Updated: Jun 4
The real truth about content that not only ranks, but actually delivers on your strategy.
The front page of Google search is the Holy Grail of digital marketing. And SEO the whip-cracking Indiana Jones to get you there. So it’s no wonder results-driven marketers turn to the search giant to ask ‘What’s the best length for a blog post?’
There are plenty of pages out there that’ll promise a certain blog length equals the shortcut to SERPS success, but that simply isn’t true. Here’s what you REALLY need to know about the ideal length for blog posts in 2021.
How long should a blog post be?
Ignore the experts that say a blog post needs to be a certain length to be successful. The simple answer is that a blog post should be as long as the content justifies.
What? Why? This goes against the approved wisdom of ‘blog 2,300 words and they will come’.
Because – write this down – reader intent and experience are the real key to SEO. If you’re delivering content that doesn’t meet audience needs effectively, the Google Gods will punish you.
no skimpy content that short changes readers with superficial stuff that barely scrapes the surface
no Grapes-of-Wrath-style content that could have been easily summed up in something shorter
Best blog post length: the long and the short of it
The long and the short of it is this… there are basically two blog post lengths to be aware of.
Short-form content – a light snack
Long-form content – a belly-busting, belt-loosening Sunday lunch
Short-form articles work really well for grazers and picky eaters. They’re not for substantial topics. They’re quick reads that are easily digestible.
They work well for readers with a casual interest or for bite-size subjects. Strategically speaking, short-form content is good for grabbing a few minutes’ interest from top-of-funnel audiences.
Long-form articles are great when you have a lot to cover and you’re talking to engaged/invested readers. Think bottom-of-funnel audiences that are hungry for information.
They tend to do well in SEO terms because they deliver in-depth detail that means readers stick around longer, telling Google the content is worth reading.
The page length sweet spot?
Ok, if you insist on knowing the ‘best length for a blog post’, here’s what the experts say.
The ‘sweet spot’ for long-form content is around 2,100-2,400 words. This gives a good balance of readability and SEO.
The only real thing to remember from an algorithm point of view is that Google doesn’t like thin content. They’re all about adding value to the reader. So anything under 300 words is likely to do badly from an SEO perspective. (But who’s going to publish a blog post under 300 words anyway? You might as well just Tweet).
But remember, these articles don’t rank BECAUSE they’re a certain length. These articles rank because they’re GOOD and they HAPPEN to be a certain length.
Matching your blog post to your audience needs is far more important than aiming for an arbitrary number of words. If you blather on and bore people, they’ll bounce away from your site like Tigger on a trampette.
Meaty topic with a lot to talk about? Write a longer blog post that goes into detail and depth
A quick insight about something less substantial? Be concise and to-the-point – but never under 300 words
When to use short-form articles
Although over the past few years, the average length of blog posts has risen, there is definitely still a place for shorter articles. If your audience or topic demands a shorter blog post, don’t be afraid to write something that falls below the perceived SEO ‘sweet spot’ length.
The topic demands it
If you’ve got a very specific topic, you can probably do it justice in a shorter blog post. For example, a blog post on dog health is likely to take a lot of words, but one specifically about dogs’ oral health will take far less.
Don’t be tempted to write long posts for the sake of SEO. It’s much better to be concise and to the point. Padding out your article with unnecessary info will only annoy your audience and undermine your overall aims.
It’s right for the audience
All marketing activity should start with strategy and a strong understanding of your audience. If your aim is to target top-of-funnel prospects, a short article should suffice to get you on their radar. Or if you’re targeting busy professionals or people commuting, a short article might be more suited to their needs.
You can only write little and often
Short-form articles are also good for businesses that want to blog consistently but are short on time. Creating regular content can keep your brand front of mind. So producing several short-but-timely pieces – rather than publishing ad hoc longer content when you find the time – is a valid strategy.
When to use long-form articles
Long-form content certainly seems to dominate the Google SERPs so, if the topic and audience can take it, longer blog posts can potentially boost your SEO efforts. But never choose length over relevance and quality.
Your topic demands it
If your subject is extensive and needs explanation, you might need a higher word count to cover all the bases and get your message across well.
It’s right for the audience
Some audiences need more in-depth information to help them make a decision. Business-to-business audiences making a multi-million-pound purchase will need far more information than an individual choosing car insurance. If your audience craves detail and depth, long-form is the way to go.
You want to showcase your expertise
Long-form content is one way to showcase your expertise on a topic. Most businesses can produce short-form content. But creating something that deep-dives into every nook-and-cranny of a subject takes knowledge, commitment and confidence. This can make a great impression on prospects and search engines.
Always find a way to break up long content to improve readability, especially for people reading on mobile devices. Use appropriate formatting to break up your text into manageable sections and pop your keywords into subheadings.
Longer content can also be repurposed in lots of different ways – publish it as an ebook, break it down into smaller blog posts or listicles, use it as the basis of an email drip-feed to newsletter subscribers. A lot of content means a lot of potential for re-use and ROI.
In summary, there’s no ideal length for a blog post. The sweet spot for blogs is actually the balance between relevance, readability and ranking. For SEO success, aim to create something that people are interested in (relevance), will enjoy reading (readability) and uses on-page SEO techniques to get you noticed in the SERPs (ranking).
About the author
Libby Marks is an award-winning copywriter and content marketer. After 15+ years in marketing and communications, she escaped the 9 to 5 and started Write on Tyne.
Write on Tyne is a small content and copywriting agency dedicated to making marketing managers' lives easier. We provide top-notch copy for campaigns, content marketing, and websites - underpinned by expertise in marketing strategy and SEO.