26 July 2019 - Gavin Duff

How Long Should My Blog Posts Be?

If this headline caught your attention and you’ve come here looking for the answer, you’ll be disappointed.

But don’t go anywhere, this is still relevant…

The question you should be asking instead is “How good should my blog posts be?”

It’s not about length

Too often in discussion around content, this question is asked. “How long does it need to be?”. If you’re asking this, your approach is all wrong.

There’s nothing new to say here that we haven’t already been trying to drill home. It’s not about length, it’s about the user.

It’s about relevance, originality, quality, and engagement. And if it can be entertaining, informative, controversial or opinionated, then even better – people might actually share it.

Share my content

You may have seen studies out there suggesting that the longer your piece of content is the higher it will rank on Google. And yes, this is true in many cases. But not in every case. Let me explain…

I just searched on Google for “how long should a meta description be?” and this page ranked first – https://blog.spotibo.com/meta-description-length/

You know why? It’s rich content, its original, it’s got the length checker tool, there’s a useful image and then appropriate text length. That’s the key here – “appropriate”. It’s not two thousand words long but it certainly goes a long way towards answering my query.

Now, if my question instead had been “why do I need meta descriptions?” Then there’s an argument for writing more in order to give background, context and actionable value. Now that’s one I could easily write 2,000 words on. Not that length matters…

One core question

There is 1 core question you need to ask yourself at 3 key points while creating a blog post. And that question is: “Why should someone read this content and not someone else’s?

And you should ask it:

  1. Before you create your piece of content
  2. While you write it
  3. When you review it for publishing

So, at every point.

If you cannot answer that question, then start again.

You should ask yourself the same about your brand, product, service, website… it should be a part of everything that you do. But that’s another day’s discussion, and that could easily be 10,000 words… or whatever is appropriate.

Keeping things simple

There’s a lot to be said for keeping things simple. As I write this, that is exactly what I’m aiming to do. This blog post is not for the purpose of making Friday Agency seem smart – it’s to show that we can make sense with minimal effort.

On this topic, even some very well-known websites have been getting it wrong from time to time. Take Search Engine Journal for example, which states here that: “Your content has to communicate your company’s unique selling proposition using the words that people who are looking for your goods and services are most likely to type into a search engine.”

Sorry, but this is b*llshit.

You do not need to broadcast your USP in every communication – this is a trap that far too many brands have fallen into. As a result, their blogs become catalogs, or About pages with added tumbleweed. It also leads to word count for the sake of length comparison.

Here is another article on TF-IDF, which would have you believe that if you can analyse who ranks in the top 10 on Google and emulate the keywords/topics that they use then you can do the same – and, boom! you’ll be there too.

Not true.

But it will help you to maintain a certain level of unoriginality.

Covering related topics is fine, but don’t solely rely on tools and competitors to suggest these for you. You’re the expert.

Rank without copying your competitors

Your content can rank for what you want it to rank for, even without using the exact keywords. It can rank without copying your competitors. Google’s algorithm is smarter than mere comparison. It doesn’t require that you repeat yourself, state the obvious or be a collection of the thoughts of your competitors.

I stumbled upon another quote recently: “Analysing the top ranking content for LSI keywords, sub-topics they’ve included, who they link out to, what kind of media they use, etc. can be really effective at helping you understand how Google wants to answer the searcher’s query.

Now, this is fine up to a point. But guess what – it’s not Google answering the query – it’s you. For your user. So write for them, and don’t spend the term of your natural life analysing what others are doing. Certainly take a look, but it’s not everything.

Spending all of your research time looking at what competitors are doing is about as useful as a pogo stick in a minefield.

The same goes for your word count. Do not be over-concerned about the length of your competitors’ blog posts. Answer the user’s query with honesty and expertise, and then send it out into the wild. You’ll know fairly soon if it’s good enough.

A final thought

There are so many factors involved that influence your blog post’s ranking position, and word count is just a very small part of it.

Here’s a final thought – how about you try to be the brand who are first to use certain engaging keywords and topics within your article? Say things that your competitors are not saying.

Have an opinion. Suddenly, you’re authentic.

Hey, you won’t find another blog post like this one on this topic!

Even if this very blog post doesn’t go on to rank no.1 for “How Long Should My Blog Posts Be?”, then at least it’s original.

Struggling with original content? Get in touch.