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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.
More Important Than Length:
There are A LOT more ranking factors than blog length – here are 5 – and the data to prove it:
- The number of outside domains that are linking to your website matters way more than the length of your content
- Keywords in subheadings seriously impact ranking.
- Having a targeted-keyword 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 that HOOKS the reader at the beginning wins in the long run – 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 – then you’re more likely to be displayed 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 – 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 shorter (but still give Google the length it loves) by putting bullet points, bigger paragraphs at the beginning, scannable headlines… and then have the post go on afterward. This way, you can achieve both the short and long post.
- Lastly, 1,760 words is the absolute ideal blog length for SEO in 2020 (using a blend of 5 expert opinions and this graph below)– 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.
The best blog length for SEO in 2020
The best blog length for SEO in 2020 is 1,760 Words. According to numerous studies over the last ten 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 a minimum, blog posts should have 300+ words. Having more than 300 words keeps your blog from being considered ‘thin content’ on your website.
Many other articles from reputable sources seem to indicate this 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.
The Elements To A Perfect Blog Post
- Have a target keyword (use Ahrefs or SemRush to identify things people are searching – ideally try to find items 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. You have to hook the reader!
- 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 (URL) 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.’ It simply means taking the ten posts on your website that get the MOST traffic from search engines and determining their average length.
As for our Top Ten 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. Before diving into that, I’ve decided – it’s more important that you actually DO IT than have it perfect.
I did the calculation for our website in 2020 and came up with 3,194 words!
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 ten 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 Ten 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 about are looking for – 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 and didn’t have a good experience on the site. That is 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 increasing traffic for traffic’s sake.
Getting to 1,760 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 topics related to your main topic, thus helping people further on their search journey.
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 in 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 goes and perhaps identify additional angles. So, do you want the best practices? 🙂
Blog post length – best practices for 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, LinkedIn ads, or any number of other methods – fine, but determine that before writing your epic blog post. That way, 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 significant – 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 2020 – my suggestion is keyword research.
Ready to write a long-form post? Enjoy these methods for higher word count from Abby Olson
Long-form content is taking over. These are the pages on your website that provide a great deal of information on one single subject. They establish you as an informational resource on said subject. The official number of words required varies, but I like to say that these content pieces have at least 1,500+ words. When I tell clients they need these kinds of assets on their website, I brace myself and watch their eyes bug out. Then the excuses start. “It wouldn’t look right on my website.” Or, “my customers don’t want to read that much.” In this case, they’re usually right. Customers don’t want to read that much. They have notoriously short attention spans. In fact, most of you may have already stopped reading this blog post, save a few of my biggest fans. (Hi, Mom!)
But you know who likes reading all those words on your website? Google. And if you ever want people to find you, you need Google on your side. The simple truth is that without all those words on your page, Google doesn’t have any way of knowing what your site is about.* When this happens, you’ll never rise in search results and forever be on page 10 or higher with the rest of the spam. Or worse, never indexed at all. Don’t believe me? SerpIQ conducted a research study in 2012 and concluded that the top-performing search results each contained well over 2,000 words per page. I bet that 1,500 is sounding pretty good now.
Why should you take my word for it?
When it comes to writing, I get to call myself an expert. My sister was the first one to tell me that I should be a writer one day, and I heard it more and more as I got older. It wasn’t until college was over, and no one was making me write anything that I realized I actually liked doing it. I can proudly say that my claim to fame is the first long-form blog post I ever wrote as a mere intern. At this point in time, it has over 1,700 social shares. (It’s currently ranking in the middle of the second page for ‘Pinterest eCommerce sales,’ so keep linking, people.) Never you mind that most of the posts I’ve written subsequently have just bounced around between mainly my family, friends, and co-workers.
I get a lot of questions about how to write such lengthy content pieces. It’s not nearly as hard as people initially assume. My way is definitely not the only way. It’s probably not even be the best way.
I give you! A long-form blog post about how to write a long-form blog post.
Step One: Plan It Out
It’s like going to the gym; half the challenge is just getting there. So when you’re looking at that blank sheet of paper and starting to regret your decision. Remember, the world is at your fingertips. You’re doing a wonderful thing for yourself and for anyone who will read what you’re about to create. Let’s get started.
It’s best to begin with your “big idea” sections. I generally find myself breaking up long-form pieces into five main ideas.
What is your subject?
Why do people care about your subject?
What makes you an expert in your field?
Why is your knowledge about your subject special?
Now that people know more about your subject, how should they proceed?
Boom. You now have five starting points that apply to pretty much any scenario. The first thing this strategy does is get you organized, but the real beauty is that your workload just got a lot lighter. Those daunting 1,500 words on one topic just turned into 300 words on five smaller, much more manageable subjects.
More is Less
If I’m writing about a topic I don’t know as much about, I’ll aim for ten main points instead. There’s more leg work involved up front, but now I have the lesser task of explaining each sub-point in 100 words, plus a short intro and conclusion.
“It wouldn’t look right on my website.”
Let’s say you make jewelry. Your website is your online portfolio, maybe one day you’ll even build up to eCommerce. Your first instinct is probably to let your work speak for itself, but now you know that without awesome content, no one will be able to buy your beautiful merchandise.
The best way to decide what your big ideas should be is to follow the natural train of thought your customers have. What do they usually want to know? Talk about the history of your business, the different materials you use, or why your products are so unique. You know your customers better than anyone. Remember that if you’re not passionate about your brand, they won’t be either.
No matter what your topic of choice is, it’s important that you’re passionate about it. When you write from the heart, you write better. Trust me.
Step Two: Fill In The Blanks
I’m going to assume that if you’re going to commit the time to write 1,500 or more words about one topic, it’s a topic that you’re passionate about – you don’t have to be the smartest in the world on that topic. When I’m in this situation, thoughts start to flutter around in my head. Don’t let them flutter. Assign them to one of your big idea sections and move on before you forget the next one.
At this point, it will be messy. You’ll read your outline over and never be able to see how all these seemingly random points of thought could possibly ever fit together. If my process is anything to go by, that means you’re doing it right.
Step Three: Do Your Research
Depending on what you’re writing, this may or may not apply. Most of the time, though, it’s a good idea to back your thoughts up with quality evidence. Throw in some hard facts. Take this time to gather outside resources to back you up. You’ve been stuck inside your head for the entire process. This is your brain break, and trust me, you’ll need it. Quote your favorite industry expert, add a bullet point list here, a chart there, do whatever it takes to show that you’re not the only one who has your opinion.
Step Four: Flesh It Out
This is, without a doubt, the toughest part of the entire process. You’ll feel your determination start to slip away. You’ll wonder how the first 1,200 words could be so easy, and the last 300 are nowhere in sight. If you write your first drafts in Google docs like me, you’ll probably start excessively using the word count tool. Yes, I just checked, and I am at 1,209.
Whatever you do, don’t stop writing. Jump around, have fun with it. Add a couple sentences to one section, then jump to the next one. The important thing is to keep going. This is where you start to connect the dots. Before long, you’ll have your very own “Eureka!” moment. Before your very eyes, you’ll see your content piece begin to flow together, and soon you’ll be typing the very last word. Take a moment to soak it all in. You did it! The worst is over.
Step Five: Clean It Up (But Not Too Much)
Now is time for the fun part. Formatting! If step one was like getting to the gym, then this part is like remembering to stretch after your workout. If you try to put it off until later, you’ll only end up hurting yourself. So have yourself a good long look at what you’ve done and make it look like the masterpiece it is. Throw in some headers, Images, split those paragraphs, go nuts. You’ve earned it. Read it over once, make your changes, forward it to a few of your most trusted friends, and push that sucker live.
A word of caution here. If you’re like me, your blog post will never be ready. You’ll always find that one sentence you don’t like anymore. You’ll notice two of the same words that are just too close together. Swapping a few phrases around will turn into a full paragraph rewrite. You may even begin to doubt that your post is worth all the time and effort you’ve put into it. You’ll wonder if your ideas are good enough to share.
My boss once told me that to be great, you also have to be vulnerable. If anyone ever tells you that writing a blog post isn’t scary, they’ve probably never written one. No matter what you’re writing, taking words from your heart and putting them out there for the world to see is a daunting prospect. Writing for your business, no matter what your brand name represents, means taking your innermost passions and sharing them with everyone else. You have every right to be scared. So take a deep breath, be proud of what you’ve done, and hit Publish.
*Disclaimer: As a professional SEO content writer, I will never underestimate the importance of high-quality, thoughtful content on a website. That being said, we all have a natural tendency to inflate the value of the areas we’re most knowledgeable in. While I absolutely believe in the power of the written word, by no means am I suggesting that great content alone is all you need to be successful.
Abby Olson: SEO Copywriter @Snap Agency, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Strategist, Content Optimization, SEO powerhouse.
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 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 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 – if you have a listing of images, gifs, or memes, for instance, 300 could be plenty and still keep people engaged on the page long enough for SEO purposes.
How long does it take to write each 500 words?
A 500-word blog about a specific topic will most often take someone around 30-40 minutes. If you need to research, it may take longer.
How many pages are 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 number of words or pages for an assignment.
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