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Word Count: The Ideal Blog Post Length for SEO and How to Avoid Creating TLDR Situations
Through the years, marketers and SEO experts have debated, discussed, and drilled down on this question: what’s the perfect word count for a high-performing blog post?
You want to get your point across, but you don’t want to lose your audience before they take action. It’s a tricky balancing act indeed—but there are plenty of things to consider that will inform your decisions.
Most SEO apps, like Yoast, for example, set the bar at about 300 words. However, top-ranking posts on Google tend to be 1000 words or more. Data tells us that the longer your post is, the better it is for search rank.
But is a longer post better for the reader? And if you go long, are you focusing too much on keyword rank and not enough on driving value for the user?
Ultimately, you need to treat your prospects and customers —and their time—with respect. A TLDR post isn’t doing anybody any favors.
What is TLDR?
TLDR is an acronym for “too long, didn’t read.” I’m sure we can all relate to that. However, in the constant daily battle to maintain a page one search engine rank, many marketers choose to go this direction because it boosts that metric.
But defining TLDR isn’t exactly cut-and-dried either. What’s TLDR for social is just a blip on your website blog. You need to keep your audience and their intent firmly in your sights and keep a few techniques in your back pocket to guide the way to a post that everyone will get some value from.
What’s The Best Post Length for SEO?
So, when we talk about longer posts ranking better for SEO, what does that look like, exactly?
According to HubSpot, the ideal blog post length is between 2100 – 2400 words. They based their findings on their own top-performing blog posts, of which the median length was just over 2000 words. However, about one-third of those posts was 1500 words or less, proving that shorter posts don’t necessarily rank poorly.
If you can get your point across in 1000 words, don’t feel like you need to go longer just to achieve optimum length. In the end, it’s all about the value you provide, and filling your articles with a bunch of irrelevant fluff and filler isn’t going to help.
That being said, there are many techniques you can apply to boost SEO rank without crossing the line into TLDR.
SEO techniques and best practices to boost rank
Here are a few SEO tricks you can use to boost rank without going overboard on word count:
- Use the right keywords. Don’t guess on this one. Do keyword research to ensure you’re targeting the right keywords and phrases.
- Be the expert. Google’s primary concern is satisfying search intent. Domain authority is much more important than the length of your posts, so prioritizing authoritative content should be your focus.
- Use media. Include eye-catching images and rich media, like videos and social media, embeds, helps your rank.
- Try to rank for the featured snippet. Featured snippets appear in a box above search engine results. Think about your audience’s search intent and try to anticipate and questions as concisely as possible.
- Backlinks. Backlinks (links from other high-quality sites (not ads) back to your post) are a key ranking factor too.
- User interaction. Linking to internal pages, blog posts, and external authoritative sites encourage engagement, but dwell time is also important. In other words, the longer users stay on your page, the better. Try to provide helpful information that satisfies search intent, and you’re on the right track.
Formatting and flow
Avoiding TLDR is sometimes a simple matter of making sure your text flows nicely. Here are a few tips that might help:
- Stay away from long blocks of text.
- Break up the copy into shorter paragraphs.
- Use H2 and H3 headers to separate ideas.
- Use no more than 300 words between headings.
- Keep your sentences concise.
- Don’t use a lot of jargon.
And of course, it should go without saying—post quality content. If you’re not a writer or don’t have one in-house, outsource to an expert. You’ll find plenty of subject matter expertise on freelance sites like Upwork, or you can leave it up to your content provider or marketing agency to find you outstanding talent in your niche.
How Long Should Your Blog Posts Be?
At this point, you might still be wondering about whether you ought to be writing longer blog posts at all.
Is it worth the time and effort? Absolutely!
Keep in mind, however, that you post blogs for different purposes. Some are for lead generation, and some are pillar posts that aim to cover a lot of ground. Others are tip sheets, how-to’s, or explainers.
It should be noted that posts for lead generation are different from those used to drive traffic. If you want to drive traffic, you’re targeting keywords and topics that apply to a broader audience. These topics might be more general in nature.
Lead generation, on the other hand, is more specific and usually aligned to a targeted group. The audience is smaller and more niche, but they have a vested interest in the topic and are more likely to read to the end.
According to HubSpot, the average length of a top-performing lead generation article is about 2500 words. This is not to say these articles are the most read—just that they generated a lot of leads. The most-read articles in their study sit at about 400-500 words shy of that.
So, for lead generation, we can conclude that the more in-depth coverage you provide, the better—which means the article will likely be longer.
Ideal Lengths for Different Types of Blog Posts
To recap: general topics equal a wider audience and fewer words. Niche topics equal smaller audiences and extended content. And with that, let’s look at the ideal post lengths for various types of blog content.
>>> Pillar Page: 4000 – 8000 words
Pillar Pages are typically long-form blogs that cover a broad topic in exceptional detail. Essentially, a pillar is the “parent” to many shorter blog posts. They are kind of a ground zero for a high-level topic that links out to blogs that cover a single sub-topic in greater detail. The “children” of the pillar are grouped together as cluster content, helping you rank for multiple keywords and phrases.
>>> Listicles: 1500-2600 words
A listicle is a helpful list of examples, statistics, or ideas about a single topic. By nature, each paragraph is short, concise, and conveys a single idea. They’re easily digestible and informative, so generally, the more points you can add, the better. Add images, links, and sources to create authority.
>>> Explainers: 1200-2100
An explainer could be a how-to, a what-is, or a checklist. The information is concise, and every point made is relevant to the topic. It can be longer or shorter, but it shouldn’t be any longer than it needs to be to get the point across.
>>> Regular Posts: 300 words minimum
Yoast suggests 300 as a minimum length for a standard blog post. However, since the data indicates that more is better, try to align your word count strategy with the type of content you’re posting and the objectives you’re trying to achieve.
In conclusion, while we can conclude that longer blog posts rank better, consider what you’re posting, who you’re posting it for, and what results you’d like to see.
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