Blog Post Word Count: The Long and Short of It
“Write a blog,” they said. “It will be easy!” How many of you have sat down in front of a blank page with ideas to share but you just aren’t sure how to do it?
Don’t worry! “They” were right – as long as you have a few guidelines to start with, writing a blog can be simple and enjoyable. One of the factors to consider before you begin is how long the blog post should be. Blog length can play an important role in making sure you keep your audience engaged long enough to get your point across.
Think back on your days in high school English (for some of us, it might be a little further back than we would like) and try to remember the first question you had when given a writing assignment. Did any of you just think, “How many words?” I know that was always my first question, usually hoping for fewer words than I was assigned. But now I realize the longer assignments weren’t given out to punish unengaged students, but in fact, different writing styles and topics actually lend themselves to the use of more, or less, words. Targeting a specific ‘word count’ should be part of your planning before you ever sit down to write.
So, now you are probably asking – what is the magic number of words for a blog? Unfortunately, the answer is that there is no magic number. But don’t stop reading yet!
Blog length really does depend on the overall goal of the blog. And it’s important to understand the science behind blog length, or word count, so you can plan accordingly. Here are some of the factors that will help you determine the ideal length for your blog.
Content, Purpose, and Audience
Here’s the main question – What do you actually have to say? You don’t want to put down extra words just to fill a page if you don’t have enough quality content. If you can get to your point in 200 words, then write 200.
You also need to decide the purpose and writing style of your blog. Are you trying to sell? In that case, you want to get to your Call To Action as quickly as possible, with minimal distraction, so shorter is good. Trying to change someone’s opinion? You are probably going to need more content to offer up in-depth explanations, facts, and research that will support your case in a compelling manner.
If your goal is audience engagement, for example you are trying to get your readers to comment or discuss your post, the shorter the better. However, if you are trying for more social media shares, you are going to have to keep it a little longer – between 600 and 1250 words seems to work best.
Finally, never forget your audience, and what they need or want from your writing. Do you need a lot of words to meet their needs and solve their problem? How much knowledge do they already have about your topic? Will they be receptive to a conversational style, or do they need a technical case study? If you start with a clear picture of who you are writing for, and how you can meet their needs, the words will flow.
Search Engine Ranking
How does word count impact search ranking and the ‘findability’ of your blog? The fact of the matter is, the longer the blog, the better chance you have at ranking high on a search engine like Google.
Why? The more words to pick from, the more clues Google has to determine what the blog is about and rank your content accordingly. In depth research from serpIQ, reveals that the top 10 results from Google all have a minimum of at least 2,000 words. Google SEO seems to favor longer content.
While Google likes 2,000 words, your reader may lose interest before reaching your final conclusion. When researching which blog posts performed best on their site, Medium found that people spend the most time on blog posts that take seven minutes to read. These blogs also get the most visitors on average. A seven-minute reading time translates to about 1,600 words. So, how do you get your point across if users drop out before reading the complete blog? The structure of your content will play a big factor.
Studies have shown that most people only read between 20% to 28% of a post. In fact, people are often said to have the attention span of a goldfish! The longer the post, the harder it can become to read and comprehend. A long post has been known to scare off a reader from time to time.
If you do go with a long blog post, there are some things that you can do to help the reader get through it. The structure of your blog can help make it easier to read. Using subheadings to separate the text makes your content scannable. And starting off with an index of those subheadings will make it easy for the reader to find the content of the most value to them. Write short and clear paragraphs with shorter sentences, white space on the screen is your friend. Don’t try to impress people with your extensive vocabulary. And choose your words wisely, action verbs are more exciting and can hold people’s interest.
Remember that there is no exact science when it comes to blog lengths. If there was, we’d see the same boring posts over-and-over again. There are pros and cons to both short and long posts. The best advice is to find which factors are important to you, understand what your audience needs, and then write quality content that will serve you and the reader. If you don’t love it, don’t include it.
You will find your magic number. Now get started!
If you are interested, this blog is 975 words.