How Long Should Blog Posts Be To Improve SEO?

Published on June 20, 2023

Longer is better when it comes to search engine optimization, right?

Well, not exactly.

A few years ago now, a piece of SEO research from a popular search engine optimization blog suggested that, on average, blog posts that hit #1 in Google search results had more than 1,000 words. At the time, the basic lesson taken from the data was “bigger is better” up to a length of more than 2,000 words per post.

That might have been true at the time, with the data available.

A lot has changed in search engine optimization over the last six months.

The unintended consequence of this idea becoming “common knowledge” was that a lot of blog posts that never should have been written started to clog up search results and drive down useful, informative pages.

Imagine having to slog through 3,000 words about the history of mathematics in ancient Greece because you wanted to find the value of pi. The facts you need were there, but good luck finding them. They were usually buried somewhere in the middle of the page so you couldn’t just scroll down to the answer.

More recent data shows Google recognizes the issue and is moving to correct it.

This is especially important now that more organizations are using AI tools like ChatGPT to spew out generic content that can reach thousands of words with no research, proofreading, or fact-checking. If pure word count was the solution, these low-content pages would consistently climb to the top of search results.

That simply isn’t happening.

Extreme Word Count Is No Longer a Free Pass to Top 20 Results in Google

Word count is no longer a strong indicator of good content, and Google is already looking elsewhere.

As one of today’s leaders in artificial intelligence, Google can already tell when a piece of content is generated by a machine. On top of that, it uses a collection of signals (including data from Google Analytics) to note when the content isn’t meeting users’ needs. Farewell to those 10,000-word tomes about pi, and good riddance.

Instead, it’s crucial to have a wide range of different word counts.

Each one fulfills a specific niche – from “just the facts” to a deep-dive explanation with lots of context.

At New York Ave, we’ve discovered that using a full spectrum of different word counts for each client is the best way to maximize audience engagement with each piece of content. Even if one blog turns out to be too long for a given reader’s needs, they can always turn to a shorter page or watch a quick video instead.

Let’s take a look at some common word counts and how they can be used:

400-600: Topic Introductions

At the beginning of the buyer journey, most people have just discovered they have a problem, and they don’t necessarily know anything about it. Their research begins with a question – whatever variation of “what the heck is this?” makes sense for their situation. That’s where this kind of content comes in.

When you need to impart simple definitions of key terms or a checklist to help someone analyze the problem they’re having, 400-600 words is a good spot to aim for. People often decide if they’re intimidated by some text by checking the scroll bar’s size at the side of the screen. 400-600 words gives them the least worry.

If you need to build further on blog content, you can cross-link to 600-800 or 800-1200 pieces.

600-800: Tangential Content

There are many ways to use every word count category, but our tests show 600-800 is just right for tangential content. This is content of interest to your audience, but not directly related to your products or services. They read this content for interest like they would on Wikipedia.

Tangential content might seem counterproductive at first, but it can be helpful in a range of ways. It expands the number of searches your website can appear in while demonstrating your expertise in your subject matter. The longer viewers remain on your website, the more likely they are to take action on your offerings.

800-1200: Landing Pages and Lead Magnet Introductions

The article you’re looking at right now is 800-1200. It has the potential to provide a strong, yet still accessible overview of a topic that isn’t too technical. But that’s not the only use for it. This is also the length range for a product landing page or lead magnet introduction, both of which are essential for your marketing campaigns.

Landing pages are a must if you want to use online advertising. They exist to ensure the page a visitor “lands” on after clicking an ad is a super close match for their expectations. On the other hand, a lead magnet entices them to join your email list, and they need to be introduced to an enticing page full of exciting benefits.

1200-1800: Informative and User-Friendly Problem-Solving Content

As a website visitor moves through the buyer journey, they’ll seek content more precisely tailored to match their needs. They’ll also have a higher tolerance for long-form content since they’ll need lots of details and well-researched insights to persuade them to give your products or services a try.

With 1200-1800, you stake out a good position for mid-funnel content. The reader has some momentum, so they’re likely to get through this longer content undaunted. Cross-linking content will also help to ensure that even if they don’t see exactly what they’re looking for, they can probably find it fast.

1800-2400: Highly Informative Pieces for Customer Decision-Making

Near the end of the buyer journey, the customer is no longer wondering whether your solution “might” work. They know it can. The biggest question in their mind then becomes whether it’s the right selection for them.

The New York Ave team made the decision to veer away from content above 2400 words after a series of tests revealed diminishing returns at higher word counts. Our data demonstrates that 1800-2400 is the sweet spot for those nearest a decision. Even if they don’t read it all, they’re more likely to reach out to you.

Different Content at Different Lengths Can Create an Artisanal Approach

Artificial intelligence can’t do everything – it certainly isn’t advanced enough yet to write content with a true understanding of your solutions and audience. But there is one area where it has always excelled: Detecting patterns. When something has a deeply ingrained mathematical pattern, it’s more likely to be machine-made.

Google doesn’t want cookie-cutter content cranked out by automated means, no matter how many words it is or how grammatically perfect they are. Search engines and the real human beings who patronize your business are united in wanting to see a wide variety of different content pieces with a truly human touch.

New York Ave gets you there with handcrafted marketing content made exclusively by humans.

Want to know more? Contact us today and discover search engine optimization that just works.

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