If there’s one thing bloggers seem to be wondering, it’s how long the ideal blog post should be. I’ve seen this subject bandied about time and time again and I can’t help wondering what all the fuss is about.
The topic never seems to die, giving me cause to believe it’s rather important to somebody out there, even if I personally have never given it a significant amount of thought.
You see, I’ve always held the old school belief that the ideal number of words for a blog post is whatever it takes to convey the message – simple as that.
But in the interest of debate, let’s take a look at the current state of the discussion of:
How Long Should a Blog Post be?
When I read posts that cover this subject, I find the majority of bloggers ask one of the following two questions.
1 – How long should a blog post be for SEO purposes?
2 – How long should a blog post be to keep a readers’ interest?
Two very different things, although there is the theory that the two matters are converging. In other words, what keeps a readers’ interest is also what the search engines love. Hopefully it’s just a matter of time until Google et al. can tweak their algorithms enough to get it right.
As far as I’m concerned, I’m happy if my posts make sense. I do use keywords for SEO purposes and as for word count, I never bother with it.
However, let’s ask the questions:
Should I be thinking about the word count of my posts?
Is there an ideal word count, backed by evidence?
Here’s a run-down on the prevalent points of view…
“Google Recommends”…But Do They Really?
There are people who live by what Google tells them to do, and they are fond of quoting “what Google recommends”. A few minutes of light research will reveal claims that Google recommends anywhere from 250 to 2000 words and even more than that in some cases.
Why are these numbers all over the place? Bloggers mentioning these “recommendations” don’t cite their sources, making it very difficult to determine the validity of their claims.
I sure couldn’t find any of these Google recommendations from Google themselves. Seems the “Google recommends” advice is just something people pulled out of their hats.
You can check that one off the list.
About the Proven Data on Word Count…
Next up is claims established by bloggers that there’s “proven” tested data on the ideal blog post word count.
If hard evidence was available that a certain word count would magically make your blog post rise in Google rankings, or keep your readers interested in what you have to say, I’m pretty sure we’d all know about it by now.
It would be huge news!
There are marketing agencies that study this kind of thing. They plot their visitors’ time spent on various length posts on their blog, and arrive at “ideal post lengths” in terms of minutes. The minutes can then be converted to post length, based on the average time it takes to read say, 1000 words.
As an example take a look at this article which concludes that 7 minute posts are the ideal length to capture the most attention. Then somewhere along the way these 7 minutes are converted into a blog length of around 1600 words. But that’s based on one website’s stats…so you may want to consider the following points:
1 – As the 7 minutes is based on one study on one website – how conclusive would you consider this data?
2 – The 7 minutes is based on a study done on a website that may be completely different from yours, and therefore have an entirely different reader base, with completely different habits.
3 – What if the 7 minute study was valid, repeatable and reliable? Would you really want all your posts to be the same length anyway?
Putting the data to one side, the author of this article does say, and I quote:
Great posts perform well regardless of length
I couldn’t agree more!
So…What is the Ideal Length for a Blog Post?
Instead of searching for the answer to this question, which in my humble opinion does not exist, why not instead focus on your readers.
What engages your readers and how can you strive to write better content for them?
That’s the real question we should be asking. In fact, the world would be a better place if we all quit worrying about how to please Google and instead put our efforts in to writing for our readers. Whose bright idea was it anyway to introduce algorithms into the craft of writing?
Oh, was it Google’s idea by any chance!
Stop Counting Words
A well-received blog post will perform regardless of how many words it contains. Likewise, a bad post won’t suddenly get better if you tweak it to the supposed “ideal” word count.
It’s the writing that matters. Good writing will engage your readers and (I can’t even believe I even have to say this) bad writing will turn them away. It’s so simple, so basic that it’s hard to believe it still holds true. But yes, what was true a hundred years ago is still true today, in spite of how much we think the internet has changed our reading habits.
The proper length of an article is what it takes to get your message across in the clearest manner possible. Only by focusing on telling the world your message in the best way possible, will you capture your audience and engage website visitors who will read to the very end of your piece.