“How long should a blog article be to rank well in Google?”
I get this question all the time. You would think the answer would be something simple like, “1,000 words, and you’ll rank at the top.” Wouldn’t that be convenient!
Like all other things related to SEO, the answer is messy, complex, and unique to your website.
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Shouldn’t I Just Write Until I’m Done?
“Shouldn’t I just write until I’ve completely answered the question or fully covered the topic?” you may ask. I’m sure you could write a decent blog post following this strategy.
But are you writing for the handful of viewers who already know about your website, or are you writing to rank high?
Search engines don’t only care about the quality of your post; they also care about quantity. So, if Google matters to you, you need to get a bit more strategic.
How Much Does Blog Post Length Actually Matter?
“But wait, Rodney,” I can imagine you contesting. “Aren’t we supposed to write concisely? If I can get my answer across in 300 words, should I really stretch it to 2,000? Does it make that much of a difference?”
In short, yes. The length of your blog article directly impacts where it ranks. You can write a perfectly SEO optimized blog post, but if it has a low word count then it is likely it will not rank that high. Search engines rank quality content highest, and they determine which articles are “high quality” and relevant to user searches by using the EAT system: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
In general, Google doesn’t believe you can deliver full expertise, authority, and trustworthiness on a subject in as little as a few paragraphs. You need to create a longer article to dive deep into a subject and prove you’re the top specialist searchers should trust.
Now, circling back to your first question, this doesn’t mean you should just drag on to stretch your word count. Instead, you want to expand deeper on the subject.
Remember, Google still cares about quality and quantity.
Picking a Length for Your Blog Post
Google often prefers longer blog posts over shorter varieties, so, how long should a blog article be? Dozens of factors play into this answer, so I don’t have a magic number for you, and if I did, I’d be lying.
Everything from your industry, keywords, and content type to your website age, audience size, and traffic levels affect how long your post should be. Instead, I’ll offer a four-step formula for finding the right blog post length unique to every article you create.
1. Select Your Target Keyword
Your blog’s primary keyword is the guiding light in how long the article should be. The target keyword dictates who will see your content, where it will rank, and how it should compare to competing articles.
Ideally, you want terms relevant to your content with decent monthly traffic figures and attainable difficulty ratings. If you’re a beginner, avoid picking a keyword with millions of monthly searches, as the competition will be too high.
2. Research Your Term on Google
Now that you’ve picked your perfect term, type it into Google. Open each of the top results in a separate tab. These articles are your top competitors.
Before moving on to the next step, ensure the search intention of the top-ranking articles matches your goal. Search intention categories include navigational, informational, transactional, and commercial.
If you want to write an informative blog post, but all the top articles are navigational in nature, you may need to pick a new term. What does this mean?
Say you’re writing about building a DIY archery target, but all the top articles are navigational links to the Target brand website. Target shoppers will bury your blog! Instead, you could choose “How To Build a DIY Archery Bull’s Eye Stand.”
You can gain a lot of insights from your competitors.
3. Analyze the Average Post Lengths for Top-ranking Results
Before diving too deep into competitor insights, let’s get back to the task at hand: How long should a blog article be? Now that you have all the top-ranking articles open for your target keyword, you can gauge the ideal length.
To count the words on each page, use the Chrome extension Word Counter Plus. Simply highlight the text, and bam, now you know how long, on average, your article should be.
You can also use Semrush to compile competitor research surrounding content lengths for your target keyword.
You now have a bunch of data on how many words Google thinks it takes to cover a topic. You can average the word count on all the top-ranking articles to create a target length for your blog.
4. Use Insights To Locate Content Opportunities
Content length is not the only insight you can gather from search engine results pages (SERPs). Your competitors’ content shows your audience’s expectations when reading your blog.
First, think about the tone they use. Are they addressing the reader as a novice or an advanced expert? Do they use complex jargon or long explanations to define simple things? Is it formal or conversational?
I would look at the blogs’ structures and layouts as well. Analyze the use of headings, bullet points, numbered lists, large versus small paragraphs, etc. Take note of all visual cues on the page, like images, videos, and graphics.
Think about what questions the articles address. Say your topic is about resetting your air conditioner. Do the blogs also talk about common AC issues, frequently asked questions, or when to hire a professional?
You don’t want to fill your content with useless information just to reach the word count. Use this opportunity to find expansion areas for your blog.
Should All My Blog Posts Be the Same Length?
“I did all the research and found the perfect blog length for me. I’m set now, right?”
You’ve probably realized by now that the answer is never as simple as we all wish it was. The ideal blog length varies. You’ll need to perform the steps above for every new keyword you target.
Luckily, you can plan for a few variations ahead of time. Certain types of content will always be longer than others.
Ideal Blog Post Lengths Based on Content Type
Ideal lengths vary on the keyword you choose and the type of content you’re creating. I already covered the keyword part, so let’s talk about the content type now.
While I don’t like to give blanket length averages since so many factors affect how long your article should be, seeing how the figures vary based on content type can help you understand the differences.
Here are the ideal word count averages for different content types based on Semrush research:
- News-related blogs on trendy topics that won’t rank high forever are typically short, ranging from 600 to 1,000 words.
- Informational blog articles that help you build website authority range from 1,000 to 1,500 words.
- How-tos and guides on more evergreen content are typically longer, ranging between 1,500 and 2,500 words.
- Pillar pages with full in-depth resource information, like “Everything You Need To Know About X” can be 3,000 words or longer.
I cannot stress this enough: Just because you’re writing a how-to blog doesn’t mean your article should be 1,500 to 2,500 words. Do the research first.
Varying Blog Lengths With Your Content Pillars
“So, how can I vary my blog lengths while still following my keyword research and SERP insights?”
I know, we’re juggling a lot here, but stick with me. Content pillars are the foundation behind practically every successful blog.
Imagine a spider’s body with eight legs extending out. The body is your core pillar, and each leg is a cluster article.
The topic cluster model groups your blog posts with one core idea: the content pillar. Your pillar page (or the spider’s body) is typically the longer, more in-depth article discussing a range of overview topics.
Your cluster articles relate to the pillar page yet dive deep into individual concepts. Cluster articles will have their primary keywords similar to the pillar. Cluster blogs can be shorter informational pieces, longer how-tos, or whatever your research uncovers.
Say my core idea, the primary concept I wish to rank for, is workout routines. My cluster articles may be ab workouts, how to work out while on vacation, at-home workouts, cardio routines, etc.
Over time, you can build out many pillars for different topics. Keep the topic cluster model in mind when researching keywords and article lengths.
So, Longer Blogs Are Better, Right?
How long should a blog article be? By now, you’ve likely come to the assumption that long-form blog posts are best.
In some ways, you’re right. If you try to publish an article under 200 words, it likely won’t rank unless you already have a huge audience. In fact, crawling tools will flag the page as an error for not having enough content.
While longer may be better in some ways, we need to circle back to the quantity versus quality debate. Blog length is only one minuscule ranking factor of over 200.
Remember the EAT system? You cannot prove expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness just by babbling on for 2,000 words.
Every word in your blog should deliver insight. High-quality content features rich information elevated beyond the current top-ranking websites.
Tips on Mastering Quality and Quantity in Your Blogs
“So, how can I create the most informative blog on Google about my topic?”
Creating an information-rich article at the right length doesn’t have to be hard. I know, finally! By including the right components, you can dive deep into your topic.
Here are my top tips on mastering quality and quantity in your blogs:
- Nail your target audience: How much does your audience know about the topic already? If they’re complete beginners, use the opportunity to elaborate on basic concepts. If they’re advanced, dive into complex ideas.
- Include statistics: Hard facts prove your trustworthiness. Find information from high-quality sources and link back to them.
- Don’t just state facts: Yes, statistics are great, but copying figures from top-ranking sites won’t set you apart. Add your insights and commentary to the facts.
- Link wherever possible: Add external links to authoritative sites for all claims to prove you did your research.
- Climb into your audience’s head: Think about what other questions your readers may have and answer them. Consider the who, what, when, where, why, and how.
- Include more keywords: Your blog shouldn’t just center around one term. Research secondary and tertiary keywords to sprinkle throughout.
- Break up text: Break up your content using lists, sections, and visuals to help readers digest it easily.
- Add FAQs: Find Google’s frequently asked questions by searching your keyword and scrolling to the “People also ask” section. Include similar questions in your article with simple, concise answers.
Remember That Blog Lengths Aren’t the Only Ranking Factor
Blog article length isn’t the golden ticket to ranking high. The research process for finding your ideal blog length can help you get more strategic when planning your content.
You shouldn’t expect to see ranking results after writing one blog that’s a bit longer than your current content. SEO is a long-haul game. Focus on creating content pillars rich with high-quality content at the right lengths.
If you discover that your content is far from the right word count, consider editing and republishing old blogs. Reviving old articles may give you an SEO boost.
After nailing your content for a few months, if you still don’t see results, consider running a site audit. You may locate critical errors affecting your ranking, like slow loading speeds or broken links.
“How long should a blog article be?”
If you take away one thing from this article, let it be this: Your content should be a length similar to competing articles. Don’t stray far from reader expectations, offer quality insights, and always keep the EAT system in mind.