Everything You Need to Know About Content Length

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How long should a blog post be?

Is it 500, 1000, 2000 or more words?

This was a question I struggled with when I started blogging. 

… And, you probably do to.

Nobody likes spending 2 or more hours writing an article that’s 2,000 or more words when you don’t have to.

It’s not about being lazy, right?

It’s about making the best use of your time. 

Instead of creating content, you could be spending those hours for other important blogging tasks like building your email list or forging relationships with other bloggers.

Similarly, cranking out lots of short blog posts that don’t really get your blog any traction can get very frustrating.

In this article, I’ll show you if your should writing long or short blog posts. 

And, how many words should your artilcles be to increase its odds of succeeding in SEO as well as in different social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Sounds good?

Here goes.

If you look around the web, you’ll notice that different blogs and websites have their own content strategies.

Some like writing long-form content, while others prefer shorter articles. 

Yet, there are those who use a mix of the two.

In this section, I’ll take you through a deep-dive into the nuances of long and short blog posts. 

How they differ from one another…

Why people use them…

When and what bloggers do to make each type of post work well for them.

Short Content

Nowadays, shorts posts are articles that have less than 1,000 words. In reality, 1,000 words isn’t that short. But, the number is relative.

Of course, you can always argue what the actual cut-off point will be.

However, for our purposes, let’s use 1,000 words since the length of content seems to keep increasing over the years.

Here’s a chart that shows how the average length of a blog post has increased through time.

Average-Length-of-a-Blog-Post

When I look at posts that were written a few years back, many mentioned 500 words as short content. More recent studies put that number at 750-800 words.

But, now it’s up to 1,000 words.

Again, the figure is all relative. And, it’s possible that it will go up again within the next 5 years or so.

That said, 1,000 words is only considered short because most websites now shoot for more than that number when they write or outsource articles.

While many SEO gurus will tell you that longer is better, it’s important to note that the main purpose of content is to PROVIDE VALUE.

If you can do that in 250, 500 or 1000 words, then that’s good enough.

Because of their length, short posts usually focus on one idea. This allows them to explain that single subject, answer a specific question or list down quick tips.

They don’t beat around the bush. 

And, they give you what you need right away. 

Their length often means that these posts are also better at giving you an overview or a general explanation. 

In contrast, longer posts have the luxury of drilling down into the details.

Sites That Use Short Content Effectively

Why Short Posts Can Be More Practical

  • We have shorter attention spans. The internet has made us crave immediate gratification. And, short articles do just that. They give you the answer you need as quickly as possible. There’s no long, roundabout explanations or stories. This is why Google’s search results now include Featured Snippets that try to answer your query immediately. In addition, it has also added the question boxes which you can click to expand for instant answers.
Google-Featured-Snippet image 1
Google-Questions-People-Also-Ask image 1
  • People tend to skim longer pieces of content. Thanks to the scrolling capability of digital devices, you’ll often find yourself scrolling through the article to see how long it is before going back to the beginning to start reading. Interestingly, when you realize it’s a short piece, you’re more likely to read it in whole. For longer pieces, your brain somehow shifts to “Skim Mode”.
  • Reading short posts on mobile devices is more digestible. Speaking of digital devices, mobile makes it a bit harder to read longer posts. Besides all the scrolling, the small screen and text make your eyes work harder. I don’t know about you, but for me, long articles feel even longer when I’m reading them on my phone or tablet compared to my laptop.
  • Certain niches prefer shorter articles. Readers in some niches like fitness and yoga seem to like shorter articles more than they do long ones. As such, it makes sense to cater to the audience’s preference. Check out the data below to see how long the ideal blog post in your niche should be.
  • Some readers are time-crunched or have short attention spans. We’re all in a hurry. And, for the most part, we want to consume information as quickly as possible.
  • You go straight to the point. No long explanations or fluff. You just get to answer right away.
  • You can produce more articles. As a blogger, this is one of the biggest advantages. Considering that you’re better off spending 80% of your time promoting content, this helps a lot as it cuts down time and effort spent on writing.
  • Easier to make sure it’s well-edited and error-free, with no fluff. Short posts are easier to proofread and edit. They’re also less likely to have spelling or grammatical errors because you can quickly go over them more than once.
  • You’re able to easily fit them into your schedule. Short posts require less time to write. This makes them easy to squeeze into your schedule even when you’ve got a lot of other things to do.

Long Content

Long posts, also known as long-form content, allow you to go more in-depth into a topic. 

Their length gives you the opportunity to expand into several sub-topics within the main subject matter.

Doing so lets you provide more information for your readers. And, when done correctly, it offers more value for them.

This is why long articles are key in building authority within your niche. They give you the credibility and the help establish yourself as an expert on the topic.

One of the best things about this type of post is that it keeps readers on your blog. Because they get all the information they need on the subject, they not only stay there longer but are also more likely to search for more useful content within your website.

That said, the downside of long blog posts is that they take a lot of time to write. They’re harder to create and require more research than short posts.

Sites That Use Long Content Effectively

Why Long Posts Often Have the Advantage

  • They Get More Social Shares. Long-form content is a great way to boost your presence on social media. That’s because they’ve been proven to increase the number of shares per post. This is according to research by Brian Dean over at Backlinko. According to his data, 1000-2000 words look like the sweet spot when it comes to maximizing shares from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Reddit.
Backlinko-Content-Length-Shares
  • Long-Form Content Attracts More Links. In addition, they also help you get more backlinks. Although, in this case, the improvement doesn’t experience any diminishing returns. In fact, the longer your article, the more referring domains you’ll likely get. Backlinko’s data show content that’s over 3,000 words receives 77% more backlinks compared to posts that are 1,000 words or less.
Backlinko-Number-of-Links-for-Ranking
  • Longer articles rank better on Google. According to another study by Backlinko, articles that rank on the top 4 search positions in Google are substantially longer than those in the number 7 to 10 spots. While it doesn’t mean that short articles can’t rank on top of search, it does mean that you have a better chance of doing so with longer blog posts. This is in line with Google’s algorithm favoring long-form content that covers many sub-topics within an idea.
Backlinko-Word-Count
  • Readers spend more time on your blog. The longer your visitors stay on your site, the higher the odds that they will click on something or sign up for your newsletter. That’s a good thing. In addition, how long readers stay on a page is also a factor in Google’s algorithm. The longer they stay, the more positively the algorithm sees your site and blog article.
  • Long posts are easier to promote and get guest posts with. Long, informative articles that are authoritative increase your credibility. As such, they help a lot when it comes to outreach and networking with other bloggers. These posts also make it easier to get approved for guest post opportunities as they offer proof of the type of content you create.
  • They let you add long-tail keywords. Due to the length, you’re able to cover more variations of the main keyword as well other long-tail keywords. Including long tails in the discussion increases the potential search traffic your article can rank for.
  • It allows you to connect better with your audience. Longer posts give you the opportunity to tell stories and talk to your audience. Doing so increases your ability to find something your audience relates to. In doing so, it helps you connect with them.
  • You can go more in-depth into a topic. Over the years, Google’s algorithm seems to have evolved towards finding articles that go in-depth and offer value. In fact, it prefers one big long article that covers everything about an idea as opposed to many shorter ones. As an example, take a look at Wikipedia’s articles. Each Wikipedia entry discusses just about everything it can about one subject.

How Long Should Your Blog Posts Be?

Now that we know what, when and how to use long and short articles, it’s time to get down to the data. 

What does research tell us about how long your content should be?

In short, how many words should your blog post be?

Sadly, the answer is it depends.

It depends on whether you’re writing for SEO or social media. And, within the realm of social media, it also varies from platform to platform.

So, here goes.

how long should your blog post be

Ideal Content Length for SEO

If you want to rank for Google’s search results, then targeting at least 1,800 words is a good idea.

From the charts above, you already know that longer articles get more backlinks. And, because backlinks are still one of the biggest ranking factors used by Google’s algorithm, it goes without saying that the more backlinks (referring domains) you have pointed to your post, the better its chances of ranking.

Similarly, more backlinks going to your blog also increase your site’s domain authority.

Here’s a chart from Ahrefs which depicts the correlation between certain factors and a page’s ranking in Google. As you can see, Referring domains correlate fairly well with search ranking.

Ahrefs-Referring-Domains-Ranking-Factor

Ideal Content Length for Social

Next up, we have social media.

Social is very different from SEO because you’re dealing with different platforms. As such, each platform has its own algorithm. And, their algorithm will be biased towards what that platform deems as valuable based on how their users respond to them.

That said, here are some factors that affect your post’s sharability on social:

  • The topic
  • Your title
  • The image in your social media post
  • The quality of your blog post
  • How many followers you have
  • Whether or not you use keywords (for platforms like Pinterest and YouTube)

So how many words should your content be to perform well on social media?

Let’s take a look.

The chart below is based on a study performed by OkDork analyzing 100 million articles. In it, you can see how many shares each content length gets on average per social media platform.

OkDork-Shares-by-Content-Length

In general, the longer the post, the higher the shares.

  • Facebook, in particular really likes longer posts. In fact, the length of your post seems to be directly correlated with how many shares you get. So ideally, you want to be writing content that’s 2,000 words or more.
  • Twitter seems to share the same sentiment. While 1,000-3,000 word articles are slightly better than those under 1,000 words, writing content with over 3,000 words does best, again.
  • Among the main social media platforms, Pinterest seems to be the outlier. That is, it behaves a little different from the others. This is partly because images play a much bigger role in whether your content gets clicked or not on Pinterest. When it comes to article length Pinterest seems to like the extremes. That is, content under 1,000 words as well as those that are 3,000 words and more. This is probably because different niches behave very differently on Pinterest. Some niches like fitness and weight loss work better with shorter articles. Meanwhile, topics like personal finance and blogging require more explaining. As such, longer articles are better suited for these niches.

Other Factors Involved in Content Length

As much as we’d all like to believe that writing an article with a certain amount of words is all you need to do to succeed, that’s not the case.

The reason being that there are many other factors that come into play. These include:

  • What your readers prefer
  • What the content entails
  • What fits your style and schedule (such that you can write consistently)

What Content Length Your Audience Prefers

This is by far one of the most important things to consider.

Your readers are the lifeblood of your blog. They’re the ones who come back day in and day out to read what you have to say.

So, unless you’re getting a ton of traffic from Google, it’s important to consider your audience’s preference.

There are a few ways you can go about this.

  • The best way: ask them. Making a survey or if you already have a good-sized email list, shoot them a questionnaire. This will let you quickly understand their preferences.
  • Second best way: pull out Google analytics. Check out your stats and see which posts get the most visits. In addition, check how long people stay on each post. Short times often mean they just skim through your article. Longer durations mean that they stayed around to read most of it, if not the entire post.
  • Third way, use a paid tool. If you have a paid tool like Ahrefs, Buzzsumo or something similar, look to see which of your posts get the most shares. This will give you an idea of which articles your audience enjoyed most.

In all likelihood, you’ll discover that there’s a mix of long and short posts.

That’s when you’ll need to do a little more digging. You’ll need to figure out things like:

  • What’s the long content-to-short content ratio between your popular posts. Does it skew to one side or the other?
  • Are there types of posts that they prefer you write long-form? You may find that they enjoy “how-to” posts that explain things when you make them longer. Or, that they like you to keep things brief and to the point when you’re answering simple questions.

7 Minutes of Reading

One of the most interesting things I found while researching this article was a piece on Medium about how long our attention span lasts. That is, at least when it comes to reading blog posts.

According to their data crunchers, your reading interest likely goes up and peaks at around 7 minutes. Anything longer than that, you start losing interest.

7-Minutes-Reading-Time

So, to a degree, it depends on how fast you read.

I know there’s a huge difference in reading speed because I was always the slow one back in school. 

I remember the teachers giving us time to read a page and everyone would be done while I was still struggling past the halfway or three-quarters point of the page.

In any case, 7 minutes comes out to around 1,600 words.

So, if you combine that with what data says SEO content length should be, then you end up with:

  • 1,600 words and 2,000-2,500 words

This ought to be a solid range to shoot for: 1,600 to 2,500 words.

Do a Quick Test to Find Out

One of the fastest ways to know what really works for you is to just experiment. 

But, do it methodically and document your results. 

This lets you go back and analyze everything after.

Here’s how:

  • Write 10 long posts. These include how to’s, list posts, and others.
  • Then, write another 10 short posts.

Analyze the results by taking a look at:

  • Which ones get the most traffic?
  • What content length gets more shares?
  • Does one length receive more comments than the others?
  • How long do readers stay on each article length?
  • Which one gets your readers to click/convert better?

After doing this, you’ll have a better grasp on what length of posts your readers like to see more of.

How Long Should a Blog Post Be (Per Niche)

Finally, one of the side effects I’ve realized from creating blogs in different niches is that each niche has its own preference.

That is, if you look around in a particular niche long enough, you’ll notice a few things that can stand out. 

These include:

  • Which sub-topics are the most popular for that given niche?
  • What kind of posts do people prefer reading?
  • Do they like long or short articles?
  • And many other things.

With that in mind, here is some cool data compiled by Neil Patel on his blog.

It basically breaks down the ideal content length per niche.

NicheBlog Post Length
Marketing/Advertising2,500 to 3,000 words
Sales2,500 to 2,700 words
Finance2,100 to 2,500 words
FinTech2,000 to 2,150 words
Healthcare2,000 to 2,150 words
Real estate1,800 to 1,900 words
Manufacturing1,700 to 1,900 words
Travel1,500 to 1,850 words
Film1,500 to 1,700 words
Retail1,500 to 1,700 words
Food1,400 to 1,900 words
Home and Garden1,100 to 1,200 words
Recruiting900 to 1,000 words
Tech800 to 1,000 words
Fashion800 to 950 words
Gadgets300 to 500 words

As you can see, different niches favor different content lengths.

How Can You Use This Data?

Like all data you find on the internet, use them as a starting point.

Take note that the figures also cover entire niches. That is, they don’t drill down to specific sub-niches.

This is key because things can vary between sub-niches.

For example, take the food niche.

  • Recipe blogs will have a certain style of writing and length of posts. Often, they likewise focus on having very high-quality photos of the dish at different stages of preparation and cooking.
  • Food blogs focusing on showing you’re the best places to drink and eat will use a different approach.

So, while they’re both in the food niche, they’re wildly different in the audience they attract, method of discussion and all likelihood preference of content length.

As such, use the figures above as a starting point. 

And, from there, adjust based on the feedback you get from your audience. 

Remember, they’re the ones you’re writing for. 

So, follow what they tell you.

Data like this helps because you have a ballpark figure you can use as a kickoff point. It’s also much better than guessing yourself.

What the Content Entails

One of the reasons it’s difficult to pinpoint a specific content length is that the type of article affects its length.

  • Articles that involve many steps or require in-depth explanations will likely be longer
  • Single topic articles that have a narrower focus are likely going to be shorter.

This is where your content mix and what type of blog you have comes in.

  • Blogs that entertain or answer questions often have shorter articles.
  • Blogs that explain things or provide information will need more than 1,000 words to do so.

Similarly, the breakdown of your blog post ideas will affect your overall content length.

  • If you have a lot of “How to” articles, you’ll likely find yourself writing longer posts more often.
  • If you have more “What is” type of articles, shorter content may be enough to cover what you want to say.

What Fits Your Blogging Style and Schedule

Then there’s YOU.

You’re the writer.

As such, it’s important to take into consideration:

  • How much time you have?
  • How long does it take you to write a Short or Long article?
  • How many articles do you plan on writing each week?
  • What kind of articles do you prefer writing?
  • Do you find it hard to stay motivated finishing longer blog posts?
  • Does producing one short article after another make you feel like you’re in an assembly line?
  • Which kind of articles produce the best results for your blog in terms of shares and visitors?

The bottom line here is that you need to find a balance between enjoying what you’re doing and getting results.

That’s because consistency is key when it comes to producing content and blogging. 

And, you’ll only be able to keep your blogging frequency up if you have a writing schedule that doesn’t overwhelm you, yet produces good results.

So, go with what suits your lifestyle and schedule.

Because there are no strict rules when it comes to blogging, either way can work. 

It all comes down to you finding what works for you.

Blog Post Length vs. Frequency of Publishing

If you look at your favorite blogs, you’ll notice that they’ll have their own preferences when it comes to blog post length.

But, one thing will often stand out.

  • Blogs with long articles are likely to publish less frequently
  • Blogs with shorter articles are likely to produce more content on a regular basis.

The reason is simple.

It just takes more time to create longer posts, assuming that the article is substantial and doesn’t just contain fluff.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t take time to write shorter articles. In fact, I’ve seen quite a few very well researched ones that must’ve taken hours and hours to prep.

That said, this observation only applies to blogs like you and I create.

It does not apply to those that are run by big digital media companies where they can hire a lot of writers. 

Blogs run by the Huffington Post, Fortune magazine and the like, produce anywhere from 3 to hundreds of articles a day because they have a lot of writers.

Putting It All Together + On-Page SEO Tips

Here’s a quick recap of how many words to shoot for when it comes to your blog posts.

Ideal Blog Post Length For SEO

Based on the data above, 1,600-2,500 words

This puts you in the sweet spot where you’re in the position to get backlinks in order to rank and get lots of social shares as well.

At the minimum, you’re looking for articles that are 1,600-1,800 words.

Ideal Content Length For Social Media

  • Facebook: 2,000 words or more.
  • Twitter: 1,000 to 3,000 words at least.
  • Pinterest: less than 1,000 words and 3,000 words or more.

Remember, use the data as a starting point. 

You need to test and see how they work for you. 

Just because they work for other people doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be good for you or your audience.

From there, test and adjust accordingly.

But, above all else, make sure to never forget these rules:

  1. Always put VALUE above all else. Don’t stretch out a given article just to make it longer. In the same way, just because your audience likes short articles, doesn’t mean you can’t write longer ones when the need arises in order to fully explain the topic.
  2. Write for your audience and what they want. They’re your readers, they’re the people you cater to. And, ultimately, they’re the people you’ll be selling to. So, make sure your content serves them in the best way possible.
  3. Use the appropriate word length for each article depending on what kind of post you’re writing. The goal here is to make sure that you cover everything you need to in order to make it valuable for your readers.
  4. Go with something that fits your schedule, allowing you to be consistent. Forcing yourself to write the way you don’t want to only makes you miserable. And, over time, it will make you hate writing content. So, be yourself. Don’t force things. Write according to who you are and within the time you have.

Plus, a final BONUS

In addition to content length, don’t forget to customize the following items to help with on-page SEO, attract more readers to your post and make it easy for them to read it.

Optimize Your SEO Title Tag

In your WordPress SEO Plugin, this is your SEO Title. It is what Google shows in the search results. 

So, you want to:

  • Make it SEO keyword friendly for the search algorithms
  • Enticing enough for readers to click on. After all, you’re competing with 9 other search results in a given Google search page at any given time.

When it comes to on-page SEO, your Title tag is one of the most important if not the most important thing to consider.

  • Ideal Title Tag length: up to 70 characters. More than that Google will truncate the remaining characters that go over the limit.

Note: This varies somewhat depending on the number of spaces and which characters you use. For example, the letter “G” takes up more space than a letter “I”. This means more letters will fit in Google’s search result if your title has many “thinner” letters. You get the picture.

Google Search Results screenshot 1
Yoast SEO Title Tag screenshot 1

Headline Tag

The headline is the actual title in your WordPress article. 

Yes, the space in the editor right above where you start typing the text for your content.

One thing many people don’t know is that you can have a different headline and title tag in your blog post.

Why bother?

You can use different keywords or variations of your keywords to add on-page SEO value to your article.

Having a Headline that’s different from your Title lets you target more SEO keywords. This helps you rank for more searches.

  • Ideal Headline Tag length: 55 characters give or take. This comes out to about 6 to 7 words.
SEO Headline tag screenshot 1

Meta Tag

If you’ve installed a WordPress SEO plugin, then you’ll see a Meta Tag section in there somewhere.

The Meta Tag is what Google shows searchers in the results.

It’s the short description below your article’s title.

Unlike your Title tag, Google says that your Meta tag doesn’t carry any SEO weight.

So why bother putting anything there?

That’s because searchers see it.

Think about it… 

In the few seconds they’re trying to decide which of the 10 search results Google presented them with they’re going to click on, you only have your Title and Meta tags to help them decide.

So, should they decide that the titles of the results are fairly similar to one another, it’s your Meta tag that can persuade them to click on your post instead of the other 9.

  • Ideal Meta Description length. Up to 155-160 characters. Any longer than that, Google will truncate the remainder of it.
Yoast SEO Meta tag screenshot 1

Sub Headings

Use the H2 and H3 sub-headers to break up the different sub-topics in your article. 

This makes it easier to read. And it prevents your post from being an entire block of text.

Subheadings allow you to add SEO value as well. 

Using keywords in your H2 and H3 tags may not carry as much SEO keyword value as your Title Tag. But it does carry more weight compared to the keywords in your content.

If your WordPress theme lets you customize its font, it’s always a good idea to find a good Heading-Content font pairing. A complementary combination will make your articles easier on the eyes.

Check out Font Pair to search for different font pairings that will make your blog stand out.

  • Ideal Sub Heading Tag length: 8 to 10 Words or Less

Sentences

Do you remember the last time you tried reading a sentence that kept going and going and going then never stopping with all these commas in between?

You see what I mean.

Not good to read…

You don’t want your sentences to snake around your readers’ screens. 

Instead, short sentences work better. They’re concise and to the point.

Plus, they often deliver a bigger punch than longer sentences.

  • Ideal Blog Post Sentence length: 25 words maximum. Shorter sentences work better.

Paragraphs

You probably don’t remember much of what your elementary school English teacher taught you about paragraph writing.

That’s a good thing!

Because writing on the web is completely different from writing an essay or thesis.

When it comes to your blog’s paragraphs, keep them short and choppy. 

Paragraphs under 4 sentences long leave a lot of white space between them.

This makes it easier for readers to skim as well as finish each paragraph.

  • Ideal Paragraph Length: 3 sentences of less. This allows you to break up the paragraphs into small chunks. Doing so makes your article easier to read.

Links

Links or hyperlinks are a set of words or an image people can click on your site. Doing so brings them to another page.

Why use links?

  • It is one way you can take them to a reference article you’ve mentioned in your blog post
  • You can add links that will take your readers to your product pages
  • Links can also bring your readers to affiliate offers you’re promoting

In addition to bringing your readers to other pages in your site or to other blogs, links also provide SEO value.

Links allow “SEO juice” to flow throughout your site.

Link-Juice-Internal-Linking
What does that mean?

Google’s algorithm follows links to discover which pages are most referred to by people. 

The more links pointing to a page often means it’s a more valuable resource since a lot of people use it as a reference.

That is, provided that the pages linking to that post have good credibility and authority. The higher the credibility of the pointing website, the more valuable the SEO link juice passed.

So, if you have a page in your site that gets a lot of links, adding links from it to your other posts allows that SEO juice to be passed on to your less popular posts. 

This increases their potential of ranking on Google.

What should you do with your links? 

Use colored links and make them bold. 

Using a color that’s different from your content’s text color allows your links to pop. 

This makes them more visible.

Thus, increasing the likelihood of people seeing them. 

And, therefore, clicking on them if they like what it says.

Images

Finally, don’t forget to add images to your posts.

Images help make your article more appealing to look at.

In addition, use relevant photos, charts, graphs, and other images. 

These can help explain what you’re trying to say in that section of your post.

Conclusion

Knowing how many words to write in your blog posts can be tricky.

That’s because it’s fairly subjective.

A lot depends on your niche.

… and your audience.

By using the data above as a starting point.

Then, applying the tests step by step…

You’ll be able to find the perfect content length that works for you and your readers. 

Which do you prefer, long or short blog posts? And what kind of posts do you like reading about most?

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