How long should a blog post be? This is it, the million dollar question that all bloggers and SEO experts ask themselves constantly, and which everyone tries to answer. An answer which is inevitably based on personal experience.
The truth is that there is no single answer, nor a magic formula to pass from nought to the top of Google in the blink of an eye.
If it existed I would tell you, I swear.
However, there are some things to bear in mind.
Google or a human being?
When you produce content for the web, notably textual content such as a blog post, you need to find the right balance between what Google wants and what users need when they look for something on a search engine.
It is not easy to find this balance, but it is related to text length.
Simply put, a very long text provides Google with much more information about its content, but it risks becoming boring to the reader. On the other hand, a very short text is not read very adequately by the crawler, but could be more attractive to the reader.
The answer, of course, is somewhere in the middle, otherwise we would all write 600 word long articles and live happily ever, like we used to do a few years ago.
To make a long story long
Actually, the only evidence that we have says that the articles which are best positioned on Google are very long, about 2,000 words.
Contrary to what one may think, very long articles get the greatest number of shares on social networks.
This reveals something very important: that it is not true that users do not read long posts, because if they are well written, and most importantly, useful, then they will be read.
And remember, those who do not read long articles do not read short posts either. They are simply disinclined to read in general!
Short articles vs long articles: pros and cons
Personally, I do not like brief articles like the 300-word-long ones, because I value pieces that are educational and I don’t think that a puny article of a mere few hundred words can provide readers with really useful information that is worth their time to read.
There are editorial projects that do not need very long articles because their aim is not positioning nor educating, they just provide information. Specifically I am talking about press agencies and news websites, whose aim is just reporting the facts. In this case it is preferable to write short articles that get straight to the point and that can be written and read in no time.
Then there are other editorial projects that are based on quality, useful, and educational content, where a blogger needs to do his or her best. In these cases the production of long and complex articles represents a competitive advantage.
Let’s take Moz, or Neil Patel. They write very long, beautiful articles, often very technical, that anyone working in my industry needs not only to read, but also to study and store away for the future.
Do you know why they are the best in their field?
Because they produce useful content, and because they know that the reader expects to see a problem solved or to be trained on a specific point by the end of the piece. For this purpose 300 words are not enough. Not at all.
Reading or scanning, this is the problem
When we write an article, we do not just have to think about what is the best way to do it, but also what is the context in which we are writing.
Since we have all gotten used to reading content on a screen, on a computer or smartphone, our approach to reading has deeply changed.
Now we do not read every single word, we instead scan texts, exactly as Google crawler does, from top to bottom, from left to right. We linger on words in bold, on paragraphs titles, on other multimedia elements, but we rarely read the whole text.
This is another problem that needs to be faced. It is harder on longer texts, this is understandable, but we must not be discouraged.
In this phase, user experience plays a key-role. That is why we need to create clean pages, use readable fonts, avoid text walls, use paragraphs and avoid using too many different text formats.
This is why we need to make the users stay on the page as pleasant as possible.
When you’ve said it all, just put a full stop
I strongly believe in the concept of useful content, as opposed to the phantom concept of valuable content, because I think that an article needs to solve a specific problem, teach something new or approach it in a new way.
Starting from this initial concept, then, text length becomes a secondary element, because the real aim is not writing something short so that people can read it easily, nor writing something very long to get a better position on Google.
What really matters is the usefulness of what you are writing. If it is useful then write it down. Otherwise, say nothing.
If you can say it in 300 or 3,000 words, it is irrelevant. What matters is to say something with it.
This post is also available in: Italian