You’re on a quest through the interwebs and beyond to appear higher on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Blog Post Length is a key factor in all of this.
But are you committed to maintaining a regular blog on your website?
Think of your blog as your new girlfriend. You need to give it a lot of love and attention. Take your blog out on dinner dates, get to know your audience, and write your story.
Don’t run away from commitment, we promise it’s not that scary, and usually results in something beautiful.
Yet, that advantage does no good if you’re staring at a blank “New Post” screen, unsure of what to write or when to cut it off.
There is an art to every relationship.
While informative, relevant and helpful blog content can be a key part of your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy, it’s important to know the ideal blog post length before starting this journey.
Today, we’re taking a look at a few logistics that factor into this sweet spot, and how you can create content that caters to it, starting today.
Ready to learn more? Let’s take a look.
The Two Most Important Questions
Before you pull out your calculator and start determining the exact blog length your company needs to catch the eyes of your readers, start by asking your leadership team these two questions:
- Who is our target audience?
- How much space do we need to adequately convey the topic at hand?
Let’s take a look at these two questions in detail.
Finding Your Target Audience
Before you can begin writing for your audience, you need to know who your ideal readers are. While there are standard ways to define your target market, analytics are at the heart of them all.
Really take the time to think about why you created your product or service and how it is going to help certain types of people.
Next, analyze your existing customers. Identify common characteristics and traits that connect them together. Which ones are the most profitable for your business?
Then, check out what your competition is doing. While it’s tempting to go after their current customers, consider if there’s a niche market you could appeal to instead.
Finally, look at your specific products or services, and map each to an ideal buyer. For instance, you may target your offering to demographics based on:
- Income level
- Education level
- Marital or family status
Or, you could extend your analysis to psychographics, including your buyers’:
Taking the time to conduct this research can actually be quite fun. Getting to know who wants your product or service means you get to play around with advertising and express new ideas. It’s a key part of developing your blog strategy. Once you’ve set this target market, you can determine how they’re most likely to interact with your content.
Are they seeking basic discovery data? What about in-depth research pieces on topics that interest them? Or, are they trying to find a product or service they need ASAP with as little site interaction as possible?
Unless your blog content piques the interest and meets the intent of your key readership, you’ll miss the mark no matter how many words you use.
One way to stay ahead of the curve? Map out your content before you even create it, asking the following question: Does this blog content meet the goals or desires of the users who are looking for it?
Determining the Space Required
There are some boundaries to set before you undertake any new blogging strategy. Though longer-form content allows you more space to deliver value, there’s one important consideration to keep in mind: Not every article will require 2,000 words.
If you’ve covered your points in 1,500 and you’ve delivered quality with every sentence, go ahead and begin the editing process. There’s no need to wax poetic and ramble on for pages only to fulfill a word count quota.
Yes, your piece needs substance and length. It does not, however, need redundancy.
Take a blog about a new movie release, for instance.
You could fill multiple tomes talking about a character’s physical description or language. Yet, did your readers come to your site to learn about these details in depth? Probably not.
Chances are, they’re searching for relevant information that will persuade them to either see the movie or pass it up. Key points to cover may include:
- Was the movie good?
- Was it bad?
- Why should I watch it?
- Why should I not watch it?
Answer those questions to the fullest extent possible, jazz it up with some comedy or relatability, and stop typing when you feel you’ve done the piece justice. Your readers shouldn’t have to dig around your piece to find the data they need.
Prioritizing Quality over Quantity
Chances are, you’ve already seen the statistic that says humans now have an attention span that’s shorter than that of a goldfish. So, shorter content will always reign supreme, right?
Not so fast.
Though it may be quicker and more convenient to create short-form content that your readers can skim in two minutes, consider the overall user experience (UX) you’re providing, as well as how this will affect your organic SEO ranking.
While Google routinely updates its algorithms that determine which results searchers see after a query, there are five key factors that remain unchanged. They include:
- Query meaning
- Webpage relevance
- Content quality
- Webpage usability
- Context and settings
Thus, your site’s ranking factor isn’t determined by a specific word count alone. Rather, the relevance of your content, as well as its quality and usability, are chief ranking factors.
Why Long-Form Content Works
Yes, shorter content is faster for your target readers to digest. But, does it deliver the value they’re looking for?
From calculations and conversions to definitions, there are many questions that can be answered in a few words. However, though that content may be informative, it doesn’t meet the criteria set forth by Google for quality content.
Though it may take longer to craft, edit and review long-form content, it’s worth the effort. Let’s take a look at a few top reasons why.
Improved Online Visibility
When you strive to create long-form content, you’ll help Google find and rank your page more easily.
With more text to work with, the bots behind the site are better able to crawl it for quality and context. They can also mine it for key content types to index, including:
- Page titles
- Alt tags
Then, when they discover that these elements provide unparalleled value, they’re quick to reward the post by making it easier for readers to discover.
How does this work?
The search engine giant’s signals are set up to identify which pages provide blog posts, web articles and more that demonstrate authoritativeness, expertise, and trustworthiness on a given topic.
Still, though Google will only display the most relevant and important part of your page as a snippet, it tends to favor longer content when mining for sites to feature. In fact, research shows that 82% of featured snippets are full paragraphs, while lists comprise only 10.8% and 7.3% are tables.
The takeaway? When you’re looking to prove to Google that you’re an authoritative, trustworthy expert, it’s easier to do so with more words. To be specific, myriad online studies confirm that posts longer than 2,000 words out-rank short-form content by a landslide.
Marketing Benefits to Reap
In addition to aiding your SEO strategy, focusing on longer blog content also strengthens your overall content marketing approach.
When your content is long enough to deliver value, relevancy, help, and insight, you’ll notice an uptick in the following areas:
- Link building / Digital PR
- Social sharing
- Website authority
Let’s break these down and explore them in detail.
Link Building and Social Sharing
Solid long-form content will contain outbound links to other authoritative sites around the web. When this happens, the sources of that linked material are more likely to share the parent article to boost their own link-building efforts.
This kind of blog content is rich with detail and insight, persuading readers to share it on their social media platforms if they find it trustworthy or useful.
In addition, you’ll also lengthen your dwell time with longer-form content. Defined as the time between when a reader clicks on your site and before he returns back to SERP results, this can be a key metric to gauge searcher satisfaction. When a reader invests his time in reading a longer piece, he’s more likely to share it if he deems it valuable.
An industry study of one million articles found that although 85% of online content is less than 1,000 words long, long-form content of 1,000 words or more received a consistently higher number of shares and links than short-form content.
Website Authority and Expertise
Want to improve organic site traffic, grow your number of conversions and position your brand as a thought leader in its niche? One of the quickest ways to do so is to demonstrate your authority and expertise to your target audience.
This is also important in the B2B sector, as 45% of U.S. business decision-makers cite that they choose to partner with another company based on its thought leadership.
Longer-form content gives you the opportunity to delve deeper into timely and important subjects, offering your unique perspective and improving your brand reputation in the process.
Adding Value to Non-Text Posts
At this juncture, you may wonder how image-based posts or video posts factor into a long-form blog content strategy.
The short answer is that they play a major role. Quality content isn’t always black text on a white screen. Rather, it’s anything on the web that draws a user in through relevant and interesting points to entertain, solve a problem or answer a question.
Think of your company as an online textbook within your field. One that people like to engage with, and learn from.
That said, there are many times when you can express an idea better through photography or videos. In some cases, even audio files will do the trick better than any other medium.
While there’s nothing wrong with uploading these elements, make sure you don’t stop there.
To optimize the value delivered by the piece and make it as searchable as possible online, it’s important to add accompanying text. For instance, along with every video you upload to YouTube or a similar platform, include a description that achieves the following goals:
- Explains the video
- Describes the content and goals of the video
- Provides other details or resources to maximize the video’s reach
You don’t have to stretch this description out for 2,000 words, of course, but make sure it’s long enough to be meaningful.
Finding Your Ideal Blog Post Length
So, how long should blog posts be?
While it would be nice to have a cut-and-dry reply to this question, the answer is more multifaceted. In short, quality content can be created, consumed, and shared in many ways.
The exact blog post length that’s best for your business will vary by industry, audience type, product offering and more. Yet, keep in mind that word counts alone don’t drive organic traffic to your website.
If you spin your wheels trying to reach 2,000 words to rank as high as possible on SERP results, you’ve missed the mark. Instead, your goal should be to create interesting and informative content that meets the intent of your target market.
In most cases, longer-form content allows you space and opportunity to deliver the kind of top-quality, detailed information your readers crave. When you invest in this effort, your readers will take notice, and it won’t be long before web analytics reflect that appreciation.
As you carve out your own corner of the internet, we’d love to help.
We’re SEO, web design, and digital advertising strategists dedicated to helping our clients maximize their visibility and expand their online reach. Contact us today to learn more about what we offer and let’s take this next step together.
Sarah is a content marketing expert at Direction Inc., with experience also in search engine optimization and web design.