“It depends.” What a totally unsatisfying answer. Of course it depends. But there are rules of thumb. There is research. We can analyze what works and draw conclusions. We can create guidelines, especially for things that are measurable. Like length.
Here are guidelines for length for ten types of content. Most of these are compiled from studies that analyzed the high-performers. Take a look:
Now that you’ve got the data, let’s look at the research…
Blog posts vary in length from a few short paragraphs (Seth Godin style) to 40,000 words (Neil Patel style). If your goal is search engine traffic, longer is better.
When serpIQ analyzed high ranking pages, they found more text correlates with high rankings.
(source: Serp IQ)
On this chart, “content” includes navigation, sidebar content, and other page elements, so the numbers here look slightly higher than the recommended blog post length.
Think about it this way: Google is a research tool. Longer pages have more opportunities to indicate their relevance. Google sees longer pages as more likely to contain the answer to the searcher’s question.
Another reason is links. When MOZ analyzed 3,800 posts on their own blog, they found that the longer posts get linked to more often. Longer pages generally attract more links, and these links support a higher rank.
The ideal length for a search optimized blog post is 1,500 words.
Related Post: How Often Should I Blog?
Surprisingly, the length of an email subject line doesn’t have a big impact on open and clickthrough rates. According to a study by MailChimp, shorter subject lines perform only slightly better.
Even if the benefits are in the single digits, most experts would say shorter is better. Especially mobile recipients, longer subject lines get truncated when viewed on a phone.
The ideal email subject line is 50 characters or less.
It’s because of the biology of the human eye.
According to the Web Style Guide, the field of vision for readers is only a few inches. If a line of text is too long, the reader needs to use more muscles in the eye and neck. It takes more work to travel all the way across a long line of text, back and forth, over and over. Readers are more likely to lose their place. This slows reading rates and comprehension.
Since the length of a line of text is typically determined during the web design process, if you want to change it, you may need to have your web designer tweak your “CSS files.”
The ideal length for a line of text is 12 words.
When you open a book, you expect to hit a wall of text. But books don’t have back buttons. On the web, long paragraphs are a problem.
Website visitors are often scanners. Short paragraphs let them get the meaning in short bursts. Many (even most) visitors scan down the page, glancing at headers and sub-headers, then dive deeper into the paragraphs if something catches their interest.
“Short paragraphs get read, long paragraphs get skimmed, really long paragraphs get skipped.”
– Jason Fried
Designers know that visitors love whitespace, but somehow, writers didn’t get the message. Don’t write walls of text. Break up paragraphs to create white space on the page.
The ideal length for a paragraph is 3 to 4 lines maximum.
Some YouTube videos are hundreds of hours long …but they’re not very popular. The most popular videos are pretty short.
When David Waterhouse analyzed the length of the top 50 YouTube videos he found the average length was 2 minutes 54 seconds. Clinton Stark reported that Google researchers from the YouTube team confirmed this recommended length.
Why are short videos popular on YouTube? Consider this:
YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world
The percentage of viewers who watched the entire video is a ranking factor
So if it’s very long, fewer viewers may watch the entire video, which could cause it to rank lower, be discovered less often, and be less popular.
The ideal length for a YouTube Video is 3 to 3½ minutes.
The length of podcasts ranges almost as much as YouTube videos. Some popular podcasts are 60-seconds; others are several hours. The top 10 business podcasts range from 15 minutes to an hour, averaging 42 minutes.
According to research by Stitcher, the average podcast listener stays connected for 22 minutes on average.
This number isn’t surprising. Studies cited in the National Teaching and Learning Forum show that students zone out after 15-20 minutes of lecture time. After 20 minutes, attention and retention rates crash.
The ideal length for a podcast is 22 minutes.
Besides the blog post itself, there are a few other parts of the page that affect SEO. The most important of these is the title tag. Why so important? The title tag becomes the link when the page ranks in Google.
According to recent research by Dr. Pete over at Moz, the title tags guidelines have changed due to the redesign of Google’s search results. Using the new title tag preview tool, this is what your title tag will look like:
If a title is too long, it gets truncated, and people won’t be able to read it all. The cutoff point is around 60 characters. So use the target keyphrase once and keep it short. See Orbit’s SEO Best Practices for more info.
The ideal length for a title tag is 55 characters.
As with the title tag, the meta description is visible in search results and it gets cut off if it’s too long.
It should be a single sentence in plain English, summarizing the content of the page. Use the target keyphrase once and don’t make it too long. See Orbit’s Content Checklist for more info.
The ideal length for a meta description is 155 characters.
According to research by Track Social, shorter Facebook messages get more engagement. Here’s the correlation between length and likes:
Length isn’t the only factor, or even the most important factor; Facebook posts with images get four times as much response as posts without! But, if a Facebook post is longer than the longest tweet (140 characters), response rates drop off fast.
The ideal length for a Facebook post is 100 to 140 characters.
So, if Facebook posts should be as long as tweets, than 140 characters is a good length, right? Actually, that might not be true.
Dan Zarrella analyzed 200,000 tweets with links to see if length correlated with high clickthrough rates. It does. Longer tweets tend to get more clicks, but the maximum 140 characters wasn’t the highest. The peak looks to be around 120 to 130 characters:
The ideal length for a tweet is 120 to 130 characters.
Like everything else on your site, your domain is either long or short. And just like everything else, length has a correlation with popularity. Here, shorter is better.
If you look at the top 250 websites on the Internet, the average number of characters in their domains is 7.15. That’s pretty short.
Here’s data from a study conducted by Daily Blog Tips. The red line shows the average.
More than 70% of these domains are eight characters or fewer. Also, 86% were .com domains. What does this tell us?
The ideal length for a domain name is 8 characters. Great domains are short, .com extensions and easy to remember.
These are guidelines, not rules. Making it longer or shorter doesn’t guarantee failure; making it exactly these lengths doesn’t guarantee success. Even this post and it’s corresponding email didn’t follow each guideline exactly!
There’s really only one hard, fast rule for content length and it goes like this:
Every piece of content should be as long as it takes to convey the message, and no longer.
That’s the long and the short of it. Comments and questions are welcome, as always. Ideal comment length is 12-15 words.
Found this concisely comprehensive and very helpful. Thank you!
[…] a title tag with a maximum of 55 characters. Your title tag becomes the blue link in search results, so it’s important that it tells readers […]
This is great Andy, thanks!
This article tells you about some of the most effective tricks like the ideal length for blog posts, tweets, and everything else in your marketing.
I think the main task of post or article is to express the main idea. That`s why I think, that post should be short and bring the main information.
Great artikle. Thanks. I am always confused about the length and every SEO person in my team has different opinion about the post length.
That was really a nice piece of information !
This is very helpful. I would love to see the average length of Blab and Periscope, or any live stream video.
A very informative article and I started to change my content length accordingly. Especially my earlier posts were too short. Really this is very helpful.
Thanks for the awesome tips. Helpful to make ideal content that will definitely go viral.
Great suggestions! I really appreciate you taking the time to help out the people who just don’t know where to start! Cheers!
Thanks for useful tips!
Andy sir really its right. Great post average post words and title tag word help me a lot to grow my sites ranking
The YouTube length measurements could well be skewed by the fact that YouTube is a popular platform for listening to music and watching music videos. Songs tend to be in that 3-4 minute range, and people tend to watch musical YouTube videos repeatedly.
Also, really long videos are going to raise that average a lot more than really short ones can lower it.
Informative post. This tech-tics is very helpful for us. Thanks for sharing.
It is an amazing post, your explanation is very detailed and I love it. However, my problem is I can only write articles for maximum up to 1,000 words. Hopefully I can reach targets more than that.
Thank you Andy for sharing.
Hi Andy! Our team spent the majority of our weekly call talking about blog post length today… Your quote at the end here really sums it up for me: “Every piece of content should be as long as it takes to convey the message, and no longer.”
Arbitrary word lengths serve no one! Thanks for another great post.
Yes, that last sentence is the most important point. It originally said “Every piece of content should be as long as it takes to convey the message, and NOT A WORD longer” …but then I shortened it. 🙂
ok its mean we are now write for seo not for users. Research is totally based on major giants which are always on top in google. They always on top because of their strength.
1500 words??? That is a tall order for a photography blog!
Maybe, but maybe not! There are entire books written about photography. They are probably hundreds of thousands of words long. Photography can be very technical and detailed explanations of specific techniques may that a lot of time (and words) to cover.
I bet if you starting teaching me how to take great pictures, and we recorded and transcribed the conversation, it would be many thousands of words eventually.
If the things you write tend to be short, don’t fluff them up. Try choosing bigger topics. Hope this helps, Abbie!
I really appreciate your article as you discussed very important guidlines for content marketing recommended length for every kind of content and this is what i follow when i come to write articles i keep them as longer as i can to rank them faster and for emails “it is the first time to know the recommended length in your article”
Another great post, Andy! Saved me a lot of time.
Thats a great article. Does the length of blog posts hold true for mobile apps also?
The length recommended here for posts is based on research for pages that tend to rank in Google. Since pages in apps don’t have URLs, they can’t rank so this doesn’t apply. Thanks for your question!
Really great analysis… very helpful…
I am always confused about the length and every SEO person in my team has different opinion about the post length. This article is really informative.
you are done, exelent and nothing can i say except thanks..
Thanks for sharing valuable information on length of facebook posts and tweets. I tried and its working really great.
What I have experienced is that the top ranking pages on Google are the ones that are written in detail. They are generally around 1200-1500 words.
Very nice indeed Andy, thanks a lot, definitely worth sharing to others.
This was awesome to read, with nice hard data- One thing to note however, is the need to target key phrases in your blog post- one could write about getting stunning traffic for days on end and never come close to the likes of Neil Patel. Keyword research is key! (haha)
I think content is not depend on length its depends on interest of readers!Thanks
I think are you not completely aware of content marketing industry.
Can you please clear my unawareness so i can explain you better with your problem.Thanks!
this things shows how you are eager to your seo ranking. its all about black hat seo. be aware with google. good luck.
Thank you for the awesome post. There is a question, What should be the content length in webpage?
Hi, Ashutosh. Actually, the research above about the length of blog posts applies to any search optimized web page. It doesn’t distinguish between web pages and blog posts. Hope this helps!
Excellent condensed summary of SEO lengths. Thank you.
Thank you for these marvelous tips on the length of tweets, Facebook posts, etc. Something motivating stuff, some of it startling. Though I’d still recommend people that shorter is better, these articles change my mind. I learn a lot from here.
I love this post…these are things people ask me always – very pleased to have the stats and info to share with them.
Interesting Post. Thanks for sharing. As we all know precise is better and it maintains the interest of readers too to read small posts instead of reading lengthy paragraphs. Thanks for the tips and great advice.
GREAT POST! Andy. Thank you….
Nice. I haven’t really aware of some of these. The basic I know is 500 words, anyway, great post!
It would also be worth noting that according to Quintly Research [ http://goo.gl/UJZDAa ], the ideal length of a Google+ post is 156 characters.
If you’re emailing a group though, your subject line character limit is 40. So be sure to grab their attention in under 40 characters!
Great post, Andy!
I question that long length for blog posts. The Google algorithm is in constant flux and I’ve heard that breaking long posts into shorter, more specific posts is best. Plus, we must consider the reader. Beyond Google, to convey your message, short is more likely to be consumed in entirety. But thanks for the headline counts, etc. That saves some testing!
I absolutely agree, Sonia. The reader is all important. Google doesn’t share, comment, subscribe or turn into a lead. Write for humans first!
It’s true that there is a correlation between long posts and high rankings, but yes, there are benefits to breaking up posts as well. Creating several posts will create opportunities for internal linking, which is also a good thing for SEO…
Thanks for this informative post. Are you sure that posts for SEO must be so long? I’ve seen results and serps in Google.it queries that “make no sense” and don’t respect this rule… maybe because it’s not updated like Google.com.
Hello, Michael. No, it’s not true that posts have to be that long. These are just guidelines, not rules. There are many high ranking pages that are much shorter in length. This is the difference between correlation and causation. Longer posts correlate with higher rankings, but length alone doesn’t cause higher rankings. There are many other search ranking factors!
I’m glad if you fine these guidelines useful!
I am a blogger and running technology blogs. I am trying to make post length one but unable to do that as news has not enough material like sometimes leaks, new feature added etc … Average length of my post is 500 words. Do you think that this is enough for SEO purposes.
Very well done Andy. Have to admit, I followed a link from LinkedIn and expected to be able to poke some holes in this (and some really anal person might take issue with such precise recommendations), but as general guidelines these are really good. I teach a lot of content marketing workshops and am always asked questions about length of content. I plan to grab a couple screen shots from here and incorporate them into the workshop – with full credit to Orbit.
Thanks, Arnie. This means a lot coming from you. I’ve been a fan of you guys for years. You once made a nice little video about a different kind of length: it was about how long you have to stick with content marketing before you see results. I’ve shared that one many times…
If you ever get ideas to collaborate, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to work on something with you guys!
Andy – appreciate you sharing our work. Will think about some ways we might be able to collaborate.
Great post and wonderful graphs. Lots of good information everyone can use.
Not to be /that person/, but I know I’d want to know of any typos:
“Use the target keyphrase once and do make it too long.”
So… we SHOULD make it too long? 😉
But seriously. It’s nice to have some guidelines to keep in mind when creating content. Thanks!
Thanks for sharing. Really helpful.
Love it! And it gives SEO people something more to do!
Wow…that was the best info package I’ve been sent in a very long time.
Now I just have to find the time to post something on all those sites!
The Facebook post length graph really made me thinking, why did I not see this earlier.. Sometimes it’s hard to make posts as small as possible, but as we can see it does influence the social interactivity greatly. I’m wondering how strong images attached to the posts influence this, as I’m sure they will have quite an impact.
I think it’s important to first identify what the purpose is for the blog. Because blogging is the new SEO, 1500 words may be too many – and it really depends upon the industry/business doing the blogging. I appreciate the research on which you based your conclusions, however, I even more appreciate your admission: it depends!
Regarding the ideal blog post lenght, are you sure it is 1 500 words and not 1 500 characters?
Yes, as a stats major and Master’s in Quality Management I’m reminded of the “average of the average”.
Qualifying “the best” as a range or guideline is warranted since absolutes are almost never good, and soon the averages become the standard and solely relied upon as the “Golden Rule”
This becomes problematic and adds to stagnation, so again I repeat that qualifying the ideals with guidelines is advisable, especially in a dynamic environment such as the named sites.
Anyway, good to have a conversation starter for marketing
Great info. I posted the link to the SCORE Charlotte group LinkedIn site. This will be so helpful for anyone starting a new business and for the mentors to reference.
Excellent & appreciated. You cut to the chase.
Very interesting. I’m most fascinated by the length of a blog post. I always heard 300-500 words. But it makes sense that Google wants more.
Thanks for sharing this!
Great article! Very useful information that a lot of people overlook or assume there is no definite answer. Thanks for posting!
I think the secret is out about 1500 words but my frustration is that blogs tend to get fluffy trying to hit that mark. I find it hard to balance saying what needs to be said (I tend to be concise) and making sure I at least hit 1,000 words. I am not sure if I understand the point about all page content. Does that mean every post gets an extra 500 words or so based on sidebars and what not?
Yes, a typical page includes more words than the content. For example, the navigation at the top of this page includes words, but those aren’t content. Same with the footer.
I know what you mean about “fluffy.” My tip for avoiding that is to write longer posts by picking bigger topics. For example, this post could have been just about the average length of blog posts, but it would have been pretty short. By adding all of the other related topics, I think it got up to around 1600 words. And it was more fun to research and write.
Never, never break the rule about length! Always, always be concise! Make sure to omit any and all needless and unnecessary words, especially if they are superfluous. 🙂
Great post, Andy! Very useful! Just one question: What do you mean by “responses” for Facebook? As you already note “likes” and “comments”. How are “responses” different from those? Aren’t comments responses? Thanks! 🙂
Good question, Jodie. I read the Track Social research carefully and it doesn’t do a good job of explaining their response score. I assume it’s their own metric. I actually thought about redrawing the chart to remove that line.
It must be related to likes and comments, since there aren’t really any other ways to “respond” in Facebook! Sorry I don’t have a better answer. If you come across one, let me know!
I loved this post, but I have a question. Did I understand correctly that while blog posts should ideally be around 1500 words, website content can be shorterand still have good/strong SEO? (So much for 12-15 words!)
Hello, Terri. Yes, the research shows the average length of high ranking posts. But of course, there are hundreds of other ranking factors. If the phrase your targeting isn’t very competitive, you may be able to rank with a shorter page. But generally speaking, longer pages rank better.
It makes sense to me. If you were Google, and you were deciding which of two pages is likely to answer the question of the searcher, you may be more likely to decide that the longer page has the answer. Think of Wikipedia!
Is that helpful? Just let me know if you have other questions…
Andy, what is the preferred length for a 1. note to the wife 2. resignation letter 3. complaint to United that their WiFi never works?
Andy will probably have good intel here but on #3 I’m pretty sure the answer is whatever you want b/c they don’t care
Very cool stuff here Andy. Thanks for sharing!
Very detailed and helpful. Thank you.
A 1500-word blog post may be optimal for SEO (and my own experience corroborates that). I think it is a little long for the average human. That’s why I recommend writing blog posts with a ‘dynamic range’ of lengths – some short, some long. I also believe that optimal video length depends upon demographics. Boomers and seniors lose patience with videos longer than 2 minutes, primarily because they were taught in school how to quickly scan a printed page. As a result they can absorb information 10 time faster from a printed page than they can via video/audio. Millennials and Gen Y on the other hand don’t want to read anything long and would prefer to watch a longer video.
Please share where you got the video length/age data, because I am not sure it is very accurate.
Another winner. Well done, Andy!
Starting up with a company that wants me to activate their social media strategy, these are terrific data-backed tips. Thank you
Thank my video is really short some video is sixty second
because i know my audience is low tolerance
for main purpose of youtube i use to build gate to my sale page
Interestingly enough, Google recently changed their SERPS display which made the title tag length shorter by about 10 characters from 70 to 60. Here is a link to an article that talks more about that http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2334399/Google-Search-Layout-Change-is-Here-to-Stay-Despite-Poor-Reviews
I guess the old saying “it’s not about the size, it’s what you do with it” comes into play here!
Good to know! I hadn’t heard that. Thanks for the input, George. It’s appreciated.
Thanks for the info, George! Dr. Pete pinged me too so I’ve just updated the post.
Thank you for all the stats, links and follow-up info.
As always, Andy, every new post you write is a new learning opportunity. Thank you. 🙂 I added it to my kippt!
Thanks for the comment, Anca. I’m glad these posts have been useful! I don’t know what a kippt is, but thank you for adding this there. 🙂
Hope all is well in Germany.
Thanks, Andy. All well here. 🙂
Great information, Andy. Thank you for compiling all of this..!
I disagree with the podcast length, but don’t disagree with the time spent listening.
Personally I feel that most podcast listeners listen in chunks. They may stop around the 20 minute mark, but they may pick back up on their next commute or lunch break.
So instead of limiting to 20 minute episodes, perhaps structure your podcast with 20 minute segments in mind. Provide your audience with a good stopping point.
I see your point. If the average reader reads 20 pages at a time, that doesn’t mean the ideal length for a book is 20 pages. If the average swallow is a few ounces, that doesn’t mean that every drink should be served in a shot glass.
Great content should be sipped, not guzzled.
But podcasters should keep this attention spam limit in mind. Break it up, podcasters!
During his live speeches, Gene Schwartz (?) would put the timer on for 33 minutes. He explained that it was the longest time that individuals could listen before their minds wandered off. If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say that the best podcasts are only 20 minutes because we can’t see the speaker. Different times, different mediums, and different attention spans.
I’ve you’re invoking the name of copywriting legend Eugene Schwartz, you’ve got my attention. I’m inclined to go along with anything he recommended. That guy was the master…
Agreed. Advertisers prefer podcasts to be one hour and they’ve done the research….so that doesn’t mean that “one hour” is the gold standard, but if you’re looking for sponsorship you should take into account what they’re hoping to achieve.
Maybe they want the commercial break (word from our sponsors) to be at the 22 minute mark. If so, it’s a bit similar to the pacing of TV programs, which would make sense.
This is really interesting to me. Thanks for the input, Craig, Kendra and Joe!
That’s about how long album sides used to be, too.
Andy– What great information! It’s the questions to which everyone always wants an answer. Yet I believe many of them will balk at 1,500 articles and blog posts. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen
Thanks for the comment, Heidi. Yes, a lot of bloggers struggle to writer the longer, more authoritative posts. If they need help, they should look at your blog as an example.
PS: I was at a conference yesterday called “BrandSmart” Your name came up half a dozen times. You have many many fans, Heidi!
People are seriously not listening to the ideal comment length! ha!
I love this post…these are things people ask me constantly – very happy to have the stats and info to share with them.
I’ve always been a fan of the 12 words per line, but this blog I designed has 15…seems to be working out, give or take a few words. 😉
Great practical advice Andy. For someone just starting out in creating content marketing, it’s very useful.
Thanks Andy for another terrifically informative blog post.
Really helpful info. I will use this with students! Thanks, Andy.
I hope they put these guidelines to good use! But I’m sure you’ll emphasize the “rule” at the end. Brevity in writing is super important.
Thanks for the comment, Jill.
Another great one, Andy. Love it. I think frequency and consistency of thought-leadership like this is a challenge for a lot of us (it is for me). I commend you for keeping the valuable content coming at a steady clip. Thank you!
Fantastic post! I wonder how long the ideal Twitter handle would be. Any thoughts?
I haven’t seen any data, but I suspect that the research into ideal length for twitter handles would be similar to domains. Naturally, they have a lot in common. A great Twitter handle would be very short, but also be very easy to remember.
I’ve dropped people’s handles from retweets because their handle was too long. Then again, mine isn’t that short. 🙂
True but yours is a single name and people can remember it once they come across it frequently.
Mine is salmanamughal which isn’t the best one’s out there but gotta work with it 🙂
Great information, yet again, Andy. I’ll be testing and honing in on my FB posting lengths now… Thanks!
Super tips Andy, I would go on but don’t want to go over 15 words 😉
Thank you for the (concise) comment, Anneliz!
Have you ever written a 1000 word blog post comment? I have! I suspect a lot of us have…
Interesting stuff, some of it surprising. I would have guessed the ideal YouTube video would be under 2 minutes. I guess you can’t argue with data. Though I’d still counsel people that shorter is better, especially for content that is probably not going to be blockbuster viral.
The 4-line rule on paragraphs is tricky since you never know how it’s going to appear on people’s screens due to screen resolution, mobile devices, etc. I always try to limit my paragraphs to two sentences. Short ones. (Except here, I guess.)
Finally, the domain thing is bad news for those of us with long names!
I’m with you, Rob. I thought the video length would have been shorter. Maybe I just have a short attention span 🙂
But, also thought it was interesting about the 22minutes for podcasts and the correlation to the students in a lecture. That makes a lot of sense! College classes take note – our brains need a short break here and there.
Ha, me too! 🙂
Great stuff. I would love to see data for LinkedIn and Google+ posts too!
Me three… and all in one cheat sheet infographic 😉
Check out my comment below. Quintly says 156 for G+ and 40 for the subject line if you’re emailing groups (that’s my own research ;).
Interesting blog post. Unfortunately I only read the short paragraphs. And skipped both the long paragraphs and really long paragraphs. Kidding! Andy, I read every word. Just one ad man’s opinion but I think it’s one of your best ever. B R A V O !
Thanks, David! That means a lot coming from you. Honestly, I was a bit worried I’d get murdered in the comments on this one. People may rightly point out that there are no rules for these things. …and I’ll end this paragraph here so you don’t skip it. 🙂
Thank you for these fabulous tips on the length of tweets, Facebook posts, etc. I have a tendency to write long FB posts, but I’ll edit my words. ABT: always be testing. 🙂
Thanks for mentioning testing, Amandah. There are always outliers! I’ve seen posts, videos, tweets and podcasts that go against these guidelines and do fabulously well. Marketing = experimentation. 🙂
What are your thoughts?