[Research Study] How Many Words is The Average Blog Post?
This is a question that I get a lot: what's the average word count of blog posts? Some people want to know what to strive for, and others want to know what they are up against so they can write a blog post that is above the average word count. In either case, to get an idea of the average length of word count, I'll need a large data set, which is difficult to acquire for a handful of reasons:
- I'll need several enterprise-level programs to scrape, post-process, and harvest statistics.
- I'll need the ability to scrape specific blog footprints without hitting captchas on search engines.
- I'll need a large amount of proxy IP addresses so I don't get blocked.
- I'll need to organize and display the data in a way that is easy to digest.
- I'll need to filter out spam sites and anomalies with abnormally high word counts (such as groups of syndicated posts or comment spam posts).
- I'll need to filter out broken pages and redirected pages.
- I'll need a reasonably large data set size that won't crash Scrapebox, Screaming Frog, or Excel.
- I'll need to wait a long, long time while these scrapers get to work scouring the internet.
- I'll need to wait longer for the web page scraper to fetch the word count of each of those pages.
So, I set to work and scraped a list of 28,829 blog posts. The first 12,412 of them are blog posts that were published in 2019, and the remaining 16,417 blog posts were published on dates ranging from 2011 to 2015. I thought it would be interesting to compare data sets from recently published posts to posts that were published 4-8 years ago to see what's changed, if anything.
To accomplish this, I used the following software:
- Screaming Frog SEO Spider Pro
- Scrapebox 64 Bit
- Microsoft Excel 2019
- Adobe Photoshop CS6
- Text Mechanic Pro
Let's dig in!
All URLs were retrieved from Google and Bing for a large and completely random assortment of topics and keywords. These were primarily blog posts in popular formats including how-to articles, guides, questions, and reviews. Posts that had less than 150 words of content were removed (generally these were pages where the blog post was deleted or moved). Articles over 4500 words were also removed, as there were not enough posts in this range to appear on the graphs, and the overwhelming majority of them were low quality or spam. After post-processing, removing duplicates, spam, and filtering to make sure I'm only counting real blog posts, I ended up with 28,829 blog posts.
Since Google Panda was launched in 2011, which targeted thin and low quality content, my hypothesis is that shorter posts will become less prevalant over time, and the average word count for blog posts will increase substantially in 2019. Since webmasters in 2011 were deleting short and low-effort posts that were negatively affected by this penalty, I expect to see a drop of shorter posts (500-1000 words) being published and an increase in posts that are between 1000-3000 words.
Blog Post Length Between 2011 and 2015
The first half of this study focuses on blog posts published between 2011 and 2015. Blogging and content quality saw the greatest shift after the year 2011, so I thought it would be interesting to compare these posts to posts that were published more recently. Here are the results:
Here are some of the things I learned from this data:
- 31% were between 511 and 991 words
- 32% were between 991 and 1591 words
- 15% were between 1591 and 2071 words
- 11% were between 2071 and 2551 words
- 5% were between 2551 and 3151 words
- 2% were between 3151 and 3511 words
Not surprisingly, nearly a third of the 16,417 posts in this first data set were under a thousand words. The graph had a nice bell curve and the most popular word count range was 991-1111 words per post, followed closely by 871-991 words per post.
The average of these 16,417 blog posts in the 2011-2015 data set was 1,555 words. The most popular word count was 991-1111 words per post.
This number was a bit higher than I would have guessed, but considering that 65% of these blog posts had between 991 and 3511 words of content, it definitely bumped up the average quite a bit.
Blog Post Length in 2019
The second half of this study is from a data set of blog posts that were written this year. Here are the results:
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Here are some takeaways from this data:
- 23% were between 511 and 991 words (8% drop)
- 36% were between 991 and 1591 words (4% increase)
- 17% were between 1591 and 2071 words (2% increase)
- 8% were between 2071 and 2551 words (3% drop)
- 5% were between 2551 and 3151 words (No change)
- 2% were between 3151 and 3511 words (No change)
Shorter blog posts that were between 511 and 991 words saw a 8% decrease, which I attribute to thin or low value content being penalized by Google in 2011. Not surprisingly, slightly longer posts between 991 and 2071 posts saw a 4% and 2% increase respectively.
Interestingly, posts between 2071 and 2551 words saw a small drop, but long-form content between 2551 and 3511 words didn't see a change at all.
This bell curve seemed pretty close at the top, with posts between the 991 and 1351 word range being nearly identical in frequency.
The average of these 16,417 posts from the 2019 data set was 1,506 words. The most popular word count was 1231-1351 words.
I was surprised to see the average word length of these posts drop in 2019, but satisfied that the 53% of posts between 1000 and 2000 words saw a 6% increase.
Posts between 3000-5000 words were far less common. However, our first data set happened to have more of those, despite them making up a low percentage of the overall data set.
It certainly appears from examining the data of these blog posts that your average blog post is trending towards an increase in word count over time. The most common word count from 4-8 years ago was about 1000 words, and this year we're seeing an increase to about 1300 words.
This was a 21-24% increase in the average word count from the data that was sampled. With this info, we might assume that the most popular blog post word count could be somewhere between 1500 and 1700 words a few years from now.
In the future, I may work to build a larger sample size and include posts that were published between 2015 and 2018 as well. I may just have to wait a week or two while my server churns through the data!
What are your thoughts? Will this change your blogging habits in the future? Let me know in the comments below!