How Long Should a Blog Post Be in 2020?
The question of how long a blog post should be hangs over every blogger’s head, especially as they’re starting out. Well, your blog should be 300 words at least, and can go up to 4000 words, provided that the topic deserves it.
There are a number of variables at play that dictate the ideal length of an article, which I’ll get to in a moment.
My team at CDP has written and published a ton of blog posts for our clients. From experience I can tell you that long form posts generally do better in SERPs. However, if your traffic is more dependent on social media, then short form posts are the way to go. So there really is no winner insofar as the long form vs short form debate goes.
How Many Words Should a Blog Post Be?
Here are some rough guidelines on how long a blog post should be.
|For engagement (short-form/micro blogs)||300-500|
|For shares and likes||500-1000|
Before you put your head down and start whipping up a 2,500 word article, let me break down the five categories of blog posts I mentioned above to better explain what I mean.
Blog posts may not be your ticket to direct sales but they do form the backbone of your site’s search engine rankings. Through these pieces, you can establish your authority, build credibility, enhance brand recognition, and rank for your target keywords.
Search engines absolutely love long form content. However, there is a fine line you don’t want to cross. Your article has to be absolutely stellar in quality, which means no repetition, no scrapped content and no fluff. So not every subject you want to write about merits a 2000+ word blog post.
And that’s completely alright. Short form blogs will rank better in certain cases, especially if it’s a problem-solution or question-answer type post.
If the content you write isn’t optimized properly, doesn’t offer enough value to the readers, or simply doesn’t follow Google’s E.A.T principle (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness), it’s impossible to rank anyway.
Another factor to keep in mind before deciding on the ideal blog post length for your piece is what your competitors have done.
Reader engagement is an important element when it comes to building that elusive brand recognition. If you’re trying to create a reader-base for your blog, you need to write for engagement as well as SEO purposes.
Remember, bounce rates play a huge role in how well your content does on SERPs too. So, if you’re unable to engage a reader, search engines will start bumping your blog posts down the rankings.
A survey conducted in December 2019 shows that people were more engaged in content being recommended by friends, or had a steady stream of comments and / or strong visuals.
These are all engagement factors. Keep your audiences engaged long enough and you’ll see that they won’t just read one article from you, but become regular readers.
Unfortunately, long-form posts aren’t always as engaging as short-form posts, or microblogs. The trick here is to provide the information you want to provide, be as concise and informative as possible and get out.
Stay in the goldilocks zone – around 350 words and you’ll be writing microblogs that aren’t just a quick read, but also easy to consume.
Of course, my team of expert blog writers knows just what it takes to stimulate readers while also creating an impact on search results.
The ideal word count for an article should, on paper, be as much as possible. I disclosed a range of 1000-3000 words earlier and you’ll agree that’s not really a range. The thing you need to understand about these articles (or power blogs as we like to call them) is that someone who searches for such an article is looking to settle in with their cup of coffee and read all there is to read.
They need information, and leaving your readers high and dry will only put them off. Be as expansive and comprehensive as you can.
The trick here is to again make sure you do not go overboard considering the topic you’re writing on. Try not to drag it too long or end it before you share all the information a reader would want.
Fun Fact: There is much debate about the longest article on the internet, but wherever you go, the answer is always a Wikipedia page. There is a different page for size, length, word count, and more. The longest page as per word count is the “List of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Monsters” I would love to ask that writer about how long a blog post should be…
An All-Purpose Article
If you have rather ambitious plans with your blog, you can write a ‘jack’ article. Y’know, because it’s a ‘jack of all, master of none’.
The word count range is rather broad again, but the main goal here is to fill your post will all manner of content related to your niche, and it’s often not very specific.
This is a tactic that many new bloggers use early on, and has its merits too.
It gives you an opportunity to introduce plenty of keywords into your blog, give those readers who are bored something to do, and most importantly, get you some early traffic even if conversions or long term value isn’t great.
It might seem like I’m dumping on these posts. That’s not the case at all. I call them all-purpose articles for a reason.
While writing these articles, your blog page is your canvas, and you’re free to do what you want. Why spread information over two, three or even four shorter posts that will be harder to get traffic on, when you can do this?
Shares & Likes
Sharing and liking is a form of engagement, yes, but unlike ‘engagement’ where the purpose is to communicate with your audience, here it is to get in touch with other people via your audience.
I remember writing my first blog years back. It was a long form post; I published it and went to bed. Next day 16 people had read my post – and I was over the moon.
However, no one shared my article and it took me some time to understand that ranking on Google search wasn’t the same as getting social media following.
Medium length articles work splendidly for shares, since they’re short enough to provide information or answers concisely, and long enough to instigate conversation.
Plus, people don’t have to apologize after sharing it with their friends!
There are other factors as well that will impact this share-ability, mind you, such as:
- Your topic and heading
- Writing style
- Audience size
- How you present the information
Long Form vs Short Form
Maintaining a blog for your business is highly important not only for startups trying to build their brand and audience online, but also for established businesses that want to cement their position and stay ahead of their competitors.
That being said, turning your blog into a brand building machine is not as simple as it may seem.
Just like all other factors in online marketing, the recommended length of a blog post has changed over the years. There was a time when shorter blog posts i.e. from 300 words to 500 words, were considered better than longer ones in order to rank higher in search results. However, this has changed lately. While SEO experts now consider long blog posts as more beneficial for businesses, the suggestions and opinions regarding the length vary wildly.
For example, Medium, an online publishing platform, conducted a scientific study in 2013 and concluded that 7 minute posts capture the most total reading time on average.
A 7-minute read is around 1,600 words.
But a survey conducted by Orbit in 2016, that examined more than a thousand bloggers found that the average length of blog posts they were creating was around 1,050 words.
In the same year, after analyzing 1 million Google search results, Backlinko reported that the average Google first page post contains 1,890 words. A year later, HubSpot shared that the ideal length of a blog post according to their analysis is 2,100 words.
Here’s what Yoast concluded in a post addressing the same question:
All these different research findings and opinions leave many content writers scratching their heads and make them wonder how much should they ideally write.
So, What Is The Right Length Of A Blog Post?
As much as we all wish for it, there is no simple answer to this question; it could be different for every person or for every blog post.
When writing a blog post, one needs to consider multiple factors in order to decide its best length. These include:
- The topic
- Your goal
- Target audience
- Your industry and competition
In addition to these factors, you need to take a look at how your different sized posts have performed in the past. Sometimes, a certain length works for one industry or company, and not for others. Find out if there is any particular length that works best for you and if there is, write more blog posts of that length.
While this is likely, not every business is able to find a favorable length. Just like is the case with Rachel Strella, a blogger and the founder and CEO of Strella Social Media, your top performing posts may be of different lengths.
What’s more interesting is the fact that a longer blog post doesn’t necessarily rank better than a short one.
For example, if we search for what is content marketing on Google, the blog post that ranks at the top is only 738 words whereas the following two posts are of 1,576 and 2,207 words.
Similarly, if we type best practices for content marketing in Google search, the top three blog posts are of 1,913, 797, and 2,995 words respectively.
In view of these examples, it can be said that the length of a post is not the determining factor. There are other important factors that play key roles in the search engine ranking of a blog post.
The reason why search engines generally seem to favor long posts is because they are detailed and hence, are considered to be providing more information to the readers. However, this does not mean that you can make it to the top search results with a long, but crappy post. Nothing can beat quality.
Let’s consider this – Seth Godin’s blog posts are usually very short; some of them are even less than 100 words. On the other hand, blog posts by Neil Patel and HubSpot are usually quite long. Despite this clear difference in their preferred content length, all these blogs perform very well.
Because they all provide value and quality content to their readers.
What this means is that creating long form content does not guarantee that your content will rank in the top search results. It all comes down to the value it provides to your target audience.
For Rand Fishkin, the concept that long content is always great is a myth:
So…what should you do?
When writing a blog post, focus on quality more than quantity. Consider how much you need to write in order to do justice with the topic or to effectively communicate your idea. While long form of content is better from an SEO perspective, quality is equally, or may be more, important.
Your content has to provide value to your target audience in order to establish your credibility and provide desired results.
How Long Does It Take to Write an Average Blog?
I manage a large team of writers and have been doing so for a few years now. Depending on the type of project, I’d say it takes 2-3 hours on average to write a good blog post of around 1,000 words.
Now, there are several factors to consider here.
- For veteran bloggers, writing an article of about 500-800 words (relevant to their niche) takes less than one hour, true. But for others, taking less than one hour might mean cutting corners.
- Taking more than 6 hours for an article of about 500-800 words (relevant to their niche) is a red flag. Something is not right and action must be taken.
- Depending on the niche of the subject matter and research time, the writing time may increase.
- There is a difference between just churning out words and writing blog posts that make a difference. The latter takes more time.
The main takeaway here is that the blog writing process is different for everyone, and as long as you’re able to write a well-researched, informative piece within a few hours, you’re fine.
Depending on the topic, your expertise (niche), and experience, the time it should take you to write a blog post may differ. This is important to understand because most people argue that longer blog posts take longer to write, while you can whip out shorter ones within minutes. On the contrary, I find it easier to write one long post compared to 2 shorter posts of the same word count.
How Long Does Google Want My Blog Posts to Be in 2020?
If you consider the broad core update Google released in January 2020, the search engine doesn’t really care about the word count. And nor should it.
As I’ve mentioned repeatedly, the determining factor when it comes to which blog is better isn’t about how long or short it is; it’s about the value it adds for the readers. It’s not long form vs short form, it’s original quality content vs scrapped content.
Google used to love long-from posts because they were synonymous with authority and expertise. After all, anyone who can speak for 15 minutes straight must be right, right?
People started abusing this; posting articles with over 3,000 words in one go, and even going as far high as 20,000 words per week! This practice caught on and Google remedied it before it could be abused any further.
Google still loves long form content, but this love is not unconditional. Now, it’s all about providing value to readers.
How long should a blog post be in 2020? In summary, long-form content is great for SEO, but it can’t beat short-form content when it comes to increasing readership or interacting with your audience one. You need to have a balance of the two in order to appeal to all sorts of audiences, instead of writing a 3,000-word article on every topic that comes to mind!