We all know that longer blog posts typically perform better in Google searches. But how do you write longer blog posts? And how do you write long-form blog posts in such a way that your readers will actually want to read them?
Did you know that longer blog posts typically perform better than shorter ones in Google searches? Writing longer blog posts can be a great way to improve your SEO and increase your search engine traffic.
But how exactly do you do that?
Perhaps you are the kind of blogger who finds cranking out a few hundred words hard… and the thought of having to write blog posts of several thousand words fills you with dread and has you reaching for the towel to throw in!
Perhaps you don’t mind the idea of writing more, but you are worried you will bore the pants of your readers…
Don’t worry – I’ll deal with both those issues in this blog post and show you how longer blog posts are much easier to create than you think AND that with a few simple tricks and techniques you can keep your readers interested all the way to the end!
But before we dive in, I’d like to cover off a couple of questions which I’m sure you have on the tip of your tongue already:
- How long should a blog post be for SEO?
- Why do longer posts perform better in Google than short ones?
How long should a blog post be for SEO?
There are two answers to this… the first is the best length for a blog post is however long it takes to fully answer your reader’s question.
Remember, if you want your blog post to do well on Google you need to provide the best answer to a specific search query. And the best answer is the one that covers everything your readers needs to know and nothing else.
To illustrate this, let’s take two example queries: ‘What day is Easter this year?’ and ‘What is Easter?’ The best answer to the first query is just a couple of words long… all I want to know is a date! However, the answer to the second query is likely to warrant a much longer answer.
For most queries, though, it is still not really clear how long blog post should be… for example, ‘What is Easter?’ could be answered in a few sentences, a few paragraphs or several thousand words.
So is there a perfect blog post length? Many studies have been conducted on this question, looking into different data, but interestingly these studies all seem to come to very similar conclusions.
After looking at data from their own website, Hubspot discovered that the ideal blog post length to rank highly in search engine results was 2,100-2,400 words.
Backlinko found that the average word count of a Google first page result Is 1,447 words.
A study by Medium found that the ideal length of a blog post is one that takes 7 minutes to read (that’s about 1000 – 1500 words, depending how fast you read).
While Yoast concludes that you have a higher chance of ranking well in Google if you write blog posts of 1000 words or more and recommend writing blog posts of up to 2500 words to really help grow organic traffic.
It would seem like the ideal length for a blog post to perform well in search engine results is between 1000 and 2500 words.
Why do longer posts perform better in Google than short ones?
All of this begs the question, why does long-form content perform better in search engine results.
There are a number of very good reasons:
1. Google understands your text better
The longer your content, the more clues you give Google as to what your blog post is about. If you optimise your blog post well, your focus keyphrase (and its synonyms) will appear multiple times in your text. The longer your blog post, the more times they will appear. You will also have more headings and images that include your focus keyphrase and its variants in a longer blog post.
2. It will answer the searcher’s query more fully
Google is in the business of providing its users with the best possible answers to their queries. And, more often than not, the best possible answer is a longer blog post where you properly answer the query and provide real value. Conversely, Google usually sees short blog posts as ‘thin content’ which doesn’t answer the search query well. Because of this, short blog posts don’t tend to rank very well in Google’s search results.
3. Rank for more keywords
The longer your text, the more opportunity you will have to rank for multiple variants of your keyphrase, and indeed, multiple keyphrases. The more keyword phrases you rank for, the more different search results your blog post will appear in and so the more traffic you will get to your blog.
(For example, on many of my longer blog posts, I rank for 1000+ different keywords! Not all of those keywords will bring in a ton of traffic on their own, but add them all together and that’s A LOT of traffic.)
4. Longer ‘time on page’
A longer blog post will, quite naturally, keep your readers on that blog post for a longer time. Google interprets this longer ‘time on page’ as a better user experience (UX). UX is one of the most important ranking factors. Anything that can convince Google that readers are experiencing a good UX on your site will be good for your blog post’s search rankings.
5. Lower bounce rate
Similarly, a longer blog post will almost certainly have more internal links than a shorter blog post, giving your readers more opportunities to find something else of interest to them, and so clicking on a link and keeping your bounce rate down. A lower bounce rate will result in better search rankings.
6. More backlinks and social shares
Finally, long form blog content typically attracts more backlinks and is shared more on social media – both backlinks and social media shares are ranking factors in Google’s algorithm and so will help boost the position of a blog post in search engine results.
How to write longer blog posts (that your readers actually want to read!)
So now hopefully you are convinced that writing longer blog posts will help you rank better in search engine results and boost your Google traffic.
But how exactly do you write longer blog posts? And how do you write them in such a way as not to bore your readers?
Get really clear on the question you are answering
This one is KEY! To write good long-form blog content, you need to be crystal clear on which search query you are answering.
Before you even think of sitting down to write a long blog post, make sure you do your keyword research properly. There is no point wasting your time writing 2500 words answering a specific search query from every angle if no-one is actually typing that query into Google!
And as you write, keep that search query in mind. Use it as a filter to stop you going off topic and waffling or adding unnecessary padding.
Think ‘what do they really want to know?’
Google is moving away from a strict focus on keywords and more and more towards a focus on searcher intent. In other words, whenever someone types a query into Google, Google is not just looking at the specific words that searcher has used, but increasingly asking, ‘what does this person really need / what are they actually looking for?’.
In order to perform well in Google searches now, and especially in the future, we as bloggers need to be asking the same questions. Whenever we target a specific search term, we need to ask ourselves ‘what does someone typing that specific search term into Google actually want to know?’
Make sure to answer ‘shoulder questions’ too – not just the main question they asked
Part of considering what someone typing a specific search term into Google really wants to know is considering ‘shoulder questions’… these are questions that the searcher didn’t ask but probably really wants the answer to.
For example, someone who Googles ‘How to make strawberry jam’, will almost certainly want a recipe for strawberry jam, but they are also likely to want to know what equipment to use, how to sterilise jam jars and whether or not they need special sugar / a jam thermometer / those funny little wax disks. They are quite likely to want to know where to keep their homemade jam, how long it will keep and how the strawberry jam recipe can be adapted. They may even want ideas for recipes in which they can use their homemade strawberry jam – such as scones, cakes and puddings.
I hope you can see that a blog post which addresses all these extra ‘shoulder questions’ is likely to perform much better in Google searches than a blog post that simply has a recipe for strawberry jam and nothing else.
As you ponder over what the searcher truly wants when they type your target keyword phrase into Google, and as you consider those all important ‘shoulder questions’, I highly recommend you open up a Word or Google doc and begin jotting down your ideas.
Having all your thoughts and ideas in one place will help you greatly when you come to plan and write your long-form blog post, as well as when you edit it later.
Do your research
But don’t just stick to your own ideas. Google the search term you are planning on targeting and click on the blog posts that are currently ranking for that search term. Briefly scan them to see how they tackle the search query, what topics they cover and what questions they answer.
You will probably find many more ideas simply by looking at the current top 5 or top 10 results for that search term. Jot these additional ideas down in your document.
However, do always keep firmly in mind that you should only include information someone using that search term really wants to know. Other bloggers may well have gone off on unnecessary tangents, waffled a lot or added all kinds of unnecessary information.
If you want your blog post to do well in search results, don’t get tempted to pad out your blog post with unnecessary waffle!
Use Google questions and related searches
Another great way of helping you get to the heart of your searcher’s intent, cover off all the relevant ‘shoulder questions’ and rank in more search results, is by looking at the questions and related searches that appear in Google search results for your main search term.
For example, if I were to Google ‘Strawberry Jam’, I find questions I would never have though of by myself, such as ‘Why do you put lemon juice in strawberry jam?’, ‘Do you wash strawberries before making jam? and ‘Can you over boil strawberry jam?’
By answering these questions, you can make your blog post longer AND more helpful to your readers. Both of these things will help your Strawberry Jam recipe to rank much better in search results.
Make sure you jot down any relevant Google questions and related search terms in your braindump document.
Start with a plan
One very easy way to make it much easier to write longer blog posts AND make your blog posts better and more helpful to your readers is by always creating a plan before you start writing.
Use your braindump document and start rearranging the ideas and research into a sensible and logical order. And be sure to always consider carefully what Google searchers typing your chosen keyphrase into Google really want and what is unnecessary and superfluous.
Spending a few minutes writing a plan will save you many more minutes of writing and then having to delete unnecessary waffle later!
And it will also make the prospect of writing a long blog post much less daunting: once you have your basic structure, you just need to expand each point into a paragraph or two.
Write to a formula
Writing to a formula will also keep your blog posts focused and helpful, as well as effortlessly increasing the length of your blog post.
For example, my blog posts here on Productive Blogging always follow roughly the same formula:
- A very brief introductory paragraph (which also serves as my meta description and the main text for my social media posts).
- A longer introduction to the topic which seeks to grab my reader’s attention and explain clearly what the blog post will cover and why it’s important.
- Initial questions – either explaining things which need to be grasped before the main meat of the text can be understood properly or explaining why this topic is important.
- The main meat of the blog post, usually broken down into bite-sized subsections.
- Some sort of conclusion and/or call to action.
- Further reading on the topic.
- Encouragement to follow, share and subscribe.
- A pinnable image to encourage the reader to pin my blog post.
Using this formula makes it much easier to write longer blog posts and well as giving a consistent style and voice to my blog.
One way to make longer blog posts much easier and more enjoyable to read, as well as scoring major SEO brownie points, is to use subheadings.
Subheadings break down a text into manageable chunks and help readers locate the information that is most relevant to them and their current needs. It also helps search engines to better understand the text. Both of these things help blog posts to perform better in search results.
Often the best way to approach writing a blog post is to use the shoulder questions and / or the Google questions and related searches as the subheadings in the text.
Always remember to use H tags for subheadings. Your main title should be H1, all your main subheadings should be H2 and any sub-subheadings should be H3 (and so on!)
Write short paragraphs and short sentences
Another way to make a long text much more readable – especially on mobile phones and tablets – is to keep paragraphs and sentences short.
Long sentences and paragraphs can look like impenetrable walls of text on smaller mobile devices!
Use examples and quotes
Using examples and / or quotes can both make a blog post longer AND more interesting to your readers and keep them reading for longer.
This is an age-old tactic employed by journalists the world over – and for good reason. Examples and quotes give an article more ‘colour’, make it easier to understand difficult concepts and make the text much more interesting to read.
You might not always be able to think of any suitable quotes or examples, but if you can, you should definitely include them.
You’ll notice I’ve used this very tactic in this blog post – my strawberry jam examples all help explain my points more clearly, add colour and make this blog post longer. Better still, all of these things will score me brownie points with Google!
Break it up with bullets, images and tables
Another way to make your blog post longer is by using bullet points, images and tables.
All of these devices will also make a blog post easier and more pleasurable to read, easier to understand and easier to scan quickly – and all of these things will help your SEO too!
Edit, edit, edit!
When you have finished writing your blog post, don’t just hit publish!
Editing your work may well make your blog post longer – I often think of extra things to add when I read my blog posts through for a second and third time.
But editing your blog post will also make it better and more interesting for your readers. You can easily see what needs to be explained better, what could do with being broken up and what needs to come out as it is completely irrelevant waffle!
Quality not quantity
I can imagine if you have got this far you may be slightly concerned about how long this is all going to take… after all it takes quite considerably longer to write a 2500 word blog post than to quickly dash off a 500 word one.
So I just want to finish with a word about quality over quantity.
This principle applies in two ways:
Firstly, it’s far better SEO-wise to write 1 high quality, well-researched, long-form blog post each week, than 2-3 short rushed ‘off the top of your head’ posts each week. And if you can’t manage 1 high quality, well-researched, long-form blog post per week, consider just writing 1 blog post per fortnight, instead.
Secondly, it’s far better to write 1000 words which really truly answer your searcher’s query than 2500 words of waffle! Don’t allow the idea of needing to write longer blog posts to give you carte blanche to waffle at length. Keep it tight, concise and focused.
If you put into practice the principles in this post and focus firmly on quality over quantity, your blog posts will almost certainly delight your readers and perform better in search results as a result.
Over to you!
Has this blog post helped you in any way? I’d love to hear about it if it has.
Or have you got an extra tip for writing longer blog posts?
Either way, let me know in the comments below!
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