How long should a blog post be? The definitive guide to blog post length

“How long should a blog post be?”

Whether you are managing content writers or working with a content marketing agency, I bet this is one question that has surely come up in your conversations.

And rightly so. To get the most benefit from your blog posts, you want to make sure they are as long or short as your readers want them to be.

Not just that. The length of your blog posts should reflect the business goals you want to achieve through them.

At Smemark, my team and I have been blogging for both small and large brands for over a decade. So we know a thing or two about the ideal blog post length.

And I am going to spill all my beans with the most comprehensive take ever on blog post word count.

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    How long should a blog post be?

    The proper response to this question is not that simple. But if you’re looking for a quick answer, the ideal blog post length we recommend is 1500-2000 words.

    Having said that, we generally avoid giving a “one size fits all” blog post word count. Different topics may have different needs in terms of length.

    So now that the short answer is out of the way, it’s time for the long answer. Let’s understand this in more detail.

    The best place to begin would be a survey of bloggers conducted by Orbit Media in 2021. So take a look at the graph below.

    As you can see, the average blog post length these days is 1416 words. And here’s data on how much short and long content has been written over the years.

    According to what the data suggests for 2021:

    • 38% of bloggers write less than 1000 words per post.
    • 31% write 1000-1500 words per post.
    • 31% of bloggers create posts that are 1500+ words in length.

    When you look at all this data, it may look like the short, medium, and long blog posts have an almost equal number of advocates. In fact, the majority (38%) are in favor of short blog posts.

    But when considering how long should a blog post be, popular opinion isn’t always right. If you are doing what everybody else is doing, you’ll get what everybody else is getting.

    If you’re serious about SEO and lead generation, the 1500-2000 range is a good place to start. And we have data to back it up.

    • HubSpot averaged the length of 50 blog posts that generated the most traffic and leads for them in 2019. The average word count? A whopping 2300-2600!
    • A study by Backlinko proves that long-form content between 1,000 – 2000 words generates 77% more backlinks and 56% more social shares than content shorter than 1,000 words.

    Moreover, let’s get back to the Orbit Media study for a bit. If you look at the trend over the years, you’ll see that blog posts are getting longer.

    There was a time when bloggers rarely wrote 1500+ word blog posts. Now it’s the norm. In fact, the popularities of short and long blog articles have been flipping since 2017.

    Unless you’re blogging as a hobby, you want your blog posts to contribute to the organic traffic and leads generated by your business.

    The more useful information you share with your audience, the better your blog posts will meet these goals. And a byproduct of that is a high blog post word count.

    Content packed with a high amount of useful knowledge boosts your authority on a topic. So your articles get more social media shares, backlinks, and leads.

    But I said it before, and I’ll say it again. The decision about blog post length is highly subjective. Proceed with caution. Not every blog post needs to stick to a massive word count.

    Before you go writing 1500+ blog posts, consider the factors I have covered below.

    How to determine the ideal blog post length

    For best results, decide how should a blog post be for every topic separately. And here are the key factors you should consider:

    Readers’ expectations from the topic

    What level of depth do the readers expect from your blog post topic? What benefit are you promising to deliver in your title?

    Fulfilling these expectations is crucial in order to convert readers into subscribers or leads, especially if you want to rank high in search engine results for your target keywords.

    Search engines try to show the most “expected” content for a user’s search keyword. That means content that satisfies their intent, also known as search intent. In other words, what’s the user exactly hoping to get from his search?

    For example, when you type “movie reviews” in a search engine, your actual intent is probably not to just read reviews. If we cut through all the BS, the real intent is to “find something to watch.” And this search intent is what the search engines like Google try to fulfill.

    To cut the long story short, if you want your blog post to perform well in terms of SEO, it should be as short or long as needed to satisfy the search intent for a given keyword.

    If the search term is “how to start a blog,” your blog post should ideally be an in-depth, step-by-step guide covering the whole process of launching a blog.

    In contrast, a search query like “what is shared hosting?” would warrant a shorter post that gives a quick answer somewhere near the beginning.

    So now the question is, how can you find the search intent for your target keyword?

    Perhaps, the best way is to steal it from a search engine like Google itself. Since Google processes billions of search queries every week, it has data to determine what titles get the most clicks when users search for a keyword.

    That means Google has a pretty accurate idea of each keyword’s search intent, and it shows its results accordingly. So if you can analyze the top 10 results on the first page of Google for any keyword, you can also make an educated guess about its search intent.

    Now, to see the top 10 results for your keyword, one way is to do a direct search in Google. But since Google results are often personalized to your history and location, you may not get a pure, unbiased snapshot of the top 10 rankings.

    To see unadulterated results, it’s best to use a SERP analysis tool like SERPChecker. So head over to SERPChecker and enter your keyword. You can also pick a target country and device for which you want to see the search engine results.

    Let’s say the keyword is employee engagement. Type it in and click Analyze SERP to see the top 10 results appearing for the keyword. But for the sake of giving you a simple explanation, I’ll analyze just the top five.

    From the top five titles, you can see that the 1st, 2nd, and 4th headlines satisfy a different intent than the 3rd and 5th headlines. For the 1st, 2nd, and 4th results, the intent is “Grow employee engagement.”

    For the 3rd and 5th, results, the intent is “Define employee engagement.”

    The “growing” intent is not just covering the top spots, but also the majority of them. So your blog post should ideally provide enough information on how to increase employee engagement. And this will impact your blog post word count.

    Target audience

    The better you know your audience, the deeper you can put yourself in their shoes and know how much information they want.

    And the more you get in their shoes, the better you can understand their expectations about how long should a blog post be.

    For example, it helps to know how much your readers may already know about your blog post topic and subtopics.

    Leaving out the basics can confuse beginners. On the other hand, explaining each and every detail to death can make advanced readers feel bored and insulted. So you want to strike the right balance.

    There are many ways to analyze your target audience, one of which is checking comments on other blog posts on similar topics.

    Search for your topic to find other blog posts on the subject. Then see what people are saying in the comments area. Ask yourself:

    • Are readers satisfied with the post?
    • Did they want more details or less?
    • Did they have any follow-up questions?

    For example, here’s a comment from Brian Dean’s post on video marketing.

    If you were writing content on a similar topic, such comments can show you the questions you should answer and details you should cover in your post. From there, you can assess how many more words you are going to need.

    Another way to understand your target readers is to conduct an audience survey. The results of your survey will help you build customer profiles and understand what each type of reader expects from your blog posts.

    You can use any well-known form builder to create a survey, such as Typeform and Google Forms.

    Not sure what to ask in the survey? Here’s the list of questions you can use to shortlist your survey questions.

    You’ll also need to think about how to promote the survey and get people to participate.

    If you already have an audience, such as a large social media following, list of email subscribers, or high website traffic, you can use that to get survey respondents. If not, you’ll have to plan a cold outreach or advertising campaign.

    And make sure to offer a sought-after prize or incentive to encourage more people to fill in the survey.

    Length of similar posts

    We have already touched on checking the top-ranking content to analyze search intent. But there’s one more way in which this tactic is helpful.

    When going through the top-ranking blog posts for your keyword, you can also check their word counts. And this can help you determine how long should a blog post be.

    There are two ways to do this. One approach is to use a premium content optimization tool such as MarketMuse and Clearscope. These tools analyze and give you a lot of SEO-related data about the top 10 search results for a keyword. This data also includes the word count for each piece.

    Another way is to use a word count checker chrome extension, such as Word Counter Plus. This method is free, but you’ll have to manually open each blog post to check its word count.

    Then, once you’ve opened a blog post, select all of its content and right-click to use the extension.

    Such an analysis will allow you to see what length is occurring the most in other articles preferred by search engines.

    Goal of the blog post

    The final factor you should consider is the objective of your blog as a whole, along with the goal of this particular post that you’re planning to write.

    What’s your big picture? Think about why you started a blog in the first place. What type of posts did you want to write, and how would they help the audience?

    Next, what are your main goals for each blog post? For example, the objective could be to get more organic traffic, social media shares, backlinks, or leads.

    Based on what you’re hoping to accomplish, you can refer to the different blog post lengths we have covered below.

    Best blog post lengths for different scenarios

    Here’s the general laydown of different blog post word counts and the type of goals they are used for:

    Less than 400 words

    Blog posts with less than 400 words are rarely recommended these days. That’s why there are very few well-known bloggers still writing short posts, like Seth Godin.

    But Seth Godin is not a good example to follow in today’s times. He started his blog years ago and has built a loyal audience since then. So don’t expect any miracles from short blog posts.

    Even when they are used, the goal is not to rank high in search, or to generate leads. It’s just to get comments and trigger a discussion.

    400 – 800 words

    This was the standard blog post length in the past. But today, it’s commonly used only for professional journalism, news stories, product updates, and other announcements. For other topics, this is probably not how long should a blog post be.

    This word count is not enough to cover a topic deeply. As a result, it’s too short for the evergreen content that ranks high in search engines and gives you steady traffic in the long run.

    800 – 1500 words

    This blog post length is appropriate for articles that answer quick, basic questions such as:

    • What is X
    • Why is X important?
    • When to consider X?
    • How much does X cost?

    G2’s blog post on “What is business development?” is a good example.

    When writing such a blog post, make sure to give a quick answer fast, as we have done in this blog post that you’re reading. You can go into more details in the remaining post.

    1500 – 2000 words

    This is our minimum recommended blog post length for your blog post to have a shot at good lead conversion and high ranking in search engines. And also for articles that answer a question that starts with “How to..”

    When your blog post is about how to do something, the final length will depend on the difficulty and duration of the process. But it should be at least 1500-2000 words to explain the steps properly.

    Be mindful of exceptions, though. If you are describing a really short process, then you don’t need to write a long post. For example, “How to take a screenshot on your PC?”

    2000 – 3000 words

    The word count is considered the best from an SEO perspective. And it’s best for listicles such as “Ways to do X,” or “Top X tools.”

    And you can easily see why. For example, if you were looking for team-building activities, which of the following blog posts would you click on first:

    • 7 effective team-building activities
    • The ultimate list of 101 team-building activities

    3000-5000 words

    This blog post word count is almost like that of a mini-book. And it’s frequently used when pillar pages and in-depth guides are published as blog posts.

    These are definitive articles that cover a subject comprehensively to establish thought leadership and boost organic traffic from search engines.

    For example, check out Optipedia – the optimization glossary by Optimizely. It’s a huge directory of all the terms related to conversion optimization and their definitions.

    These types of blog posts also include user-friendly section names and navigation. So readers can easily scroll to the parts they are most interested in.

    So, how long should a blog post be? Final thoughts

    Selecting the right blog post length is essential. It helps you meet reader expectations and business goals, along with being more efficient with your time and resources.

    While longer blog posts may work well in most cases, that’s not to say that every single blog post should be a long-form post. There are always exceptions. So if you feel you’ve done justice to your topic even in a short post, let it be that way.

    Now that you know how long your blog posts should be, get in touch with us to outsource your content strategy and writing. My team and I can deliver epic content that makes your business blog more successful.

    Did I miss anything? Did you try these tips? Do you have any questions or comments? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.

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