Trying to narrow down your approach for 2022’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 you create high quality content that 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 frustrating thing for content writers 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 much 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.
Then the length of the highest-ranking posts only two years ago was somewhere between 1500-2000 words. Whereas now, the average length of a blog post for optimum SEO ranking can hit anywhere between 2500-3000 words.
However, keep in mind that these figures are really just averages and they don’t take into consideration who the blogs are written for or the format they are written in.
The question of ‘how long should a blog post be’ is pretty difficult to provide a definitive answer to as it varies depending on a number of factors; the industry it is being written for, the type of blog post it is, and how much quality content you have to put into the post.
So let’s delve a little deeper into how much blog length for SEO ranking will differ across industries and types of blog posts.
How blog post length varies across industries
There is no doubt that blogs are a really powerful business tool, but before creating one it’s important that you understand the requirements of the blog post for each industry and format you are working in.
Having an idea of what to expect in each industry will give you a better understanding of the various ways your business can write and publish content to help you improve your conversion rate, increase revenue, promote brand awareness, and boost SEO ranking.
One important point to make about EVERY industry, however, it that it's not as simple as "write a long article and get #1 on Google" - you do have to actually write helpful, engaging content that answers your readers questions.
For that reason, it's absolutely vital that any and all article writing starts with topic research, using a combination of tools from Google Trends (which, as the name suggests, shows popular search terms and volumes) to Semrush Keyword Planner (an extremely powerful SEO tool that will uncover hot topics, keyword research, competitor insights and related terms.
We'll come on to how to plan and create great content a little later, but let's start with word count ballparks for different industries from marketing to food and travel.
First and foremost, let’s start with the most relevant industry to all of us here - marketing.
There is a whole host of data showing that long-form content is the most effective way to go in the marketing industry.
With an average post in marketing hitting the likes of 2,500-3,000 words, we aim for well over 2000 words for all of our articles, and we certainly notice a difference in engagement and SEO success for the longer ones.
It is crucial that you focus on producing quality content-heavy blogs with higher-than-average word counts to ensure you’re noticed in the heavily saturated market.
The fashion industry is a great example to show how long-form content isn’t always suitable for all industries.
Researchers and readers within this industry are more focused on visuals, meaning that whilst your blogs might not need to be super long, they need to be packed with engaging imagery.
Consider showcasing items in various ways - catwalks, photoshoots, product shots, retail in situ, social media influencers - to really show off the items.
The average fashion blog can be between 800-950 words and will still rank well in the search engine charts.
Financial technology is surprisingly a pretty content-heavy industry, although blog posts in this industry are data driven. The best ones tend to be in the range of 2000-2150 words.
SEO rankings have become more competitive within this industry in recent years, making it so important for brands to reach word count requirements to get their blog posts noticed.
The subtopics and conversations around fintech can be extremely complex and difficult to understand, thus requiring an in-depth discussion with lots of data driven imagery e.g. graphs.
Blog posts following the ‘ultimate guide’ style format do really well in this industry, particularly around cryptocurrency since there's so much scope to build trust and authority in the still emerging space.
Technology is another industry we are heavily involved in and have written numerous blog posts about for our tech clients.
We aim for between 1200-1500 words, which is around the recommended word count for this industry.
Some of our blogs in the tech industry have higher word counts than others, sometimes reaching the 2000 word threshold, but to make it easier to digest for the readers we split it into smaller paragraphs and bullet points with plenty of images.
Tech-focused articles tend to go heavy on features and benefits of products, with imagery that supports product features.
For SaaS platforms, how-to's are particularly helpful, with screen grabs of the platform to support guidance.
The healthcare industry is a mammoth industry, rolling over an annual revenue of $1.66 trillion.
The sheer size of the industry means the competition is fierce, making it even more difficult to be seen as a smaller company.
Content from the healthcare industry varies from research projects and reviews, to lengthy blog posts, so it’s important to be very content-heavy in your approach to writing a blogpost for this industry, hitting around 2,000-2,150 words.
A differentiating factor here can be your references - in such an industries, being endorsed by or adding a quote from a trusted professional can add a layer of credibility and trust to your work, as well as gaining PR attention from those you quote.
1,700-1,900 words is a safe amount to aim for in this industry.
Why is this slightly lower than some others? Simply because the manufacturing industry is not heavy on content marketing!
There's currently a bit of a gap in the market to hit hard with manufacturing-related articles - the slant you take could be informed by using a platform like Semrush to look at competition, top ranking content and related phrases.
This one’s similar to the food industry in that it’s seen recent growth and is all about those instagram-worthy shots of sunsets, beaches and city skylines.
The typical travel blog sees 1,500-2,000 words, peppered with beautiful photos that make every reader hop on Skyscanner and book a flight!
Nomadic Matt is a popular travel blogger, averaging anywhere between 1,000 and 3,000 words per blog.
Online retailing in particular has seen massive growth in recent years, more so in 2020 than any other, for obvious reasons (covid, if you’ve been living under a rock!)
Retail is a far-reaching industry and can involve a lot of different types of content, typically more visual than written.
For this reason, 1,500 – 1,700 words is a good number to aim for, with content interspersed frequently with videos and images to highlight the benefits of a product.
Food & Hospitality
Another huge industry that’s growing every day.
A lot of people share their thoughts about food - who’d have thought 50 years ago, even 15 years ago, that a profession could be made out of ‘sexy’ food photos and ‘instagrammable’ meals!?
The number of ‘foodie’ blogs has skyrocketed, too.
To make your mark in this industry, you’ll need to be averaging 1,400-1,900 words.DIY
Home and garden blogs tend to be one of the lowest word counts out there, with anything from 1,000-1,200 words.
These types of posts tend to rely heavily on video content rather than written.
Imagine searching ‘how to change a light bulb’. What’s better - a long-winded article with step-by-step instructions or a 60 second video talking you through the process? I’m guessing it’s the latter.
Just 300-500 words. And no, we haven’t jumped back in our time machine to 2008!
Why so low?
Because gadgets, like tech, home and garden, lend themselves to video content.
A 2,000 word article around the iPhone 12 just isn’t necessary. All browsers want is an overview of key features, some cool images and reviews.
How the type of blog post will alter your word count requirements
Without making it too complicated, the next step in creating a blog post that will rank highly in search engines, is to consider the type of blog post you want to create.
Consider if you are creating a pillar page, an ‘ultimate guide’, a ‘how to’, a ‘what is’ or a listicle. Each of these formats will have a different word count requirement in order to rank highly.
At this point, it is worth reminding you that you should not feel limited or forced to stay within the boundaries of a recommended word count. If you feel you have more quality content to add - go crazy with it!
And if you feel you don’t have enough quality content to fit the recommended word count don’t force it, as this will likely reduce the quality of the work.
By definition a pillar page is a high quality piece of content that provides a broad overview of a core topic, adding links out to in-depth articles about specific subcategories.
A pillar page should briefly cover all aspects of the chosen topic to provide the reader with a basic understanding, but without going into too much detail. This makes room for a more in-depth blog post in the following cluster pages, providing links in each to go back to the pillar page.
Typically a pillar page tends to be longer than an average blog post, with top ranking pillar pages reaching between 2000-2500 words.
Take our ‘Metaverse’ pillar page for example, we surpassed the 3500 word mark as we had so much quality content to include, with room for multiple cluster pages to follow.
Writing a how-to blog post should provide a clear and concise instruction to the reader on ‘how-to’ successfully complete the said action.
Putting a word count limit on this type of blog post is quite difficult as the topic could be something as simple as ‘how to plant a tree’ or something as complex as ‘how to build your brand in the metaverse’.
There are only so many ways you can guide someone to plant a tree, meaning the word count would be pretty low. Whereas with a topic as complex as the metaverse, the word count could be as high as 8000 words.
For optimum SEO ranking, ensure you match your word count appropriately to the topic being discussed.
Simply put, a listicle is an article in the format of a list.
If done correctly - listicles can be just as effective as any other blog format. On average, a blog post in the listicle format should reach around 2300-2600 words.
Listicles can follow the ‘ultimate guide’ format, or the ‘5 ways to improve your…’ format - rather than just providing a small paragraph on each section you can create a fantastic long-form blog post likely to rank highly.
Some examples of our blog posts following the listicle format are ‘8 Website trends to look out for in 2022’, ‘5 Ways Remote Digital Agencies Can Strive to Become Carbon Neutral in 2022’ and ‘Top 3 Ways to Ensure Your Content Marketing Strategy is Effective in 2022’.
So why will a longer post typically rank higher?
The psychology of long-form content
Not only does long-form content cover the breadth and depth of a topic that’s just not possible with a shorter post, it also indicates higher quality.
Despite the fact that your audience will never fully read every word of your 4,367 word article, the sheer fact that it exists paints you as the expert in your industry.
And if a reader does get to the end of it, they’ll leave mind-blown and feel like they’ve just had an epiphany!
Not only this, longer content is perfect for scanning. As mentioned, most people don’t read content word for word.
They simply scan.
In fact, Nielsen concludes that “the average webpage browser has time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely.”
Instead, they scan headings, sub-headings, bullet points and images.
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.
The longer a post is, the more opportunities there are to branch off and get into the running for dozens of other searches.
As mentioned before, a tool like Semrush can help uncover phrases related to your core keyword, with insights on keyword difficulty, search volumes and average costs per click if you were to pay to rank for the chosen keyword.
Head to their Keyword Magic Tool to explore:
How to Produce Great Long-Form Content
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 quality 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 often they click about through your website, those indicators are all in play when it comes to getting rankings.
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.
Good keyword research is the cornerstone of an excellent blog post. The keywords you choose, for starters, situates you in the competition pool that you're ranking alongside.
Try to focus on 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.
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 program, like Grammarly, 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 the most common issues with blog writing is massive walls of text. The human brain is better at digesting small chunks of information that are separated by space.
Even if you have a wall of text that is simply separated with line breaks without the need to change the words, it will be better-optimised because user preferences indicate the need for that space.
It's also important not to work the keywords 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 should fit into one main header, the introduction, and conclusion. It should then fall into place whenever it can be used naturally.
Measuring how well your blog post will rank
The unfortunate thing about Google is that they're forever making changes to their algorithm. It's great that they always want to evolve and enhance the quality of content they distribute across the internet, but it can make it hard to know exactly what they're ranking us for!
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.
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. Your keyword phrase will be present more often, but not overwhelmingly so, and if images are properly optimised with alt tags and headings are used correctly, you stand a pretty fair chance of climbing those ranks.
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 need to dedicate a quarter of your working hours to figuring it out, writing the article and making sure everything was right.
Fortunately, that's where we come in.
Need a Little Help with Content Creation?
So, did that help to figure out how long a blog post should be for SEO?
You might need a minute to just go over it all again and work out what’s best for your industry and the blog type you want to create.
But, 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 do the content creation for you.
We're here to take care of all content creation aspects for you. Explore our site for more digital marketing ideas and options for you to get professional help on your next campaign.