What is the ideal blog post length for SEO? It would be nice to have one good answer for this question, and get more traffic and conversions instantly, but as always the details are a little more complicated.
There’s the myth of short posts being the best for blogs, which many bloggers still believe. On the other hand, we know that longer posts do better with search engines. The beautiful thing is, neither one is necessarily true or false, it really depends on your circumstances and goals. You should find the optimum for your situations. Let me explain the ideal SEO blog post length in 2017…
Short blog posts can range from the extremely short of 70 words until around 500 words. Short posts are good for generating quick traffic. If you would like to shake up the activity on your site and collect more comments, 200 or even fewer words can be enough to raise your audience’s attention and curiosity. An engaging, frequented repost can start a cascade of comments.
Here’s an interesting example of a website, The Passive Voice, where author David Vandagriff, a master in curating content, shares relevant information with added commentary and lets people discuss the rest. It works for him.
In the case of selling a product or a service, short posts can be enough to describe, and to get to the point directly with a Call-To-Action. Here, the idea is to catch the attention of the reader. You can further support copy with visual aids, such as infographics or scannable content. For example, on DandyContent where the service of Blog post writing is described, I use just above 250 words immediately followed by the call-to-action with a contact form. Let’s see how this works out for me.
It costs much less to write short blog posts. In the case of selling a product, you can get to the point easily, and focus on selling. Of course, writers have to be crafty to write good copy, but it takes much less time to write a short description than a thoroughly researched, heavy article above 2000 words. Therefore, the Return Of Investment (ROI) can be higher in case of short posts.
Short posts are rather bad with SEO, simply because they are not long enough to score better. However, you can introduce more keywords in the long run, as you can publish much more times. Having many keywords will make your site more diversified from Google’s perspective, and changes in engine rankings won’t affect your site that heavily.
This may sound very appealing. But before you start a mass production of 300-word posts, let’s talk about the downsides.
Writing only short posts won’t help you find your audience. It is nearly impossible to build authority with them, simply because it’s way too short to squeeze all the helpful information in a few words. And it’s not likely to get shared on social media either, because it’s rarely useful enough. So, where can you get links and authority?
Now we are getting there.
Here we are talking about 1000 or more words per post. It’s excellent for SEO. As opposed to the short posts, here you have more space and flexibility to include a wider variety of keywords even which are not directly connected to the niche.
Google loves long posts. Googlebot, Google’s crawler looks at all the details of a page, that is the title, the keywords, the headings, the links, how much the title matches with the actual text, and the unique, helpful content that satisfies the most searchers, etc. In a long post you have greater chance to include useful information, and choose a reader-friendly layout with headings that Google and readers can scan through. This way you’ll get better Google rankings, reach more people, which eventually results in better conversion rate.
With interesting content, you can increase engagement. You won’t have to stop yourself from discussing topics in depth and support them with thorough research that will make your writing trustworthy. This is a great way to build authority. Therefore, it’s much more likely that these posts will be shared on social media, as well.
According to the research of Serp IQ’s study on the correlation between rankings and ideal content length, the more words you have, the better you’ll rank. As you see, longer content got the top spots in this study.
Serp IQ points out that they had studied all internet content regardless size, including massive pages, like Wikipedia, which may greatly influence the outcome.
According to Mike Sall on Medium.com, the ideal blog post length is either 1600 words, or takes 7 minutes to read. This length still keeps people engaged, and delivers a solid amount of info.
However, in the conclusion of their research, they warn us:
This doesn’t mean we should all start forcing our posts to be 7 minutes! There is enormous variance. Great posts perform well regardless of length, and bad posts certainly don’t get better when you stretch them out.”
All these sound appealing as well, but of course, long posts have their disadvantages. We talked about ROI, and in case of a long post, it tends to decrease. Especially if your topic and keywords are highly competitive, it won’t be enough to just post it and wait till you rank in Google. You will also need to market the post, and it’s even more investment. Failing from here costs more than in the case of shorter content.
It’s true that not everyone is into long blog posts. Attention spans tend to be short, and people don’t want to read every detail when they just need a single answer. It’s hard to know your market well, but try to think with your reader’s head. What are they looking for when they type the keywords in the search box? Do you need to write a 2000+ word dissertation, or you can cover everything in 200?
The best answer for this is ‘as long as it takes’. The topic you’re about to discuss, your audience, and the purpose of writing, style, etc. determines the length. However, setting a target length requires planning– and that is what you should focus on when managing your blog.
First of all, decide on your main goal. Do you want to post 5 articles per day? Do you want to build authority, or do you want to sell a product?
According to Authority Hacker, short posts can be successful too, but only if the site already has some authority and traffic. So, when there’s a lot of keywords involved, a mixed length strategy will do the best. Establish steady traffic with longer pieces, and then create smaller ones that will generate added traffic.
Personally, I’ve struggled occasionally with keeping to the target length. Despite requests for 300-word posts, sometimes it’s hard to include any kind of detail in that short of a post. I believe it’s better to be flexible and make an order with planning and variability than to stick to the same patterns all the time.