Nine out of ten blogs fall below the optimal word count. Research shows that the longer you want your user on your site, the more content you’ll need to provide for consumption.
We all know great writing does not follow one-size-fits-all rules on length. “Moby Dick” is a classic at over 700 pages. “The Old Man and the Sea,” by Ernest Hemingway, concludes at just over 120 pages. Let the debates begin on which is the more iconic fish tale.
Judging whether there is an optimal length for a blog post suggests similar difficulties. Content marketing specialists continue to bash the “myth” that there is a perfect blog post length for all purposes and all topics.
But at least there is useful data available for optimal blog post lengths, and it may surprise you. If your goal is to maximize readers’ time spent on your website and to increase your prominence in search engines, the available research suggests you should go long — about 1,600 words per post.
Let’s look at the data. In its research, Medium.com, a website that shares user-generated content in individual postings, made a chart showing average total reading time spent for all visitors to the posts on its website, plotted against post length. The blog post length associated with the greatest total reading time was roughly 1,600 words, which takes seven minutes to read. If the post has many charts or photographs the target word count could shrink to about 1,000 words.
Medium summed up its findings like this: “And there we have it — the average total seconds (of reading a post) rises for longer posts, peaks at seven minutes, and then declines. But beware! This doesn’t mean we should all start forcing our posts to be seven minutes! There is enormous variance. Great posts perform well regardless of length, and bad posts certainly don’t get better when you stretch them out.”
Medium also noted that 74% of the posts on its Web pages are under 700 words (three minutes) and 94% are under 1,400 words (six minutes), and those posts are generating significant traffic as well.
For increasing your position on Search Engine Return Pages, the SerpIQ research firm generated some surprising data. SerpIQ found that the average content length for the top result on the search engine return pages it reviewed was 2,450 words. The top 10 results all had content over 2,000 words. SerpIQ advised that for best performance in search, the blog post should be at least 1,500 words.
So now you know the optimal length for maximizing readership and search engine position – and it is 1,500 to 1,600 words. Keep in mind this length would not be best for every topic or every audience, and content marketers often advise a variety of shorter lengths for social sharing.
But the data shows high-quality content of about 1,600 words is a winning bet you should take.