What is the Ideal Blog Length for SEO?
Blog content writing has become more important in recent years and it will continue to be a major part of content marketing strategy in 2020.
Not only are blog posts holding their ground as far as dominating SEO rankings and conversion rates, they consistently drive traffic and build loyal engagement with your brand. But blog lengths and formatting trends are on the move.
So what is the ideal blog length? And how can you balance quality versus quantity while staying on top of SEO?
To help you determine the blog length that makes the most sense for your content and your marketing strategy, this blog looks at:
- The latest data on blog writing trends
- Word count versus content type and frequency
- How word count impacts SEO
Spoiler alert: there isn’t necessarily one hard and fast rule. But, there are some pretty important stats to have in your back pocket this year.
How long should blog posts be in 2020?
Blog post lengths have shifted a lot in the last five years. According to Hubspot’s latest data, the length of their 50 most-read blogs in 2019 averaged around 2,300 words, with posts ranging from 300 to 5,000 words.
Orbit Media’s 2019 Annual Blogging Survey lists the average blog length in 2019 as 1,236 words, an increase of over 50% in the last six years. The largest increase over 2018 word counts is in the 1,500-2,000 word range.
Don’t jump to the conclusion that all your blog posts have to be over 2,000 words now. But these numbers do reflect an overall trend toward long-form.
A third of Hubspot’s most-read blogs were still under 1,500 words last year. So, the ideal blog post length depends on the type of content you are writing.
For example: according to Hubspot’s study, the median length of a “how-to” style post is about 1,600 words. And that’s exactly where okwrite blogs sit, because our blogs focus on exactly that kind of content.
The average word count of an okwrite blog post delivered to a client is just over 1,800 words. For your reference.
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Article length versus section length
The overall length of the article is not the only factor to consider when calculating your preferred length. Consider the distribution of your content across sections as well.
Including lists, images, or charts every 500 words or so increases both readability and SEO, as does breaking the content up into short, skimmable sections using headings.
Articles that include H2 and H3 subheadings perform better because readers prefer content that is broken up into shorter sections. The latest SEMrush study shows that even the word count of headlines has an impact – longer headlines garner twice as much traffic and twice as many social shares.
According to NewsCred, the median time users spend reading a blog article is 37 seconds. That’s not a lot of time. But if you format your content so it’s easier to read, readers will stick around and overall session durations will improve.
What’s the ideal blog length for your content?
Longform blogs (posts with over 2,000 words) clock higher conversion rates and SEO rankings. In-depth, well-researched blogs go a long way in establishing your authority on a topic and keep readers coming back for trusted content.
But figuring out how often you should blog goes hand-in-hand with deciding on your ideal blog length. Orbit’s study reveals that, as blog length has increased, blog posting frequency has decreased.
This makes sense because, the more words you have to work with, the more SEO elements you can fit into a single piece. More words = more keyword phrases, section headers, backlinks, images, etc. You don’t need to post as often because a single piece can have more SEO impact. 1-2 blog posts per week is most common.
The hidden time versus length gap
There’s a more practical problem hidden in the negative correlation between post length and frequency. As blog lengths increase, so does the time it takes to write them. The average time spent writing a blog post has increased by over 50% in the last five years – from 2.5 hours in 2014 to over 3.5 hours in 2019.
Hold up: it now takes almost 4 hours to write a blog post that readers spend less than one minute looking at? Yes, consistent blog content writing and strategy is demanding on time and resources. That’s why more and more firms value professional content writers who can manage both timeline and quality demands efficiently.
Optimize for SEO but write for your readers
Given the investment you need to make to produce great blog content, focusing on what works best for your particular audience is very important. The stats I listed above are really useful benchmarks, but they are only part of the equation.
To decide what the ideal blog length is for your brand and your type of content, you need to experiment, monitor results, and adjust accordingly. If your goal is to increase new leads, aim for a consistent schedule of blogs with an average-length word count and put more emphasis on headings and keywords for SEO. But if you’re working on increasing engagement with your current audience, higher word count blogs will earn you loyal readers while also taking advantage of the current trend toward long-form.
And keep in mind that some moments warrant longer or more frequent posts than usual. It makes sense to post shorter blogs more often if you have a major event, announcement, or product launch coming up. On the other hand, if you’re a subject-matter expert, you might produce a pillar page (an extensive long-form blog) that digs into a complex topic that is highly relevant to your audience right now.
For example, okwrite just published a series of in-depth, research-centered blogs on Google’s latest update, BERT, because we think it’s pretty darn important and will definitely have an impact on your SEO practices. A BERT-sized story doesn’t come along every day.
But speaking of BERT, I’ll be curious to see how it impacts SEO trends for blog writing next year. Because of Google’s increased focus on contextual language over individual keywords, it makes sense that long-form blogs, which can explore topics in a deeper and more relational way, are seeing an uptick in search engine performance.
What are the key factors for determining blog length?
- The latest data shows a clear trend toward long-form blogs (over 2,000 words).
- But word count averages vary depending on the type of blog content you write – “how-to” blogs like ours average around 1,600 words while “pillar pages” usually go well over 2,000 words.
- Longer blogs have better SEO performance because they can include more keywords, images, backlinks, lists, and headings – elements that are proven to increase search ranking.
- The ideal word count for your blog is determined by your audience and your strategic goals, so experiment, monitor your results, and adjust accordingly.