How Long Should Blog Posts Be? An Analysis of Word Count Data

Travis McKnight

“Does size matter?”

That’s one of the most common questions clients ask me about their blog posts. My short answer is, “yes, of course, blog post length is important, but it’s how you use your word count that matters most.”

Since Google’s algorithms don’t have a minimum word count for content and blogs, content quality outweighs quantity. Search engines try to find content that directly relates to the intent behind the user’s search query. If your content is optimized for relevant keywords and directly answers the user’s question, your chances of ranking increase.

Instead of fretting about blog length, your energy is better invested in developing the content structure, information, and resources your users need.

Ultimately, as the saying goes, your blog post should be as long as it needs to be. But I know you want a more definitive answer. And despite Google’s amorphous algorithms, I do have an answer for you about this question.

How Many Words Is the Average Length of a Blog Post?

Your average blog post length should range between 2,319 words and 2,620 words.
And now it’s time for a big ol’ disclaimer. My answer is conjecture. To calculate the average word count, I analyzed Portent’s top-performing blog posts to speculate the ideal word count range. I chose to use our blog rather than search results because we have more than 125 blog posts currently ranking on Google’s first page, many of which also have featured snippets.

I averaged the word count for the 50 most-visited posts by organic pageviews between February 2020 and February 2021. All of these articles earned at least 1,000 unique pageviews from organic search.

Here’s a breakdown of the data for the 50 posts I analyzed.

And here’s what I found for the top 10 performing articles within the 50 post data set.

As a rule of thumb, I always give a +/- 100-word buffer for word count ranges. This accommodates succinct and long-winded writers alike without steering too far away from the average.

But determining your word count based on performance is only part of the equation. As I mentioned earlier, search intent is the ultimate blog post length factor.

How Search Intent Affects Blog Post Length

What information fulfills the user’s search query and fully answers the intent of their question?

The answer to this question should be the North Star for every aspect of your blog post.

To determine how search engines interpret the searcher’s intent for a given keyword or topic, you must first learn about what content succeeds in the search results for the keyword or topic.

First, Google your primary keyword or the high-level topic you’re writing about. Next, analyze the first page of results, including the featured snippet if it’s present. Determine the types of content offered (educational, commercial, how-to, listicle, video, etc.), and then review the featured snippet and the top-three results.

In your page-by-page review, pay attention to:

  • Topics covered and the discussion order — the relevance of the topics discussed compared to the user’s search query
  • Target keywords — the keywords the competitor’s posts rank for and where they are used in the blog post
  • Experts referenced — the experts quoted or the sources the blog post author gives
  • Resources provided — the internal and external resources the blog post links to or includes
    Blog post word count

After you know what the top-three pages discuss, calculate the average word count among those pages. Now, determine if you can provide information and resources that rival your search competitors’ content. If so, aim for a blog post length within +/- 100 words of the calculated average.

Remember, your competitor’s average word count is simply a guideline. It shows what Google thinks is valuable, but that doesn’t always mean your users will agree. If you notice shorter posts have abnormally high bounce rates or longer posts don’t get the engagement you need, then switch things up. In the long run, you’ll be better off by focusing on your user’s needs and then worrying about Google later.

Travis McKnight

Travis McKnight

Senior Content Strategist
Senior Content Strategist

Prior to migrating to digital marketing, Travis spent many years in the world of journalism, and his byline includes The Guardian, New York Magazine, Slate Magazine, and more. As a senior content strategist at Portent, Travis gets to apply his passion for authentic storytelling to help clients create meaningful content that consistently delivers a refined experience for users.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the information. I am new to blogging and want to rank well in my area of expertise. I have tried to have at least 1200 words per blog but after reading your blog it seems I can do better.

    Would you mind answering a question?

    You have this listed:

    “Experts referenced — the experts quoted or the sources the blog post author gives”

    I take this to mean that if I use data in my blog that at the end of my blog I should list where I got it from? Is that correct? I do mention in the blog where I got information but linking but again should I also mention in the end of the blog and if yes, would it be possible to get an example?

    1. Hi Joseph,
      Thanks for the question. By experts referenced, I mean pay attention to who the competition uses as a source and determine if you can get a better, more authoritative source so your content becomes seen as superior. The more authority your blog post has, either because the topic is relevant to your website or you quote experts, the more valuable your content becomes with search engines.

      That’s great you link to your sources in your blog content. You’re absolutely doing the right thing! As for an example, let’s say you’re writing a post about Adobe Lightroom techniques. You start by glancing at what other blog posts are ranking for this topic and notice that one of the competitors quotes an Adobe product designer in their article. To remain competitive, you’ll want to also quote a similar first-hand source or otherwise provide some extra level of expertise, which can affect your word count. If your source is long-winded but has valuable quotes, you’ll want to consciously balance how many quotes or citations you attribute to that source against the word count you’re aiming for (or the average word count of your ranking competitors).

      Or, in the case where you’re the expert, look at what data you have access to that you can use as a differentiator. How I analyzed Portent’s blog posts for this article is an example of what I mean.

      Does that answer help? Feel free to ping me again if you want more clarity.

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