What is the ideal blog post length?
What is the ideal blog post length?
I did a talk recently for the Cumbria Chamber of Commerce’s Digital Day at Carlisle Racecourse. The topic was organic SEO and at the end of the talk I welcomed anyone who thought of questions after the event to get in touch with me.
One lovely lady took me up on that offer (thrilled I was!) to ask me about the length of the blog posts on her website. Her fashion website was quite image-based and her blog posts themselves focused a lot on the images rather than the text… she always tried to make sure there were a couple of paragraphs of text but they were certainly not as long as many advise.
It seems the ideal blog length is a common query, so I thought I’d address it here.
There’s different advice out there about the ideal blog post length…
The website optimisation hub, Yoast, say that blogs posts should be a minimum of 300 words to rank in Google. That said, they, and many others, argue that the longer the post the easier it will be to rank, and there are a few reasons for this…
The longer the post, the more opportunities to include keywords…
The more text your post includes, the more chance Google has of determining what it is your post is really about.
You have more opportunities to weave your chosen keyword or phrase throughout your text in a lengthy post, hence increasing your chances of being ranked for it.
Of course, you could put the keyword in your text the same amount of times in a short post but you’d run the risk of being penalized by Google for ‘keyword stuffing’. This is where you literally stuff a web page with keywords to manipulate its rankings, usually at the expense of a readable, natural piece of prose.
In longer posts there are also likely to be more headings, links and images. This provides even more opportunity to get your keywords in as you include them in the headings, links and alt tags of your images.
The downside of lengthy blog posts…
We’re all really busy and when we’re busy our attention spans are quite short, so blogs that are over 1,000 or 1,500 words run the risk of not being read to the end.
There are lots of ways you can make your blog easier to read and keep your readers attention (there’s another blog right there!) but even so, many people will just scan or jump to the part which most interests them.
That said, I would argue that although many people will give up part way through, you know that the ones that do continue to the very end are very likely to become your clients.
What do you want to achieve?
The ideal blog post length is also determined by the outcome you’re looking for. Many bloggers find that shorter posts tend to get more comments, whilst longer posts may get less comments but more social shares and better search engine rankings.
If you want more traffic from Google, a longer post is ideal. Google loves long, authoritative posts.
So what’s the answer?!
In a nutshell, keep to an absolute minimum of 300 words.
If you’re an experienced writer with the ability to write a structured, clear post of 1,500 to 2,000 words then go for it!
If you’re not confident doing this or, realistically, haven’t got the time to put into posts of this length, you can find a lovely, happy medium at around 700 to 800 words.
Are there exceptions?
I would argue that there are exceptions. As in the case of the lady who contacted me after my talk, some websites and blogs are largely image-based.
I would never advocate all blogs being short, but providing a website has optimised their image’s alt tags and find that they already get a decent flow of traffic from social media, then a mixture of these shorter posts amid longer ones shouldn’t be detrimental.
However, I think, as with most things, it’s about balance. It’s pointless writing every blog post for Google as you risk alienating your audience, but at the same time, if you don’t consider Google, all that lovely content you’ve slaved over is likely to remain unseen.
In the words of Mark Schaefer ‘the economic value of content that’s not seen and shared is zero’.
It’s great to base blogs around genuine questions… if you’ve got any I’d love to hear them and I’m happy to help out where I can. I may even write a blog about it!
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