Here’s a question we hear quite often when we talk to B2B marketers about blog content: “How many words should our blogs be?” It’s a fascinating discussion, because there are so many perspectives out there. An SEO expert might say that longer is better, while content marketing pros might recommend making them short and snackable. A PR firm might say that length doesn’t matter, as long as your blogs position your company as a thought leader.
As a content agency, we tend to look at each blog post we create for clients from the perspective of utility. What are you trying to achieve with it, how are people finding it and what do you want them to do after they’ve read it? That leaves room for multiple blog types and styles – and means that a blog’s word count will often vary with its function.
Writing blog posts with a purpose
We’re seeing clients with blogging programs that serve a multitude of roles. Some favor SEO, sure. But many are looking at their blogs as a living library of useful content that supports multiple stages of their buyers’ journeys. Here are a few things our clients are doing with their blog posts:
- Setting up an acute challenge or market need
- Educating prospects on the hidden benefits of their solution
- Highlighting ultra-specific use cases for targeted opportunities
- Proactively overcoming objections or clearing up misconceptions
- Rounding out the content in their monthly newsletters
- Fueling nurture streams and other email marketing programs
- Driving traffic to magnet assets and cornerstone content
- Providing rapid responses to significant industry news and events
- Increasing their search engine rankings for a given keyword or string
Aside from that last one, none of these objectives are directly tied to search engine marketing, so tailoring your blog length for SEO usually isn’t a top priority. In those cases, you can breathe easy and allow the blog’s word count to happen naturally based on your source material, audience and purpose.
The long and short of it
Even though we often don’t need to obsess about word count, it still helps to think about length based on our goals for a given post. We tend to think of long form blog posts as anything over 1,500 words. They offer multiple opportunities to work in your keywords and, written correctly, usually score well with search engines. They also allow companies to explore a topic deeply and provide rich details on the nuances of a use case or the need for a new category of solution. Long form blogs take a lot of time and effort to create, so companies often struggle with putting them out on a regular basis.
Short form blog posts tend to be in the 300-500 word range. They’re typically light on keywords, but contain a quick-hitting nugget of information that appeals to busy readers. Short form blogs are a great way to drive traffic to your high-value content and offer quick takes on industry news. The big upside is that they come together fast and they don’t require a monumental effort to create.
Finding the middle ground
In between the long and short form blogs is a sweet spot we call the mid form blog. Its length can vary between 600 and 1,500 words, and its uses are many. Mid form blogs are just long enough to weave in your most important keywords while providing room to educate readers, explain your position and expand on your key messages. They’re a great way to fuel email campaigns and newsletter programs, and they’re just long enough to provide some depth without losing your busy readers. We’ve found that our writers enjoy working on this content type because it gives them just enough room to develop a nice story without over explaining.
With its versatility and readability, it’s no wonder the mid form blog is a popular choice these days. In a quick study of 100 blog posts published by 40 high tech B2B companies, we found that the majority of them (63%) fall within the 600-1,500 word range. Short form blogs came in second at 31%, while long form blogs comprised only 6%. The numbers could mean that companies are focusing on goals that aren’t SEO related and right sizing their blog posts around a specific purpose. It could also mean marketers are letting the content dictate their word counts or that it’s just really hard to churn out long form content.
Whatever the reason, we’re excited to see the emergence of the mid form blog as the standard out there. We love writing blog posts of all sizes – but mid form blogs are our favorite.
If you’d like a little inspiration on building purpose within your content – check out this post on the top 5 questions to ask before you kick off your next piece of content. To learn more about how we approach different forms of content, check out our blog on creating compelling case studies or this one on the art of the infographic.