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How Long Should Your Blog Post Be?

Have I written enough? Will Google consider my post thin and low quality content? Will my website get penalized? All the horrors that pop up in every blogger’s mind (maybe I’m just weird like that).

The length of your content is crucial to ranking high in search engines according to… everyone. But how long should your blog posts be? Is 300 words enough? What about 500 words? Or do you need to write over 2,000 words in order to have some success in the blogging industry?

Some studies like this one found that content with word count between 3,000 and 10,000 gets most shares on average.

Average shares and content length

Image from Moz.

While other research shows that the average article length on Google’s first page is 1,890 words.

However, I have a problem with these type of studies. Basically, they imply that if you want to succeed online you better become the next George R. R. Martin. The little guy has no chance against all these marketing gurus, right?

Wrong. Because there’s no real answer of how long your article should be. If you’re playing the game to satisfy the needs of a search engine rather than a person you’re going to lose every time. Here’s some of my arguments of why you shouldn’t worry about the length of your content.

1. The studies are flawed

Most of the studies you find online by marketing experts about content length are flawed. They don’t represent your average blogger.

They represent businesses with massive advertising budgets who hire copywriters, marketing experts, SEO agencies, designers and so on. It’s nearly impossible to compete with them and you shouldn’t.

2. Short doesn’t mean poor

Short content does not mean it’s poor quality. How about food blogs that share recipes? Most of their content will be around 300-500 word mark.

They deliver valuable instructions and quick tips on how to make your food taste great. No one has the time to read a 2,000 word article on how to marinate your chicken.

Short content example by using recipes

Or what about results about learning to code? There’s not much you can do to extend the length of an article explaining a very simple and basic parameter. Google understands that and that’s why it uses many other factors to determine whether content is worth ranking for a particular term.

Short content example using coding

What am I trying to say here? Two things – length of content is generally niche specific, and you shouldn’t worry about hitting a particular word count when writing your posts.

3. Write until you cover all details

A good rule to keep in mind is to write until you cover all questions your audience might have. Some topics can be answered with a few paragraphs.

Many will require you to be as detailed as possible. Write until you’re satisfied. War and Peace is considered to be one of the greatest novels of all time not because of its’ length.

4. Come back later

Don’t be afraid to publish your content even if you think you haven’t written enough. A 300 word piece of unique content is still content both in the eyes of search engines and your readers.

In fact, you can always come back to that piece later and add more if you feel like it lacks depth, or if you discover a new piece of information.

Thankfully, WordPress makes this process incredibly easy. In addition, if you consider how fast Google indexes new content nowadays your updated post may show up in search results in a matter of hours.

When I joined Google, it would take us about a month to crawl and build an index of about 50 million pages. Today, with real-time search, that can happen in some cases in less than a minute. [1]

Most likely you will use tools (Google Analytics for example) to judge how well your website performs. Using such tools you can identify exactly which content does well in terms of user engagement and which needs work. Such tools eliminate guess work entirely.

5. Write for your audience

At the end of the day your most important objective should be satisfying the needs of your readers. Answer questions, show a different perspective, make them cry from laughter, teach how to save money.

Usually, people don’t fall in love with your content, they fall in love with your personality. If you don’t believe me listen to this guy who has over 57 million subscribers on YouTube. Yes, he produces videos, but the principles outlined in that video apply to most type of content.

6. Don’t rely on search traffic alone

Relying on only one source of traffic will lead to one thing – losing everything. This has happened multiple times to well established online businesses with multiple algorithm updates (like Google Panda update).

When you’re just starting out your aim shouldn’t be to rank high in search engines. You should focus on producing valuable content, and start with alternative methods of promoting your content. It includes leaving relevant comments on other blogs, submitting your content to social sharing websites like Pinterest, StumbleUpon, or even FaceBook, contributing to other blog in your niche via guest posting.

If you stick long enough rankings will come. You should treat search engine traffic as a bonus rather than your bread and butter. This way you will avoid many sleepless nights next time a new algorithm update comes.

Key takeaway

Don’t write to hit a number, write to provide value. Eventually, your content will get shared, talked about and linked to. High rankings are a by-product of that.

P.S If you’ve gotten this far then here’s the answer to your question – generally 700 – 1,400 words is enough for a quality post.

David Pixel
Entrepreneur, blogger, amateur designer and founder of PixelProfits. Loves mountain biking, enjoys white wine and music. Hates Estonian weather.

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