How Long Should Blog Posts Be?
This is one of the most common questions newbie bloggers will ask. Without realizing it, they're also asking one of the most debated questions, and one of the most ill-reported topics in SEO and Blogging.
To give you an idea of how common this question is, my own mother texted me this afternoon:
My text gives the answer away, but let's dive in.
How Long Should a Blog Post Be?
There is absolutely no right answer, nor is there any way anyone giving you a definitive answer can prove they are right.
There's another way to ask this question that I think opens this up to a bit more discussion.
How Long Does a Blog Post Need to Be?
I like this question a whole lot more.
My response: For what?
What's the real question people are asking? Of course it's, "How long do my blog posts have to be in order to rank well in Google." Right?
There are many objectives that a blog post can satisfy beyond ranking in Google. Rankings aren't the end-all-be-all aspiration of every blogger, and they aren't everyone's definition of success.
I've been blogging about video games for the past 10 years. I rarely rank on the first page of Google, nor do I care. Why? My goal is engagement. I want to strike up conversation and have people become long-term readers. Those people then tell other people and link to me.
If you're a small business owner, your question might be, "How long do my blog posts need to be in order to sell more product?" Your goal is sales.
Again, the answer is, "As long as it needs to be."
Most people always circle back to, "but if I was engaging AND ranked well in Google..." or "but if I could sell more product AND rank well in Google..." -- "...wouldn't that be better?"
So, let's talk about content length and ranking in Google. Let's look at what the pundits say, why they're making no sense, and the 'zen' answers to content length.
Why the "Longer Content Ranks Better in Google" Argument is Getting Absurd
Their claims usually have nothing to do with length
Backlinko founder Brian Dean swears by long content. The longer the better.
The above image is from Brian's latest Youtube video: On Page SEO - 9 Actionable Techniques That Work. It's taken right from his reason why longer content is better.
Funny thing is... I don't see length anywhere in there. I see the word "comprehensive" but the best definition for that word is: "Complete".
They often contradict themselves
What's frustrates me is that Brian starts the video by saying how keyword density isn't a factor you should focus on anymore, but then contradicts himself later by saying that one of the reasons longer content is better is because it naturally has more "LSI Keywords" (which are basically just synonyms or alternate forms of your main keyword).
Their experiments are flawed
I don't want to pick on Brian. He's incredibly smart, driven, and successful. But his proof often boils down to this:
"It must be true because it worked for me."
The experiments (rankings, social shares, etc) sadly contain too many confounding variables they can't control based on non-applicable numbers.
Reality is that anything they publish will gain attention and succeed. Their tests are all self-fulfilling prophecies.
They're pushing the boundaries of obnoxious
When you write long content for the sake of making it long, you end up writing like Neil Patel. He has perfected the art of saying a whole lot about nothing.
I submit to you his article on why 3000+ word blog posts get more traffic. Bonus points if you can actually find an answer.
The Right Content Ranks Better in Google
I'm deeply entrenched on this side of the battlefield that believes the 'right' content will ultimately rank better in Google.
The right content:
- Answers your visitors questions and helps them complete their goals
- Is accessible, easy to read, and fast on every device (a pleasure to read)
- Is better than any of the competitors in the space
I think Rand Fishkin put it best:
"Never write an ultimate guide where a single image could more powerfully convey the same value."
- Great Content ≠ Long-Form Content
There are just as many studies out there to support the 'right content' argument. I think many of them are also full of problems, but at least I can sleep better at night knowing I'm writing for the reader and not the word count.
Help people. Provide value. Use as many words as you see fit, but do so efficiently.
Content length has NOTHING to do with rankings.
The quality and value you provide within your content has EVERYTHING to do with how Google AND people will rank you.