If you’ve at least dabbled in marketing, you must have asked yourself what the ideal length of a blog post should be. Content length is one of the critical SEO ranking factors and can affect your position in the SERPs. And even the best blog post isn’t worth much if nobody can find it.
So how long should a blog be?
There’s only one way to determine the answer. By using data!
I won’t waste your time in this article with statistics and so-called “best practices.” I’ll tell you how to research to find an ideal blog post length for your website. I’ll also share how you can write longer blog posts without sacrificing quality.
How long should a blog post be?
Having conducted content research and analyzed the data on the top-ranking pages in search engines, we’ve found that the ideal length of a blog post is between 1500 - 2500 words. Articles in this range are more likely to cover sufficient topical depth and dominate first-page rankings.
So, does it mean that you can write an average of 2,000 words, post it, and wait for that page one spot?
Search engine optimization specialists, content marketers, and bloggers have been asking this question for ages. And some have attempted to answer it definitively. Take a look.
- The inbound marketing guru, Hubspot, wants us to believe that ideal blog posts should be long-form blog posts in the range of 2,100–2,400 words.
- Neil Patel claims the optimal blog post length depends on your industry; his estimates vary between 1,100 and 2,700.
- Backlinko analyzed 11.8 million search results and came back with a definitive answer, “the average Google first page result contains 1,447 words.”
All the “foolproof” analyses above assume that Google prefers a fixed blog word count. It might vary depending on the industry or post type, but there’s always an optimal average. The truth, however, is that there isn’t a single optimal world length for blog posts across all industries.
Search engines are concerned about satisfying search intent. That means they’re primarily concerned with quickly and efficiently answering users' search queries. Doing that in 200 or 2000 words is not essential to Google.
If your blog post is 2500 words but doesn’t answer a reader’s question, it will not rank high on Google.
We at Surfer believe that the “ideal length” assumptions are worthless.
Long blog posts vs. short blog posts
Size doesn’t always matter.
Let me explain why bigger doesn’t always mean better.
After all, since the numbers above show that Google generally favors long-form content, why not just go wild and write long-form blog posts that beat the competition?
In 2015, Brian Dean coined the term “Skyscraper Technique,” which took the SEO world by storm. It said to check what your competition wrote and to write more extensive and better long-form content, followed by reaching out to acquire backlinks.
However, ranking well on search engines is not that simple today.
Longer blog posts aren’t always better than short blog posts! Just think about it: when you google “dollar rate,” do you want to see the current exchange rates or the history of American currency?
Some search intent can be satisfied with 300 words when you want a quick definition, like in the example above. Others might require 600 words or 1,000 words.
For example, a search for “meta title” on Google throws up Coschedule’s post in the number one spot. The entire article is 311 words! Compare that to the other pages ranking below it for the same search query. These have blog post lengths between 1300-3700 words!
Every keyword doesn’t need long-form content like a 5000-word pillar page. Sometimes, it's best to cut your blog post down.
For example, Matthew Woodward, an online marketing specialist, discovered that one of his blog posts, ranking number seven on the first page of Google, was much longer than its competition. Surfer audit recommended removing 20,000 words from the blog post length, which Matthew did.
The day after, his blog post was ranked number one.
Readers don’t always want “ultimate guides”. Sometimes, they’re just looking for quick answers or brief explanations to their questions.
How to find the ideal blog post length for SEO
So how do you find the perfect length for your blog post?
You must do two things to find the ideal blog post length for you: analyze the competition and determine the user intent behind your keyword. Focus on helpfully answering the question, not meeting a specific word limit.
Analyze the blog length of the top-ranking pages
Here’s how to quickly find out the range of an ideal blog post for your primary keyword by analyzing the top-ranking results.
First, head over to Google and type in your target keyword. Scroll past the ads and copy the URL of the top-ranking page. Head over to Surfer Audit and do the following.
- Enter the page URL you just copied and your target keywords
- Select the country and device preferences and check the Sentiment box
- Click Create Audit
The Content Audit tool will audit not only the blog post that you just entered but also competitors ranking for the same search query to give you a holistic view.
To ensure that you’re analyzing relevant competitors without including any landing or e-commerce pages, click on the Select competitors tab at the top of the report.
Choose the competition with the highest Content Score. The higher the score, the better optimized a given piece of content is. Generally speaking, all sites above 67 can be considered high-quality. Why compare yourself to low-quality pages anyway?
Be careful of posts that are longer than the average. Just like I mentioned before, there’s no point in writing a long-form piece of content just to hit the “perfect” length. Google may treat your blog post as an outlier affecting your ranking.
For example, I excluded the page in position six because it wasn’t strictly relevant. The Words column will show each page's blog post length, which you can use as an indicator to guide your ideal blog post length. However, in the following steps, I’ll show you exactly how to find the optimal range for your blog post length.
Select the competitors you want to analyze and click Let’s go. Scroll down to the Word Count section of the report, where you can see the range of word lengths.
I prefer this report because not only will you be shown each page’s word length, but it also recommends the overall blog post length based on the top-ranking SERPs.
For example, I checked out the Word Count report for a blog post ranking in position 20 for the target keyword “clarinets vs saxophones”. This page needs much more content to rank better based on the top results. Surfer Audit recommends adding between 1488-2634 words in its body.
The report also shows me the word count of the top pages ranking for my keyword which can be helpful as a guide.
Determine the number of words by on-page element
Use Surfer Audit to make things even easier and break down word length by each page element. The Word Count report we just visited also recommends a word length for each on-page element. For example, the report suggests adding words in my H2-H6 header tags and paragraphs.
Recommended Reading: Great Blog Post Outlines lead to High-Ranking Content
Use Keyword Surfer to find competing blog lengths
If you prefer to analyze the top pages by their blog lengths in the SERP itself, download our free Chrome extension for keyword research. With the plugin installed, the length of each blog post pops up in the SERPs.
- Type in your target keyword in Google Search
- Save the blog post length metric shown by Keyword Surfer extension for each page
- Take the average of the blog post lengths that you just analyzed.
For example, Keyword Surfer popped the number of words in each blog post in my search for “clarinets vs saxophone”. As a bonus, Keyword Surfer will show you data on the organic traffic for the domain, exact keyword usage, monthly search volume and information on related searches.
This is a pretty straightforward process, but ensure you don't include top-ranked pages that don’t match the user intent. For example, if you want to write a review blog post about “best leather jackets under $100,” disregard any category and product pages. Compare yourself only to other relevant articles.
Analyze existing blog posts for ideal blog length
Use Surfer SEO Audit to determine your ideal blog post length and optimize existing pages. Follow these steps.
- Open Surfer Audit
- Input the blog post URL and primary keywords
- Select the country, device preferences and check the Sentiment box
- Click Create Audit
Surfer Audit will perform its magic for a few seconds. You'll observe a green tick when your blog post’s audit is ready. Click on it.
To ensure that your audit is based on pages already ranking for your primary keyword, use the Select Competitors tab on the top to exclude any irrelevant pages.
Next, scroll down to the Word count report we discussed earlier to see how your blog post’s length compares to the competition. Optimize the length of your blog by following the word length suggestions made in this report.
Recommended Reading: 3 steps to optimize existing content
How to create blog posts with the ideal length
If you need to write a high-quality piece of content, Surfer Content Editor is the perfect writing assistant. To write blog posts with an ideal length, follow these steps.
- Go to Surfer’s Content Editor
- Enter your broad-level keywords
- Select your country and device preferences
- Click Create Content Editor
(If you’re optimizing a published blog post, toggle the Import content from URL button and enter your web page URL for Content Editor to pull from)
1. Select competing pages for your target keyword
Make sure that you select the top-ranking pages that you want to compete against for the best suggestions from Content Editor. In the editor, select the gear icon with the blinking blue dot in the top right.
Toggle on or off pages that you don’t want to be analyzed in the Competitors tab. These may be e-commerce or direct response pages trying to make a sale and aren’t focused on content. For example, I toggled off the blog post in position 4 of the SERPs.
2. Finalize your Content Structure
Scroll down to receive insights into the blog post’s recommended page structure and keyword density based on the competitors you just selected.
Recommended Reading: How to Rank Higher with Content Editor
3. Answer 'People Also Ask' questions
Use the “People Also Ask” section in Google as inspiration to cover your topic well. These are questions strongly connected to your query and look like this.
But you don’t have to leave the Content Editor to find these questions. In the report you opened from the gear icon, scroll down to the Topics and Questions section. As you can see from my panel, there are six questions for my search query. I can also select from a bunch of related questions that other pages have covered.
4. Include suggested keywords in your blog post
Content Editor provides a list of semantically related keyword suggestions to write SEO content better. The keywords are color-coded to show their used frequency in your blog post. Write to turn them all green. Too many red keywords might mean you have a keyword gap to fill.
For example, look at these keyword suggestions by Content Editor for “SEO services”.
If you need ideas on using them in your content, you can hover over them to check out how other bloggers have used the keyword in a sentence.
The benefits of long-form blog posts
By now, we’ve established that there is no perfect blog post length for a blog article. This is one of those areas where the perfect blog post length is the average word count of the top-ranking pages relevant to your search query.
Your first focus when writing blog articles should be to satisfy search intent and not be too bothered about the blog length.
However, there are keywords for which search engines prefer long-form content. In these cases, your longer posts will serve several benefits over shorter blog articles. Here are some of the benefits that a longer blog post will offer.
1. Topical Depth
Content depth has been a ranking factor for a few years now but is more relevant than ever because how well you cover a topic is critical to establishing your website authority in the eyes of Google.
There needs to be more than a lengthy article to rank in search engines today. Your blog articles must cover various selected subtopics relevant to your primary keyword. A perfect blog post isn't just about getting your point across in a few hundred words - it's about providing your readers with enough information to keep them engaged without overwhelming them.
2. Longer Sessions
Not exactly rocket science, but longer posts lead to higher time spent on your page, another crucial ranking factor. In addition, longer blog articles dive deeper into the topic and often explain supporting principles and subtopics, leading to a more immersive experience that readers want to take their time reading.
Usually, this is new information being consumed and understood simultaneously, so users aren’t just skimming through looking for quick wins. Instead, think of it like a book somebody wants to read over a coffee.
3. Higher conversion rates
As a result of learning something new from long-form articles, they also tend to have higher conversion rates than shorter blog posts. In addition, your readers have an opportunity to build trust and witness your expertise through the comprehensive content you’ve created. Backlinko, for example, has a blog that is entirely long-form content and is well-regarded among SEO enthusiasts.
This relationship isn’t quite possible with short-form content that serves more immediate needs. In turn, your readers are more likely to check out the rest of your pages and convert to free trials and paying customers.
4. Greater exposure
Research indicates that longer blog posts benefit from increased exposure from social media shares, backlinks and organic traffic. Hubspot concluded from a study on their blog that articles over 2000 words performed much better.
Longer articles tend to have more information for people to talk about and share. They’re also more likely to draw backlinks because they’re comprehensive and can act as reference points for websites to send their audience to.
I hope that after reading this guide, you'll find the ideal blog post length for you. SEO is about data. No “perfect” word count can beat keyword research. How long a blog post should be doesn't have a definite answer.
Blog lengths vary, but longer blog posts are not always better than shorter posts. A lengthy blog post doesn't guarantee better results, just like shorter blog posts aren't guaranteed to fail. It depends on the topic you’re writing about.
Analyzing your competition and determining user intent will allow you to check if the blog post length is a ranking factor for your keyword. And if it is—how many words you should aim for.