How Long Should a Blog Post Be?

A woman writing a blog post long-hand at her desk.
 

The short answer: blog posts between 800 and 1200 words perform well right now. 

Not every blog post should fall into this range. And your industry and reader’s needs will affect this word count. But it’s a good rule of thumb for a couple of reasons: search engines and your reader’s online habits.

Search Engines Love Long Content

One of the best ways to consistently attract readers online is through search engine traffic. And search engines tend to link to longer works.

Why?

The keywords that make up your blog post help search engines understand what your post is about and whether they should link to it. But if you use those keywords too many times within a single post, search engines might decide your post is spam and choose not to link to you.

Or, worse, they might serve your site penalties.

Longer blog posts make room for you to use keywords more often without stuffing the post.

Readers Share and Bookmark The Meatier Resources

This relates to the SEO point above since links between websites and social shares affect your search rankings. But it’s also important to note on its own. 

People tend to share, bookmark, and link to meatier resources. Reviews that explore multiple pros and cons. In-depth trainings and tutorials. And resources that comprehensively cover a topic.

This is why you’re more likely to find blog posts in the 2500-3000+ word count range in Google’s first page results. Google notices when more people share or save these resources, which affects search rankings.

This actually means blog posts in the 2000+ word count range are performing better. But not all of your blog posts can or should be full reports on a given topic.

So what about the common wisdom that says blog posts should be 500 words or fewer?

 
The only thing different about online writing is the medium. Not technology. Not the people. Just the medium. Respect the medium = success.
 

Ignore the ‘500 Words or Fewer’ Blog Post Myth

Common misconceptions feed fears about writing online.

Like that one claiming human attention spans are shorter today than in decades past.

Turns out, it isn’t true.

If it were, Netflix binging sessions wouldn’t be a thing, and sales of Stephen King's 600-page novels would have dried up with the dawn of the internet.

Neither has happened because word count or the time it takes to consume a piece of content doesn’t determine its success.

Here’s what I want you to remember.

The only thing truly different about writing online is the medium. Not the people. Not changing times. Just the medium.

The people who read blog posts vs the people who read 600-page Stephen King novels vs the people who binge entire seasons of Game of Thrones in one evening—yeah, they’re all the same people.   

So why then, if a person is willing to settle in for hours to read a novel or binge a TV show, are they so unwilling to read every word of a blog post?

Put in that context, you’re probably already realizing the answer.

 
Writing desks
 

#1 Blog Posts Serve a Specific Need

What we’re looking for when we open a blog post or scroll through our social media feed isn’t the same as what we’re looking for in a novel or TV show.

Personally, I pop into my Facebook or Instagram feeds to fill up dull moments between tasks (like waiting in the grocery store line). I search Google for information the second I need it. (“Hey, Siri. What was the name of that actor who plays Carrie?").

Neither is a mindset for patience. 

If Google offers me fifteen links that provide the same answer I’m looking for, why wait for a slow website to load? I can just skip to the next one and still look up in time to greet the grocery cashier when it’s my turn in line.

You and your reader probably to do the same.

#2 Audiences are No Longer Captive

Audiences have options, and the competition is fierce.

Newspapers aren’t the only source of news. Movie theaters aren’t the only place to catch the latest release.

If you don’t deliver what blog post readers are looking for AND make it easy to find—they’re off to the next option.

#3 Reading Off a Screen is Kind of Hard

Device screens cause eye fatigue. Mobile phone screens are small, and not everyone offers mobile-friendly content or websites.

That means, if you want readers to read more of your post, you have to make it easier on the eyes. Lots of white space. Short sentences. Short paragraphs. Break it up with subheads to make it scannable. And avoid traditional (read: stuffy) writing styles.

By the way, lacking a mobile-friendly site is terrible for your bottom line. If this is you, for goodness sake schedule a time to talk with us. We can design your site to be a mobile-friendly customer conversion machine.

Respect the Blog Post as a Medium to Engage More Readers

Bottom line, shorter blog posts don’t perform better online.

To increase your readership and engage readers, the key is to overcome the challenges specific to blog posts.

Mostly, this comes down to making tweaks to your design, using copywriting techniques and SEO, and keeping your reader’s habits in mind.

We teach content marketing and online writing techniques that work. Pop your email address into the box below to find out when our next online or in-person workshop is live.