how long should my blog be

How Long Should My Blog Be? Why Word Count Matters…Sometimes

I’m mingling with other small business owners and entrepreneurs at a local event, enjoying some fascinating conversation and putting the ZenChange name out there, when one of the men I’m talking with asks me, “So, Diane. I’m sure you get this a lot, but how long should my blog be?”

He’s right. I do get that a lot—probably because it’s not an easy question to answer.

I explain to him the importance of balancing interesting, engaging content with SEO best practices and a solid social media strategy, but I get the feeling as I do so that it’s too difficult to totally grasp during a casual conversation.

That night before going to bed I jotted down a note to take up the topic later in one of my own blog posts.

So, here we are.

How long should my blog be? The definitive answer to this critical content marketing question is—drumroll, please—it depends.

Helpful, right? #sarcasm

Here’s the thing: research shows that blog posts with word counts anywhere from 275 to 2,500 can perform well and bring traffic to your site. But your situation is probably not the same as some of the larger companies out there that can A) afford to hire full-time bloggers to increase their traffic from search results and social media engagement and B) that already have an established audience that reads their work.

What all of this means is that the length of your blog depends on your goals—ranking on search engines like Google, getting shares and likes on social media, communicating with your audience—as well as your budget.

How Long Should My Blog Be If I Want to Rank on Google?

Almost all of the research I’ve studied points toward longer blog posts performing better in Google rankings. The reason for this is simple—the more information that Google can glean from your post the better it can tell what it’s about. Google likes to deliver the best content to users, and if Google doesn’t know what your post is about, then it won’t return it as a result. If you’ve optimized the post using SEO best practices, you’ll rank even better. According to CoSchedule, if you want to rank on the first page of Google results for your keywords, you should shoot for at least 2,500 words. Marketing guru Neil Patel puts the minimum word count a bit lower: at least 1,000. On Yoast’s blog, Marieke van de Rakt gives a range of about 1,000 to 2,500 words for a blog post to rank well.

We’re seeing a pattern here.

When it comes down to it, long-form content just does better. But what can you do if you don’t have time or money in the budget for a thousand words every week, let alone every month?

Quality > Quantity

The truth is that it’s not just word count that gets a blog post a good ranking in Google. You could write a post that is 3,000 words long, but if it’s poorly written or optimized incorrectly (or not at all), you shouldn’t hold your breath for a top spot on Google.

What we have here is the age-old debate of quality versus quantity. I was brought up believing that if you can’t do something right, you shouldn’t do it at all, but does that philosophy hold steady for the digital age? If all the experts agree that word count needs to exceed at least 1,000 words, is it worth it to even have a blog at all if you can’t reach that goal?

How long should my blog be if I have a low chance of ranking on google?

You’d be surprised how powerful content that is readable and useful—and therefore, shareable—can be, especially if quality is a top priority. Word count can take a back seat if you know how to leverage your content.

Blogging and Social Media

Every business should, at the very least, have a social media presence—even better, a social media presence that interests and engages its audience. It’s important to share valuable content from other sites that your audience wants to read or watch. But you should also be creating original content that offers fans helpful information that can help solve their unique problems. Your blog should be one source of such content.

The beauty of social media (depending on how you look at it) is that people are there to be entertained or informed; they don’t necessarily want to read something that is going to take them 10 minutes to finish. In fact, reading attention spans have dropped in recent years. With all the content out there waiting on social media, most users don’t want to read anything that takes too long to read. Just five years ago, only five percent of online readers who started reading an article actually made it to the end.

Add to this the fact that over half of online readers access the internet through a smartphone, and you’ll begin to see why longer isn’t always the best strategy.

So…how long should my blog be?

You’re probably wondering at this point “That’s fine, Diane, but how long should my blog be?! Tell me!”

OK, I’ll tell you. At ZenChange, we’ve found that there is a sweet spot that allows you to convey valuable, shareable information that won’t exceed your readers’ attention spans.

That sweet spot is about 400 to 500 words per post.

For most small business owners, this is a totally attainable number. You should regularly update your site with at the very minimum one new blog post per month. Google favors websites that are regularly updated, and your clients and customers want to know that your business is still active—a blog post that gets shared on social media and through a monthly newsletter is a great way to stay top of mind with your audience.

On its own, a monthly 500-word blog post won’t put you on the front page of Google, but it can help you increase exposure to your business through social media, which might just be enough to drive traffic to your website and increase sales.

It’s all about putting your name out there and starting a conversation, just like you do at networking events.

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