Scientists can’t seem to agree on whether or not attention spans are getting shorter. Thanks to the veritable firehose of content we face each day, our attention spans have definitely changed though. Researchers at the Technical University of Denmark say attention spans have narrowed, while new research from Prezi says people are simply becoming more selective about what they devote their attention to.
In this age of instant gratification, instant media, and instant noodles, we are truly spoiled for choice and simply don’t pay attention to things that don’t interest us.
How does this relate to blogging?
If our attention spans really are getting shorter, then surely it’s couter-intuitive to have lengthy blog posts or papers, which require the reader to sit still for more than eight seconds.
Despite what you may have heard about the ideal blog length being 600 words, the real ideal length is much longer. How long, you ask?
Though most of the experts disagree on an exact number, they agree that the ideal length is long.
MAYBE 1,000 WORDS?
Moz and BuzzSumo coordinated to analyze more than a million articles to better understand how content, links and shares are intertwined. Their research showed that:
- Content with 1,000 words are more received more shares and links than short pieces, especially when it concerned fact-finding and research.
- More than 85% of the content online doesn’t reach the 1,000-word threshold
- The boost in links and search rankings diminished once content got over 2,000 words
Unfortunately, research from SerpIQ seemed to think even longer is better.
WHAT ABOUT 2,416 WORDS?
Keyword research tool SerpIQ conducted a study which used over 20,000 keywords to find the average content length of top 10 results. According to that study, the top 10 spots on Google were over 2,000 words and the average word count for the number one spot across all keywords was 2,416.
So apparently Google likes really long content?
MAYBE 1,890 WORDS
More research on factors that affect search engine rankings was conducted by Backlinko, using a million search results from Google. Backlinko’s research showed that content on the first page of Google averaged 1,890 words.
The plot thickens.
HUBSPOT SAYS 2,250
Hubspot analyzed their 6,192 blog posts, running a number of tests that compared multiple data points to find correlation trends. From that data, they found posts with word counts of over 2,250 words were the highest performing within organic search.
According to their data, traffic drops off sharply once content passes the 2,500-word threshold – but content over 2,500 words also has more backlinks and is shared more often on social platforms.
So How Long Should Your Blog Post Be?
Now you’ve seen the data, how long is long enough for a blog post? That really depends on your goals. As shown in HubSpot’s data, 2,250 words gets the most organic traffic but 2,500 gets more social shares. Once you’ve defined your goals, you can look at just how long your content should be.
No matter how long the content is, though, it should always be high-quality and interesting. No one is going to want to read 2,000 words of badly written or boring nonsense.
When it comes to SEO, Google’s algorithm is always changing, so it’s important to be aware of current trends when considering ideal blog length. Things like the mobile-first index will affect your SERP ranking, even if the word-count is perfect. What is the perfect word-count for SEO though?
Something that takes about 7 minutes to read or engage with.
Helpful, I know.
Buffer, Snap, Marketing Land and a few others have tried to narrow this down to an actual word count, putting it at about 1,600 to 1,700 words – but that’s not quite correct.
On an easy topic, reading 1,700 words in 7 minutes should be easy for most people.
On a really complex subject though, 1,700 words might take half an hour to read.
Of course, the ideal length to rock the SEO also means taking a look at other posts for the keywords you’re trying to rank for. Longer posts tell the search engines that you’re giving readers more value, and so they’re more likely to rank you higher.
According to Brian Dean from Backlinko:
“Longer blog posts rank better because they’re filled with details. These details are what is giving readers value. Reader value is driving ranking.”
This all brings us back to the fact that a higher word-count won’t make up for a badly written or boring piece. You need to deliver value as well as higher word-counts.
The Long And Short Of It
Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast rule for how long a blog post should be – which is probably good, because it’s not really about the word count. Quality over quantity is what’s important.
For the best results in SERP rankings, brand awareness, and sales, you should be producing exceptional content that stands head and shoulders above your competitors’.
If you need some help with that, we can definitely help.