In today’s post, I’m going to give you the best blog length for SEO in 2020.
But first, I’m going to give you 5 things more important than blog length for getting insane amounts of traffic.
In fact, I’ve used these exact strategies to get over 4,000 pageviews every weekday to our blog at Hook Agency, and get our clients 84% + traffic year over year, consistently and like clockwork.
How do we do it? Read on – for what are ‘open secrets’ in the SEO industry.
There are A LOT more ranking factors than blog length – here are 5 – and the data to prove it:
- How many domains outside your website are linking to your page matter way more than the length of your content.
- Keywords in subheadings matter a lot for ranking.
- For that matter having a keyword-targeted in the first place is the number one most important thing you can do for your blog. Fancy YouTubers and SEO pundits might say “just blog about what you care about” – but I’m sorry if no one is searching for that, it’s a waste of your TIME, and that’s sad.
- The blog HOOKING the reader at the beginning matters a ton – since “Time on Site” is something that Google actually factors into what they algorithmically show the next time. If people ‘Bounce’ off your page quickly – than you’re more likely to be shown lower in the results the next time. Later in this post, I’ll give you 3 ways to get people to stay longer on your site within their first minute of reading.
- Yes – Human beings want shorter posts, so make it feel like it’s short – I get that, a poll we did recently found that people are self – 68% of marketers are reporting that they believe 200-700 words is the ideal length for blog posts on THEIR SITE. The important point is that you can make posts feel less long (but still give Google that length it loves) by putting bullet points, bigger paragraphs at the beginning, scannable headlines… and then just have the post go on afterward.)
- Lastly, 2,450 words is the absolute ideal blog length for SEO in 2020– but you don’t want to hear that so blog away about how I’m wrong! 🙂 Also – keep reading for a dead-simple method to find the most ideal blog length for YOUR SITE specifically.
The Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post
- Have a target keyword (use Ahrefs or SemRush to identify things people are searching – ideally with a low difficulty)
- Use an image or a video towards the top to snatch people’s attention.
- Use bold or bigger text towards the beginning, a provocative question, a hot take, or promise value to get them to continue reading.
- Use bullet points, and boil the main points down into the headlines for scannability.
- Use the keyword at the beginning and end of the post, in subheadlines and bolded – make it feel natural.
- Name-your-images-like-this.jpg with keywords, and use alt text with keywords and a description of the image.
- Support your key points with data and examples.
- Make sure to answer ‘shoulder questions’ too – not just the main question they asked.
- Use a short link like this one /blog-length/ so that someone could share on social or easily change devices.
What’s the best blog length for YOUR site? – It Depends
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.
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 formulas that involve powerful tools – if most people don’t own those tools? Our longer method below uses Screaming Frog and walks you through a more specific option – but in a much more scientific and detailed way. But first, I’ve decided – it’s more important that you actually DO IT than it be perfect.
I did the calculation for our website in 2020 and came up with 3,194 words!
The best blog length for SEO in 2020
The best blog length for SEO in 2020 is 2,450 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:
33,192 – (125×10) = 31,942 / 10 = 3,194 words is our ideal blog length.
1. First find your top 10 posts in search by filtering analytics by ‘Organic search’
2. Then take your top 10 blog posts, and determine their lengths using the Bulk web page word count checker.
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 (33,192).
Top 10 Blog post lengths combined MINUS (Header, Footer, Sidebar length 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.
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.’
The Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post
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 knew 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 2,450 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:
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
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 ‘people also 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? 🙂
Blog post length best practices 2020
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.
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 2020 – 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.
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 marketers 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!
How long others have determined the best blog length for SEO is:
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.)
How Long Should a Blog Post Be for SEO? The result of our original research in 2018 determined that the ideal blog post length was 1,200+ words. Medium.com 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.
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 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.
Don’t listen to what Google says – look at what Google does
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:
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 approaches – we suggest really focusing on your specific situation
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:
- 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 the performance of your content by word count.
- 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.
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 – in a much more scientific way
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:
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.
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:
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”.
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 be shown the HTML / CSS code that renders the publish date.
- In the Inspect window, right-click on the HTML element containing the publish date. Then choose Copy > XPath.
- 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:
- 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:
Navigate to the Custom tab. Change the Filter to Extraction. Check to see that there are publish dates for each post.
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.
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
- SEMrush: Organic Research > Pages report
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.
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.
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
- 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 words 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.
- For example, the post I chose has 2,902 words according to the Google Doc. Screaming Frog reported 3,249 words – a difference of 347 words.
- 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 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
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 others don’t, you can’t always determine why.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Original Post Author: 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.
Frequently Asked Questions About Blog Length
What is the average blog post length?
The average blog post length is 1,050 words (Source: Orbit Media). Many folks feel like at 500 is acceptable, 750+ is preferred, and 1,000 and above is minimum for many professional websites who take their publication very seriously. This of course, is due to partly to Google’s algorithm’s seeming preference for longer content.
How short can blog posts be?
Some experts say writing short posts can be really good for generating comments if you’re provocative with your questions or requests for discussion! 300-600 words may be acceptable in these circumstances, though most professional websites don’t accept anything beneath 750 words these days, because it doesn’t come off as comprehensive a lot of times. It really depends on the subject matter though – if you have a listing of images, gifs or memes for instance, 300 could be plenty, and still keep people engaged on the page for long enough for SEO purposes.
How long does it take to write each 500 words?
To write a 500-word article for a blog about a topic, for many people it takes about 30–40 minutes. If you need to research it may take longer.
How many pages is each 500 words?
One single-spaced, or two double spaced. 1000 words are on average two pages single-spaced, and 4 pages double-spaced. If you get how this breaks down into larger amounts of words/pages, you can break it down quickly for any project that requires a certain amount of words or pages for an assignment.
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