For a long time, people have been saying that long form content performs better than short form content. “Write longer content if you want to rank higher in Google!” But what’s long, and what’s short? Today we’re debunking blogging myths, starting with blog post length.

Hubspot says that long form content is anywhere between 1,000 to 7,500 words. Wordstream says anything that’s over 1,200 words long. And MarketMuse says anywhere between 700 and 2,000 words. Point is, there’s no such thing as an optimal blog post length that everyone agrees on.

Now, there’s hundreds, maybe even thousands of articles out there recommending you to publish long form content for the greatest chance at success. So we thought we should start debunking blogging myths and put this to rest. We’ll put some common misconceptions around to rest, backed by an analysis of 900 million pages of content.

Myth #1: Longer content leads to more backlinks

On the surface, there are two logical reasons why people think that longer content performs better than short content. The first is that longer content leads to more backlinks. And this seems logical because the more content you have, the more potential linkworthy points there’ll be. But our analysis of 900 million pages doesn’t exactly support this theory. We found a clear positive correlation between word count and referring domains for content that’s up to 1,000 words long. But if we zoom out, you’ll actually see that there’s a strong negative correlation between backlinks and word count for content over 1,000 words. 

Our theory is that the correlation partly comes down to a balance between thoroughness and succinctness. People generally don’t read full blog posts. So if your guide is 20,000 words long, then the most important points that people might reference are likely to be buried in your content. And if people aren’t reading your content, then you won’t be getting links.

Myth #2: Longer content get more organic traffic

The second thing that many people believe is that longer content gets more organic traffic. Again, this makes sense at face value because longer content (assuming it’s not filled with nonsense) will include more subtopics, which can lead to more organic keyword rankings. And data supports this. There was moderate positive correlation between word count and organic traffic. But… this is only up to 2,000 words. There was actually a moderate negative correlation for content that’s longer than 2,000 words.

So, does this mean that you should write content that’s up to 1,000 words to get as many backlinks as possible? And then should you update your content so it’s longer, but no more than 2,000 words, so you can rank for more keywords?

The answer is no! As Google’s John Mueller said, word count is not a ranking factor. So this shouldn’t be something you should take into consideration when writing your content. So how long should a blog post be?

We think that it is “as long as it needs to be, to adequately cover the topic in depth.” This might come off as a bit of an annoying and abstract answer, but that’s only true if you still believe that blog posts need to be of a certain length in order to rank high in Google. Fortunately, there are content writing processes that are going to naturally guide you to an optimal blog post length! Make sure to check out our blog posts on content writing for SEO, which will walk you through this process and come to your “as long as it needs to be” answer!