers won’t. Most people land on a blog post because they’re looking for relevant information.
They stay if they can access that information and apply it to solve their problems. Ramblers mean well, but they often try so hard to produce an encompassing blog post but bore their readers.
The Me, Myself And – Well – Me.
The mighty blog article is a valuable marketing tool, but some people dedicate their long posts to pay homage to themselves. The thing is, your blogs should replace the traditional sales technique, so it’s always good to think about how you’d like to be approached by a salesperson when you write your blog article.
For example, imagine going into Curry’s to buy a new laptop, and a salesperson comes over – let’s call him Mark – and introduces himself. Let’s look at two ways Mark could try to sell you a new laptop.
1: “Hi, I’m Mark. I’m an experienced salesperson and would love to help you find the right laptop. I actually became interested in computers at an early age, and know everything there is to know about them. In fact, the other salespeople here always let me manage the laptop sales because they know I always choose the right products for customers.”
2: “Hi, I’m Mark. How can I help you today? We have a range of laptops available for all purposes, so if you tell me a bit about what you’re looking for and how you plan to use the laptop, I can show you some suitable models.”
Which approach would you respond to? The first approach doesn’t solve your problems, and mark is creating more problems by selling himself when you just want a laptop. The second approach shows Mark knows what he’s talking about, but his sole purpose is to give you the best retail experience.
Blogs Aren’t Advertising Tools.
Times have changed significantly since the days of Don Draper winning clients with his over-confident attitude. Today, making those sales revolves around how well you connect with your audience and provide them with information that will benefit their lives.
Remember to come across as someone genuinely interested in providing solutions to common problems, and your audience will appreciate the effort.
Top Tip: Let your content shine, but place yourself in the background.
Step Three: Be Ready to Dive Deep
Whether it’s case studies, how-to guides or list posts, you need to be ready to explore a topic thoroughly. Long-form content isn’t about stuffing the page with streams of information – because every single section must provide some value to your readers.
Cut the Fluff
If you can say something in some sentence, do it. Nothing turns a reader off more than a writer that won’t get to the point. Of course, we don’t mean you should create content in short, robotic sentences, but try to provide value with every sentence you create.
Basically, ’nuff with the fluff.
Be Prepared To Do Your Own Research
Nothing increases your opportunity of securing that Google ranking than providing new and valuable data. Top ranking posts on the first page of Google are always from companies that know their stuff and can back it up with research.
Take a look at this post from HubSpot. The marketing giants always go out of their way to provide helpful content with industry insights which mean they’re usually on the first page of Google for relevant searches.
WordStream also offers significant value to readers of their PPC Guide series. Instead of just talking people through setting up a PPC campaign, they provide examples of negative keywords and directions on implementing them into the ad set-up.
Research is everything, and original companies know how to conduct industry research, turn it into valuable data and use it for internal links on their website. It’s also an excellent opportunity to earn backlinks because other companies will link to your site if they want to use your information.
Top Tip: Use social media to create polls for your research.
Step Four: Don’t Be Afraid to Get Creative
When you’re creating how-to guides, the information you provide is critical, but the best content marketing strategies mix it up and allow readers to access different types of content. You can still write longer posts, but choose creative approaches that set you apart from your competitors.
The Personal Approach Always Works
From personal experience, we know that our content gets shared by readers that want to provide value to their loved ones. For example, readers who tagged their friends to benefit from the content shared a post about working from home ideas.
People love unique content, and if you can find a unique angle to use in your long-form content, it can deliver incredible results.
Never Forget to Make The Most of Each Headline
People often overlook the importance of their headlines, but they can make or break an entire content strategy. Your headline should tell your readers what they will get by clicking on your post or be irresistible enough for each reader to explore your content.
For example, instead of choosing a generic headline, add emotional words or select a negative approach. As you can see from our image below, negative titles can compel your audience to click on your content, which will set you apart as an industry authority.
Have An Opinion
It can be tempting to follow the status quo when you’re creating content, but a few words can make a significant difference to your content. For example, if you have an opinion that challenges the consensus, be brave and share it with your audience.
You might spark a conversation, but as long as you can back up your beliefs, it might define you as someone willing to go out of the box.
In 1996, Bill Gates stated that content would one day be king. Back then, many other factors of digital marketing were still unexplored, but he presented his argument, stuck to his belief, and today we all know that content definitely is king.
Whether it’s negative or positive feedback, putting yourself out there might seem scary, but it will make your website the centre of attention.
Step Five: Edit, Read, Edit
So you’ve created your blog post and want to sit back, admire your work, then take it from Google Docs and showcase it on your website. That’s great! But we cannot stress the importance of editing enough.
When you’re creating any form of content, including shorter posts, we always advise that you step back and take a break before editing the post.
Doing this enables you to concentrate and look over your content with a pair of fresh eyes. At Green Tree Content, we use Grammarly because it enhances our writing, and the AI-powered system provides valuable suggestions to make each word count.
After the first edit, we always read our content aloud to ensure it reads well, then run it through Grammarly again.
While this system might seem over the top, a longer blog length means there’s more opportunity for mistakes, so it’s always best to double-check your long-form blog posts because content quality matters if you want to appear on the search engine results page.
Final Thoughts On The Ideal Blog Post Length
There are so many things to consider when it comes to the perfect blog post length, but you should never forget the following factors you should incorporate into each post. They include:
- SEO Analysis
- Competitor Analysis
- Interesting Graphics
- Perfect Grammar
Does defining your ideal minimum word count help? Yes, of course. But it’s always better to focus on writing high-quality content that both your audience and the search engines will love.
There’s a perfect balance between SEO friendly content and blog posts that spark engagement, so always make sure to look at how many words in each post offer informative content to your audience.
Creating a long-form blog post can be difficult, so if you need some help, our team of seasoned writers is available to deliver long blogs that spark interest, generate customer loyalty and drive more sales.
Do you have any thoughts on long-form blog posts? Let us know about it in the comments.