I suspect most people ask the question posed in the headline of this post because they’re faced with a blank page and hope that the answer is “100 words is perfect!" Yet some may be asking for the “right” reason, which is to understand how many words will provide the greatest SEO benefit and, more importantly, the most value to the target.
There are two disparate pieces of evidence out there related to length. One is a study done by Nielsen Norman Group that shows people only read 20% of a post and occasionally up to 28% (so, why write a long post?).
And yet QuickSprout did an analysis that showed that the average length for web pages that ranked in the top 10 results on Google is at minimum 2,000 words (so, forget the idea of cranking out a post in half an hour!).
There’s no right answer to the question about blog word count, other than “as long as it needs to be.” That’s because the optimum length of any blog post depends on several factors, the most important among them being:
What it is you’re writing about. Is it a simple topic that doesn’t require a lot of argument-making or deep-delving-into (like, “Why A Professional LinkedIn Photo Is Important”)? Or is it a topic that warrants a more thorough evaluation complete with comparisons, research findings and other detail (like, “Inbound vs. Traditional Marketing: Observations & Expectations”)?
Who your target is. Are these people who have even shorter attention spans than most of us, or will they only be engaged when there’s plenty of detail? Do they have time to read a long piece or will the perceived effort required to get through the post deter them?
The goal of the piece. Is it educational (requiring more explanation and proof) or more of a “you need to read this” lead-in to a piece of advanced content?
HubSpot and other experts suggest that the average post should be around 600 words (and no less than 400). But certainly there are times when a short post is right, and when a long post is preferred:
Short posts – fewer than 400 words
Short posts – anything less than 400 words – is not as good for SEO as a longer post, but any post is still new content that Google sees, and if you’ve made sure to include relevant keywords, even a short post will help your SERP ranking. Short posts are appropriate when:
You want to sell something, quickly, and don’t need a lot of prose around the topic. Say you have a new piece of content that reveals findings from a study. Your post might include just a couple paragraphs about the importance and relevance of the findings to your audience, a brief summary of how the research was done, and a CTA that leads the reader to the content. End of story.
When you’re taking a day off from serious blogging to show your company culture, announce a new employee, offer a few curated posts, to announce your role in an upcoming event, etc.
Long Posts – more than 600 words
There are times when a long post is required. Say you’re making an argument that an industry-standard manufacturing process is outmoded, expensive and, over time, reduces productivity. That’s going to require a little more proof in the form of facts and figures, links to expert resources, and a fair amount of convincing prospects that your company’s new/different method will save them time and money.
Another reason for long content is that it’s generally more widely shared. According to Forbes, posts of 1,500 words or more gain 68.1% more tweets and 22.6% more Facebook likes. Long posts, then, will attract more traffic to your website where visitors have the opportunity to convert into leads.
But don’t go implementing these guidelines as though they’re written in stone. Our best advice is that word count should not be a consideration when the page is blank; your only goal should be to create quality content that has real value to your prospect – it answers prospects’ questions, helps them understand potential solutions and their benefits, or educates them about a topic relevant to their place in the buying journey.
A secondary goal should be on making your headline work hard to get readers’ attention; it should mimic, to some extent, what a prospect will use when conducting a search on the internet, and it should be lively and interesting, not dull (“5 Reasons To Fire Bad Employees” versus “Human Resources Challenges Associated With Underperforming Employees”).
Create a high-value post and top it with a catchy headline that tells readers what they’re getting and you’ll be successful attracting prospects and establishing credibility. It's also part of the formula for getting readers to convert to leads on related advanced content. No matter how many words your post is.
Now that you know length doesn't matter, take a look at how to keep your blog at peak performance by downloading our "10 Ways To Keep Your Blog Stocked With Great Content."
Posted by Meg Hoppe Meg provides creative vision to all client projects and serves as the agency's chief content writer. She has extensive experience writing for a variety of industries, including manufacturing, financial services, and healthcare. Meg started in advertising and has become a thought leader in digital content creation and inbound marketing.