Neil Patel

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How Long Should Your Blog Articles Be?

A graphic that says "How Long Should Your Blog Articles Be?"

Unpopular opinion: I think people are overly concerned with word count when creating content. 

You can produce a 10,000-word article. But if the content and quality suck, then the article doesn’t deserve to get ranked. You lose.

Of course, that doesn’t stop people from asking me: how long should a blog post be for SEO?

So, my team and I have done some digging. Whenever I enter a new industry, we conduct thorough research to find out everything we can about what makes for great content in that industry. Then, we begin to engage in content marketing while constantly looking at our data to see what moves the needle. 

And guess what? 

Shorter articles are ranking better than ever. That’s partly due to recent algorithm updates, but it’s also down to changes in the way we consume content (I’m looking at you, TikTok).

The ideal length also changes significantly between industries, so don’t trust articles that give you a single broad answer. 

I certainly won’t. In this post, I’ll share the results of my research and provide an ideal word count for blog posts across a dozen industries. 

Key Takeaways

  • The ideal length of blog articles has evolved significantly.
  • Two decades ago, the average length was between 500-800 words. By the mid-2010s, however, articles were in excess of 2,000 words.
  • The need for longer articles came for multiple reasons,  including the way readers scan articles online and the psychology of equating length with quality.
  • Today, more concise articles are in fashion. These aren’t quite as short as 800 words, but they are short enough to quickly answer the reader’s questions. 

How Ideal Word Count Has Evolved

Ryan Velez, Sr. Content Production Lead at NP Digital, breaks down how word count has changed over time:

“Ideal blog length has always evolved over time. As a response to the wave of 750-word content, things expanded to be a lot more comprehensive, 2,500 words-plus. Now, with the wave of AI-generated content flooding the internet, word count doesn’t guarantee quality to the same degree. Combine that with the “TikTok Effect,” and ideal content size is smaller now and quicker to get to the point. Think 1,500 to 2,000 words.”

As content marketing became more popular and the SERPs became more competitive, articles started getting much more comprehensive. Add link-building techniques like SEO skyscraper into the mix, and it wasn’t uncommon for blog posts to exceed 3,000 words. 

I’m not ashamed to say I was one of the thought leaders pushing for longer blog posts. 

That’s because research cemented the idea that long blog posts mattered. In 2019, HubSpot found the ideal blog post length was between 2,100 and 2,400 words. In 2022, Semrush found articles with over 3,000 words got 138 percent more search traffic. 

Guidance on high-performing blogs from SEMrush

Today, blogs are 77 percent longer than they were 10 years ago, with an average word count across all industries of 1,427. 

A graph on the average length of blogs.

But I believe this trend is leveling out. 

Orbit Media’s graph above shows the average word count has been holding steady for the past three years, and I actually expect it to fall in the future. 

The rise of AI-generated content, SGE, and short-form media means people want fast, concise answers to their questions. 

My bet? Google is going to start rewarding short-form content a lot more in the near future.

Long-Form vs. Short-Form Content

Here’s my take on why long-form content became so popular.

First of all, it covers a topic with a level of depth that’s simply impossible with a shorter post. Therefore, long-form creates a perception of higher quality.

Second, it’s perfect for scanning. See, most people don’t read content word for word. They simply scan the page in a lawn-mower pattern:

A graphic showing how lawnmower reading patterns work.

Headings, subheadings, bullet points, and other elements common in long-form content make this easy. 

Third, I feel like creating content with a high word count leaves the author with a sense of achievement that doesn’t come when writing 500-word articles. I think all the research I’ve mentioned above has left marketers feeling like they need to create long-form content to get traction in the SERPs. 

But times are changing. Users are falling in love with short-form content. It’s part of the reason U.S. adults spend almost one hour per day on TikTok.

A graphic showing the average time spent on TikTok by adult users.

Even 60 percent of business videos are less than two minutes long. 

Couple these statistics with the fact that half of adults believe attention spans are getting shorter, and it’s not hard to see why consumers are placing greater emphasis and trust on concise articles that quickly answer their questions. 

Ideal Word Count for Blog Posts

Ideal blog length can vary massively between industries for a variety of reasons, from the topics they cover to the target audiences they serve. 

Let’s dive into the different options for blog length and how they perform: 

Short-Form: Less than 1,000 Words

You’re going to start seeing a lot more blog posts this length very soon. 

Posts of less than 1,000 words are already common in several industries — which I’ll discuss below — and shorter posts will become even more popular as customers across industries demand quick and to-the-point content. 

Anyone who reads tech websites will be familiar with this kind of concise post. Much of the top tech blogs are news sites, which lend themselves to AMP-loading content and easy-to-digest blurbs.

If you look at most of the content on TechCrunch, you’ll notice that most of the articles are not long-winded manifestos.

They are fairly short commentaries on a product, technology development, or event.

An article about Microsoft in the AI LLM race.

Fashion is another industry where short posts are in vogue. Fashion readers don’t care about the why so much as the what. 

You aren’t going to find many articles describing the history of a trend or a review of how garments are made. What you are going to find is thousands of articles explaining which looks are hot and how to recreate them. 

A review listcle article about garments.

The same goes for recruitment.

People who are job hunting don’t have time to read thousands of words. They need answers that will help them find a new job fast. Readers want the meat. They don’t want the fat. In fact, many topics can be adequately covered with just under 900 – 1,000 words.

Here’s a great example from ZipRecruiter about finding a new job in the new year.

A blog from Ziprecruiter

At only 825 words, it wastes no time getting to the point of identifying seven benefits to finding a new role. 

As you choose your blog topics and how much content to write for each, keep your target audience top of mind. If you know their needs can be met with less than 1,000, don’t waste their time with fluff.

Mid-Length: 1,000–2,000 Words

This is the historical sweet spot for blog posts, and it’s still the most common article length in a huge range of industries, including retail, manufacturing, marketing, food, and travel.

This retail-focused article from REI about choosing a quickdraw is a great example.

An article about how to Choose Quickdraws

They don’t need anything close to 2,000 words to explain a product. What they do need, on the other hand, is visuals. Because while images are important across the board, they’re absolutely critical for retail-based articles.

That’s why the article is packed with images and graphics that showcase the benefits of the different carabiners REI sells, making it easier for consumers to find the perfect product.

A graphic comparting types of carabiners.

I can say with certainty that while long-form content can be effective, it only makes sense for certain topics. For everything else, I recommend shorter articles, around 1,500 words. Or even less. 

Your audience likely doesn’t have time for a long-winded blog post and probably won’t read the entire thing, anyway. Get to the main points quickly. 

This is a well-known challenge for bloggers in the food industry, who need to strike a careful balance between creating enough content to rank in a competitive space and giving users concise answers to their queries. 

I don’t want to read 2,000 words before getting to your lasagne recipe. But Google isn’t ranking 250-word recipes. 

That’s why I think a mid-length post is perfect. It gives food bloggers enough room to include relevant cooking tips or advice on finding the best ingredients while ensuring readers can quickly get to the part of the article they care about. 

A recipe for Southwestern Kale Power Salad.

This Kale Salad recipe from Cookie and Kate uses 1,200 words to strike the perfect balance between an informative introduction and an in-depth recipe. 

Long-Form: 2,000 Words and More

Some industries and buyer journeys still benefit from the comprehensiveness and depth of long-form content. Think finance, fintech, sales, and healthcare. These industries cover fairly complex topics, so it’s almost always necessary to go beyond 2,000 words in order to scratch your readers’ itch.

That’s exactly what fintech company Stripe does. 

A fintech guide from Stripe.

Its blog is packed with product resources, industry updates, and in-depth guides. Some are short, some are over 5,000 words, but many are exactly around the 2,000-word mark. 

The company’s guide to PSD3 is a great example. It covers the topic in-depth, is co-authored by three industry experts, and made all the more readable by custom graphics and tables. 

An guide from Stripe about PSD3.

It’s the same with CRM software company Close. Sales-focused articles shorter than 2,000 words simply can’t cover the advice, case studies and statistics that make the company’s content so compelling.

An article on sales techniques from Close.

The article comes in just over 2,300 words, offers nine ways to improve your sales techniques, and backs them up with examples and quotes from thought leaders like Gauri Manglik, the CEO and Co-Founder of Instrumentl:

An example of thought leadership quotes in an article.

If you know your buyers’ journey is a long one and your target audience wants this level of depth, don’t shy away from long-form content. 

FAQs

Do longer blogs perform better for rankings?

Not necessarily. What really matters is the quality of your content. The flood of AI-generated content means Google can’t use word count as a proxy for quality. After all, 5,000 words of AI fluff isn’t likely to offer much value to users. 

Instead, I recommend you focus on solving the search intent and emphasize the experience, expertise, authority, and trust of your articles (E-E-A-T). You can write as much as or as little as you need to, but by focusing on these factors, you give yourself the best chance of ranking. 

What is the ideal length for a blog post?

The ideal length for a blog post varies depending on the topic, audience, and purpose of the content. However, a general guideline is that a blog post should be between 1,000 to 2,000 words. 

That’s not to say some articles shouldn’t be shorter or longer. I firmly believe articles will trend shorter in the near future, so if you can provide value to your audience in less than 1,000 words then go for it! 
At the same time, other pages on your website — like pillar pages — may naturally exceed 2,000 words without you trying.

How does post length affect page loading speed?

The length of a blog post can indirectly affect page loading speed, but it’s not the primary factor. The main elements that influence loading speed are the size and number of images, videos, and other multimedia elements, as well as the website’s overall coding and hosting environment.

Longer posts might contain more images and multimedia elements, which can increase the page size and affect loading times. However, with proper optimization techniques such as image compression, efficient coding, and good hosting solutions, the impact of post length on loading speed can be minimized.

It’s crucial to balance the length and richness of content with technical optimization to ensure that the website remains user-friendly and performs well in terms of loading speed. Remember, a fast-loading page provides a better user experience and is favored by search engines.

Conclusion

As you can see, longer content certainly isn’t the be-all-and-end-all. It’s much more nuanced than that.

Some industries, like finance and sales, cover topics that benefit from in-depth research and thoughtful narratives. Others, like fashion, target an audience that cares more about getting to the point than reading a good story. 

My advice? Focus on creating top-quality content and promoting it effectively rather than writing as much as you can. Doing both will stand you in good stead to dominate your industry’s rankings. 

What word count do you usually shoot for with your content?

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Neil Patel

source: https://neilpatel.com/blog/long-blog-articles/