Trying to narrow down your approach for 2021's digital marketing campaign? Any meaningful SEO effort is sure to include content creation, and the most optimisable content seems to be the blog post.
Creating a great blog post for optimisation can be tricky, though. You have to address issues of keyword volume, research, and length. On top of all of that, you have to make sure that the content you do create is meaningful for users, considering Google's AI is great at determining how useful a piece of content is likely to be.
Let's take a look at one of those questions today: how long should a blog post be for SEO?
A brief guide: how long should a blog post be for SEO?
Each component of a blog post has the potential to be optimised. That's because everything about any post is examined by Google and used to determine whether or not you'll rank.
When you think too hard about it all, it becomes a pretty stressful process. Not only do you have to make something that's topical, relevant, and useful, but you have to make sure that it ticks all of the SEO boxes that we know the algorithm prefers.
The tricky part about those algorithm preferences is that they're always changing. As user interests and behaviour change, so does Google. Google's main goal is to provide a service that's as useful to users as possible so that they don't opt for another search engine.
As it happens, one shift in user preference is happening right now. People are looking for longer, more in-depth content these days. It used to be that the 300-word blog post was the most effective option in terms of SEO content.
Now, the length of the highest-ranking posts might be somewhere upwards of 1500 words. A brief comparison of the 1,600-word post and a 300-word one will give you an idea of the difference in depth and character of those two options.
Why do longer posts rank higher?
The unfortunate thing about Google is that they don't just tell us what they're ranking for and how things are changing. We have to use contextual clues to figure out what the algorithm values in most cases.
A lot of times, that just means working with trial and error, looking at high-ranking posts, and waiting to see how things change.
We can assume a number of things about why certain optimisation methods are working, though. We know now that Google's AI is getting better at identifying value in relation to the user search. It might use context clues and language to do this, and a longer post could give it a better indication of what you're trying to explain.
This is especially true if that long post is well-optimised. Your keyword phrase will be present more often, but not overwhelmingly so. Keep in mind that a short post that is keyword-stuffed will not rank highly.
Longer posts are also more likely to include phrases that are similar to the keyword phrase and numerous terms that fit your content into the bank of keywords that your target audience is searching.
A long piece of content is more likely to do well in searches for its specific keyword phrase. At the same time, the success in terms of those specific keyword searches will boost the viability of the post for similar searches.
These variant searches are very close to the original keyword phrase. A shorter piece of content is bound to be tied directly to the original keyword phrase, not branching off enough to rank in many others.
On the other hand, the longer piece of content has to explore more territory around the general idea of the topic. For example, a 2,000-word post about roses will look at the symbolic meaning, the roses geographic history, how the flower is grown, and what different cultures think about roses.
The 300-word post about roses might just discuss their connection to the idea of love and where you can find them.
You can see, then, that the long post branches off and gets into the running for dozens of other searches.
The danger of fluff
Now, just because a longer post is technically more viable for rankings doesn't mean that you should stuff all of your content to make it as long as possible. At the end of the day, a meaningful post that addresses user concerns is more valuable than a long post that doesn't.
If you're going to work a long blog post into your SEO campaign, you have to make sure that it's a meaningful one, otherwise, you could get docked a few spots in the rankings.
Aim to prioritise value over everything else when it comes to optimisation. Users will engage more with your content when it's meaningful, and Google tracks those interactions.
From how long a person remains on a page to how much they explore your website, those indicators are all in play when it comes to getting rankings.
How to produce great long-form content
The unfortunate part about this change in Google's algorithm is that it means businesses will have to start diverting more time to their content creation.
Let's take a look at the baseline factors that go into a great, long-form blog post.
1. Keyword research
Good keyword research is the cornerstone of an excellent blog post. The keyword you choose, for starters, situates you in the competition pool that you're ranking alongside.
Try to choose keywords that are popular but don't have competition that's far more popular than you. For example, your used car dealership might want to rank for the term "used cars," but Ford and BMW might have the top-ranked spots for that term.
It would be nearly impossible for any small business to compete with a corporation for search rankings. So, the alternative is to find a less-popular term and optimise for it.
Additionally, the keyword you select gives you a template for the subject matter you'd like to address. You should choose something that includes the keyword but doesn't just focus on that term.
To go with the used car example, you might try to create a blog post on "how to make used cars last as long as possible." That topic allows you to branch into different areas of automotive subject matter that will fill out space in your 2,000-word article.
2. Quality writing
Things like grammar, punctuation, and flow of the blog post all come into play when you're trying to rank. Additionally, it's important to consider things like how you will break up chunks of text, where you're going to place the keyword, and how you'd like to incorporate links to the content.
You can try to work with a software editor programme like Grammarly or something else that examines your writing as you type and gives you suggestions. Additionally, it's smart to take a look at some resources that help you find the SEO best-practices for writing long blog posts.
One of those practises is to avoid massive walls of text. The human brain is better at digesting small chunks of information that are separated by space. Even if you have the wall of text and simply separated with spaces and don't change the words, that will be better-optimised because user preferences indicate the need for that space.
It's also important not to try and work the keyword in too forcefully. The keyword should be used naturally and at appropriate times. Keyword placement and volume are difficult to pin down sometimes, but the best approach is to include it in a few key places and wherever else it fits naturally.
For example, the keyword can fit into one main header, the introduction, and conclusion. It should then fall into place whenever it can be used naturally.
Making time for SEO content
The difficult thing for a lot of business owners is that writing content isn't their area of expertise. Even though they know all there is to know about the subject matter, they simply don't have the time to figure out how to write a blog post and optimise it to compete for rankings.
As you start the process of writing, you find that it might be a little more time-consuming than you'd imagined. In order to create regular, long-form posts that are well-optimised, you'd almost need to dedicate a quarter of your workday to figuring it out and making sure everything was right.
Fortunately, that's where we come in.
Need a little help with content creation?
So, how long should a blog post be for SEO? You might not even have to answer that question yourself. If you're pressed for time and still want to knock your digital marketing campaign out of the park, it may be a good idea to have an agency think about the content creation for you.
We're here to help. Explore our site for more digital marketing ideas and options for you to get professional help on your next campaign.