A content development strategy is at the heart of many a marketing campaign. Google states that “the freshness of content plays a bigger role in answering queries” and what better way is there to regularly implement fresh, relevant content than by making use of a blog? Not only can they be used for fresh content, but can also provide relevant information on your business and products. All in all, blogs are pretty awesome.
A question that stumps many marketers and businesses worldwide is “how long should a blog actually be?”. It’s super easy to type up a 300-word piece of content and just throw it onto the website, but how well will this actually perform in terms of search rankings? On the contrary, we’ve also seen businesses pump out thousands of words worth of content, spending hours at a time, but is longer truly better?
Is There a Perfect Content Length?
As is the case with most things Google, nobody really has any idea (except maybe the programmers cackling as they add to the algorithm). There are experts across the industry who swear by certain lengths but have little evidence apart from their own experiences and performance. The experts at Google themselves are coy on the issue and have refused to actually comment on what the ideal blog content length is, although it is highly suspected that word count is one of the ranking factors when it comes to SEO.
The consensus within the industry is that Google is more likely to recognise long-form content of 1000+ words as being industry-relevant and of a high quality.
Having conducted eclectic research into the subject, digital marketing advice company Backlinko have reported that the average first-page result on Google contained an average of 1,447 words. Whether this is the reason for their first-place ranking or just another plus amidst their high-quality website is a mystery, but there does seem to be a positive trend between content of over 1000 words and overall search rankings.
How Do I Decide on Length?
Let’s be completely honest about it, not all the content you’re ever going to write is going to be on an engaging subject, (good luck writing 1000+ words on an announcement that the office is closing for a week due to plumbing issues) and hitting the desired word count might not really be practical without the use of some high-level waffle. This could potentially harm your website more than it helps by completely imploding your keyword count. There are several factors you may wish to keep in mind when choosing how long to make your blog content.
Not everyone wants to read something that officially classes as a short novel every time they search something into Google, but on the other hand, sometimes short novels’ worth of information is exactly what they are looking for. Usually, you should be able to gauge the desired length of content based on how meaty the search query is. A search such as “How to build a website?” is bound to deliver more word-heavy content than for instance “What is a blog?”. Keep this in mind when writing and you should be able to adjust accordingly.
When I submitted the search query “how to build a website”, the first position (that wasn’t an ad) was this absolute behemoth of a blog. Even though it’s labelled as being a beginner’s guide it racks up a very considerable count of 7320 words, not too surprising since whole books have been written about the subject. On the other hand, “What is a blog” produced a much more reasonable 1436, a figure which is probably more than adequate for a subject on which there isn’t that much to say without going off on a tangent.
Another element that may tie in with word count and play a part in SEO rankings are industry-relevant keywords. When writing any piece of content for your website you should keep an eye out to ensure that keywords on the subject of the piece as well as your industry are mentioned frequently as well as having a natural density. This indicates to Google that you haven’t just created a blank page for Hairdressing in the West Midlands and filled it with the term “west midlands hairdressing” thousands of times with no other content present. While this may be a somewhat extreme example, there are genuinely websites that have done this, Google is -of course- not a huge fan and now leads a crackdown on spammy sites like this.
By having more words overall, you get more space to naturally work in keywords and tailor the densities to a point where the content not only reads well, but is also clearly relevant to the subject. If you find that you’re either struggling to include enough keywords while also making it read naturally, or are including too many keywords because there is little else to write about, you might want to think about altering the length of content.
Prepare yourselves, this is going to get pretty meta. Having written a fair deal of content (1478 words to be exact) we’re pretty close to what is referenced as the ideal blog length. As well as using this section to cram in some extra keywords, I’ve included a considerable number of subject-relevant phrases which -to the best of my knowledge- are written in pretty naturally. To put this into perspective, if I were to use the word ‘content’ 30 times in a blog post of 500 words, it would constitute for roughly every 16th word. Best of luck trying to make that sound natural.
The internet is a pretty big place, there is a good chance that the subject you are covering has been tackled before (maybe even many times), there’s no shame in checking out the competition and some of their closest rivals. While you’re there you might also want to look into their keyword densities and take note of some of their better points to bolster your own content. If they are a reputable source, they will have likely considered content length and keywords while writing. You know what they say, the enemy of my enemy is someone I can inspire my content around… or something like that.
You don’t have to be a programmer or a web specialist to recognise that a jumpy website filled with pop-up ads is annoying; what you might not be aware of, however, is that Google wholeheartedly agrees with you, or at least its algorithm does. What is commonly referred to as Google Core Web Vitals references the multi-faceted approach Google takes when gauging the overall quality of a website.
Every page of your website is measured individually as well as part of the whole, meaning that a single low-quality blog can actively hurt your overall quality ratings. This probably sounds scarier than it actually is, most of the search quality criteria are pretty much basic net etiquette and as long as you don’t actively spam ads or create frustrating user experiences, you will probably be fine.
Content is one of the web elements Google looks at fondly and you’re unlikely to lose ratings even when creating a sea of text. In fact, if you were to create a website that fully adheres to Google’s regulation you would actually end up with nothing but content, no images, videos, etc. That’s not to suggest that your blog should be a glorified Notepad page, but you should keep in mind that almost everything other than content slows down a website and should therefore be used sparingly if possible, but as far as content goes – length shouldn’t really hurt you either way.
Our blog site has been up for quite a while (since 2015 to be exact) and in that time we have created a great deal of content, on a great deal of subjects. Our general experience matches that of many other digital marketing agencies in the sense that there isn’t really an upper limit for how long is too long for a blog. We have, however, established that the minimal wordcount at which you can still meet a decent keyword density and convey necessary information on some of the simpler subjects is roughly at 500 words, this isn’t to say that you should aim for 500 but rather that by surpassing it you will open up your content to a whole new world of ranking potential.
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