How Long Should a Blog Post Be?

Read that title and you probably imagine some misty-eyed marketing guru gazing into the sky, and in a faraway voice saying: “as long as it needs to be.” OK, how long’s a piece of string, and all that. Point taken. But with attention spans shrinking and countless new blogs jostling for ranking position, does blog size really matter?

how long should a blog post be - The Brains
April 19, 2022
15 mins to read
how long should a blog post be - The Brains
That was no joke about attention spans. Research conducted by Microsoft in 2015 found the average human attention span to be just 8 seconds. 8 seconds! For context, the same study found that the average goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds. 

Seems that we’ve been doing goldfish a major disservice all these years.

In blog post terms, Time estimates that the average article reader will focus on written content for approximately 15 seconds. So thanks for sticking with us, if you made it this far.

But that doesn’t mean people can’t pay attention to longer blogs. Because they can; you just have to get it right. A well-done blog is a brilliant way to share what you have to say with the world. Moreover, blog posts can yield significant website traffic, social media engagement, SERP (Search Engine Result Page) ranking boosts and an improved backlink profile. Which brings us back to the question: what is the ideal blog post length? 

Here at The Brains, we know a thing or two about crafting optimised blogs to bring home results. Our award-winning content marketing team creates blog posts to boost our clients’ brand awareness, drive conversions, and increase revenue. And our very own Brains blog is packed with cutting-edge digital marketing insights.

In this blog post, we’ll talk you through the ideal blog post length, the factors that contribute to how many words you arrive at, the reasons why you probably want to write longer form content, and recommend the best avenue for producing high-quality content that keeps your readers engaged.

What Is a Good Length for a Blog Post?

Short answer: a good length for a blog post is 1,800-2,500 words.

Our Brainy marketers conducted analysis and research on the average word count of our own blog, as well as some other top-performing blogs on the web, and found this range to generally create the most traction. In fact, we identified the goldilocks zone for ideal blog post length as somewhere around the 2,400-word mark.

So, while one size most certainly does not fit all – something we’ll come to later – 1,800-2,500 words is a good rule of thumb. This puts you in good stead to achieve a high SERP ranking, reach a good level of social media shareability, and gain a useful number of backlinks.

In fact, the ideal and the average blog post length changes year-on-year. IsItWP report that where the average blog length in 2014 was 800 words, in 2021 this figure had jumped to just over 1400. So the goalposts are moving, it seems.

Speaking about the here and now, Buffer revealed some fascinating insights in their analysis. According to this research, the optimal blog length is 1,600-2,500 words, as 94% of blogs which are read take less than 6 minutes to get through. In addition, the ideal blog title length is 6 words, since readers tend to only notice the first and last 3 words.

Medium found that a blog post which takes 7 minutes to read captures the most attention; based on the average adult reading speed of 300 words per minute, HubSpot translated that data into an ideal blog length of 2,100 words.

Clearly, the precise number of words for a perfect blog post depends who you talk to. But one thing we can all agree, is that long-form is best. Anything less than around 1,400 words will probably struggle to make waves.

Here, we’ll give you an overview of various word counts, the format they’re most often associated with and a few general notes on their effectiveness. Remember that these are our general observations, and by no means gospel.

 

  • Less than 300 words: Not recommended. Even the most inexperienced bloggers know that 300 words is not enough of a foundation to see decent results. If these short-form blogs appear at all, they’re mainly ‘jumping-off’ posts, used to start discussion or draw reaction.
  • 300-600 words: In the days of blogging yore, 600 words was the benchmark. Nowadays, though you may be able to make your point punchily enough to come in at less than 600 words, the post will more than likely struggle to display authority in the eyes of the search engines.
  • 700-1,200 words: This is what you might consider the average blog post length for ‘professional’ work, as it’s the standard often used in newspapers, magazines and journals. It’s also the preferred length for product descriptions and reference entries. At this range, you’ll start seeing some mileage out of your blog post.
  • 1,200-1,800 words: This is where you can expect a significant uptick in social media shares. The reason is simple: longer posts likely contain more useful content, which is valuable for the reader, and so they’re more likely to share it. It’s the same reason you’re more likely to get higher backlink numbers. Influencers, promotion, and ‘what is…’ pieces often fall in this category.
  • 2,000-2,500 words: Here we are, the blogging sweet spot! These posts are more educational and therefore get more traction on social media. They’ll also jump up the SERP rankings, attract more organic traffic, and present a better opportunity for converting leads. At the lighter end of this word count you’ll find ‘how to…’ posts, whereas the heavier pieces will probably be listicles.
  • 2,700+ words: We’re in true heavy-duty territory now. Blog articles of this length are almost certainly going to be deep-dives or pillar pages, with a lot of content that cover all the bases. Think, ‘Everything you need to know about…’ titles. A lengthy blog post is good for establishing your authority or setting out your stall as a real thought leader in the industry.
how long should a blog post be - The Brains

Things to Think About When Deciding Blog Length

Setting out to write a blog post involves quite a bit of groundwork on your part. Plan posts one at a time; there is no hard and fast formula to determine exactly how long a blog should be. With that said, here are the factors you should keep in mind when you sit down at the keyboard. 

  • Topic

Different topics will require a wider or narrower scope of discussion. Users expect more or less content depending on the subject matter, and that’s an expectation that you’ll want to meet.

Think about it like this. If you wanted to make a list of all the creatures in the Pacific Ocean, it would take a long time, and you’d need a lot of words to cover everything. But if you were listing all of the animals in, say, your uncle’s fish tank, you’d require significantly less words. The Pacific Ocean is a big topic, and it contains a lot; a fish tank is relatively small, and needs far fewer words. 

So if you’re covering an ocean-sized topic, prepare to be thorough. 

  • Goals

Though long-form blog posts are generally seen as better, when we talk about the real fine points of blog optimisation, the picture isn’t quite so simple. Not all blog posts are created equally. They all have a different purpose, different objectives and goals they’re geared towards.

Some are purely focused on improving search engine rankings, while others are intended to generate leads, or convert sales. The exact goal of your blog should play a part in determining its length. 

  • Audience

You have to play to the room. It’s no good trying to wrap a blog post on quantum mechanics in 500 words of top-level summary: the people reading that kind of thing will probably expect more detail. To you, that means more words. 

Knowing and understanding your readership is key to meeting their expectations, so try to get inside their head, and figure out what they want to see.

Also, think about your audience’s level of knowledge. Are they beginners? Experts? Somewhere in between? This will affect your word count. 

  • Competitors

Don’t be afraid to play (a little) dirty! Check out what kind of blog posts the competition is putting out. Figure out your keywords –research from our SEO specialists can help you there – and do an audit of the top-ranking blogs when you punch in those keywords. How many words do those blog posts typically contain?

This will show you the length of post the search engine prefers when dealing with those keywords. Obviously, don’t plagiarise your competitors. Your blog should offer something different. Position yourself in the optimal range, but aim to be the one people remember.

Why Write Longer Blog Posts?

We’ve already seen that long-form blog posts perform much better than their shorter counterparts. But why? There are a number of reasons, and each one presents a potential benefit you can take advantage of if you’re prepared to stretch your writing muscles and get that word count up. 

  • It’s a good look

We’re not above saying it; long blogs look good. They just do. Maybe it’s something to do with human nature – who can say? What we do know is that long-form blog posts are a great way to demonstrate your authority within your niche and establish yourself as a thought leader. Rightly or wrongly, when you say a lot about something, it looks like you know what you’re talking about, and that’s an impression you’d rather give than not. 

  • Ensure you cover the content 

No matter the nature of your topic, you should aim to cover all of the relevant content. This means your post will probably need more words in order to talk about everything in enough detail to provide value. Glossed-over points or sections will stick out like a sore thumb. Using more words allows you to cover all of the content bases, and minimises the risk of leaving information gaps.

  • People will stay on the page 

Even if they’re not actually reading your lovingly-crafted content, people tend to spend more time on long-form content. Pew Research Center surveyed internet users and found that people spend twice as much time with blogs over 1,000 words than they do with articles containing less. As people scroll up and down and move their eyes around your page, there are increasing areas of opportunity for you to make a conversion. 

  • Social media exposure 

According to HubSpot, blog posts with a word count over 2,500 get shared the most on social media. As more people see your blog, it’ll gain more attention, receive more engagement and get increasing numbers of shares as it permeates through social circles. On top of that, there’s a much better chance that it’ll go viral – the equivalent of strapping your article with twin canisters of nitrous oxide. 

  • Climbing SERPs 

SEO is a nuanced field. Experts in digital marketing know that there are a number of factors which can improve your search engine performance, and word count is one of them. To the search engine bots, more words makes a good case for higher ranking.

Common Blog Formats

According to Earthweb, there are 600 million live blogs on the internet in 2022, with blogs making up over one-third of all websites. That’s a serious amount of blogging.

Blog posts come in many shapes and sizes, and to help you wrap your head around the different styles, we’ve put together this handy reference of the most commonly-seen blog formats on the airwaves.

 

    • Listicle posts: People love stuff broken down in bullet points! Essentially, a listicle is a list of related content. For instance: have a look at the Digital Marketing Services: Which are Best for Your Business? Section of this Brainy blog. Listicles often contain a number in the title, making them quickly identifiable, and are generally pretty easy to execute because they follow a very simple formula. For this reason some bloggers turn their noses up at listicles and find them low-quality. It’s true that a lot of people do them badly; but a well-cut listicle is a classic and effective format.
    • ‘How to…’ posts: As you can probably guess, ‘how to’ blog posts explain… well, how to do something. This is particularly useful in industry or business blogs, since it creates that gilded atmosphere of knowledgeability. Moreover, ‘how to’ posts are inherently educational, a prime example of offering value to the user. That’s why ‘how to’ posts are so good at generating organic traffic. They’re often broken up into steps or sections, just like this explainer on increasing domain authority.
    • Pillar posts: Also known as thought leadership posts, these are generally longer and heavier than the above examples. They’re also much more challenging to write; they take a lot of time, effort, originality, thought, research, and knowledge. A pillar blog article will be an extended discussion or a deep-dive into something specific within the space. Have a look at our extended parley on the differences between B2B and B2C marketing. While you could conceivably wrap up that title in 600 words or less, it wouldn’t come over well. Our marketers understand the topic deeply, and we’re positioned as thought leaders – so when we take on a topic like that, it’s only right that we do so comprehensively.
    • ‘What is…’ posts: A close cousin of the ‘why’ post, there are no prizes for guessing what these blogs look like. They’re generally targeted at beginner or entry-level readers, since they set out key definitions, and basically get the reader on board with level-1 concepts. There’s usually a fair bit of introduction and explaining, as in What is a Digital Marketing Agency?. A great format for hand-holding and ushering readers into the funnel.
    • Question and answer posts: Also known as FAQ posts, these are relatively easy to plan and execute. They’re an effective way of getting readers to grips with common queries, and you can tap your company’s various departments as well as your social media discourse for inspiration. That said, if you’ve been in the industry for a while (or better yet, your site already has an FAQ page), this stuff virtually writes itself.
    • Curated content posts: A curated blog post brings together research, examples, statistics, infographics, quotes and other related content into one, easily-digestible place. This is another format that makes high-hatted bloggers screw up their noses, because curating content is associated with lack of originality and a lazy repurposing of others’ work. However, there are two sides to that coin. Collecting various resources can be fairly time-consuming, and it takes some vision to set it all out in a logical way; the skilled blogger will find creative ways to smoothly segue between points.
    • Interview posts: Interviews are an excellent way to bring in fresh perspectives and new voices. They’re also effective for developing a relationship with other people in the industry. What’s more, if the interviewee shares the blog post on their social media – and why wouldn’t they – you’ll get some free social reach. Interviews also establish your brand as authoritative, because you are the one ‘hosting’ discussion. Interviews may slip into ‘thought leadership’ or ‘FAQ’ coats, depending on the post’s objective.

A Full-Service Agency: Here for the Long Run

As we’ve seen, there’s more to blogging than just sitting in front of the keyboard and letting rip: that’ll get you so far, but the most effective blogs on the web are carefully-planned and thoroughly-prepared, crafted with skill, expertly-optimised, artfully-promoted and come with buckets of baked-in educational value. That sounds like a lot, and it is; and that’s the reason why longer-form blogs are generally better than short-form.

But to answer the question, ‘how long should a blog post be?’ well, there isn’t really an exact number of words your blog post should hit. Every post is by its own nature different from the last. The topic, audience, objectives and format should ultimately be the deciding factors in your final word count. The ideal blog post length is the exact number of words it takes to do the job.

One thing we can safely say is that a good blog post takes time, effort and skill to pull off. Here at the Brains, London’s leading blog content creation service, our expert content marketing team has years of experience writing blogs to boost rankings, brand awareness and lead generation. We identify the core elements needed to engage with your target audience and our Brainy marketers implement a blog strategy into your marketing funnel to send your conversion rates through the roof.  

Get in touch now to find out how the Brains can turbocharge your content marketing efforts.

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