Blogging For Impact: How Long Should a Blog Post Be?

May 16, 2024

Alia Sinclair

Anyone who’s written content to build traffic or conversions has wrestled with the question, “How long should a blog post be?”

The annoying answer is that it depends.

But what it depends on and how you can figure out the best length for your readers is what we’re here to demystify.

Below, we outline why blog length matters for your content strategy and how to find the best length for your readers.

How blog post length impacts your content strategy

If it seems like blog length is arbitrary, it’s because content marketers have sometimes treated it that way. But the truth is, blog length does impact your content marketing efforts in several key ways:

Engagement and Reader Attention: Longer posts provide more in-depth information and insights, potentially leading to higher reader engagement and longer time spent on your site. While length isn’t one of Google’s ranking factors, the user on-page experience is. To Google, a user’s “on-page” experience includes dwell time, click-through rate, and bounce rate.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization): SEO is arguably the most popular ranking factor and gets the most attention from content marketers. Good SEO, quality content, and matching search intent can lead to exceptional boosts in traffic.  

Value and Authority: Longer posts have the potential to showcase your expertise on a topic, helping you establish authority in your niche and build trust with your audience.

Social Sharing: Well-researched and comprehensive content tends to get shared more often on social media platforms, expanding your reach and driving more traffic to your blog.

Backlink profile: The longer and more informative your blog post is, the more quality backlinks you’re likely to earn. The larger your backlink index, the higher you’re likely to rank. 

Data on the ideal blog post length

The ideal blog post length is hard to determine. But there’s data on the pros and cons of blog length you can use to help determine your content standards.

It’s easy to think that longer is better. After all, we just outlined all the advantages of longer content.

However, the data shows a more complex story.

Let’s take a look.

According to an analysis done by Seo.co, around 85% of Google’s Top 10 search results were under 1,000 words. Less than 2.7% contained more than 2,000 words.

bar graph showing the average content length of the top 10 search results in Google

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A study conducted by Backlinko revealed that the average length of Google’s Top 10 results was 1,447 words.

Contrast this with the amount of shares a blog post gets by length.

The research done by SEO.co showed that articles 3,000 words or more received an average of 11.07 shares, 1,000- to 2,000-word articles received an average of 6.92 shares, and articles under 1,000 words received an average of 3.47 shares.

This data suggests that longer content is better for more shares.

bar graph showing average page views and shares by length

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This doesn’t even touch factors like backlinks or keyword optimization. 

You can see why determining how long a blog post should be doesn’t have a quick, easy answer.

Based on current research, the golden rule of thumb is that blog posts should be 1,500 – 2,000 words. 

But, as the data indicates, there are scenarios where longer content is better, such as for the number of shares.

There are a myriad of other factors to consider before settling on a specific word count as a matter of policy. Let’s explore a few of them. 

How to know how long a blog post should be for your target audience

Alright, so how do you know how long a blog post should be for your specific readers? This is where you need to dial into four key components. 

Know their questions

When it comes right down to it, the purpose of blog content is to answer search queries. 

If you can thoroughly answer your target audience’s question in 500 words, it’ll be more valuable to the reader (and rank higher in search engines) than 3,000 words of fluff.

But before you can answer any question, you must understand what matters to your audience.

This is what search intent is all about.

Ask yourself these questions when you’re thinking about your ideal blog post length:

  • Are you thoroughly and directly answering their questions?
  • Are you informative and entertaining?
  • Do your topics match search intent?
  • Does it further your SEO goals? 
  • Is your content easily digestible? 
  • Is it actionable?
  • Is it organized?
  • Is it shareable?

Search intent usually falls into four categories:

Informational‌ — ‌This type of user intent is when someone is looking for the answer to a question, such as “How to find the best keyword for a blog post.”

Transactional — The user is looking to buy. For example, “best keyword research tools for small businesses.”

Navigational — The user is looking for a specific website. For example, “uSERP content agency.”

Commercial — The user is looking for more information before buying, for example, “Mailchimp vs. Constant Contact.”

You can tell what blog formats to use based on the different categories of search intent. For instance, informational guides will be ‘how-to” guides. Transactional will be product round-ups with feature breakdowns and descriptions. Navigational will land users on your home or sales pages. ‌Commercial will be comparative buyer guides.

Focus on creating the highest-quality content possible for the category you’re writing for and the question you’re answering. Don’t worry so much about word count. If you’re doing your job right, your blog post will be healthy and full of valuable content. 

Pro Tip: Remember that the info you get from your digital analysis tools isn’t the only source of data you have. The most valuable input you can get is from your users themselves. 

This data can be harder to get, but it pays dividends in your content marketing efforts. If you haven’t already, consider implementing systems to gather customer feedback. Then, analyze the results and note patterns. Use these to improve your content.  

Know your competitors

If your competitors are ranking in the top 10 for your target keywords, you have a built-in blueprint for the length of your blog post.

First, type in the keyword you want to rank for in a search engine. 

screenshot of “how do you optimize a blog post” query in Google

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Next, analyze the top-ranking articles on page one.

results for query “How do you optimize a blog post” on Google’s first page

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Take note of these elements:

  • What are the average word counts?
  • What areas can you cover better?
  • How are their articles structured?
  • Do they use visuals? What type?
  • What are their subtopics?
  • What are they covering?

You don’t want to copy your competitors. Instead, you want to see what type of content Google rewards and identify patterns you can replicate and improve on them with your own unique spin. 

Tools like Frase are perfect for this. They show you the top SERPs (search engine results pages) and what keywords to use in your content to rank. Frase will also provide a recommended length for your blog post, according to the top SERPs. Then, all you have to do is write. 

screenshot of Frase optimization dashboard

Screenshot provided by author

Knowing what’s already working gives you a starting point in a sea of infinite possibilities. 

Know your SEO goals

The adage, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there,” is obnoxiously true.

You should have SEO goals for your long-form content.

Of course, you know not to “keyword stuff.”

But you should have a real keyword strategy (and understand the costs and benefits). Otherwise, you’re shooting in the proverbial dark.

Using your competitors as a guide is also a good approach here.

Use your keyword research tool to reverse-engineer your competitor’s keyword strategy. By doing competitor research, you can see what keywords they’re ranking for and start building your blueprint from there.

example of competitor keyword analysis

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But keep your overarching goals in mind, too. Remember that you’re writing for real people, and it’s not all about out-ranking your competitors. It’ll be painfully obvious if you make your blog posts about beating the algorithm but ignore bringing value to your audience. No human reader wants to read a blog post written for an algorithm if it provides no value to them.

Know what your reader needs

Are you one of the millions of people who have clicked through to the perfect recipe for dinner only to find a 2,000-word essay on the author’s favorite snack at summer camp in 1983?

This is a common complaint in the Lifestyle space. And it’s easy to understand why. It’s frustrating. You want a quick, simple recipe for casserole, not a memoir.  

For a successful blog, frame your content around your reader’s needs. There’s still plenty of SEO potential without frustrating your readers into bouncing off your page as soon as they land. 

One way (beyond keyword research) to know what your audience is looking for is to look at the “People also ask” section on Google’s results page.

Type in your query in the search box and scroll until you find this section.

screenshot of “people also ask” section on Google’s results page

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This gives you an idea of what people are searching for around your keyword. You can use these questions to help form an outline for your blog post. Together with your competitor’s keyword analysis, you’ll satisfy user search intent and hit your SEO goals. 

How long should a blog post be? A quick guide

We’ve established that the optimal blog post length depends on how well you match search intent. There’s no rule written in stone.

There are, however, industry standards and typical default lengths. 

Here’s a basic breakdown of blog post lengths and when to use them:

300 words or less — This length isn’t recommended. It’s simply not going to do much for you in the blog format. Any content you develop at this length should be a social post or an email blast.

300 – 500 words — This used to be the gold standard for blog post length. It’s not long enough to accurately answer search intent, build authority, or rank. However, this length can be effective for internal communications, quick updates, press releases, or any other information that doesn’t lose any integrity by brevity.

500 – 1,000 words — You encounter this length of article a lot in professional journalism with pieces like newspaper articles and online stories. It’s long enough to start feeling a little meaty and can garner a modest amount of engagement and shares.

1,500 – 2,500 words — This is the sweet spot. How-tos, tutorials, ever-green content, and ‌general blog posts will fit this category. This word count is now the standard length in most industries. It’s long enough to answer most user questions but short enough to digest easily.

3,000+ words — Blog posts of this length will often be pillar pages and in-depth guides. They intend to educate on a level deeper than the average question. Long-form content of this length has the space to really dig into research and provide original insights and value. It requires a lot of time and labor upfront but can be a tremendous asset in your marketing strategy. 

Write your best blog post

There’s no universal solution to the length of a blog post. Take the time to understand your audience and their needs. Analyze the available data and make strategic decisions. Understand how your SEO goals align with your audience, and start building your content strategy with your best data-backed approach.

Once you’ve experimented with different blog post lengths and formats, you can determine what works best for your readership. Remember that adding value is paramount. Don’t get caught up in the game of beating the algorithm. Consistently add value, and you’ll see a return on your investment. 

Alia Sinclair
Latest posts by Alia Sinclair (see all)

Alia Sinclair

Alia Sinclair is a writer and marketer with nearly a decade of experience in content marketing. She is the editor-in-chief of Patchwork Mosaic and lives in the Pacific Northwest with her wife and ever-increasing library of books.