How long should your blog post be in order to rank well in search engines? Whether you are just starting with blogging, or have been doing so for some time, this is a question that you have probably asked yourself at least one. Today, we will discuss the ideal blog post length for Search Engine Optimization.
And we will find out if there is a golden number of words. To make thing more interesting, I have compiled the most recommended ones by authoritative sources on the Internet. This way, we can discuss them to make better conclusions.
Also, just a quick disclaimer. A couple of the links on this blog post are affiliate, which means that I will make a small commission if you end up purchasing after clicking.
So, what is the ideal blog post length for SEO?
Now, I know that some of you have come to this article to see the exact number and immediately go away. Which is perfectly fine with me because I am not here to waste your time either. However, I honestly can’t give you one yet, at least not before discussing all factors that influence it. (Because it will vary depending on those factors).
For me, it’s important to explain the “why” behind those numbers so that people don’t misinterpret them.
Nonetheless, to satisfy your curiosity, I can give you some quick recommendations for an approximate blog post length. And remember, we are looking at this from an SEO perspective, not in general:
- Short-tail keywords: over 4,500 words;
- Mid-tail keywords: between 2,000 and 4,500 words;
- Long-tail keywords: between 1,000 and 2,000 words.
Now that you have your answer, let me explain what I mean with it. However, for the final and most precise answer, you will have to read till the end of the blog post! (Sorry… it’s not you, it’s me).
Also, a quick disclaimer:
Obviously, I am not saying that the word count is the only thing that matters when it comes to Search Engine Optimization. On the contrary; that there are over 200 factors that influence it, and just writing thousands of words doesn’t necessarily mean that you will position well on Google.
In fact, you might position well with less than 1,000 words if you don’t have much competition, and did a great job with the rest of the SEO. However, many authoritative sources have proven that longer posts tend to rank higher than shorter ones. We will see them in a couple of minutes.
When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, short-tail keywords are search phrases that users type that only contain 1-2 words. For example, I just went on Google and typed the word “laptops”.
Now, there are a couple of problems with these keywords. First, they are way too competitive. If you take a good look at the search above, there are 2,770,000,000 results for the word “laptops”! With so many results on the Internet, it would be practically impossible to ever rank your blog post for this keyword. Especially if you are a small website with low domain authority.
Second, they are way too generic, which means that the results that manage to show up on the first page are probably not very relevant for the user. The reason why is because Google isn’t able to understand very well what the person was looking for when they typed that keyword.
Did they want to buy a laptop? Or compare laptop brands? Maybe just to read about the technology behind laptops? This keyword doesn’t indicate a specific intent, making it harder for Google to decide what results to show for it.
With these two factors in mind, even if you wrote a 10,000-word blog post, you might never position well on Google. So, better to not waste your time with them!
If your keyword is mid-tail, such as “best facebook ads” or “free marketing tools”, you are in the golden zone of the keyword volume vs competition ratio. This means that your keyword is specific enough for its search intent to be understood by Google. However, it is not way too specific in a way that nobody searches for it.
Being in the “golden zone” also means that you will probably have a lot of competition for your keyword or topic. Of course, there will be always industries that are more competitive, and others that are less competitive.
However, as opposed to short-tail keywords, in this case it isn’t impossible to rank well on Google. So, don’t let competition stop you from trying!
With these keywords, the ideal length for your blog post will depend on your keyword. From what I’ve seen, it is generally between 2,000 and 4,000 words, although it might be less if your topic or industry is more niche. At the end of the post, I will show you my exact method on figuring out the ideal blog post length for each of my articles.
And last but not least, we have long-tail keywords. Or, put simply, search phrases with 4 or more words, such as the one in the image above.
Long tail keywords are also an interesting approach to blogging. They have significantly less competition than short-tail and mid-tail, but they also have a smaller volume. In other words, people type them less often, meaning that you can only get a limited traffic from them.
However, they are a great opportunity for small blogs who are just starting, and don’t have a well-established authority yet.
Also, because they are less competitive, the ideal blog post length will be shorter. For many of them, you might be good with a length of 1,000 to 2,000 words. Of course, if they are more competitive, you might need to write more.
Recommended length by authoritative sources
Now, as I promised, we are going to take a look at what authoritative sources are saying. And see if their recommendations are going in the right direction!
1. Company: Hubspot
Ideal length: 2,100 – 2,400
In a recent study, the Marketing Automation platform Hubspot (affiliate link) gathered data of the 50 most-read blog posts in 2019. They discovered that the articles had an average word count of 2,330.
Of course, an average doesn’t mean that all posts were at this length; according to the study,.
I definitely agree that the average word count proposed by Hubspot seems to be quite true for most niches. Although, of course, this will also depend on the selected keyword.
For example, in the Marketing sector, which is extremely competitive on Google, I have personally observed that most blog posts on the first page are over 3,000 words.
Ideal length: 300 – 1,000 words
Yoast is a search engine optimization plugin for Wordpress, and their brand is one of the referent in the sector. According to Yoast, the ideal blog post length for SEO would be between 300 and 1,000 words.
Personally, I think that even 1,000 words will probably low for most keywords. And don’t get me wrong; I love Yoast and I can’t live without their SEO plugin which has accompanied me through every single one of my articles.
However, I haven’t seen many articles on the first page that have less than 1,000 words. As competition is growing in practically every industry, the average word count will naturally increase over time.
Ideal length: 1137 words
Semrush is a comprehensive Marketing tool (this is an affiliate link, so I will make a small commission if you end up purchasing after clicking), and one of the most important players in the SEO industry. As opposed to Yoast and Hubspot, instead of a range, they have decided to give us an exact number: 1137 words.
I still think that this recommended blog post length is on the lower end. Although in the article they specifically recommend to not go below 1,000 words, which is nice.
However, I still think that you would be on the safer side concerning SEO positioning if you aim for at least 1,500 words, especially if your keyword is more competitive.
Ideal length: 1890 words
A couple of years ago, the SEO specialized company Backlinko did an extensive research analyzing over 1 million Google search results. In fact, it was so extensive that its results became very popular and widely spread across many other digital marketing sources.
For this study, they used SERP data from Semrush (affiliate link), and they found that the average Google first page result contains 1,890 words.
I think that Backlinko is definitely in the right direction when it comes to longer content. Additionally, compared to Hubspot’s study, which only took into account 50 articles, their research has been significantly more comprehensive.
Which gives us a good, high-volume sample with more precise and conclusive data. I think that their proposed ideal blog post length for SEO gives a really good guidance on it.
Ideal length: 1,600 words
Our next authoritative source is Buffer, a software for social media management. To make their recommendation, they used data from Medium – a popular online publishing platform in which people share thousands of blog posts online.
They concluded that the average person spends no more than 7 minutes reading an article, after which the attention span starts to decline. Which, in terms of word count translates to 1,600 words.
Their number is quite good, and definitely more on the longer rather than the shorter end (Semrush, Yoast, I am looking at you!). However, we should also take into account that Medium isn’t precisely Google, nor it requires the same search optimization.
Medium is a platform in which people publish blog posts directly on it, instead of sharing them with links from their own websites. So, optimizing for Medium will be quite different than optimizing on Google.
Answering some questions
And now that we are already starting to get an idea of how long blog posts should be, let’s answer directly some of the most popular questions I found on the internet:
Are 300 words enough for a blog post?
No, at least not for SEO. This shouldn’t even be the minimum.
Are 500 words enough for a blog post?
Probably not. For a long-long time, the statement that blog posts should be about 500-600 words was everywhere. In 2020, it is definitely not enough if you want to position well in the search rankings.
Should you write as many words as possible?
No, don’t go to the other extreme either. Anything more than 5,000 words is starting to look more like an ebook. At this point, it isn’t even a blog post anymore.
Can you write 1000 words in an hour?
Interesting question and yes, theoretically you can. I personally like to take my time because I do a lot of research. However, I highly recommend you to watch this YouTube video from Income school on how to write the perfect blog post in 1 hour.
And now, for the final answer…
So, what is the ideal blog post length for SEO in 2020? The answer is…wait for it…it depends! Oohh, I can already see the disappointment in your eyes. I get you! You wanted a specific answer but the truth is, it really depends on the keyword and the competition it has.
In any case, or at least the guidelines that I try to follow always, are those from Backlinko: my blog posts always have at least 1,890 words. I think that, out of all the brand studies we saw, this one seems to be the perfect average for Search Engine Optimization.
However, the majority of my posts are between 2,000 and 3,000 words.
But you know what? This all really doesn’t matter! Because you can get the exact average number for the keyword that you want to rank for by following a very simple method. I do this every time before starting to write a new blog post.
- Go to Google and type the keyword that you want to rank for.
- In a new tab, open wordcounter.net
- Take the first search result for your target keyword, and paste the URL within WordCounter;
- It will give you the exact number of words found in that URL.
- Repeat with the next 4-5 search results (or the entire first page)
- And now, you have your average!
I always make sure to follow a couple of simple rules:
- Let’s say that the number 1 search result for my target keyword has 2,245 keywords. I will always try to top that. The reason why is that because if everything else between me and my number 1 competitor is the same in terms of SEO, having a higher number of words than him might give me a little boost. If anything, writing only 1,000 words when the competitor has written over 2,000 is definitely a sign that I should probably be writing a bit more.
- Of course, in the next 4-5 results, you will always find a couple of results with articles that are shorter than the average. However, remember that they are not first for a reason! And if they are, it will be even easier for you to outwrite them in word count.
- If you notice that all results on the first page exceed a huge number of words, such as 4,000 or 5,000, this keyword is probably crazy competitive. In which case you might want to look for another one, especially if your blog is still small and lacks authority. You are probably not ready to compete with the big guys yet.
For example, let’s take the keyword “digital marketing tools”:
After a quick check, this is how many words have the first 4 results:
- 5,795 words (crazy, right?)
- 4,605 words
- 2,794 words (this result is from Hubspot, which has a huge domain authority)
- 11,394 words (I can’t even process this amount of words)
In this case, you might want to try with a less competitive keyword. This way, you don’t invest a huge amount of time in something that might get lost on Google.
And I guess that’s all from me, folks! Thanks for taking the time to read my article!