I’m often asked for blogging guidelines with the most prominent question about the length. How long should a blog post be?
When I started my business in 2010, I recall reading somewhere that the average length of a blog should be 400-650 words. Then, I heard it was less – as short as 250 words. Then, I heard it was more – even as much as 2,500 words. And the jury is still out! Truthfully, it depends on your goals. If you’re blogging for SEO, length matters, to an extent.
For example, a recent Hubspot post found that the top 10 results for most Google searches are between 2,032 and 2,416 words. I’m reluctant to give these guidelines to my clients, because it’s too easy to write fluff to appease Google. My SEO plug-in tells me that 300 words is the recommended minimum. I think it’s fair to say that someone with a primary goal of increasing search rankings should write a post to meet that minimum.
I decided to dig into my own analytics for some insight. While I understand that a lot of factors contribute to the success of a blog post, I was curious about the length of my most popular posts. My top read blog post contained 1,425 words followed by the second with 1,678 words. The remaining top posts were 642, 454 and 797 words, respectively. I averaged all five posts to come up with 999 words, not even half of the length of the top Google searches.
Some of those blogs are also over five years old. Google likes longevity, which could also be a contributing factor. The average length of my five most recent posts is 620 words.
If we write primarily for SEO, it’s also easy to overlook what makes blogs so powerful – and that’s voice. Voice is the reason I never miss a blog from Mark Schaefer. I didn’t find him in a Google search. I found him through my network. His post was shared by someone I know, I read it, I liked it and the rest is history. Great posts are shared, which can generate an even better end-result because we trust recommendations from our online community. (Social shares are also a part of Google’s algorithm, by the way. I digress.)
A blog post with over 2,000 words is hefty. It better be GOOD for me to keep reading. A recent post on the Moz blog even acknowledged that length of the top 10 Google searches is ‘baloney’ because the keyword sampling is unknown. There are a lot of factors to consider before applying a formula like this to your own efforts. I won’t bore you with the details, but they did hit the nail on the head… It’s not that simple! Nor is anything in online marketing.
I’m a big believer that less is more. Our attention spans are dwindling by the second. For maximum impact, we need to keep people engaged. My advice is to use the space you need to convey your message.
We evaluated posts by best-selling author and well-known blogger, Seth Godin,. His five most recent posts averaged 199 words.
When someone asks me, ‘how long should a blog post be,’ my answer is always the same: make every word count.
What do you think?