At first, asking how long a blog post should be for SEO may seem akin to asking the age-old question, how long is a piece of string?
After all, surely any blog post should simply be as long as it needs to be for you to provide your readers with all the information and insights they need, right?
Well, yes and no.
While it’s certainly true that the blogs that perform best in terms of search rankings and all-round Search Engine Optimization are those that provide as much useful information as a reader could need to answer whatever question they had when they came across your post, there is a wealth of well-researched data out there which does give us a better idea of how long those posts should be.
Over the course of building my own successful content marketing portfolio, I’ve continuously analyzed this data and tested it with my own posts to find the perfect blog post length for SEO success.
Below, I’ll share with you the latest research into blog post length, why it matters, and what you need to know to ensure your next post is optimized for SEO success.
How Long Should a Blog Post Be for SEO? What the Data Says
In 2021, industry-leading content marketing brand Hubspot analyzed their top posts out of the thousands that they’d publish and found that those blogs which performed the best in terms of traffic generation were between 2,100 and 2,400 words.
Diving deeper, the company notes that if you want to optimize your posts to not only drive traffic but ultimately generate leads from that traffic, then the ideal length is 2,500 words.
Elsewhere, digital marketing specialists Hook Agency say that the sweet spot is between 1,760-2,400, while blogging platform Medium.com noted that the posts that get the most attention and engagement take about seven minutes to read, which works out to around 1,600 words.
What is the Minimum Word Count for a Blog Post?
While 2,000+ word posts may produce the best results, it’s important to note that there are some niches and subjects that just don’t warrant that many words.
If you’re a fashion blogger, for example, most of your content is likely to be visual in nature and won’t need thousands of words.
Likewise, most news articles are unlikely to run into thousands of words.
With that in mind then, we should also consider the ideal minimum word count for blog posts.
According to Yoast, the WordPress SEO specialist who earned a spot in my guide to the most essential WordPress plugins to install, regular blog posts and pages should be at least 300 words.
Anything less than this could be classed as “thin content” by Google and ultimately end up ranking poorly, or perhaps not at all.
The aforementioned research by Hubspot and Hook agency also confirms that 300 words are the ideal minimum word count for a blog post.
Will Short-Form Blog Posts Still Rank Highly in Google?
If your blog’s niche lends itself better to those 300+ word posts rather than 2,000+ word essays, and you’re worried that this means your content will never perform well in search results, I do have some good news for you:
An in-depth study of 11.8 million Google search results by SEO pros Backlink found that while the average Google first-page result contained 1,447 words, the actual word count of those first-page results was evenly distributed.
In other words, while there may be some 2,000, 3,000, and even 4,000-word posts on the first page, there’s also just as likely to be some short-form content as well.
Summing up, Backlinko state:
“Pages with higher word count appear to have the same chance of ranking highly on the first page compared to pages with a lower word count.”
What Does Google Say About Word Count for SEO?
There’s further evidence to back up Backlinko’s claim that both short-form and long-form content have an equal chance of success ranking highly in those all-important first-page results.
That evidence comes from Google itself.
On an episode of “SEO Mythbusting” produced by industry-leading publication Search Engine Journal, Martin Splitt of Google confirmed that while word count itself is not a ranking factor, the level to which a post satisfies the user’s intent is.
In other words, Google’s search algorithms don’t scan your count, total up the number of words written and use that number to help determine where to place your site.
Instead, they look at how effective your content is at providing the answers and solutions your users are looking for.
This is why, when you search for some questions that require a straightforward answer, you may find short posts on sites like Quora that rank highly.
Why Does Word Count Matter for SEO?
So, if Google doesn’t care how many words your blog post is, why do Hubpspot recommend writing posts above 2,000 words while many others suggest that the ideal length is anything above 1,500?
The answer is that the longer your blog post is, the more opportunity you have to provide users with meaningful, high-quality information that answers those user questions in the most helpful and in-depth way possible.
Yoast SEO also notes that long-form content gives Google more clues about what your content is about and can help you rank for long-tail variants of the keyword you’ve built your post around.
There’s another critical factor at play here too.
A second report by Backlinko noted that long-form content generates significantly more backlinks than shorter blog posts.
In an analysis of over 9 million search results, the company found that content with more than 3,000 words received an average of 77.2% more high-quality backlinks than posts of 1,000 words or less.
As any SEO expert will tell you, quality backlinks are among the most fundamentally essential ingredients for improving your SEO, so it’s no wonder most industry experts recommend writing longer content.
Why Post Length Isn’t the Most Important Factor for SEO Success?
By now, you’ve seen that while long-form content can help Google better understand your content and put you in a good position for generating quality backlinks, there’s still every chance that you could succeed with a post that’s between 300 and 1,500 words.
Though content length may make some difference, it’s nowhere near as important as the quality of the content itself.
After all, you could write thousands upon thousands of words, but if all those words provide little value to your readers, then all you’ve done is wasted your own time.
That’s why, rather than fixating on content length, I recommend focussing on truly understanding what your audience wants from you.
Effective keyword research can help you determine not only what your audience is looking for but the reason they’re looking for it in the first place.
For example, there’s a big difference between a user who wants to learn how to do something and a user who is looking to buy something.
With the former, a 2,000 – 4,000 word how-to tutorial may be perfect, whereas, with the latter, a 1,000 – 2,000 word review may be more suitable.
Beyond that, you can improve the quality of your content by adding well-researched figures and statistics (and linking out to the source of those statistics), mixing your written content with other relevant media such as images, videos, and podcasts, and even including links to other helpful content on your website.
For more on how to truly optimize your posts, see my complete beginner’s guide to WordPress SEO.
How Long Should a Blog Post Be For SEO? Key Takeaways
With all that being said, if there’s one thing more than anything else that I want you to take away from this guide, it’s that blog post length is nowhere near as important as blog post quality when it comes to optimizing your content for success in search results.
That said, there are still valid reasons why -when it’s relevant and appropriate to do so- you may want to focus on long-form content that clocks in around that magical 2,100 – 2,400 spot so helpfully identified by Hubspot and others.
You put yourself in a prime position to generate more backlinks with a longer post. The more backlinks you have from high-quality sources, the more Google sees you as a trusted, authoritative source of information and, thus, the better chance you have at ranking well.
Add to that the fact that long-form content gives you much more opportunities to satisfy user intent, and the more you give your users what they really want; the more Google is likely to reward you with a higher position in those all-important first-page results.