How long should my blog post be? Find out!

How long should my blog post be? Find out!

A question we often get when we speak to groups about content marketing and blogging is, “How long should my blog post be?”

There are several ways to answer this question and, indeed, many times the answers depend on who you ask. In most cases, though, professionals in marketing want to know what it takes to get their blog noticed, read, and shared.

Part of the reason that answers to the question vary is that the answer has changed over the relatively few years of blogging as a part of digital marketing. And it’s no surprise that Google has driven the change.

I am going to answer the question below and tell you why we have settled on this answer. Then I’ll explore a little bit about how to get the job done.

Why 1,000 Words is the Word Count to Target

Right. There’s the answer: Your blog post should be 1,000 words long. Give or take. More could be better, but less may be OK.

There are some who will tell you 1,500 and others who will swear your blog post is worthless if it isn’t at least 2,500 words long. And others call for even more.

As I said above: it depends.

It depends on what you want to accomplish. If you are trying to get your article to rank well on Google, longer is better. If you want social media shares, about 1,000 words is your target. If you want to spur discussion and comments among a community of readers, shorter is better.

But regardless of the length, what really matters is quality. Whatever you write, you need to have something to say and, to be picked up and shared, you need to solve a problem.

If you write what truly needs to be said about a subject, the length of the article will take care of itself. It also needs to be written well. If it’s written well, the reader will stick with you, no matter the length.

There’s plenty of unpolished writing on the web, and people realize that not all bloggers consider themselves “writers,” so don’t fret about being a Hemingway or a David Broder. But if it’s a struggle to get through your article or figure out what you’re trying to say, few will continue to make the effort.

Why 1,000 Words?

I suggest you target 1,000 words because it’s attainable for most people who try to write blog posts and because a length of about 1,000 words confers enough gravitas on a piece for the kind of people you want reading your blog to pay attention to it. Once you get used to writing, if you’re not already, you’ll regularly write more than 1,000 words, believe it or not

I’m suggesting 1,000 words, also, as I said above, because of Google.

In 2011, Google released an update to its search engine algorithm called “Panda.” This change in how Google ranked website content on search engine results pages (SERPs) put more emphasis on quality. In 2013, another update specifically targeted “in-depth articles” for higher SERP ranking.

But if you look at Google’s announcement, it tells webmasters how to mark up in-depth article so that the search engine can identify them, but doesn’t explain what constitutes the “compelling in-depth content” Google wants writers to produce. In practice, it became more about length.

Google likes longer articles. Many studies and blog posts have documented the stats that demonstrate that Google ranks longer articles higher. Longer articles are shared more often, too.

How to Generate 1,000 Words of Copy or More

Writing well is hard work. It takes planning and practice. I can’t turn you into a writer with this blog post, but I can give you these tips:
  • Have a reason for being. Write down a premise for what you’re going to write – the problem you’re going to solve, why it is a problem and how to fix it.
  • Research your topic. Don’t go it alone; you have the whole world at your fingertips. Cite studies and other people’s opinions and draw your own conclusions, whether you agree or disagree with the others. But be fair and honest: cite people by name and with a link when you use their thoughts and material.
  • Outline your article. Even if it’s just a few words to remind you of the topics you want to touch upon, jot them down so you don’t have to recall them later.
  • Use the inverted paragraph style. Make sure your most important and compelling points are at the top of your piece, and expand on these ideas throughout the article. This way, if for whatever reason the reader doesn’t finish, they get your main idea, which will help them and maybe enough for them to share the article.
  • Cover the basics. Your article should answer journalism’s seven basic questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? and How Many? Say what needs to be said about your subject and no more. Redundancy and wordy writing meant just to stretch out the length of a piece is easily spotted and not well appreciated.
  • Write for the web. Readers online want to scan articles. Write short paragraphs and bullet-point lists. Use secondary headlines (or “sub-heads”) to introduce the main points of the article. Use boldfaced and italicized text (or contrasting typefaces) to make important points stand out.
  • Write as yourself. Don’t let your writing become too stiff or formal. The written word (prose) should be more formal than everyday conversation, but it should take on a conversational tone. Use more of the words you’d say in a job interview and fewer of the ones you’d use while tailgating.
  • Read yourself. Write your piece and then read back over it closely to make sure the words you’ve written say what you mean them to say.
  • Write often. Make writing a habit, not a chore. It gets easier and better, I promise.

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