I have a confession. I love writing blog posts. In fact, earlier in my practice when I had more time I was literally publishing two blog posts per week on my counseling website!
However, after a year of helping other therapists on their websites, I realize not everyone enjoys writing blogs. In fact, most of the therapists I work with don’t seem to enjoy it. On the other hand, there are private practice owners that fall into the category I am in now…we just don’t have time to write a blog!
So, if you are going to invest time in writing a blog post for your counseling website, how long does it really need to be?
Say What You need to say
So, the first thing I’ll point out is that you need to go until you’ve said enough to make your point.
Remember that the person reading the blog post often has very little knowledge of the topic you are discussing. They’re reading this because they want to learn about this topic from you. So, you owe it to the reader to write enough to get some information across. You really want to offer valuable content that will truly provide value to your readers.
For example, let’s say you’re writing a blog post on how to use active listening to improve relationships. As mental health professionals, the importance of active listening has been emphasized over and over again. Therefore, you might be tempted to just write 2-3 paragraphs on leaning in and staying mindful in the conversation, checking for understanding and validating the other person’s feelings. If your audience was other professionals needing a quick reminder, a 3 paragraph post would be perfect!
However, you are writing for the general public, right? Therefore, I’d recommend starting first with 1-2 paragraphs explaining what you mean by active listening. Then, writing those same three paragraphs with a little more detail than you’d planned as well as a couple of examples. Finally, include a paragraph describing the expected outcome! It’s important to show your readers the value of what you’ve shared.
Long Enough to Use Examples in Your Blog
People learn through stories and examples. Tips, concepts, and new skills are great things to share through a blog post on a counseling website. But to be honest, they’re also easily forgotten. However, people remember stories and examples.
You likely already do this in counseling sessions with clients. For example, when I’m teaching the concept of radical acceptance I sometimes talk to my clients about going through a difficult hike at a local state park. However, while on that hike the client stumbles upon a tree that has fallen across the path. I ask what they would do. They brainstorm several responses. But typically all of their responses involve accepting the reality that the tree has fallen. I ask why they didn’t say they’d yell at God for letting that tree exist. Why didn’t they pretend the tree wasn’t there and keep going? Clients understand that in order to keep going on their hike, they had to accept that the tree existed and find a way to cope with their reality. Furthermore, they then are quick to apply this concept to their own life.
Ok, But Really…How Long Should a Mental Health Blog Post be to Help With SEO?
To truly help your website rank better on search engines, each blog post should be a minimum of 500 words. In fact, it should probably be longer. Most website pages that rank on the first page of Google are more like 2,000 words long. So…500 words is ok, but a 2,000-word blog post is better for SEO.
However, I know that many private practice owners are overwhelmed when I start asking them to write 2,000 words per page on their website. So, I usually say let’s start with 500 and go from there.
Let’s use this post as an example…
I just did a word count and so far I’m at 667 words on this blog post. The short paragraph above could have answered the original question (how long should a counseling blog post be to support SEO?). However, this blog post includes a lot more than those two short paragraphs. Why? 1) I’m giving you additional information I hope you find helpful and 2) A longer blog post will help my site more with SEO.
Consider at least a couple of longer posts
That said…I highly recommend that everyone have at least a couple of “Cornerstone” content type blog posts. That means you have at least a handful of really in-depth, comprehensive blog posts that speak to the core things you help people with. This includes comprehensive guides or topics you cover frequently. These posts highlight your expertise and provide valuable content to website visitors. So, even if most of your blog posts are in the 500-700 range, consider writing a couple of longer, more carefully crafted 2,000-word “cornerstone” type blog posts.
I Don’t Like the Look of Bulky, Long Blog Posts
In my work as an SEO consultant, I’ve worked with several mental health professionals who intentionally had fewer words on their websites for aesthetic purposes. They’re often concerned about overwhelming clients when I start talking about adding more content to their site.
The truth is that most people don’t want to read every word of a 2000 word blog post. In this modern era, most of our website viewers are used to getting information quickly. So…I have a couple of recommendations for breaking up long blog posts…
Strategically Use Headings & Subheadings to Break Up Long Blog Posts
Readers will appreciate more short sections rather than one huge block of words. You want to aim for not having any sections over 300 words. So, if you have a long section of your page, you want to look at where you can break it up by adding a subheading. Furthermore, aim for not having any paragraphs longer than 150 words.
Use Photos Strategically
Photos can also break up a page. More than just breaking up the page, photos can help make a point or really set the tone for your page. Photos can add value to your page. Sometimes, I use smaller photos with text wrapped around them to help illustrate a point. However, there are also times when I use larger photos centered on a page to help break up the content. And of course, as you’re adding those photos, make sure to include some alt text with keywords to help from an SEO standpoint.
Add a call to action!
Man, there are so many great reasons to have a call to action on each page! In fact, every website should have a call to action section. A call to action:
- Add content to your page making it a little longer
- Is a great place to add some keywords
- Gives you space to add internal links
- Encourages viewers to take a step beyond just reading this one blog post
But at the end of the day…just keep publishing consistent content.
At the end of the day, it is more important that you consistently publish content on your site than how long the post is. I would rather see you post a 400-word post twice a month than a 2,000-word post once every three months.
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