There is an ongoing conversation among webmasters, bloggers, and online content-creation specialists… As Google continues to crackdown on black-hat SEO tactics and keyword stuffing, many online writers wonder if there is a golden number that they should be aiming for with each blog post and article. The problem most face in determining article and post length is the wide variety of conflicting reports on the matter.
In this post, we’re going to look at the issue from both sides and try to offer a clear solution that webmasters can work on. Remember as you read that this information can be applied differently depending on your industry. We’ll discuss that issue later in the post.
What Constitutes Long and Short?
The online world relies heavily upon definitions. If we don’t accurately define a long post and a short post, there is going to be too much room for misinterpretation of this post. To be clear, most SEO and data-analytics specialists believe that the line is drawn at 2,000 words. Everything over 2,000 words is definitely considered long. Logic would suggest then that anything under 2,000 words is short.
Unfortunately, this definition leaves too much room for interpretation. Is a 1,500-word post really that short? Even compared to a 2,000-word post, a 1,500-word post is only about a paragraph and closing comment shy of being 2,000 words. In reality, short posts are anything under 1,000 words. Everything between 1,000 words and 2,000 words depends upon the value it offers to the individual reader and the industry you serve.
For example, if you run an ecommerce store and post a product description that is over 1,000 words, you’ve already soared past an acceptable length for that type of content. In the world of product descriptions, 500 words is stretching it too far. However, if you work in a service industry and regularly provide in-depth guides, the circumstances are different. If you provide your consumers with valuable walkthroughs and service guides that assist them in getting accustomed to a product or service, 1,000 words could be considered short.
The best explanation is this: 2,000-and-up is long, 1,000-and-under is short, and in between there is room for interpretation based upon your audience/industry.
The Case for Shorter Posts
Many bloggers prefer to stick to short articles, generally between 500 and 750 words. There are even those who recommend keeping posts to 200 words at a maximum. According to Forbes.com, 200 words is the ideal length for a blog post because it keeps the reader’s attention, doesn’t leave room for fluff, and creates a quick and effective call to action (CTA). These short posts are particularly useful if you are in the business of selling products and services.
Your consumers are likely doing a lot of comparison shopping. If they land on your page and find long-winded descriptions and fluff pieces about your business, products, services, and customer support, they’re going to quit before they get very far. However, a short piece allows them to get an idea what your company and product are all about, and funnels them quickly to your CTA without losing their interest.
The Case for Longer Posts
On the other hand, both Forbes.com and buffersocial point out that there is a place for longer content on every website. The key, again, is the audience you are aiming to attract and industry that you serve. As Forbes points out, longer posts give you the power to optimize your site for search engines. Shorter posts are difficult to integrate into an SEO strategy.
When you create a shorter post, you have to focus on getting your message across and finishing with a strong CTA. However, longer posts allow you more space and freedom to work keywords into your content alongside your overall message and a CTA. Forbes has the data to support the case for longer content too. Citing results from a serpIQ study, the top 10 results on Google all have a minimum of at least 2,000 words.
Additionally, buffersocial found that the ideal length of a blog post is 1,600 words, or 7 minutes of reading time. The argument from buffersocial is supported by data from a Medium.com analysis of blog posts. The study focused not on the number of clicks that content received, but rather the amount of time that readers stuck with content. Medium discovered this ideal length by measuring the average number of seconds spent on each post and compared it to the length of the post.
After pouring over the data, Medium found that the ideal post is 1,600 words long or 7 minutes in length. It found that any post over that length (in words or time) saw a significant drop off in terms of interest from readers. Whether they had finished the post or not, they simply gave up and left the page.
Is There a True Ideal Post Length?
The conclusion of most analysts is that there is no ideal post length. If you want to nurture interactions with your readers and improve your rankings in SERPs, longer content is the way to go. However, if you can get your message across without droning on over the course of 1,500 words or more, then cut it off. Shorter posts have proven effective as well at generating attention and nurturing interaction.
Going back to our earlier point, as alluded throughout this post, the ideal length of your blog posts and articles depends on your readers. As you sit down to write your next post or article, keep the following in mind:
- Google algorithms: Google’s bots love longer posts, but fluff and irrelevant content in those long posts will ruin the user experience for readers. Seek balance and never add fluff.
- Reader Expectation: Always keep in mind the expectation of your readers. If you’re writing product descriptions, readers want you to get to the point and convince them. If you offer in-depth guides, your readers need clear instructions, not short cuts.
- Readability: If you can make your point in 800 words instead of 1,000, do it.
Never rush through the content creation process. You should give as much time to creating the content and making readable as you do researching it and putting together concise thoughts.