In the vast and ever-evolving landscape of search engine optimization (SEO), one question that often arises is, “How long should a blog be for SEO?” The length of your content can play a significant role in determining its search engine rankings and overall visibility. While there is no definitive answer to this question, understanding the factors that influence content length and its impact on SEO can help you create effective blog posts that resonate with both search engines and readers.
Historically, the conventional wisdom was that shorter content was more effective for SEO. The focus was on concise, keyword-rich articles that provided quick answers to users’ queries. However, search engines have become increasingly sophisticated in recent years, placing greater emphasis on high-quality, comprehensive content.
Long-form content has gained prominence as a result of this shift. These articles typically consist of 1,500 words or more and provide in-depth information on a specific topic. They often explore multiple facets of a subject, address common questions and concerns, and offer valuable insights to readers. Long-form content has been shown to have higher engagement rates, longer average time on page, and increased social shares.
One of the main advantages of longer articles is that they can naturally incorporate a wider range of relevant keywords and phrases, as well as Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) terms. Essentially when you write more words well on a specific topic you naturally include key terms and relevant words, simply by discussing the topic in detail and ensuring quality writing. This helps search engines understand the context and relevance of the content, leading to better rankings for a broader set of search queries. Additionally, comprehensive articles have a higher likelihood of attracting backlinks from other websites, further enhancing their SEO value.
While long-form content has its benefits, it’s important to note that not all topics warrant extensive coverage. Some subjects may be better suited to shorter, more concise articles. For example, if you’re addressing a simple query or providing a quick tutorial, a shorter blog post may be more appropriate and effective.
How To Decide On The Right Length For Your Blog Posts
The ideal length depends on various factors, including the purpose of your article, target audience, and competition. To determine the ideal content length for your blog posts, consider the following factors:
Purpose and Intent
Clearly define the purpose of your article and the intent behind it. Are you aiming to provide a detailed analysis or a quick answer? Tailor the length of your content to match the objective.
User experience is crucial for SEO success. Consider your target audience and their preferences. Will a shorter or longer article serve their needs better? Focus on creating valuable content that engages readers and fulfils their expectations.
Competition And SERP Analysis
Analyse the search engine results pages (SERPs) for your target keywords. Examine the length and format of the top-ranking articles. While it’s not necessary to match their length exactly, it can provide insights into what search engines deem valuable for a particular query.
Length alone is not a guarantee of SEO success. Ensure your content is well-researched, informative, and relevant to your target audience. Aim for high-quality writing that delivers value, regardless of the word count.
Linkability And Shareability
Longer articles tend to have a higher likelihood of attracting backlinks and social shares. However, this is not solely dependent on length. The content must be compelling, unique, and provide actionable insights that encourage others to reference and share it.
Remember, there is no fixed content length that guarantees SEO success. While long-form content often performs well in terms of SEO, shorter articles can be equally effective for certain topics and user intents. Focus on delivering high-quality content that fulfils the needs of your audience, provides valuable insights, and aligns with the search engine’s understanding of relevance and authority.
Ultimately, the perfect SEO content length is one that strikes a balance between depth and brevity, addressing the needs of both search engines and readers alike.
Which Businesses Should Use Longform Content?
Long-form content tends to be more effective for businesses that operate in certain industries or have specific content objectives. Here are some examples of businesses that can benefit from long-form content:
Colleges, universities, and online learning platforms often have complex and information-rich subjects to cover. In-depth articles, guides, or tutorials that delve into various aspects of a subject can attract students, researchers, and professionals seeking comprehensive knowledge. Long-form content allows these institutions to showcase their expertise and establish themselves as thought leaders.
Content Marketing Agencies
Businesses that specialise in content marketing can leverage long-form content to demonstrate their expertise, showcase case studies, and provide detailed insights into various marketing strategies. Detailed articles and whitepapers can attract potential clients who are looking for in-depth guidance on content creation, SEO, social media marketing, or other related topics. You’ll notice all my own posts are longform, as are the posts I’m creating over on the new blog for Rebel Wolf (my soon-to-be-launched agency). The website for RW isn’t ready yet, but I have a blog feed live to start building my audience and get the SEO ball rolling. It’s all longforn!
Health and Wellness Industry
Health and wellness businesses, such as clinics, fitness centres, or nutritionists, often deal with complex topics that require detailed explanations. Long-form content can cover subjects like specific health conditions, exercise routines, dietary guidelines, or mental well-being, providing comprehensive information to readers. This type of content can establish credibility, build trust, and attract potential clients seeking reliable advice.
Travel And Tourism
Long-form content is highly valuable for businesses in the travel and tourism industry. Travel guides, destination highlights, and detailed itineraries allow travellers to plan their trips effectively. By providing comprehensive information about attractions, accommodations, local customs, and transportation options, businesses can position themselves as reliable sources of travel advice and capture the attention of travel enthusiasts.
Technical Or Software Companies
Businesses in the technology sector often deal with complex products or services that require detailed explanations. In-depth tutorials, user guides, or troubleshooting articles can be beneficial for software companies, IT service providers, or electronics manufacturers. By providing comprehensive content, these businesses can assist their customers, showcase product features, and establish themselves as authorities in their respective fields.
Law firms, consulting agencies, and financial institutions often tackle intricate subject matters that demand detailed explanations. Long-form content, such as legal guides, industry reports, or financial analysis, can attract potential clients seeking expert insights and advice. This type of content showcases expertise and helps build trust in the professional services offered.
Remember, regardless of the industry, businesses should assess their target audience, content goals, and competitive landscape to determine the most effective content length. Long-form content should be well-structured, engaging, and optimized for SEO to maximize its impact on search engine rankings and audience engagement.
Which Businesses Should Use Shortform Content?
While long-form content is generally beneficial for SEO, there are certain types of businesses and topics that may find short-form content more effective. Here are a few examples:
Local businesses, such as restaurants, coffee shops, or hair salons, often target a specific geographic area. Their customers are usually looking for quick information like address, phone number, hours of operation, and menu or service offerings. In these cases, concise and to-the-point content, such as short blog posts or landing pages, can be more effective in providing the necessary information without overwhelming the reader.
Because you’re optimising for a specific area over an above anything else, shortform and midform content becomes your friend. Unless you have incredibly high competition in your area, or you’re trying to outrank a local competitor that uses longform content, short should be enough. If you’re in a big city (Manchester, London, etc) you may find longform content gives you the edge you need to beat everyone else.
While most businesses keep their website updated and ranking through blog posts, ecommerce sites work a little differently. While regular blogs are still incredibly effective from an overall content marketing perspective, if you’re adding a ton of new products to your site regularly, you don’t need your blog to keep your site updated.
Unless you’re dealing with full sales pages for your products, you’re usually only going to be including a product description with each. Potential customers often want key details about the product, including features, specifications, and pricing. Concise and well-structured content that highlights the product’s unique selling points can be more engaging and help drive conversions. There are exceptions to this of course – if your product is highly technical, for example, customers will want all the specs and full details of how everything works – but if you’re selling simple products, short and sweet is best.
News and Updates
Businesses that frequently share news, updates, or time-sensitive information may find shorter content more suitable. For instance, a technology company announcing a product launch or a fashion brand revealing a new collection may benefit from short, attention-grabbing articles that convey the essential details quickly.
This applies to any business sharing news and updates, but doesn’t have to apply to all content. For example, one of my health and wellness clients, BluVida, share short updates and announcements but also have plenty of longform articles on their blog.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Many businesses receive similar questions from customers. Creating concise and easily accessible FAQ sections on their websites can provide quick answers to common queries. This helps users find information efficiently, reduces customer support requests, and improves the overall user experience.
Niche or Specialized Topics
Some topics or industries may have a relatively limited amount of information available or a highly targeted audience. In these cases, short-form content that covers the essential aspects of the subject matter can be sufficient to meet the needs of the audience without excessive repetition or unnecessary details.
Remember, even for businesses that may benefit from short-form content, it’s essential to ensure the content is still high-quality, relevant, and optimized for search engines. The goal is to provide valuable information and engage the target audience effectively, regardless of the content length.
The Rise of Longform Content
In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift in user preferences towards longer, more comprehensive content. This trend can be attributed to several reasons. Firstly, search engines like Google have become more adept at identifying high-quality, valuable content for users. Longform articles often provide in-depth information, answer complex questions, and offer a more comprehensive view of a topic, all of which align with search engines’ goals of delivering relevant and useful results.
How Longform Content Can Boost Your SEO
For most businesses, having longform content on their website is of huge value where SEO is concerned. Even if your regular content schedule (and I always advise posting weekly to your blog) uses short-form content, including longform articles where you can will boost your SEO.
There are many reasons for this, the upshot is that if you want to compete – particularly for high traffic keywords with medium or high competition – you will need to produce content of greater value to search engine users than the content your competitors have already produced. That means answering the search user’s question with more depth, high quality detail, and in a way that’s more absorbable. Doing that in a short post is tough. If your competitors are only using short posts it’s doable, but if those currently ranking on page one of Google have longform content in place, you won’t outrank them with a 400 word post.
You simply won’t, it’s not even worth trying. The fact Google are ranking them highly clearly tells you what Google wants: longform content.
For a lot of clients I find that explanation is enough – they don’t want to waste money creating content that doesn’t have a chance of ranking where they want it to. But if (like me!) you need to understand the why behind the answer, here are the specific reasons longform content outperforms shortform.
Enhanced Keyword Targeting and Optimization
Longer articles naturally provide more opportunities for incorporating targeted keywords and optimizing content for SEO. By focusing on a specific topic or subject matter, you can include a wider range of relevant keywords, long-tail phrases, and related terms. This not only improves your chances of ranking for various search queries but also enhances the overall semantic relevance of your content, making it more attractive to search engine algorithms.
Improved User Experience and Engagement
Longform content enhances user experience through detailed insights, practical tips, case studies, and examples. This leads to longer on-page time, lower bounce rates, and increased social sharing, benefiting search engine visibility. Additionally, comprehensive content generates more backlinks and references, further boosting SEO. Longform content also increases user engagement and dwell times by providing valuable and in-depth information, encouraging readers to explore related sections and share the content. These positive signals improve search rankings. Overall, longform content satisfies readers’ expectations, increases engagement, and sends valuable signals to search engines for improved SEO performance.
Authority and Expertise Building
Longer articles establish expertise, credibility, and brand reputation. Thorough research and presentation of valuable information demonstrate commitment, attracting organic traffic and improving search rankings. Well-researched longform content enhances authority and credibility, building trust and brand reputation. Trustworthy sources and references strengthen perceptions of expertise, encouraging repeat visits and recommendations. Search engines recognize authority signals, rewarding higher rankings. High-quality content also attracts organic backlinks, boosting SEO efforts.
Mobile and Voice Search Optimization
Longform content is crucial for mobile and voice search. Voice assistants rely on concise answers, but longform content increases the chances of being featured. Longer articles cover various relevant questions and topics, making them valuable for optimizing mobile and voice search strategies. Longform content is essential due to the rise of mobile and voice search. It addresses multiple interconnected questions, increasing the likelihood of being featured as a voice search result.
Longer articles allow you to delve deeper into a topic, providing comprehensive coverage and addressing multiple aspects or subtopics within a single piece. This depth and breadth of content are highly valued by search engines, as they strive to deliver the most informative and relevant results to users. By offering comprehensive information, you increase the chances of attracting organic traffic and earning backlinks from other websites, both of which contribute to improved SEO performance.
Longform articles are more likely to attract backlinks from other websites. When you provide high-quality, comprehensive content, other websites are more inclined to reference and link to your article as a valuable resource. Backlinks are a crucial aspect of SEO, as they signal trust and authority to search engines. The more authoritative websites linking to your longform content, the greater its SEO value and potential for higher rankings.
Social Sharing and Virality
Engaging, high-quality longform content is more likely to be shared across social media platforms and other online communities. When readers find an article that is informative, well-written, and adds value to their lives, they are more inclined to share it with their followers and friends. Social signals, such as shares, likes, and comments, send positive indications to search engines, boosting your content’s visibility and potentially attracting more organic traffic.
Longform articles have the advantage of being evergreen, meaning they remain relevant and valuable over an extended period. While shorter posts may quickly become outdated or lose relevance, in-depth articles tend to have a longer lifespan. Evergreen content continues to attract organic traffic and generate engagement long after its initial publication. This prolonged value ensures that your content continues to contribute to your SEO efforts over time.
So, How Long Should A Blog Be For SEO?
The upshot of all of this is that longform articles provide greater value in SEO compared to short posts. They are capable of ranking for more keywords, engage users longer, establish authority, attract backlinks, and cater to mobile and voice search. Investing in valuable longform content boosts SEO, increases traffic, and strengthens online presence. Longform content of 2500 to 3000 words aligns with user preferences and offers advantages in SEO, user experience, and authority building. This means that, where possible, choose quality over quantity in blog posts for long-term benefits in visibility, traffic, and SEO performance. The exceptions to this are when you’re creating a post on a topic that doesn’t have enough ‘meat’ to it for that many words, like an update or announcement. Remember, quality of quantity – that includes length! It’s better to write a shorter post that’s really high quality, than pad it out to 2.5K with a load of irrelevant waffle of repetition. If your business relies on regular updates from something other than your blog – for example, new products – you may also want to rethink this. Product descriptions seldom need to be this long and short content usually works better.