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“Does size matter?”

That’s one of the most common questions clients ask me about their blog posts. My short answer is, “yes, of course, blog post length is important, but it’s how you use your word count that matters most.”

Since Google’s algorithms don’t have a minimum word count for content and blogs, content quality outweighs quantity. Search engines try to find content that directly relates to the intent behind the user’s search query. If your content is optimized for relevant keywords and directly answers the user’s question, your chances of ranking increase.

Instead of fretting about blog length, your energy is better invested in developing the content structure, information, and resources your users need.

Ultimately, as the saying goes, your blog post should be as long as it needs to be. But I know you want a more definitive answer. And despite Google’s amorphous algorithms, I do have an answer for you about this question.

How Long Should a Blog Post Be for SEO?

Your average blog post length should range between 2,319 words and 2,620 words.
And now it’s time for a big ol’ disclaimer. My answer is conjecture. To calculate the average word count, I analyzed Portent’s top-performing blog posts to speculate the ideal word count range. I chose to use our blog rather than search results because we have more than 125 blog posts currently ranking on Google’s first page, many of which also have featured snippets.

I averaged the word count for the 50 most-visited posts by organic pageviews between February 2020 and February 2021. All of these articles earned at least 1,000 unique pageviews from organic search.

Here’s a breakdown of the data for the 50 posts I analyzed.

  • Smallest word count: 667 words — Google Apps Script Tip #1: Finding the last row
  • Largest word count: 5,065 words — 113 Google Tricks, Easter Eggs, April Fool’s Day Jokes, and Pranks
  • Average blog post length: 2,520 words
  • Median blog post length: 2,264 words
  • Average grade reading level: 10

And here’s what I found for the top 10 performing articles within the 50 post data set.

  • Smallest word count: 1,482 words — How to Set Up & Use Atom as a Markdown Editor
  • Largest word count: 5,065 words — 113 Google Tricks, Easter Eggs, April Fool’s Day Jokes, and Pranks
  • Average blog post length: 2,419
  • Median blog post length: 1,939
  • Average grade reading level: 9

As a rule of thumb, I always give a +/- 100-word buffer for word count ranges. This accommodates succinct and long-winded writers alike without steering too far away from the average.

But determining your word count based on performance is only part of the equation. As I mentioned earlier, search intent is the ultimate blog post length factor.

How Search Intent Affects Blog Post Length

What information fulfills the user’s search query and fully answers the intent of their question?

The answer to this question should be the North Star for every aspect of your blog post.

To determine how search engines interpret the searcher’s intent for a given keyword or topic, you must first learn about what content succeeds in the search results for the keyword or topic.

First, Google your primary keyword or the high-level topic you’re writing about. Next, analyze the first page of results, including the featured snippet if it’s present. Determine the types of content offered (educational, commercial, how-to, listicle, video, etc.), and then review the featured snippet and the top-three results.

In your page-by-page review, pay attention to:

  • Topics covered and the discussion order — the relevance of the topics discussed compared to the user’s search query
  • Target keywords — the keywords the competitor’s posts rank for and where they are used in the blog post
  • Experts referenced — the experts quoted or the sources the blog post author gives
  • Resources provided — the internal and external resources the blog post links to or includes
    Blog post word count

After you know what the top-three pages discuss, calculate the average word count among those pages. Now, determine if you can provide information and resources that rival your search competitors’ content. If so, aim for a blog post length within +/- 100 words of the calculated average.

Remember, your competitor’s average word count is simply a guideline. It shows what Google thinks is valuable, but that doesn’t always mean your users will agree. If you notice shorter posts have abnormally high bounce rates or longer posts don’t get the engagement you need, then switch things up. In the long run, you’ll be better off by focusing on your user’s needs and then worrying about Google later.

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