Note: This article was last updated on January 1st, 2020. All information provided is based on the analysis done at that point. We will continually update this post as new information comes in.
When it comes to blogging, one of the most frequently asked questions that we hear relates to the ideal blog post length for increasing SEO and user engagement. The best blog post length will depend on several factors, which include value and user engagement. There are a lot of considerations to take into account when deciding on the ideal blog length for your posts, with different lengths having benefits and drawbacks depending on a variety of factors.
In this post, we will discuss how blog post length affects SEO and the pros and cons of shorter versus longer blog posts.
The Ideal Blog Post Length for SEO
Research shows that in order to perform well in search engine rankings, all of the content that you post on your blog should contain a minimum of 300 words. Why is this you ask? This is because studies have shown that 300 words is the length that should be considered the minimum word count necessary in order for blog posts to be recognized and ranked in search engines. This is mainly the case because a blog post needs at least this many words for you to be able to incorporate keyword research and other critical SEO optimization into content.
300 words may be the minimum ideal word count, however, research shows that posts containing more than 1,000 words rank best with search engines for many reasons. More importantly, according to Forbes, blog posts containing over 1,500 words were over 68% more likely to be shared on Twitter and over 22% more likely to be liked on Facebook compared to shorter posts. On the downside, longer posts are more difficult to write, and often readers prefer shorter content that is easier to digest.
Writing Shorter Blog Posts
Now that we have confused you with a very wide “ideal range” it is time for us to discuss the benefits and drawbacks related to both short and long blog content.
The Pros of Writing Shorter Blog Posts
- Must easier to create on a regular basis.
- Typically, a shorter blog post is easier to read.
- More content means a bigger footprint. This doesn’t substitute for quality, though.
Keeping the 300 word minimum in mind, here are some of the benefits of publishing shorter content on your company blog.
First of all, shorter content is much easier to create on a regular basis. For most of us, a 1,000+ word post on a weekly schedule is just not going to happen. By setting your sites on shorter content creation you are much more likely to create a blog posting schedule and stick to it.
Another benefit of shorter content creation is that it is typically more readable, especially if you are not a professional writer. This is because when creating long-form content many writers compromise on quality, which in turn will hurt your SEO and defeat the purpose of creating the longer content in the first place. That said, if you are not a strong writer, it is probably best to focus on shorter, reader-friendly content.
Posting shorter content also means that you will get to post more of it, and focus on a wider variety of topics. Instead of focusing hours or your time researching and crafting the perfect post on just one of your company’s many focuses, developing short, quick posts on a variety of topics that are relevant to your company will allow you to get more content out to your readers, educating them on a wider range of topics.
In addition to the many benefits listed above, shorter content has also been shown to be more effective in selling a product or service or getting a reader to take a specific action. If your aim is to get a reader to take action by clicking on a CTA, downloading a new e-book, or signing up for an email list, a short, to-the-point blog post is probably exactly what you need.
The Cons of Writing Shorter Content
- Search engines have a hard time discerning the context of your page content. They are robots, after all.
- Fewer words mean less keyword ranking opportunities.
- Content does not have the opportunity to speak to readers at their level of understanding. The content can be too shallow.
As you can see, a strong argument can be made for focusing your efforts shorter blog content creation. However, there are also many drawbacks to short blog posts. The most important of these drawbacks is that shorter posts simply do not rank as well in search engines as longer pieces of content.
This ranking disparity is caused by a variety of factors, all of which seem to come back to the idea that more content equals more opportunities to optimize your content for better search engine rankings, and less content does just the opposite. If you are wondering why this is the case, it is because the increased SEO from longer content comes from having more content types for search engines to index, such as headlines, page titles, images, alt tags, and metadata. This increased SEO for longer content can also be attributed to the opportunity to incorporate a higher number of keywords and keyword variants into longer blog copy.
Writing Long Blog Posts
If long blog posts seem to be the rage, there is a good reason. The best blog post length for SEO generally tends to be longer in nature, rather than shorter. There are several good reasons why you would want to write longer blog content, as long as you do not sacrifice quality.
Benefits of Longer Blog Posts
- Longer dwell time for readers
- Search engine better understand the context and intent of your content
According to research done by popular blogging platform, Medium, the ideal length for blog posts is 1,600 words (or seven minutes of reading). This number is based on an analysis of the “average total seconds spent on each post and compared this to the post length.” Their research found that up to the seven minute/1,600 wordmark, readers average time spent looking at the post increased, plateauing at the seven-minute mark, and quickly declining after that point.
This information is very useful because user engagement is a huge SEO factor. Remember, the ideal blog post length for SEO is going to be based on how much value the content provides. Maximizing the value of your content, as well as increasing the length of user engagement, are both two very important SEO factors.
As we discussed previously in this post, longer blog content has also been proven to have a better SEO performance, mainly because it gives search engines more information about the content of your post. Content is king but context is queen!
It has also been shown that longer content is more likely to be shared on social media (see above statistics) and is more likely to be linked to by other blogs, both of which also improve your SEO.
Drawbacks of Writing Long Blog Posts
- Writers often lack the ability to keep readers fully engaged
- Better content often requires stronger writers–which come at a premium price.
Although there are many benefits to long-form content, there are also many drawbacks. One of the main issues that bloggers encounter when creating longer posts is keeping readers fully engaged. In fact, studies have shown that the average reader only reads about 25% of a blog post, meaning they are most likely not paying attention to most of the content in your longer posts. However, don’t give up on long-form content creation just yet! By breaking up the text with visuals like photos, infographics, charts, and GIFs you can hook your reader’s attention and keep them reading to the end.
Another main downfall of long-form content is that it requires stronger writing skills. Is writing not your forte? Fear not! By focusing on a few critical aspects including readability and structure, you too can create high-quality blog content that is over 1,000 words. How do you do this? Some of Yoast’s top writing tips for nonwriters include focusing on writing short and concise paragraphs, incorporating subheadings, sticking to simple language, and avoiding the passive voice.
Conclusion: So what is the ideal blog post length?
There are many benefits and drawbacks to both short and long blog content, and each can affect your SEO in different ways.
If you want to create frequent content on a wide variety of topics that prompts readers to an action, shorter content (that is a minimum of 300 words) is the ideal blog post length for you. To prevent the appearance of duplicate content in Google and other search engines, aim for a minimum of 500 words per page.
However, if you want to create a piece of content that can really boost your SEO and user engagement, you may want to consider dedicating some extra time to creating quality, long-form content of 1,000+ words. Less frequent posts with stronger context will win the SEO game.
The Blog Content Triangle
Remember, the most important factor of any blog post is to effectively balance reader time, value provided, and search engine context. If you can balance these three each time, you will have a high-ranking blog that your readers LOVE.
This graphic was put together by the team here at WESFED and shows the relation between the three aforementioned factors: Reader Time, Value Provided, Search Context.