When Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said “[It’s hard to define]. But I know it when I see it,” he probably wasn’t talking about the best length of a blog post- but he might as well have been. The debate over the best length for a blog post ranges far and wide across the Internet, so here, we’ll break down the various arguments over how long blog posts should be and what you need to know when planning the length of your blog post.
The Argument for Short Blog Posts
We live in a famously short-attention-span oriented world. People flick from one tab to another on their computers, change channels the second a commercial starts, and, relevant to this topic, read only the headline and first couple lines of an article online before clicking out. In fact, studies have shown that most people only read between 20-28% of a blog post. However, this doesn’t mean you have license to write a couple hundred words willy-nilly and then sit back and relax in your chair. Actually, writing a short blog post may be harder than writing a long one. You need to be concise while still hitting all your major points. If you’re writing short blog posts, try unique ways of hitting your main points. For example, with less words, you can get straight to the point using lists and visuals so that your readers can quickly skim your content. Also, keep in mind that if you’re writing shorter blog posts, there’s less of an excuse not to post frequently. Writing a few hundred words doesn’t take that long, so if that’s your modus operandi, make sure that you post several times a week to satisfy your readers. Want some examples of masterful short blog posts? Seth Goodin and David Vandagriff have both made names for themselves by writing famously short blog posts.
The Argument for Long Blog Posts
The short reason for long blog posts: they’re best for SEO rankings. It’s pretty simple logic: the more words you use, the more keywords you can rank for. There’s some pretty neat research around this:
- The top ten results from Google all have a minimum of 2,000 words (source)
- Longer posts get linked to more often (source)
- The ideal length of a blog post takes about seven minutes to read- or around 1,400-1,750 words (source)
All this combined can be taken to mean that longer blog posts are more likely to rank higher in Google and more likely to get shared. Assuming that your blog post is informative and not just babbling on for the sake of hitting 1,500 words, your readers are going to find your blog post useful, and they’ll want to share that resource. Google, meanwhile, is able to “see” that this content will be valuable to searchers (plus see that the content is getting more shares), and they’ll rank it higher.
The Bottom Line
Here’s the truth: while a longer blog post may improve your SEO, it’s still not necessarily what’s best for your audience. After all, if your blog post is an infographic, having 1,500 words to describe the pictures is pretty unnecessary. Neil Patel lists several factors that affect the length of a blog post in his post “How Long Should Each Blog Post BE? A Data Driven Answer,” and they include:
- Substance (what are you trying to say?)
- Frequency (how often do you post?)
- Medium (are you posting a blog post, infographic, video, or something else?)
Length is not the end-all, be-all factor that determines if a blog post is successful. Ultimately, it’s more about whether your blog post fits within your company’s goals and caters to your audience. If your audience prefers 500 word blog posts, no amount of high rankings in the SERPs will help you make a sale. On the other hand, if your audience responds well to longer, more in-depth blog posts, then keep those in your content marketing strategy. As Dale Carnegie once said, “Tell them what you’re going to say, say it, then tell them what you’ve said.” In that same vein, while 1,500 words is ideal, it’s more important to hit your point in a way that gets across to your audience. This blog post is 690 words.