Remember that we write for people and not computer algorithms
People have different opinions as to the ideal length of a blog post. When I first started blogging almost ten years ago, I heard you needed at least 200 words for search engines to be able to learn enough information about your post to categorize it. Then the minimum length jumped up to 300 words, with the warning that shorter posts would not be indexed by search engines.
For years that was my goal, to write a post at least 300 words long. In some contexts, I still shoot for that. However, many of my clients want content that is at least 500 words long. This seems to be the new standard if such a thing exists.
Despite this, there are supporters of 800 to 1200-word posts, with some people advocating 1,500 to 2,000. On the extreme, we have people producing long-form content. Their goal is 5,000-word posts and even longer. I even heard of one person producing a 20,000-word post. That’s the length of a short nonfiction book. If I write 20,000 words, I prefer it to be in a book and not posted online.
So, this begs the question: What’s the right length for a blog post?
One answer is as long as it needs to be to cover the topic. No less and no more. If you need to start padding your word count to hit a target length, you’ve lost sight of the goal: the reader.
Another answer considers your target demographic. For example, if you’re writing to busy business people, then keep your post short and succinct. No matter how interested they may be in your content, they’re unlikely to read a longer post because they’re unwilling to invest the time to do so. And even if they try, they are likely to be interrupted before they reach the end, and the chance of them getting back to it to finish it is slim.
Of course, if you’re writing for a specific website, then you better hit their word-count target. The same applies if you’re writing for a client. The client is always right, even if you disagree.
The key consideration in all this is to remember that when we write, we write for people, not search engines or computers. Yes, we must keep the SEO algorithms in mind, but they are secondary in importance to producing great content that readers read.
That’s always been my goal, and I encourage it to be yours, too.
(By the way, this post is 430 words long. I think the length is just right.)
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Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.