Bigger is better. Why your blog posts need to be longer, much longer
So how long should a blog be to increase search engine optimization (SEO) and user interaction? The debate on short and punchy versus in-depth, value add continues – but there is some consensus that more in-depth blogs get more traction.
Forget small and bite sized – longer blogs work better
Around 300 words might still be the minimum acceptable blog word count to make a point, but you really need to aim for posts containing 1,000 words plus to rank well in search engines. In fact, posts containing more than 1,500 words gained 68% more Tweets on Twitter, according to Forbes research.
The truth is that longer contented is socialized more. According to ContentStudio, blog posts in excess of 2,500 words get more social shares. Google takes into account these social links in its rankings. In addition, Google’s web crawler, Googlebot looks at all the information on a page. The more words you have – within reason – the more keywords that may not be specific to the topic being discussed, but are relevant. This gives much more scope for pick-up.
Longer blogs are also more likely to benefit from backlinks because it is more useful and comprehensive. Link creators want to link to informative content that enforces their ideas. This content tends to be longer. These backlinks also improve search engine rankings significantly.
The proof is in the research
SEO advisor Backlinko took a deep dive into factors that affect search engine rankings by examining a million search results from Google. It found that content featured on the search engine giant’s front page averaged out at 1,890.
Hubspot found that even longer blogs work. From its research it found a link between high performing pages within organic search and word counts of over 2,250. In addition, its research found that articles with 2,500 words get shared most on social media.
Taking the middle ground Orbit Media’s 2019 blogging survey maintains that the average blog post today is 1,236 words, 56% longer than in 2014. It concludes that articles are getting longer as bloggers invest more time and effort in detailed articles to achieve a better SEO.
Content marketing research company BuzzSumo agrees. It examined 10 million articles and found that on average long content gets more shares on social media than short content. Yes, there is a lot more short content out there, creating a lot of noise, but it doesn’t mean its engaging. BuzzSumo puts this noise down to companies not willing to put the time into in-depth, well researched articles – even though the payback could be significantly bigger.
From all this research it seems a good blog length to aim for is around 1,500-2,000 words. But blogs should match your marketing goals and it won’t always be viable to create long blogs. A 2,000 word blog from a CEO on LinkedIn will neither be valuable or believable!
Having said this, it is worth noting that given the large number of short blogs out their lacking any weightiness, there is a real opportunity to stand out with quality, lengthy, thought provoking content.
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Valuable dwell time
What is important is that when a reader clicks on your blog, they get what they want. The page is relevant to the query if they have searched it – and they want to read it. This provides valuable dwell time. One of those metrics talked about, but not measured enough.
It is important to remember that dwell time is different to time on page. Time on page refers to the time a user spends on a web page before navigating off the page to go somewhere else. Dwell time is specifically associated with the time a user spends on a page before they return to the search results page.
Although Google remains silent about the measurement of dwell time by its algorithms, looking at rankings suggests it is a feature.
To increase dwell time you need to:
- Produce quality content that readers find informative and easily accessible
- Provide a call to action which is likely to pre-empt a reader’s next query by sending them to an associated page on your site, for example.
- Internal linking also keeps readers on your site and also helps search engines’ spiders crawl through your entire site
- Recommending associated articles to the blog they are reading also encourages readers to stay on your site
- A pick and mix of long and short formats
Having gone through much research it appears that the ideal scenario is to have a mix of short and long blogs. A news blog may not warrant 2,000 words, for example, but a comprehensive and thorough look at a topic might.
If you are looking to get the news out there and socialized on the likes of Twitter you need to aim for around the 600 word mark. This works for news blogs, for example. Search engines like long, authoritative posts, so to up your game to hit the 2,000 word mark.
It isn’t a case of padding 500 words out to 2,000, however. This will drive your readers away quickly. The best blog post length depends on value and user engagement. It is all about publishing high calibre content consistently that is shareable and attracts a loyal following. Some blogs, by the nature of their subject matter will be long, while others will get to the point in short format.
And sentences that are short and easy to understand
Don’t forget sentence length either. Long, rambling sentences are difficult to follow and hard to understand in blogs that are often being read on the move. Keep sentence length to 25 words maximum, according to Gov.UK. If you can’t, break them down or shorten them. In fact, research has shown that sentences of around 11 words are the easiest to read and digest. And of course, it makes your blogs much easier to digest for readers coming to the content as their second language.
Get all of this right and you have a winning formula.
Constructing a longer blog
If you are going to create longer blogs, you must have a logical framework in place and know exactly what you are going to say and understand the goal you are looking to achieve be it sales leads or information sharing, for example.
The inverted pyramid, long a template used by news journalists, can work for some topics. It basically involves putting the most important information upfront. With this approach, readers can skim read and get the information they want straight away.
Five sentences or more looks like a big chunk of text when viewed on a mobile screen. So go for shorter paragraphs and break up text with sub-heads. Bullet points can make long blogs more convenient and easier for readers to consume.
And don’t expect readers to figure out the benefits of reading the blog, or they will switch off fast. You need to guide them through. Ensure sub-heads motivate the reader to read on. Finally choose your words carefully – they should be clear and concise, not confuse the reader with verbosity.
Don’t focus on the product features. Tell a compelling story [blog]
Refreshing blogs is crucial
Blogs are the very life blood of your online content marketing strategy, so it is important to keep these definitive blogs updated and evergreen. By refreshing valuable content, you can entice new readers and get a better return on investment from your content budget.
When you look at your website analytics you will find that your older blogs are still generating traffic. You don’t want people to bounce out of your site because they saw a blog was old and outdated. That isn’t good for brand image. Historically optimizing your old blogs so they are fresh will enable you to get even more traffic and conversions from them and most importantly, keep visitors engaged.
Having said that, not all your blogs will be worthy of a make-over. This is why it is important to keep a detailed inventory of blogs published. Using Google Analytics, you can quickly view the most visited content. Pick the blogs that have had the most business value to prioritize for an update. In addition, go back and add internal links to older posts.
Another way to get real value out of old blogs is to repurpose them with content that will make them fresh again. This usually requires some research to add new links and updates and an overall re-write. This can then be re-shared on social channels.
It is important to track rankings on these updated blogs to ensure you are aligned with your readers’ current interests and thus clocking up traffic.
Are you struggling to write white papers that get your messages clearly across to customers and prospects? Check out our Definitive Guide to Creating Technology White Papers.
Do your keyword homework
It is essential that you do your keyword research to get maximum benefit from blogging. Why? Because they are basically the link between what people are searching for and the content you are providing.
Keyword homework basically involves finding out keywords and phrases that people are using in search engines with the goal of optimizing your content around these searches. The goal is to create content that ranks organically and drives traffic to your site around these words. Obviously, you need to identify your audience in terms of demographics, interests etc to address your audience’s search intent.
Keyword research isn’t a one-off task – it should be ongoing. Language is continually shifting, and new keywords will emerge. By regularly identifying what people are searching for also better allows you to plan your blog strategy.
You need to brainstorm a list of topics that customers and potential customers may be interested in. Type these topics into Google, for example, and you will see what Google suggests. These are the top searches. You can do the same with other search engines. There are also a number of keyword tools out there such as Keywords Everywhere, Soovle, Jaxxy and secockpit.com.
Cutting through the SEO confusion on blogs
Blogs are now a valuable corporate asset. One of the best ways to improve your chances of ranking high in the search engines is to blog as it is an easy and very effective way of continually updating your website.
Posting fresh, informed blogs to your website regularly on topics that interest your target audience will make a significant difference to the way site performs in search engines.
Blogs also allow you to exploit ‘longtail keywords’. These are generally used by searchers who know exactly what they are looking for and tend to be several words long such as ‘pros and cons of SD-WAN’. Targeted in a blog post they are far easier to rank in organic searches and make it easier to target a specific audience.
A large proportion of SEO is about links. Blogs are a great way to provide internal links to get more out of your web pages. It also helps Google’s algorithms to strengthen connections to keywords. Don’t overuse internal links, however, are you dilute their value. With quality content, blogs also help you to get those harder to reach external links. Hubspot maintains that companies who blog get 97% more links to their website.
And now the big blogging plan….
The truth is there is no hard and fast rule on the length of blogs. They will vary according to your goals. To tie your blogging efforts to your SEO, however, you need publishing consistency and a strategy that will turn out content that attracts eyeballs. This can be time consuming and difficult for executives to deliver on.
By employing professional blogging writers you can make sure you have regular, informed and authoritative content on your website that is the voice of your company, keeping SEO on track.
What do we know about blogging? We’ve written literally thousands of blogs for our corporate clients. We’ve ghosted for busy CEOs, interviewed the techiest of techies, written our own views and market commentary, recorded podcasts. We’ve even taken teams to live blog at major events like Mobile World Congress, Le Web and toured Silicon Valley with Orange. How can we help you get more from your blogging activity? Get in touch.