How long should a blog post be?
As long as it needs to be. — That’s the answer you’d most frequently get. 🤬
I mean, don’t be mistaken, it’s not a bad answer. In fact, one could even argue it’s the “correct answer”.
But it doesn’t clarify anything. Even after hearing it, you’re still left scratching your head, wondering, “How long does a blog post need to be, then?”
*cough* As long as it should be *cough* And bam. Back to square one.
If you’re sick of going around in circles (or squares), this article is for you.
- If longer is always better … when it comes to your blog posts
- The easy, three-step process of determining the exact word count to shoot for in any blog post (No more uncertainty! No more question marks!)
- What to do once you do know how long your blog post should be — because, um, there’s also the writing bit to think about
Is longer always better?
The kind people behind Semrush’s State of Content Marketing Global Report 2022 did all the hard work for us.
And when I say hard work, I really mean hard work.
They analyzed 500,000 blog posts 🤯 averaging 30,000-50,000 monthly average views in 2021.
I highly encourage you to download the report — it’s stuffed full of content marketing insight gems 💎, plus it’s so colorful.
But I also understand that, sometimes, the whole process (giving up your email address and name, then waiting for the report to load) can be a real drag.
So, here are a few key statistics to note:
Oof. Look at that. On average, chunkier, lengthier blog posts with 3,000+ words get:
- ~442% more organic traffic and
- ~267% more backlinks
… monthly than one-scroll-and-you’re-done posts with less than 500 words.
So, that settles it.
Longer is better, which means it’s time for us all to start typing away aggressively at the keyboard … right?
Uh-uh. Not so fast.
See, as with interpreting all kinds of data, it’s a good idea to approach the numbers from Semrush’s report with a grain of salt, along with a boulder of critical thinking.
Not all topics need 3,000 words
Just think about it. Do all topics warrant 3,000 words?
Now, to give you an idea of just how absolutely gargantuan a 3,000-word article is, know this: when double-spaced, 3,000 words take up 12 full pages.
Imagine your topic is: “How to use a home urinalysis kit”. It’s straightforward.
You’ll undoubtedly hit an upper limit to just how many words you can (or should) use to describe how someone should collect their urine sample, dip the strip into the sample, then color-match the results.
In reality, you should only go long when it makes sense. When you’re covering a complex topic, for instance.
Otherwise, you run into the risk of digressing or losing focus (i.e., adding more words purely for more-words’-sake) — creating a poor reader experience.
And that brings us to an important point.
Instead of strictly obsessing over how long a blog post should be, focus on creating the best reading experience for your audience.
If you can answer their questions in 800 words or less, do it.
Their time is precious.
Don’t make them go scavenging for answers in an article rivaling the word count of a Lord of the Rings book.
Chances are, they’ll get impatient, exit, and *poof* there goes a potential customer.
3 questions to determine how long a blog post should be
OK, so how long a blog post should be depends on its topic.
Uh … but what if you need more guidance?
After all, just because you now know there’s no need to aim for 3,000 words every time doesn’t mean you know exactly where to land.
500 words? 1,000 words? 1,800 words?
Don’t worry. Asking yourself the following questions will bring clarity to just how long your blog post should be.
Question #1: What type of blog post is it?
There are many different types of blog posts.
So, before putting a word to the document, ask yourself: “What am I writing here?”
As a general rule of thumb, here are the word counts you should be working with when writing:
Press releases: 400 to 700 words
What is a press release?
A formal announcement prepared by a company for the news media.
Types of press releases include new product launches, mergers and acquisitions, product updates, events, and awards.
Announcement articles: 400 to 600 words
What is an announcement article?
You can think of it as a press release but targeted at the general public.
News articles: 600 to 1,000 words
What is a news article?
A news article informs and educates readers on current affairs/events.
For example, a sleep tech company (e.g., Calm and Eight Sleep) could share and discuss the findings of the latest sleep research.
Informational blog posts: 1,000 to 1,500 words
What is an informational blog post?
An informational blog post, well, shares information.
Sorry, sorry, before you go, “No sh*t, Sherlock”, here are a few concrete examples of blog posts that are informational in nature:
- What are the causes of high cholesterol?
- 7 signs you should see an eye doctor
- Are at-home urinalysis test kits reliable?
Guides and how-tos: 1,500 to 2,500 words
What is a guide? Or a how-to?
I think it’s safe to say you know what guides and how-tos are, but still, here are a few examples for illustrative purposes:
- How to lose weight
- How to raise vitamin B12 levels
- An exhaustive guide to DIY-ing your own supplements
Demo articles: 500 to 1,000 words
What is a demo article?
A demo article is typically multimedia-rich content targeted at current customers or warm leads.
It demonstrates a product’s feature or a set of features.
Pillar pages: 3,000+ words
What is a pillar page?
A comprehensive, authoritative exploration of a topic or theme. An all-in-one source.
Great for internal linking and, thus, SEO.
Pillar pages are typically dissected into multiple “cluster pages”.
E.g., supporting cluster pages for the pillar page “Common vitamin deficiencies and their impact on health” could include:
- Vitamin A deficiency: causes, symptoms, and treatment
- … and all the other specific vitamins covered in the pillar page
It’s a rule of thumb, not a hard-and-fast rule
The word counts detailed above are general guidelines.
Barring press releases (they need to be short and snappy because the media gets flooded with a million of these every day), there’s no rule saying that an “informational blog post” cannot be shorter than 1,000 words.
Or longer than 1,500 words, for that matter.
Takeaway? Those word counts can provide you with a good estimate of how long a blog post should be.
But for the exact word count, well, that’s where the remaining two questions come into play.
Question #2: Who am I writing for?
Really thinking about who you’re trying to reach through your blog post — i.e., your target audience — can guide you in determining how long a blog post should be.
But it can also be time-consuming and end up siphoning away the time you have available to actually create a blog post.
So, here’s a nifty shortcut to use when short on time. Just answer these questions about your target audience.
How knowledgeable are they on the topic?
Can your target audience understand your topic without context?
For example, if you’re trying to get doctors to stock your glucometers (small, portable devices used to measure blood glucose levels), you wouldn’t need to bother explaining how glucometers work in general.
You could simply highlight features that help your company stand out from the competitors.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to market your product to individuals newly diagnosed with diabetes, you’d typically have to go into much greater detail.
What is their search intent? Where are they on the buyer’s journey?
Your target audience’s search intent (i.e., the main goal a user has when typing a query into the search engine) is closely intertwined with where they are on the buyer’s journey.
There are four primary types of search intent:
- Informational: The searcher is looking for information. They’re in the “awareness” stage of the buyer’s journey.
- Navigational: The searcher is looking for a specific website. They already know where they want to go — which means they’re likely in the “decision” stage of the buyer’s journey.
- Transactional: The searcher is in buying mode; they’re looking to make a purchase. They can either be in the “consideration” or “decision” stage of the buyer’s journey.
- Commercial investigation: The searcher is in the market for a specific solution but has yet to make a final decision on the product that is right for them. They’re still weighing their options and are, thus, squarely in the “consideration” stage of the buyer’s journey.
In most cases, the further along your target audience is on the buyer’s journey, the lengthier your blog post will have to be.
That’s because the closer an individual gets to the “Buy” button, the more anxious they get.
They’re this 🤏 close to parting with their money.
What if your product disappoints them?
What if you’re a scam?
What if this … what if that?
So, to quell their “purchase anxiety”, you’ll have to include more information in your blog post (e.g., FAQs), which, of course, lengthens it.
Question #3: What’s the average length of blog posts ranking for the same keywords?
At this point, you should already have a pretty good idea of how long that blog post you’re trying to work on should be.
So, the final thing to do before getting those fingers ready for some clickety-clackety is this.
Do a manual screening of the top-ranking articles for the keyword(s) you’re trying to rank for.
What’s the average blog post length?
Are you within range?
Note: as mentioned earlier, longer doesn’t always mean better.
So, instead of simply aiming to go above and beyond the average blog post length (note: please do if you identify any content gaps), think about other ways you could make your blog post stand out from the average or downright meh content.
For example, can you explain a concept in a different way, so it’s:
- Easier to understand?
- More humorously? (Psst: 91% of people prefer brands to be funny, and 72% would choose a brand that uses humor over the competition)
- More engaging?
How long should a blog post be? Well, as long as it needs to be
While the answer to how long a blog post should be is still truly “As long as it needs to be”, we now have well-defined guidelines you can work with to find a suitable blog post length..
More specifically, your blog post should be long enough to:
- Satisfy the needs of your target audience
- Cover a topic comprehensively without digressing
- Allow you to do better than your competitors (and not necessarily in length!)
Knowing your ideal blog post length is one thing …
But actually writing it is another.
As you probably already know, hitting your target word count while ensuring your blog post is:
- Search engine optimized
- Scientifically accurate (super important for articles about health!)
- Primed for conversions — so your audience takes the next steps you want them to
… challenging. To say the least.
So, if you’re sick of opening that Google Docs for the 1,764th time with no end in sight, why not entrust your blog writing to me?
Determining how long each of your articles should be.
And fleshing every article out so it’s ready to capture your audience’s hearts (and wallets).
Peachy Tuesdays’ Blog Writing package does that all for you.
Now, the only question to ask yourself is this: what will you do with all your newfound free time?
Spend more time with your family? (Finally) pursue your hobbies? Or get to work on that new product line?