When you’re trying to rank on Google, every keyword is different. The average word count for a page ranking on the first page of a Google search can vary as widely as 500 to 15,000 words, all depending on the keyword.
That’s why many writers ask: how long should my blog post be?
I run a digital marketing agency that specializes in SEO, so this is something that we had to figure out early on in our process development.
I did a lot of research to define and prove our methodology. For an example, search “contact instagram” on Google and you’ll see Logic Inbound on the first page, usually above instagram.com. It’s a perfect example because it shows how a high authority website with lesser content will lose to another website with better content.
This article is an in depth guide that is designed to help you determine the ideal blog post length for every possible keyword.
The best part is that you can follow our process for free, using 3 different SEO tools to determine the ideal length for your blog posts.
For a faster process that you can do in 2 minutes using just 1 tool, check out the guide I wrote for “how long a blog post should be” on LogicInbound.com.
My agency needs to turn around great content quickly for our clients, so using a faster process is definitely worth the cost of ahrefs. If you’re just starting out, or doing SEO on your own or for yourself, then this free guide is certainly sufficient.
- How to use Free Tools to determine ideal blog post length?
- 1) Register for a free semrush account
- 2) Install the SEO Quake web browser extension (works with chrome, firefox, safari, and opera)
- 3) Search your keyword on Google.com
- 4) Connect your semrush account to your seoquake extension.
- 5) Click “Export CSV” to download this data in an easy-to-read spreadsheet format
- 6) Look for the 3 URLs with the lowest Domain Score.
- 7) Determine the word count of the 3 lowest DS pages
- 8) Calculate the ideal blog post length
- Alternative: Use Moz to identify weakest competitor domains
- How to make your blog post more useful to extend the length and word count
- Write answers to related questions
- Write about the “related searches” at the bottom of the search engine result page (SERP)
- Write about the search predictions that show up as you type into Google
- Example: How I got the ideal length for a blog post in the travel industry: “things to do in seattle with kids”
- TL;DR How long should a blog post be?
How to use Free Tools to determine ideal blog post length?
For this guide I’m using mainly semrush and seoquake combined with data directly from Google.com. For a “moz friendly” alternative, see the end of the article.
1) Register for a free semrush account
SEMrush provides a limited amount of free uses every day.
2) Install the SEO Quake web browser extension (works with chrome, firefox, safari, and opera)
During the setup process, you can simply use all the default settings. There’s no need for any special configuration.
3) Search your keyword on Google.com
4) Connect your semrush account to your seoquake extension.
Use the “connect” button above the first search result metrics
5) Click “Export CSV” to download this data in an easy-to-read spreadsheet format
6) Look for the 3 URLs with the lowest Domain Score.
SEMrush has this explanation for “DS”:
Domain Score measures the importance of a domain on a 100 point scale based on the volume of links pointing back to the domain.
|#||Url||DS||TS||SEMrush backlinks||SEMrush root domain backlinks|
7) Determine the word count of the 3 lowest DS pages
Copy and paste the “body” content into wordcounttools.com to get the word count numbers
|Website||Body Word Count|
8) Calculate the ideal blog post length
Take the average word count of the three lowest “low DS” competitors and multiply by 1.5 to get the target word count.
960 words * 1.5 = 1440 words long
Sometimes this formula suggest less than 2000 words. In that case you should ignore the formula. You should aim to write at least 2000 words for every blog post, because this raises the “barrier to entry” to prevent competitors with powerful websites from quickly overtaking the search results.
Imagine if your “low DS competitor” was 300 words. This way, the formula would suggest you write 450 words. The problem here is that this is not a big enough improvement for Google to really notice.
Alternative: Use Moz to identify weakest competitor domains
Go to moz.com and click on “free tools” at the top. Enter your keyword into the tool.
Scroll down to the “serp analysis” box in the results, and click on “see full analysis”
The full analysis shows Domain Authority metrics for each website.
Export the data to CSV to make it easier to scan all at once
These are the results from the export
|Rank||URL||PA||Referring Domains to Page||DA||Referring Domains to Domain|
Check the word counts of the three lowest DA results
Take the average of the three lowest DA results and multiply by 1.5 to get the ideal blog post length
1732 * 1.5 = 2598
This means we need 2600 words to on the first page of Google.
Notice that this is a little different from the SEMrush calculation.
Unsettle.org came up as one of the “low 3” in Moz’s DA, but Content Mastery Guide took that spot in the SEMrush process.
Each tool calculates it’s “authority metric” differently, so you would expect to see different results based on which tool you choose to use.
How to make your blog post more useful to extend the length and word count
The best way to make your blog post more competitive is to make it longer.
The best way to write a longer blog post is to make it more useful.
It’s easy to “fluff” a blog post with narrative or flowery language, but providing useful information will keep your readers engaged.
More useful information will also make your blog post relevant for a larger number of keywords.
What can you write about to add more useful information your blog post?
Write answers to related questions
Sometimes you will see a “people also ask” box in the search results
These questions are almost all the same, that’s why you need to find the “unique” aspect of the question and answer it with different angles.
Include related keywords
A quick way to brainstorm additional related topics is to check Google’s AutoSuggest keywords and/or the “Related Searches” at the bottom. SEO Tools such as Keywords Everywhere will give you the search volume as well.
Don’t just repeat information over and over in your blog post. To provide unique answers to every question you may need to research information online and quote other websites.
What is the average length of a blog post?
Copypress claims the average blog post on the first page of Google search results is 2416 words long.
In the context of this article, I refer to research studies about blog post average lengths.
How long does a blog post have to be?
A moz article by Rand Fishkin shows that first page blog posts range from 500 to 15,000 words. Therefore 500 would be the minimum you need to rank on the first page.
I interpret this question with an emphasis on the “have to” and think about what the shortest blog you could write and still rank on Google could be.
How long does it take you to write a blog post?
An article of roughly 1800 words took me about 2 hours and 30 minutes to write. It will take about 30 minutes to publish, which includes revisions and review from my peers. 3 hours “all in” is a good estimate for how long it would take you to write a blog post.
I spent about 15 minutes researching the topics. First to make sure there was significant search volume to make it worth writing, second to check how competitive it would be to rank on the first page of Google. I started actually writing from 9:05 pm to 9:19 pm. At that time I took a break. I finished the blog post starting from 10:12 pm and writing until 12:10 am.
Pro Tip: You can use the hot key Ctrl + Shift + C to get a word count for a Google document.
(On Mac it’s Command + Shift + C)
To answer this question, I looked at the revision history on the Google doc where I drafted the blog post, you can open this by clicking the text next to the “Help” tab in the top navigation.
This text will change to show the most recent edit time, you can click on it to see all edit history.
Meta Analysis 3
This question is not *technically* anything to do with how many words a blog should have, which is the main theme of this article.
However, someone who is researching “ideal word counts” for blog posts would reasonably want to know how much time it could take to write 2000 words.
I run an agency, so knowing these estimates really helps with planning how many employees or freelancers we need to hire. If I was a full time writer, then these numbers are helpful benchmark for my own performance.
How long should a blog post be 2018?
In 2018 a typical blog post could be 1230 words. Every year the ideal blog post length increases. A study by Orbit Media shows an average 100 word increase every year.
Meta Analysis 4
This question is concerned with a particular year. If you’re writing a new blog post you should always use the current year. For example, you saw in the “people also ask” it mentioned 2016. Nobody really searches for old information unless they’re doing historical research.
In general you should be writing for a “present day” audience rather than a “2 years from now” audience.
For example, this chart from Google trends shows how the search volume for “2016 movies” fell off a cliff at the end of 2016. There are still people searching for 2016 movies today, but the numbers are only 6% of what they were at the peak.
Write about the “related searches” at the bottom of the search engine result page (SERP)
When you scroll all the way to the bottom of the search results you will frequently see a list of related searches like this example:
Some of these related searches would already be addressed by one of the “People also ask” questions
- ideal blog post length 2017
- blog length 2017
- how long should a blog post be 2016
Let’s look at the remaining ones
How long should a blog post be for SEO?
When you write a blog post for SEO, it should be at least 2000 words to rank for many keywords and to help the blog post move up in the search engine rankings on Google. There are more complex guides to provide more specific answers to every possible keyword, but 2000 word long blog posts are a safe “rule of thumb”.
When writing blog posts for other purposes, you may want to writer shorter or longer articles.
How long should a blog post be for maximum social shares?
For example a Snap Agency study shows that blog posts between 2250 and 2500 words got less social shares than blog posts between 2000 and 2250 words as well as other blog posts over 2500 words.
The “angle” for this answer is to focus on “for SEO” and then bring in another “purpose” like “for social media” to compare and contrast.
How long should a blog post be hubspot
Some suggestions are “branded” this means the person searching the keyword is looking for a result from a particular website.
You usually don’t want to try to rank for these because people searching those keywords will probably never click on your website.
In this example, the searcher wants to find hubspot’s guide on “how long should a blog post be” so they will probably not click on another article, even if it ranked higher than hubspot on Google.
The Post Length Movie
Keep in mind, some of these searches just happen to use the same words so you should not necessarily write about them in your blog post because they won’t make any sense to your readers.
For example when you search “the post length movie” on Google, the search engine results tell you how many minutes long a movie named “The Post” was
400 word blog post
Some keywords are “glitches in the system” or could be experiments in the Google database.
For example when you search “400 word blog post” you see results that look a lot like someone who searched “how long should a blog post be”
The Google search results think we’re trying to figure out how long blog posts should be, while at the same time they highlight the word “400” in bold to show a “match” against our search terms.
If you think about why someone might type “400 word blog post” into Google, it could make sense that they’re trying to “check” how long a blog post should be. I can’t really explain why specifically “400” would be the number that many people search.
Write about the search predictions that show up as you type into Google
Whenever you search something on Google.com, some helpful suggestions appear below your entry.
Again, some of these are redundant with the previous two sources, but this tool found a few more keywords to write about.
How long should a travel blog post be
To rank on the first page of Google a travel blog post should be 4500 words long. The travel industry is one of the most competitive businesses. There are many people writing about 100 things to do in every city, so an average blog in the travel industry is longer than normal.
How long should a blog post title be
A blog post SEO title should between 55 and 70 characters to show up in the search engine result pages without getting cut off. The “H1” title, or the “human readable” title can be as long as it needs to be to get the idea across. 1 test I suggest is to try to “say” the title out loud without taking a breath. If you have to take an extra breath to read your blog, then it’s too “long winded”.
Example: How I got the ideal length for a blog post in the travel industry: “things to do in seattle with kids”
Let’s look at a keyword like “things to do in seattle with kids”. SEMrush shows that 3600 people search for this in an average month.
Using our steps we can export the SERP data with SEOquake
|#||Url||DS||TS||SEMrush backlinks||SEMrush root domain backlinks|
These are the 3 lowest DS websites, with the word count for each article
It’s interesting to notice that Santorini Dave ranks very well despite the low DS value. However once you see that they wrote 8892 words you might understand why.
Based on the data, 4700 words is the ideal word count for a blog post to break into the first page of Google for this “things to do in seattle with kids”.
TL;DR How long should a blog post be?
To determine the ideal blog post length: calculate the average of the lowest 3 competitors by DS (from semrush) for your blog posts’ “main keyword” and multiply the result by 1.5. A simple rule of thumb: a blog post should be at least 2000 words to have a good chance at ranking on the first page of Google.