How long should my blog article be?

All blog assignments have a minimum required word length of 500 words. You can see your word count at the bottom right of the content entry screen. You may write more than 500 words, but you cannot submit the article if you write LESS THAN 500 words.

What’s the verdict on the ideal number of words in a blog post? The short answer is, it depends.

Recently, some writer-influencers have put forward that blogs need to be longer. Just how much longer? They can’t really give a number. Some say 1,000. Some say 1,200. Some say 2,000. And still some say even more. There hasn’t been a consensus yet. The reason is the length depends on how saturated your market is with content and how difficult it is for your business to improve your SEO related to certain keywords.

When it comes to SEO and content marketing – content above all else

However, all these experts agree on one thing: Your blog’s readership is still primarily dependent on your content.

Speak to the needs and interests of your audience. You’ll see that they’ll stick with you whether you offer them 400 or 4,000 words. If you provide value and actually help your readers, the content will perform better.

Your blog articles need credible insight – context is queen

Another way of looking at this is that length should not be a consideration in the way you write your blog. Expound on a theme until it is crystal clear. Give examples if necessary.

Of course, this shouldn’t be an excuse to insert fluff. Short or long, every word should count. Each word should add value to an article.

All ideas should be fully flushed out.

Sentence and paragraph length

The jury may still be out on the ideal number of words in a blog post. When it comes to sentence length, the Flesch-Kincaid readability test requires it to be 20 words or fewer to be considered “fairly easy to read.”

Meanwhile, industry observers stressed the importance of mixing up paragraph length. Paragraphs consisting of three to six sentences work best for business and technical writing.
Do long winded sentences sound good when they are read out loud? Probably not… long winded sentences can come across as wordy in a blog article as well.

Many factors are involved when determining blog article legnth

  • Target audience. A Microsoft study famously revealed that the human attention span had dwindled to 8 seconds thanks to technology updates and current digital lifestyles. This made the case for short-form content until a BBC report dismissed it as a myth. Moreover, a Source Global Research survey found that business people, especially thought leaders, need substantial content pieces (hence a higher word count).
  • Industry. Fashion blogs don’t need discussions to be as extensive as business how-tos. Medical blogs – even those that target parents – need more words to explain treatments, complications and contra-indications.
  • Goal. Different blog article word lengths can produce different results. Short blogs are conducive to discussions with readers. Medium length blogs usually get the most social media shares. Longer blog articles get noticed by search engines.
  • Writers and time. Each writer has a different flair. You also only have a certain amount of time in your day to craft the content.

Blog articles can be long and short

Of course, the easy answer may be not to stick to a particular length for your blog. Make it short when you feel it’s enough but wax on if there’s a need. Between 400 and 1500 words should be a safe bet.

Tempesta Media offers any number of words in a blog post that a partner feels best fits their unique needs.

Varying the length, style, days of the week, and format of blog posts will authenticate your brand and hopefully improve your SEO rankings.

Make content marketing a priority for your business

Discussions on the ideal word count of blog articles will not be concluded any time soon. If Google keeps changing their search algorithms, your approach will continue to change. In the meantime, the best you can do is to strengthen your craft.

Conduct research on best practices. Update your old content. Rewrite articles that you think could use a little polishing. Up the frequency of the new content insights that your offer.

If you feel like you are falling behind or need a partner, Tempesta Media offers monthly content subscriptions to ramp up your content efforts.

Do You Need Estimated Reading Times, Part 1: What Are Estimated Reading Times?

The short answer to this is yes, but before we explain that, let’s describe what the reading time is.

What are estimated reading times?

Essentially, estimated reading time is a gauge for how long an average reader would take to read and consume the entire piece of content that’s been presented in front of them. Many audiences look at articles and other content. If they see that it’s going to take too long for them to get through it, they are likely to abandon the page itself. This increases the company’s abandonment rates, negatively impacting SEO.

Where do you place estimated reading times?

A good rule of thumb is to place estimated reading time at the beginning of each article. The best place for it is after the title and before the body text begins, typically, left-justified. This location directly benefits your target audience. Many people have very limited time available, and if they see that an article is only going to take a couple minutes to read, they’re much more likely to read it, and actually get to the end of it.
If you are trying to target decision makers who are C-level executives, they are even more pressed for time. As a result, the estimated reading time is even more valuable for this target audience.

Should there be other details aside from the reading time?

There should also be a brief summary placed at the very beginning of the article itself. The summary should be one or two sentences with a couple of bullet points explaining what’s going to be covered within the content. That provides a relatively low commitment for the target audience and the target reader. If it is written in a compelling enough way, it will induce the reader to go and continue into the rest of the article.

What are some of the negatives associated with adding estimated reading times for your blog content?

Some of the negatives associated with adding estimated reading time really depends on the type of content associated with it. For blog posts, it’s recommended that estimated reading time should be included. However, for longer-form pieces pieces such as thought leadership, e-guides, and white papers, I don’t recommend including the estimated reading time because of the intent associated with the reader.

What are the benefits associated with estimated reading times for your blog content?

Someone who is going to read an e-guide, white paper, or a deep dive informative article (also known as long-form content), will be more interested in what is going to be discussed and the value that’s going to be provided to them within the content than they are interested in actually saving time. However, with blog posts, the opposite is true. They’re trying to get a nugget or two of information quickly. After they consume the nugget of information, they want to be able to move on.
In summary, estimated reading times makes sense for both businesses and consumers in the B2B audience. If you are focusing on blog posts and other short-form pieces of content that are generally under 1,000 words, including the estimated reading time makes sense. If you have long-form content, it is not recommended that you include the estimated reading time.

Reasons to invest in long-form content for marketing

Given the short attention spans of most internet users, common sense would tell us to publish shorter content. But as it turns out, several studies show long-form content has a higher level of engagement, from likes and shares to conversions.

How long is long?

According to Forbes, long-form content contains at least 1,200 words. In addition to longer blog posts, this kind of content includes guides, ebooks and white papers. However, content isn’t restricted to the written word. Audio or video that is more than a 30-second spot also qualifies. For those marketers who have aimed for short, sweet and to the point, content that is fewer than 1,000 words (and with all the right SEO), they can find this to be a jolting concept.
Experts argue that done correctly, long-form content can be very effective. As Josh Steimle states in the Forbes article, “That’s because the best long-form content marketing doesn’t make one feel like they’re being marketed to.”
Remember, content marketing is not advertising. With content marketing, you strive to get visitors to understand and interact with your brand. You want them to trust you, your message and information you provide. Sometimes telling that story or sharing that vital information will take more than one great picture or those 1,000 words.

Why you want longer

A study by serpIQ revealed the average length of content that made the top 10 search query results usually were more than 2,000 words. SEO in longer pieces is just as important as in shorter length content. However, as with all content you create, you can’t just put it up there. You want to make sure you have well written and, perhaps most important, relevant and helpful content for your intended audience.
Jarom McDonald, a content specialist at Lucidpress, outs himself as a millennial who is thought to only engage with quick bits of information. However, he reminds that while attention spans may be shorter, “what that really means is that we’re getting better at quickly determining what we want to spend time on and what we don’t care about.” Thus, long-format content that grabs attention to the point that the reader, listener or viewer forgets how long they’ve spent on an item is exactly what you’re seeking.
If you do your homework and gather insight to understand what your audience wants most and how you can be most helpful, you will be better prepared to deliver comprehensive content.
Having more comprehensive content equates to more time on your website, more page views and fewer bounces. Emma Siemasko, content marketing specialist at Grasshopper, says that the more time visitors spend on your site equals more trust of your brand. She posted an 18,000-word guide on her website and found great results, “People stayed on the page 40 percent longer than on the average page, and they looked at 25 percent more pages than the average visitor,” Siemasko said.
Those who like your content are going to share your content. This is still true with longer-form content. Neil Patel ran A/B tests on his content to discover that content with more than 1,500 words received an average of 68 percent more re-tweets and 22.6 percent more Facebook shares.
When News Whip found that they suddenly had a rise in sharing, they dug in to find out what was being shared. In-depth features were very popular on social media. Included in the mix was a 3,535-word transcription of a lecture by Neil Gaiman on the importance of reading. It was posted by The Guardian and had more than 220,000 shares.

Deciding to go long

Once you decide to expand your content length, here are some tips to keep you on track to make sure you’re not just longer, but solid with what you deliver:

  • Don’t create in a vacuum. As with all other content you create, always keep your audience in mind. While you may be ready to go long, they may not be ready to consume it. Keep an eye on your metrics and your feedback.
  • Not all topics are created equal. Be a good judge of whether the information you are presenting is worthy of the length you wish to give it. Not everything is.
  • Stand out from the competition. Create content about what you know best. Make the decision to provide in-depth coverage about your strengths.
  • Always have great content. Whatever you put out there, no matter the length, write with purpose. Having 3,000 words doesn’t make it better than a 1,000 piece just because it’s longer. Bottom line: Don’t add fluff for the sake of it and don’t ramble.
  • Make it flow and tell the story. Remember that throwing together a number of statistics won’t hold attention. The better the read, the longer the reader will stay. Think of your content less as a lecture and more as a conversation.
  • Don’t forget social media. It is a great place to promote your longer content. However, be sure you’ve built up your following. Additionally, ensure that your social media followers are interested in taking the time for longer pieces.
  • Keep it evergreen. Whenever possible, create content that has a long lifespan (in addition to the longer length). Evergreen pieces perform better over time because they are relevant for longer periods of time.

Tempesta Media is an outsourced content provider that will empower your content efforts. Contact us to learn more.

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