Ideal Blog Post Length to Rank in Google’s Top 10 Search Results

People who follow me know one thing whenever they drop in on my blog. I write long articles. Is it because I find pleasure in tormenting the poor wandering souls with infinite words? Hell, no. Of course, there is a reason for this madness. Would you like to know the ideal blog post length to pound the almighty Google into submission?

As far as SEO goes, keywords come to the mind of most bloggers and content writers. While it is important, it is not the only thing Google takes into consideration. Keywords are only a part of the top three ranking signals in Google’s search algorithm.

Even so, other studies have shown that focusing on those three does not guarantee a high ranking. Out there on the web, there are the real SEO experts, and then there are the so-called experts. While the former never commits, the others guarantee top 10 rankings.

Is it possible to ensure a high ranking on Google SERP (search engine results page)?

SEO Deceptions and Misperceptions

Before I tell you how to beat Google to a pulp, if that is possible at all, we need to look at some misperceptions.

After working hard in coming up with a keyword rich article, the result is a high ranking page.

Incredible.

Out of the billions of pages on the web, one finally came out ranking high. As time passes by, though, a new question comes to mind.

Where is the organic traffic?

All thoughts of the benefits of raking in a huge audience remain wishful thinking.

I suppose the brand new house and car will have to wait a while longer. Oh yeah, that new iPhone X will have to wait for another owner to come and pick it up. Damn, the kids will have to do with this school.

Browsing History and Cache

So, what happened?

Google tracks our past activities on the web. It also takes the browser cache into consideration when showing us search results. For that reason, the search engine is so good at predicting our search terms. As a result, it shows us websites that are more or less relevant to what we need.

Because we do tend to stay longer times on our blog, Google thinks that is important to us. Hence, the pages there are likely bumped up. As for other people, their preferences are not the same as ours. In essence, the same search term will likely show different results.

Still on relevancy, the country or territory where people live also plays a role. As such, using the same keywords will produce different results in different localities.

About the only way to be sure of how valid rankings are is to use a paid service. A cheap way is to sign-out of Google and clearing the browser cache before searching. Keep in mind, too, that the search engine defaults to individual user’s country. While we can change the country, it is too time-consuming and tedious.

In essence, our past activities affect the search results. Hence, some of us may mistakenly think we have achieved high rankings.

Sneaky SEO Snakes

Besides history and browser cache, there is another reason for non-existent organic visitors.

SEO wannabes like me use Google Keyword Planner to find relevant keywords. The real experts, though, use paid services to do a comprehensive keyword research. Either way, keywords are a hit or miss, depending on its popularity.

Of course, the goal of finding suitable keywords is to target the ones with less competition.

Consider this.

If a keyword appears in only 9 pages, that means there are only 9 other competition. As a result, using that particular keyword guarantees a top 10 Google ranking. On the contrary, if a keyword is used in a million pages or more, then good luck. Unless one already has an authoritative site, the only way to show up is through AdWords.

All over the web, there are the so-called SEO experts taking advantage of that. Using keywords with less competition is a good strategy because that increases the chances of placing higher in the results. Even if fewer people are using those search terms, it helps increase organic traffic.

Beware of the sneaky SEO snakes, though. Using the same tactic, they mislead people into thinking that their pages are ranking. Sure, it does, but if no one is using those search terms, then who is coming to visit the website?

Finding Commonality in the Top 10 Search Results

Dale Carnegie, John Maxwell, and Stephen Covey are among the authors I admire the most. They are the recognized authorities in their fields on personal development. For them to come up with their principles for success, they looked into commonality.

These authors interviewed and made extensive research on leaders and successful people. Once they found common traits, it became the foundation of their teachings.

Can I find anything common between the top ranking pages?

Using ten search terms, I took a look at the top 10 pages in the results. Immediately, the thing that popped into my mind is the depth of the posts. Almost all the pages had incredible insights with the exemption of a few.

Sure, I had to visit all in all a hundred pages and read. It did take up a lot of my time, but it also came with two benefits. One is that I learned. Another is that I found one thing that is common among the high-ranking pages.

Good Lord, have I stumbled upon the holy grail of Google SERP?

Ideal Blog Post Length of High Ranking Pages

Almost all the pages I visited provided not only great insights but also have depth. Because of that, the content length was also long.

Is that it, writing long form articles is the key to ranking high?

For a better understanding, here is the data I gathered.

Average Length of Content

To be clear, here are background details that can affect the figures in the table.

1. I did not sign out of Google and cleared the browser cache. As such, the pages I visited may not be the same as others.

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2. The search results are from Google Philippines. Hence, people living in other countries will see different results.

3. I counted the words in the main article. It does not include other words found in the header, sidebar, footer, and hidden codes.

4. Finally, the data only shows the number of words. It does not account for anything else such as external links, shares, and other metrics.

Interpreting the Results

I get it. Some people do not like numbers. I do, and there is a reason why bloggers and content writers should, too.

Based on my data, 76% of the pages have over 1,000 words. As for the others, most of them have a higher percentage of internal links. Using this strategy, they broke down their posts into many other posts. As such, Google still considers them as having depth.

Because the average length of all posts is 1,912 words, is that the ideal blog post length then?

Before deciding on that, here is another data gathered by Backlinko.

Content Total Words

As one can see, the data here is different from mine. Here, it shows a declining correlation between the first to the tenth position in Google SERP. Furthermore, their data suggests that the average number of words is 1,890.

A big difference between both sets of data is the sample size and the method. While I used a few search terms related to what I do, Backlinko analyzed one million search results.

Regardless, 1,912 and 1,890 words are almost identical.

Is 1,900 words the sweet spot when it comes to the number of words in a blog post?

Blog Post Length Best Practices

Google recommends that we follow SEO best practices and focus on writing for people. Given that the average length of top 10 pages is 1,900, are we to count the number of words we write?

Our attitude influences the way we do things. For instance, the results of working for the sake of and loving the work is different. In the same manner, our intention when writing manifests itself in the published post.

If one were to write with a target number of words, the result is a less-than-stellar article. Such posts often are inconsistent, and worse, stuffed with words.

Here is an example:

“I learned a lot from the Filipino Writer. The reason why is because it has a lot of good articles to learn from. I like the articles very much especially because they are informative and I learned so much.”

Ouch.

Writing Content Best Practices

Earlier, I mentioned ranking signals used by Google. Let me then tell you what these are.

First and second are the external links and content, of which keywords is a subfactor. Finally, the third is RankBrain – Google’s artificial intelligence system. I am telling you, this is SKYNET (from the Terminator series) in the making.

These ranking signals, including hundreds of others, are the core of Google’s algorithm. While distinct, they are also interrelated.

Google has a fixation on user experience. As such, it wants to show pages that are relevant and insightful. Such obsession led to the creation of the RankBrain. Although it is still in its infancy, it will not be long before it becomes the most important ranking signal.

One purpose of RankBrain is to help find relevant pages by understanding the intent of users. In other words, it tries to understand the context and show results based on what it thinks the users need.

For the machine to serve its purpose, it needs to understand the context of our posts. Using proper external and internal links, we can also further enhance its understanding.

Writing posts with in-depth coverage almost always result in long form articles. Hence, there is no need to think about the number of words. Instead, we ought to focus on the quality and giving the most value to readers.

Quality Reigns Supreme

The way I would describe SEO is this – a little bit here, a little bit there, pretty soon it all adds up. In essence, everything we do to enhance our rankings are all small parts. For us to rank well, we only need to do more than enough of the small parts.

Good things come when a blog keeps receiving a huge number of visitors daily. It opens up collaborations with brands not only here but also in other countries. Of course, that depends on how the bloggers positioned their website. The world without borders where there are limitless possibilities does sound enticing.

In the past, I have used Facebook to boost posts with the intention of driving traffic to my site. Despite my best efforts in selecting the target audience, the numbers were appalling. In particular, most of the people who visited the posts spent a short period of time. Suffice to say, they were not my intended audience. In comparison, Google AdWords did much better.

The lessons I learned from my experience in boosting posts and advertising is this. Companies can do that and they should. But for bloggers, there is a much better option.

Focus on writing high-quality blog posts that give value to readers.

Food, lifestyle or travel bloggers, it does not matter what the niche is. At the end of the day, it is up to individual bloggers to decide what they do.

All I am saying is that the data shows what makes pages rank high. If what they do is to provide in-depth posts, then that is what I am going to do.

By the way. Let me end this post by saying that I hit the sweet spot for the length of content with these last words.

ROBERT LEE

Content Manager, Article Writer, Blogger

17 Comments
  1. One day, I told my friends via a group chat that somebody just left a super long comment in one of my blog posts. They all looked at the site and agreed that the comment, itself, could stand as an article. As we were discussing, one friend mentioned that for your blog post to rank, you need to make your article lengthy and the comments become part of the article as well.

    Reading this confirms that there is some truth to that claim. But more than anything, I always believe that high-quality blog posts that give value to readers is still the best or rather my aim – whether I rank high or not at Google’s search engine.

    1. Berlin,

      How do comments become a part of the content? Google, it seems, takes the context into consideration while indexing a page/post. Even so, the effect it has on the whole SEO is minimal, perhaps even negligible. Still, as Google moves towards understanding an article better, comments may play a role.

      As for the word count, if that is the consideration, then comments are not factored in. In fact, it is only when posts contain much depth that it becomes longer. Otherwise, doing it the other way where bloggers target a certain number of words can be counterproductive.

  2. This is a very good-to-know read for me. I generally do not write very long articles, because I just share my thoughts and I am a person of very few words. But your explanation made it so easy for me to understand. Thank you for always helping starters and youngsters like us.

  3. This article validates that content is King. I like how this post shed light on how SEO works. Not just about the keywords but there are several things to consider – such as the length of an article. By far, this is the most helpful post I’ve read which actually helped me fully understand how Google ranking works. I’m not that hungry for high rankings, but I will always keep in mind that content is always King.

  4. I have been trying to master the art of SEO for as long as I can remember but it’s super complicated. It racks my brain. I am thankful for your articles Sir Robert because you make technical topics easier to comprehend.

    I don’t know if you still remember when I asked you before about articles below 300 words. You told me that Google prioritizes longer articles. I have been trying to write longer articles since then, and they actually tend to rank higher on search results.

    I am pretty sure I won’t master SEO anytime soon, but it’s a great feeling when I am able to pick up something useful. Thank you for always sharing your knowledge.

  5. My blog started out as a passion. It was really just about gathering my thoughts and experiences. Today I have collaborations, but I always try to go back to writing personal posts when I can. Those posts are always lengthy. After reading this, I think I’ll make it a point to write more content on all my posts. I don’t keep up with the numbers, to be honest, and most likely I won’t start now. I liked another article you wrote about how keywords will be a thing of the past.

  6. Robert,

    It’s actually so funny that you’ve published this now!

    It was only a few days ago that I was planning to share with you some interesting statistics with you regarding SEO. I never really gave SEO much thought because who has the time to learn *ANOTHER* thing for their blog, right? What I didn’t realise is that it was probably the one thing I should have learnt (and applied) a very long time ago.

    After reading a few articles you shared, I decided to make a few changes and conduct a small experiment on my blog. I used SEO keywords for some posts and you will never believe it, I got my first organic visitors! When I compare 2016 with 2017, the number of visitors has almost tripled and it’s only because of the last month or two when I started using these strategies.

    The statistics you shared on word count was fascinating and definitely something I’m going to invest in moving forward.

    Again, thank you for your guidance and insight! (There is a reason my partner and I refer to you as the “guru”) 😉

    1. Kylie,

      Thank you for the kind words. It is your turn to make my day and knowing you are getting better results pleases me a lot. I can only hope that most others will do the same thing. Instead of pushing one post after another, take a moment to step back and work on the foundations of having a better blog and web presence.

  7. More than 1000 words is always a challenge for me. Yeost mentions 300+ words is good and I have been adhering to that. Seems like it is clashing with Google requirements.

    I will have to look at new perspectives of writing if I have to write lengthy posts. What about photography based posts? How are they ranked by Google?

    1. Indrani,

      I subscribe to the notion that a picture is worth a thousand words. Words, though, are not enough. For it is in our stories that we can then have a transference of emotion. No, I am not referring to posts where the blogger/writer describes what is shown in the photo. Rather, it is the story behind.

      To your point on Yoast SEO. I do not recall any of them in the team saying that writing 300 words is good. It is the least number of words needed for Google to index a page. Still, a 300-word post is thin, and it rarely gives depth. For that reason, I can understand where you are coming from hence the question.

      Here is my take on sites focusing on photography. As much as a photo itself can tell a tale, what one can do is to create a story with a series of images. Instead of only one picture in an article, have a few where one leads to the other. If I am not mistaken, there is a golden ratio between the number of words before a photo is inserted. I think it is 150 words for every image used.

      With a storyline, an article becomes more compelling, and perhaps even thought-provoking.

  8. When I was just starting to blog, I used to avoid making lengthy articles. First, I’m too lazy to think of words and making my post wordy. Second, it was time-consuming. But as soon as I learned how quality content affects your blog stats, I decided to challenge myself.

    The first time I wrote an article with more than a thousand words, it felt so rewarding. Then it started to motivate me to do the same on my following articles until it became a practice for me to make an article more engaging for readers. I put myself in their position and wrote about: the things readers want to know, facts they want to learn, trivia they probably don’t know and things that they can relate to.

    I am clueless about SEO and Google algorithm, though, but I am eager to learn more.

  9. Very insightful! I do think of you as a lengthy writer (not in a bad way!) I see your name and post and I know I better grab my cup of coffee and sit down in my comfy chair, and read and scroll and read and scroll, you get the picture 😉

    I think it’s great research on your part to crack the code and put a dent in the SEO world. (Google butt-kicking time. Well… maybe, they’re kind of powerful!) And it’s funny to think that the lengthier the article, the better the ranking when here I was, like a sucker, shortening my novels I write three times a week. I’ve been doing it all wrong, dang it!

    I’m going to give this a try, so thank you!

  10. I love your posts because they are always informative and I always learn something new. This is an important issue for writers. My articles are usually around 1000 words, and everything above is actually quite hard to write. Most of the people I work with usually ask for 800-1000 articles, but some of them were interested in lengthier ones too. Once I had to write an article of 2500 words, and it was an absolute mess – probably the worst one I have ever written. Never again, that’s for sure.

    1. Irma,

      Writing long-form articles depends on the topic and the coverage. For instance, if we are not providing enough depth, then coming up with a certain number of words is challenging to do, and not to mention, lowers the quality and its usefulness to the audience. On the contrary, as we add more depth, more often than not, we have to limit the number of words lest it reaches 10K.

  11. I love numbers, A/B testing, and analytics! I really believe that measuring and data can help you build better content. That and creativity as well. It’s not all in the data. But without data, there’s no basis to build on. I love how you wrote this article. It’s very helpful. I love reading how you did your (quite extensive) research. The length of my articles usually depends on my subject and what I want to tell. But there’s definitely something to say for investing in some longer articles that really go in depth.

  12. It is very true that Google focuses on the user experience rather than the keywords they are searching. Unfortunately, nobody knows the formula for the Google algorithm, it is composed out of hundreds of different signals. However, you are right, one of these elements is the personalization, and it is based on the past activity on the search engine. If you open an incognito window, you will see different results. As per the length of the posts, I believe that there has to be quality in it and not just simple words that add up to 2000+. I have seen posts with less than 100 words indexed on the first page, but because they give the right information a user is searching for, they rank well.

    1. Joanna,

      Regarding the quality of the content, you hit the nail right on its head. Hence, when writing blog posts, the idea is to focus on depth and insight it gives instead of counting the number of words.

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