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Content Marketing

The Ideal Length for Business Blog Posts: When Less is More

The ideal length for a business blog post in 2016 is much different than it was in 2008 or even 2013.

Way back in 2012, Constant Contact told business bloggers to write 500-700 words. Today, leading business bloggers routinely write 1,500-3,000 words. In some cases, they may pen even longer blogs.

Length is only one aspect of quality, but it's an important one. In order to rank well in Google search results, earn social shares, and engagement, your content must be worth your audience's time. This means your content strategy should focus on business blog posts with the right number of words and visual content.

How Long Should Busingg Blog Articles Be?

While the experts are divided about the precise word count of the perfect business blog, research concludes that longer is generally better. Here's what recent studies have found:

  • Medium reports the ideal length of a blog post is 7 minutes or 1,600 words. The average American reads at about 300 words per minute.
  • SERPIQ reports that from an SEO perspective, the top 3 Google results are between 2,350 and 2,500 words.
  • Moz reports that posts between 1800 and 3000 words attract 15 times more links.
  • Neil Patel has found that posts of at least 1,500 words earn the best SEO, social sharing, and engagement results.

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Image Credit: serpIQ

There's a strong case that for most topics, key search phrases, and audiences, longer is better. However, the ideal length for business blog posts depends on a number of factors, which are outlined below.

Is SEO Your Goal?

Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines take hundreds of factors into account to determine content quality. Ultimately, it's not worth your time to try and guesstimate these ranking factors and game the Google algorithm. It is worth your time always to deliver better and more in-depth content than your competitors

You should perform some basic competitive analysis every time you write a blog. This should include an assessment of blogs that are already ranking for your target search term

Your competitive analysis could indicate that you need to write really in-depth content to increase your chances of ranking. Your competitive analysis could also indicate that your competitors have done well with 600-900 word topics, and you may not need to write 3,000 words to "beat" their results.

Competitive analysis shouldn't be the only factor to consider, but it is something to take into account

Are You Trying to Improve Engagement?

Data from The Write Practice indicates that posts around 275 words are the best for getting comments. However, this is just one data point, and there are many exceptions to this rule.

In the content marketing sphere, Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion has one of the most active communities, though his blogs err on the side of long, typically several thousand words. Your blog's data is likely the best indicator for your own engagement triggers. Your audience could prefer shorter blogs, or they may start talking when you publish a several-thousand-word overview.

Are You Using Visual Media?

While visual media doesn't technically become part of your word count, it's an aspect of length. It's true - visual media takes time to consume. A picture may not be worth a thousand words, but it's probably worth about 300.

Moz has found:

  • By adding simple visual content, like lists and images, you will earn more links.
  • Posts with videos included will attract nearly three times more links.
  • Posts with videos, images, and lists will attract almost six times more ILDs than a plain text post.

HubSpot has found:

Here's where things get really interesting.

Daily Blog Tips notes that Medium takes imagery into account when providing the "estimated length" of their articles. See? Visual media is a component of length to consider!

If you are creating a visual-heavy concept, word count might not be what you need to focus on. Chances are, a 1,200-word blog post packed with graphs and informative images would take the "average" reader about 6-9 minutes to absorb. A 2,500-word post with no images would also require about 8 minutes.

The chances are also that the shorter blog with better visuals will yield better engagement, shares, and SEO results.

How Much Substance Can You Deliver?

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Quality content is in the eye of the beholder, which is why one of the best SEO techniques in 2016 is audience optimization. The topic or key search phrase you're covering can be a driving factor in the length of your blog post.

If you're rolling your eyes, we get it. "Substance" and "quality" are really subjective. But everyone can admit that some topics don't need 3,000 words to be covered adequately. Can you imagine someone trying to write 4,000 words on "what flavor of ice cream tastes best with red velvet cake?" It would be a painful read.

If you have:

  • Covered your topic in-depth
  • Offered more value than your competition
  • Incorporated high-quality visuals
  • Verified your research and facts

You're done! If you ended up with 800 words, you're still done.

How Frequently Do You Publish?

If you are blogging multiple times a week or day, you can afford occasional short blog posts. Length can be viewed in the context of your editorial calendar -- if you're offering several long-form, high-value posts a week; shorter, engagement-driven posts can fit into your mix seamlessly

However, if your name is Seth Godin, all bets are off.

Godin is often trotted out as an example of a famous blogger whose posts are pretty consistently short -- often 75-500 words. He doesn't publish on a consistent schedule, either.

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However, you have to remember that Godin's voice and following were built over a multi-decade career as a marketing thought leader. By publishing multiple bestselling books, he's earned the right to create short blogs. I'm sorry to say he's the exception, not the rule.

Do You Want to Earn Social Shares?

Chances are, the answer to this question is yes. Not only can social media shares increase your exposure to potential customers, search engines really like social media shares. They're considered "social signals," or human-verified proof of content quality and relevance. Google and other major search engines use social signals to determine content ranking.

Posts that are 1,500 words or longer earn the most shares on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, per Quicksprout research.

Word Count Facebook Shares Tweets Linkedin Shares
0-399 66.44 207.08 30.44
400-699 57.85 207.43 32.19
700-999 83.16 254.90 45.54
1,000-1,499 111.66 295.97 54.74
1,500+ 110.30 312.52 56.89

Longer posts are more shareable. Neil Patel recommends writing 1,500 words or more to maximize your social signals.

The Ideal Word Count

How long is the ideal business blog post? Well, that depends, but chances are, it's pretty long. Unless your competition is low and the topic doesn't lend itself to an in-depth post, you probably should strive for at least 1,500 words for best results.

Have you noticed improved content marketing metrics with longer posts? Why or why not?

Content Repurposing Toolkit

Written by Jasmine Gordon / January 27, 2016

Jasmine W. Gordon is a copywriter at Lean Labs. She's written for digital audiences for over 5 years, and her background includes agencies, tech startups, health care, big data analytics, energy, and more. Jasmine loves new marketing statistics, optimization studies, and live music.

Articles by Jasmine Gordon