When you read ‘how to’ articles on blogging, many advocate writing longer blog posts with word lengths closer to 1,500 words.
For years now, I’ve been saying one message about longer blog posts. The message is that the only word count I pay attention to is the minimum count.
My reason for this is simple: 300 words seems to be a sweet spot for SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization, the process of making sure your posts come up high on search engine results.
Posts don’t rank as well if they have fewer than 300 words, presumably.
But plenty of sources argue that you should shoot for longer counts. I recently cited a blog post by Ryan Biddulph who requires a minimum of 600 words for guests posts. John Beckett says he normally posts 1,200 to 1,800 words but urges a minimum of 500. Business 2 Community suggests that lengthy posts of 1,500 words do better in search results. However, shorter posts of 300-500 words can supply quick answers for readers.
The consensus seems to be to post closer to 1,000 posts minimum to give you a better chance of success.
Is that success guaranteed? Of course not. In life, there are no guarantees. In blogging, that’s certainly true!
I checked out my own analytics.
I wanted to know how long my blog’s top posts happen to be. So I picked an arbitrary time frame: the past 12 months.
I looked at the top 10 posts over that past year and then checked each post’s word count.
The top 10 included some older posts and two actually fell below the 300-word minimum.
The longest post in the top 10 was about loud worship music too many contemporary churches insist on playing. That one came in at 1,025 words.
But when I averaged the total number of words for all 10, I came up with a number you might find surprising: 407.
Yes, just 407 words!
That’s not to say that longer posts wouldn’t perform better. But I have written longer posts. Some of them are considerably longer.
But they didn’t reach the top 10.
What went wrong? Well, nothing per se. People are reaching my blog primarily for grammar-related posts. Quite often, a grammar question can sufficiently be answered in less than 500 words. I could pad those posts, but probably not without making them feel padded.
So I write what I need to say and publish.
For my audience, that seems to work.
There’s no magic number.
I’m not saying that longer blog posts are better. I’m saying that it depends on your content and your audience.
Rather than shoot for a target length (beyond the 300 that I do recommend reaching), write your posts. Say what needs to be said. Reinforce the post with facts and link to sources so people know you’re doing research.
More than anything, provide useful content.
Then check your stats and see what performs better for you. Your audience will tell you what does and doesn’t work.
This post, for what it’s worth, happens to be 546 words. I hope it’s useful to someone.
We as bloggers need to learn to listen more to our audience. As long as we do what works for them, they’ll come back.