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How Long Should a Blog Post Be for SEO in 2019?


Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, and strategic marketer focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses and construction companies.

What’s the best blog length for SEO – in 2019? It depends! But I’m going to give you a dead simple way to get YOUR best blog length in about 3 steps, in the next 10 minutes. I call this method the ‘Top Ten Average Method’, and it simply means taking the ten posts on your website that get the MOST traffic from search engines, determining their average length. Before you do that – check out this telling graph that shows what the content in the top positions on Google averages for word length:

Average content length for the top ten results - Most important ranking factors 2018

As for our Top 10 Average Method some might ask: “Why such a simple method?” Because I actually want people to use it! What good are fancy formula’s that involve powerful tools – if most people don’t own those tools. Our ‘best blog length for 2018’ post used Screaming Frog, and walked you through this general idea – but in a much more scientific and detailed way. This time I’ve decided – it’s more important that you actually DO IT than it be perfect.

I did the calculation for our website in 2019 and came up with 1,705 words!

What's the best blog length for SEO (in 2019)? Monday Morning Marketing + Coffee

What's the best blog length for SEO (in 2019)? Monday Morning Marketing + Coffee

Posted by Tim Brown on Monday, October 29, 2018

The best blog length for SEO in 2019

The best blog length for SEO in 2019 is 1,705 Words. According to numerous studies over the last 10 years – Google’s algorithm prefers more content, when going head to head on shorter content posts – helping blog posts with over a 1,000 words do better on average – and driving up the average significantly. At minimum blog posts should have 300+ words, so that they aren’t considered ‘thin content’ on your website.

But it really depends on your website – here’s how to do the calculation.

When I did the ‘Top ten average method’ – this is what my formula looked like:

18,297 – (125×10) = 17,047 / 10 = 1,705 words

Have SEO Handled For You - SEO Outsourcing

Find your top 10 organic posts in Google Analytics

1. First find your top 10 posts in search by filtering analytics by ‘Organic search’

Bulk Web Page Word Counter

2. Then take your top 10 blog posts, and determine their lengths using the Bulk web page word count checker.

Find your best blog post length - article for 2019
Bulk check the length of articles to determine average

3. Determine the amount of content in your header, footer, and sidebar – for me I got 125 words so I subtracted that times ten (1,250) from the total of our top 10 blog post lengths combined (18,297).

Top 10 Blog post lengths combined MINUS (Header, Footer, Sidebar lenth x 10) = Corrected Total Top 10 Blog post length DIVIDED BY 10 EQUALS your best blog post length for 2019 using the Top ten average method.


What did you come up with using this method? I’d love to add to this post using the responses of people that read it – if you don’t mind taking 1 minute after you get your result and dropping it in the comments below.

If enough people respond, I can add some further content, rounding out some of this anecdotal research into a more in-depth piece of content. Many other articles from reputable sources seem to indicate this kind of level of effort is the new normal – here are 5 other conclusions for the best length for blog content (in the last couple years.)

1. Search Engine Journal – 1,900 Words
2. WesFed – 1,600 Words
3. Moz- Best length for SEO is BS
4. Satish Gonesh – 1,000 – 1,5000 Words
5. Buffer – 1,600 Words

How to focus on quality rather than quantity

The most important piece of blogging – if you’re just joining the blogging community, or this SEO-focused subculture within the marketing community, is that you create content ‘of substance.’

What does creating content ‘of substance’ mean?

  • Try to introduce new concepts in each of the blog posts you put out – don’t just regurgitate facts that others have already shared. For instance, in this blog post I came up with the ‘top 10 average method’ because I new it would be easy to remember, and perhaps it would make the concept of coming up with a website specific ‘best blog post length’ easier for the average person.
  • Think about what kind of media would enhance the content experience – There are a wide array of things that could help your reader digest the concepts you’re sharing: Videos, memes, gifs, diagrams, graphs, infographics, quizzes, and calculators are just a few of them!
  • Really consider what the intent of people searching for the thing you are writing are looking for is – and how can you fulfill their need. One time I wrote a guide about ‘Conversion Rate Optimization‘  (the art of getting more visitors to do what you want on your website), and it got traffic for things related to ‘converting files / optimization’, and I dumbly started to modify the article to be a little better suited for that term by adding variations of the keyword that would get people to click – but the article didn’t fulfill that NEED. So people likely left quickly – didn’t have a good experience on the site, and that’s bad.

Overall – you want to try to increase traffic on your site, for things that you are actually the best at, and can help people with – not just mindlessly increase traffic for traffics sake.

Getting to 1,700 words – 5 ways to find additional points for your article:

There are so many ways to increase word count, and yes – if you’re wondering I’m feeling a bit of the pressure to make sure my article is as long as my ‘top ten average’ – so that this becomes one of my top posts as well. 🙂

But how does one do this without it feeling – forced  or contrived?

Enter – LSI Keywords to the rescue!

LSI Keywords are other terms that are related to what you just wrote about, and can allow you to answer adjacent questions, or speak on related topics to your main topic, thus helping people further on their search journey – based on what you just helped them with.

Here are 5 ways to dig up these kinds of topics. 

1. Look at what Google suggests when you search in their search box:

Suggested searches as a way to beef up blog length

Have you covered all of the angles that these ‘suggested searches’ might indicate people are looking for?

Consider adding new elements to your post to cover some of these questions. For instance by using this method on this article I determined people might want to also know the best title length for blog articles because of the common query ‘best SEO blog title length‘… so I’ll answer that now, it’s UNDER 70 Characters – so that it doesn’t get cut off in search results. 

 

2. Use the people also ask box for SEO

How to use the people also ask box for SEO

So now – in the ‘people also ask’ box I see that people are asking ‘does blog help SEO’ – and I can offer a couple words about that. The answer is YES! I’ve gone from 100-200 people on my website to 1000’s a day just because of blogging, and many of those people become clients!

The concept here is that – you may not have thought of the questions people could be asking that are around what you just wrote about – so check out the ‘peoplealso ask’ box for amazing, and ripe questions to offer answers to at the end of your post.

3. Use ‘LSI Graph’ to increase the length of your blog post with useful content.

After searching ‘best blog post length for SEO’ in LSI Graph I got ‘blog post length best practices’, ‘ideal blog post length, ‘optimal blog post length’, ‘seo content length’, ‘1000 word blog post’, perfect blog post length’ and ‘average news article length’.

Although I might not always use these ‘LSI keywords’ to add items to the end of my blog post – I can get some context about some of the things people really want as far as content, and perhaps identify additional angles. So you want best practices? 🙂

 

Use LSI Keywords to increase the length of your blog post - Best blog post length for 2019

Blog post length best practices 2019

1. Always do keyword research before starting your blog post. It’s a shame to spend a bunch of time on something no-one will read, and no-one wants to write 1,500+ words without confidence that it at least *is possible* it could get 100+ people reading it, and be long-term helpful for your ideal customers. Amazing tools for this include Ahrefs.com and SemRush.com.

2. Always determine your ‘distribution strategy’ before starting a blog post. If your ‘distribution strategy’ isn’t SEO – and is Facebook, or LinkedIn ads or any number of other methods – fine, just determine that before writing your epic blog post so that the promotion strategy, and mindset can be built into the post from the very beginning.

3. Average the length of your top ten blog posts – and make sure MOST of your effort goes towards blog posts of this length, rather than just churning out short blog posts for the sake of frequency. Why make articles no one will see in 2 years?

 

Why not finding YOUR best blog length is Bullsh*t

As much as I love ‘contrarian blog posts’ – this vs. that, ‘SEO is dead’, ‘best blog length for SEO is bullsh*t’ – the obvious truth belies something very important – that corporate-focused SEO’s don’t emphasize enough..

‘Time on site’ matters A LOT.

So the fact you’re still with me – and the fact I put in the work to write an article that I wanted to be useful all the way to the end allows Google’s algorithm to see that this site serves up QUALITY CONTENT.

ON Page SEO - Important Ranking factors. Graph / Statistics - SEO Ranking factors 2018

That means – people that write 300 words… or people that write FLUFF for that matter, and don’t do original research, don’t include images, don’t make videos, don’t have ‘co-citations’, or find supporting evidence for their articles – will generally see people jumping off their sites back to search results quickly. 

The most important aspect of blogging in 2019 – determine your distribution strategy before each blog

Even if the way you’re getting the blog post out there – is not SEO, you need to know how you’re going to get 100+ people to see this post. If you’re not lucky enough to have rabid fans that come back to your blog every day just to consume your content (very rare, anyway) – you need to either do keyword research and really have some solid keyword targets for the article… or you need to have an ad budget to promote the piece.

Graph with statistics about backlinks and the number of referring domains. SEO Statistics and graphs

Either way – we’re too far in the game, for you to think ‘if you write it – they will come’, your choices are keyword research – or generally spending other money in some way shape or form to get people there. To me, getting really good at keyword research (or having us do it) is a massive opportunity for most marketer’s today. If you’re going to go deep on one skill in 2019 – my suggestion is keyword research.

Good luck on the journey to create excellent content – and have fun!


Here’s the original post:


How Long Should a Blog Post Be for SEO? The result of this research concludes that the ideal blog post length is 1,200+ words. Medium had reported in 2013 that the ideal length of a blog post is 7 minutes or 1,600 words. In short, the ideal blog length depends on your situation.

Read the rest of the post for how to get the ideal blog length based on existing data from your website, and how the answer of ‘1,200+ words is the best length for a blog post’ was determined for this site.

If you’re looking for tons of data-backed research on how we got over 1,200 words for the ideal blog post length for SEO in 2018 and how we we used Screaming Frog to analyze this site (formerly TimBDesign.com and now HookAgency.com) – read on! I think you’ll find the process deeply interesting as well.

What You’ll Learn in this Post:

  • Why you should still consider blog post length in 2018
  • How to find the optimal word count for your content

Finding the Optimal Word Count for SEO

SEOs and content marketers are always trying to figure out what it takes to drive their content to the top of search results. One frequently talked about attribute of content is word count. People want to know, what length gives their content the best odds of reaching the top of the organic search results?

You usually get an answer like this:

blog post length

Which is true. Always focus on quality over quantity. A lot of words is not going to make up for a crappy post.

However, if you’re already in the practice of producing what you might consider to be “high quality” content, is there a certain word count threshold that drives incremental organic traffic?

The question of optimal content length – be it for SEO, social media, earning backlinks, etc. –  has been researched and answered, one way or another, time and time again. In 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. These are just a few examples, but there’s no doubt that you can find dozens of pieces of content on the subject each year as long as SEO has been around.

But as search engine algorithms change year-to-year, you can expect that the “ideal” word count for SEO does too. That’s why we’re rehashing this topic yet again to figure out exactly how long a blog post should be as we approach 2018.

Two Ways to Answer this Question

Most studies into this topic of word count and SEO take one of two approaches. They either analyze the ranking content for a broad set of keywords across many websites or industries. Or, they look at a single website (perhaps their own) to understand optimal post length for a more limited content set.

Although I enjoy combing through the big analyses, I’m a fan of the latter approach for two reasons:

 

  1. The ideal length of content is going to vary by industry and region. You probably aren’t competing against Wikipedia’s content, which can be monstrously long. So their content should factor into your analysis. Instead, you’re more likely to reach a valuable conclusion for your business if you’re looking at performance of your content by word count.
  2. It’s easier for me to do.

For example, I conducted this analysis for TimBDesign.com. I found that when they produce content of over 1,200 words, it performed significantly better, on average, at driving organic traffic.

blog post length

However, the same may not be true for your website or industry. In this post, I’ll walk you through the steps I took to arrive at these findings and show you how you can analyze the performance of your content to find the optimal word count for SEO.

How to Analyze Your Content for Optimal SEO Word Count

At this point, you may be thinking, “I don’t have enough content or organic traffic to my site worth analyzing.” That’s ok. I’ll also be showing you how you can analyze a competitor’s content with this method. Either way, you’ll come away with insights on the best post length for SEO.

First, we’re going to need to gather some data. Specifically, we want to know:

  • Organic traffic by post
  • Word count by post
  • Publish date by post (we’ll use this to exclude recently-published content that hasn’t yet had time to earn organic rankings)

Here are the tools we’ll need:

  • Screaming Frog
  • Google Analytics
  • SEMrush or Ahrefs (if you’re analyzing a competitor’s website)

Now that we have everything, let’s get started. Follow along as I analyze TimBDesign.com.

1- Connect Screaming Frog to the Google Analytics API

This will speed up our analysis. If you’re analyzing a competitor’s website, then skip to the next section.

Open Screaming Frog. Navigate to Configuration > API Access > Google Analytics. Then, get your GA account added:

Image 3

As you see above, make sure that you change the Segment to Organic Traffic.

Next, we need to expand the default date range to one year. Do that on by clicking on the Date Range tab.

Image 4

When you’re done. Click OK.

2- Set Up Screaming Frog to Capture Publish Date

As I mentioned earlier, we need to snag each post’s publish date. Why? We want to exclude recent posts from our analysis. We shouldn’t expect a post published last week to have already reached its organic traffic potential no matter how many words it has.

If the site you’re analyzing is like TimBDesign.com, then somewhere on a blog post you’ll find its publish date. For example, see the highlighted region below:

Image 5

Screaming Frog allows us to easily grab this information using custom extraction rules. Navigate to Configuration > Custom > Extraction.

The extraction method we’ll be using is XPath. If you want to what XPath is or how you can use it, then I suggest you check out Distilled’s guide on the subject. Name your custom extraction rule “Publish Date”.

blog post length

Now we need to fill in the XPath query. Here’s the simplest way to do so.

  • Using Google Chrome. Go to a blog post on the website you’re analyzing.
  • Find the post’s date, and right-click on it. Choose Inspect.
  • You’ll shown the HTML / CSS code that renders the publish date.

blog post length

  • In the Inspect window, right-click on the HTML element containing the publish date. Then choose Copy > XPath.

Image 8

  • Go back to Screaming Frog and paste the copied XPath into the custom extraction field. Your XPath will be different, but it should resemble something like this:

Image 9

  • Change the last drop-down on the right to Extract Text. Then click OK.

3- Run the Screaming Frog Crawl

Enter the full URL of the site you’d like to crawl at the top and hit Start.

Make sure that Screaming Frog is successfully pulling organic traffic from Google Analytics and extracting the publish date for each post.

Navigate to the Analytics tab. You should see GA data feeding into the appropriate tabs, like so:
Image 10
Navigate to the Custom tab. Change the Filter to Extraction. Check to see that there are publish dates for each post.

Image 11

Don’t worry if you also see text being pulled in. We’ll extract the date in a moment.

4- Export the Crawl, Import into Google Sheets for Analysis

Once your crawl is finished, export all the data to a CSV.

In Screaming Frog, navigate to the Internal tab. Change the Filter to HTML. Click Export.

Image 12

Now, bring that CSV into a Google Sheet. If you prefer Excel, then go right ahead. However, I’ll be using Google Sheets in this example.

If You’re Analyzing a Competitor’s Site, Pull in SEMrush or Ahrefs Data

Obviously, if you’re analyzing a competitor’s website, you don’t have access to Google Analytics data. However if you have access to either SEMrush or Ahrefs, you can use their reports as a proxy for organic traffic.

  • Ahrefs: Organic Search > Top Pages report

Image 13

  • SEMrush: Organic Research > Pages report

Image 14
After you’ve exported either of these reports, use the VLOOKUP function to associate it with your Screaming Frog data.

5- Prepare Your Data for Analysis

With your data in a Google Sheet, we need to prepare a few things. Plus, you’ll likely want to do a bit of cleanup before jumping into the analysis.

Here’s how I built out my spreadsheet. I recommend taking a look so that you can replicate it for your analysis: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ARUVhyXNypInYWDsTR7bY7VLMjJuWzOt52wtPwnom2g/edit?usp=sharing

Clean Up the Spreadsheet

At this point, we’re interested in just a few columns of our data; Address, Word Count, GA Sessions, and Publish Date.

Image 15

Since we’re only looking at blog posts, you can delete any rows that don’t have a Publish Date.

In the case of our analysis for TimBDesign.com, we need to remove the text from the Publish Date cells so that we have a date format that we can work with. I used Data > Split text to columns… to remove all the extraneous text.
Image 16

Remove Recently-Published Posts

I chose to remove any posts published within the last six months. You can decide what works best for your analysis.

Find the True Word Count of Each Post

Screaming Frog’s Word Count metric includes all words on a given web page – not just the body content – like words in the header and footer navigations.

Since we’re most interested in analyzing our post’s body content, we’ll need to do our best to remove these extra words from our count.

To do this, follow these instructions:

  • Navigate to a random post. Copy all of the body content and paste into a Google Doc (use Paste without formatting).
  • In the Google Doc, go to Tools > Word Count

Image 17

  • Find the difference between the word count in the Google Doc, and what Screaming Frog reported.
    • For example, the post I chose has 2,902 word according to the Google Doc. Screaming Frog reported 3,249 words – a difference of 347 words.
      • In the case of TimBDesign.com, there are roughly 347 words in the header, footer and sidebar of our posts.

      Image 18

  • Subtract all of your posts by the number you found in the previous step to arrive at each post’s true word count.

Create Groupings to Make Your Analysis Easier

This one is more of a personal preference, but I find it effective to create groupings for Word Count and Publish Date. For example, used IF() / THEN() functions to group posts by word count into these categories so they included a roughly equal number of posts:

  • < 600 words
  • 600 – 800 words
  • 800 – 1200 words
  • 1200+ words

I took the same approach to group posts by their age:

  • 6 – 12 months
  • 12 – 18 months
  • 18 – 24 months
  • 24+ months

Remove Outliers

So as not to skew your averages, it’s best to remove any posts that are on the extreme ends of your word count range.

For example, TimBDesign.com has a post that includes a podcast transcript, making it over 8,300 words in length. That’s nearly 4,000 more words than the next closest post.

6- Analyze Data, Find Your Optimal Post Length

Pivot tables are your friend as you transform your spreadsheet into helpful charts for visualizing the data.

Here are several ways you should consider visualizing the data:

Organic Sessions by Word Count Scatterplot

Viewing the data in this way might confirm what many SEOs experience: some posts blow up and other don’t, you can’t always determine why.
Image 19
There are more than a few low word count posts that do a great job at driving traffic. When we start to look at the averages, however, the picture becomes a bit more clear.

Average Organic Sessions by Post Length

Use your post length groupings to see which length of content performs best at driving organic traffic. For this site, that answer is posts over 1,200 words.
Image 20

Average Organic Sessions by Post Age

Use your post age groupings to see how older content compares to newer content at driving organic traffic. You’ll notice that for TimBDesign.com, posts between 18-24 months old are performing the best.
Image 21
When you look at the next chart, you’ll understand why. During that time frame, TimBDesign.com was, on average, producing higher word count content than the other time periods analyzed.

Average Word Count by Post Age

Using post age groupings we can view how the length of the content we’ve produced has changed over time. The average word count of a post was nearly 1,100 for content published between 18 and 24 months ago. Perhaps not coincidentally, the posts that fall in this date range do the best at driving organic traffic.
Image 22
I’m certainly no statistical analysis expert, so I’m curious to see what you all do with the data. You can, of course, replace organic traffic with any metric you’d like – social shares, email clicks, backlinks acquired… You can use the steps in this post all the same.

Now go out there and discover what makes your content successful.

Griffin Roer is the founder of Uproer, a digital marketing agency based in St Paul, MN. Reach out to Griffin to discuss how Uproer’s SEO services can drive real business growth for your company.

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Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, and strategic marketer focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses and construction companies.

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3 Comments on "How Long Should a Blog Post Be for SEO in 2019?"

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Amna
Guest

Most of us are just writing without knowing what will work. No guidelines from the search engines available.

Vik
Guest

Nice piece of content. First of all, thanks for such a great piece of content and as far as I understand that the length of the content or blog post doesn’t matter until it is fulfiling the need of the reader that is the value that the content is providing to the reader. The article needs to be a valuable one that can tell the what, why, and how to the reader that’s it.

Garry
Guest
It’s true! Now the bias is on the user. Who is familiar with SEO, knows this as a “user factor”. For yourself (if you are planning to do site promotion), you need to highlight the main steps: If you are just starting to learn SEO, its basics and principles, you will not be bothered (I even highly recommend) to read the recommendations of the web masters from Google. After all, the main search engine (SS) that you are most likely to use is google. It will become familiar with the main SEO tools – in fact, there are not very… Read more »

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