300 words? 800? 1,600? What is the SEO “sweet spot” to make sure your blog post ranks high in search results? Questioning the relationship between the length of a blog post and search result ranking implies that Google sets a minimum word count for blogs. Yet, no such standard actually exists.
I get it—the idea of a magic number for content length is incredibly appealing. To tempt this notion further, logically, the more words there are the more opportunities there will be to rank for keywords. But at what point does your content become a page full of keywords and content fillers in an attempt to satisfy search engines instead of fulfilling user needs?
The need to assign an optimal standard content length reflects the amount of effort people are willing to put into their SEO practices. In an attempt to stop you from drinking the Kool-Aid (i.e., to resist low-quality cookie-cutter SEO), this article will teach you how to determine the best content length based on search intent, how to create quality content, and how to monitor your content’s performance.
Let Search Intent Be Your Guide
Most SEO experts have opinions on what constitutes the optimal content length. Some will tell you that “300–500 words are best,” or “2,000 words should be the minimum for a blog,” or claim that they’ve found the “sweet spot” at 1,890 words.
However, knowing how long your content should be depends strongly on what is typical for the industry you are writing for, and what fulfills the intent of the search query.
Does the intent behind a keyword require long-form content to answer? If so, write long-form content. But, maybe, the intent is better answered in less text and more images. If that’s the case, then optimizing your images for SEO and reducing the number of words on your page is the best answer.
An effective way to determine the searcher’s intent in googling a keyword may be quite different from how Google interprets it. Perform a SERP (search engine results page) analysis and see if Google finds the blog content valuable for your target keywords. If Google does value the blog content, what does that content look like?
Performing a SERP analysis can teach you a lot about what kind of content succeeds in the search results for a given keyword. Here is an example of a SERP analysis measuring the content length of the top five results for one of my target keywords:
Of course, some pages included a comment section and videos, and have higher authority and credibility, so there is more to look at than the content length word count. However, this should give you a comprehensive idea of what length of content the target audience prefers and what you’re going up against to rank on the first page. For the keyword example used in my SERP analysis “when to use Oxford comma,” I can tell that people want the content to be direct and to the point without all the fluff. When I looked at the second page of Google (as we all know, nobody else does), I found articles with content over 1,200 words.
Create Content With Substance
Blog posts that perform well and rank well are the ones with high-value content. So, do the blog posts that are exactly 1,890 words long motivate people to make a purchase? Probably not. That is why you need to be innovative and consistent in creating high-quality content. When you create unique and valuable content you have the opportunity to build rapport, authority, trust, and brand awareness every time a searcher lands on your page.
In other words, if you can write your blog post and fulfill your reader’s intent in 300 words, then maybe you should. If it requires 3,000 words to make the reader feel the blog post was of value, then that’s perfectly fine, too.
The writing style you choose will influence your content’s length as well. Some blog topics and writing styles tend to be short, concise, and to the point. Others aim to be more conversational and interactive, which often lend to longer content.
Measuring Content Performance
It is important as you are writing blog content that you monitor your blog’s content performance. Some marketers are comfortable measuring the success of their blog with keyword rankings and organic traffic. In reality, your blog analytics give you access to pools of data beyond that. By getting information on whether your content is performing well, you can make the necessary adjustments to bring value to your users and maintain your rankings in the search results.
For more information on how to determine if your content is performing well, check out our guide to 16 content KPIs.
Don’t Believe the Word Count Myth
There is no perfect blog post length for SEO. It all comes down to the searcher’s intent and how detailed they expect the answer to be. It just so happens that long blog posts tend to answer the searcher’s question comprehensively. But it is not the length of the blog post that leads to higher rankings; it’s the fact that the blog post satisfies the question being asked. It is not uncommon to find top ranking pages for valuable keywords that are no more than 500 words in length, as my example above displayed.
Remember, the advice given here consists of guidelines, not requirements. The best thing you can do for your blog is to fill it with unique and valuable content and get rid of everything you don’t need.
It doesn’t matter if your blog post is 300, 1,500, or 2,000 words, or 100 words more than the top ranking page. By creating valuable content consistently for your audience, over time, you will help Google identify your website as an expert, and a trustworthy source on a topic/industry, and in return will rank higher for competitive keywords.