How important is the length of an article for SEO?
Posted On April 28, 2020
So, how important is the length of an article for SEO?
Depending on the time that you have and the way you like to work, you create content for your blog.
I suggest planning out a content schedule and sticking to it. But with that said, do we need to produce blog posts of 2000 to 2500 words to get ranked on page 1 of Google (or any other search engine)?
Write as much as you need to bring your message. You write for your readers, not for search engines.
Let me explain…
How long (or short) should your article be?
There is no such thing as too long or too short for an article. It’s like in chess doing the long or short castling. If it’s effective (bringing your king into safety), then that is the one to use.
The key to any article is the headline, followed by the first paragraph and so on until the end, putting in sub-headings for the browsers and enough detail to get your readers emotionally engage.
Yes, it is a ranking factor…
Yes, it is a ranking factor, but surely not a determining one.
There are far more important ranking factors, such as:
- A secure and accessible website
- Page speed (including mobile page speed)
- Mobile friendliness
- Domain age, URL, and authority
- Optimized content
- Technical SEO
- User Experience (RankBrain)
- Social signals
- Time on site
- and many more
And then there is the fact, often forgotten, your ranking at the end will be the sum of all ranking factors.
Not to forget either that search engines like Google will never share their secret algorithm to the public as it is their primary reason of existence and income generation.
What the SEO experts say
In recent years content length has been fiercely debated, with many SEO gurus telling their followers that they must create (extremely) long posts if they want to succeed. While there is evidence that content length correlates to rankings, it’s not the most important factor as I already said.
Let’s look at a fictional graph…
Here is what Moz, a well-known and reputable SEO expert, has to say about:
So these are things where a lot of the posts that you might read, for example, if you were to Google “ideal blog post length” or “ideal publishing frequency” will give you data and information that come from these sources of here’s the average length of content of the top 10 results in Google across a 5,000-keyword set, and you can see that somewhere between 2,350 and 2,425 words is the ideal length, so that’s what you should aim for.
I am going to call a big fat helping if baloney on that. It’s not only dead wrong, it’s really misleading. In fact, I get frustrated when I see these types of charts used to justify this information, because that’s not right at all.
When you see charts/data like this used to provide prescriptive, specific targets for content length, ask:
Any time you see this, if you see a chart or data like this to suggest, hey, this is how long you should make a post because here’s the length of the average thing in the top 10, you should ask very careful questions like:
1. What set of keywords does this apply to? Is this a big, broad set of 5,000 keywords, and some of them are navigational and some of them are informational and some of them are transactional and maybe a few of them are ecommerce keywords and a few of them are travel related and a few of them are in some other sector?
Because honestly, what does that mean? That’s sort of meaningless, right? Especially if the standard deviation is quite high. If we’re talking about like, oh, well many things that actually did rank number one were somewhere between 500 words and 15,000 words. Well, so what does the average tell me? How is that helpful? That’s not actually useful or prescriptive information. In fact, it’s almost misleading to make that prescriptive.
2. Do the keywords that I care about, the ones that I’m targeting, do they have similar results? Does the chart look the same? If you were to take a sample of let’s say 50 keywords that you cared about and you were to get the average content length of the top 10 results, would it resemble that? Would it not? Does it have a high standard deviation? Is there a big delta because some keywords require a lot of content to answer them fully and some keywords require very, very small amounts of content and Google has prioritized accordingly? Is it wise, then, to aim for the average when a much larger article would be much more appreciated and be much more likely to succeed, or a much shorter one would do far better? Why are you aiming for this average if that’s the case?
3. Is correlation the same as causation? The answer is hell no. Never has been. Big fat no. Correlation doesn’t even necessarily imply causation. In fact, I would say that any time you’re looking at an average, especially on this type of stuff, correlation and causation are totally separate. It is not because the number one result is 2,450 words that it happens to rank number one. Google does not work that way. Never has, never will.
What marketers believe
According to a study by Hook Agency, 68% of marketers are reporting that they believe 200-700 words is the ideal length for blog posts on their site.
Something to test
First, find your top 10 blog posts in search by filtering analytics by ‘Organic search’
Then take your top ten blog posts and determine their lengths (word count).
Divide the total by 10 and that gives you an average length of your top 10 blog posts.
When you write new blog posts, try to write articles of that length at a minimum and see how they perform in terms of engagement.
This is a suggestion by a few SEO experts, and maybe worthwhile to test. I sure going to test it.
What I believe
No, I am not an expert in writing content, but did my research and I believe that your articles should be as long as you need to bring the message to your reader.
Yes, the time someone spends on your website is an important ranking factor too, but let’s use common sense too.
Would you read a 2,000 words lengthy product description about a screw?
I would prefer a product page that presents the characteristics of the screw and about its head (crossed, lined…) and the price.
And here is the kicker; If you do your research, use the right keywords, create a good headline and sub-headlines you will write better content and better content is typically longer 🙂
All the best,
While this is not a 2000+ blog post, if you find this informative, share it with your friends and/or leave a comment/question below