Back in the early 2000s, keyword stuffing was a common ranking strategy because it worked well for content creators. All they had to do was to put in as many keywords as they possibly could in their articles. They were guaranteed to have high rankings in the SERPs. Until search engines got smarter and penalized those websites with lower rankings.
Then came the trend of thin content ranking just as well as long-form content. By perfecting other ranking factors such as keyword density, backlinks, and Pagerank — publishers claimed the highest rankings despite the low-quality of their content.
And once again, Google struck back with a stronger penalization that improved the user experience and ended poor-quality content.
Unlike other factors, there is a lot of debate online about what word count works when creating your content. There has never been a definitive answer to the ideal article length.
So, you too might be wondering — is there an ideal length for SEO articles?
To be honest, we all struggle with that question. Content length is one of the trickiest SEO ranking factors. And that’s exactly why we decided to help you find an answer in this blog post.
Let’s jump right into it.
The Myth Of The Perfect Length for SEO Articles
Many digital marketing experts have run studies to answer that question. And almost all their findings were the same.
Some articles were longer than 2000 words but came nowhere close to the first page. Other articles were only 500 words and still made it to the top of the results for extremely competitive keywords.
There isn’t one perfect length for all SEO articles. Instead, there’s an optimal length that’s different for each article. And it depends on many factors such as the topic, keyword difficulty, the industry, etc.
Which is More Important — Quality or Quantity?
This isn’t the right question to ask if you want to find out the optimal length for your articles.
Content creation isn’t a competition between quality and quantity. And you shouldn’t focus on one over the other when crafting your content.
Instead, you have to put all aspects together if you want to please your audience. That way, you’ll serve them the best user experience you can and turn them into loyal customers.
Quality comes first
Imagine a 3000-word article that’s written in a language you don’t understand. Or a long-form blog post that speaks about a subject you’re not interested in.
Would length matter? And would you be interested in reading something that has no value to you just because it was short?
Of course not!
The same thing happens with your audience when you serve them low-quality content.
Then comes quantity — which is just as important
The optimal content length is determined by two factors that you need to keep in mind:
1 – Industry:
The optimal article length for SEO articles differs from one industry to another. An 1800-word article may be too long for Home and Garden, but it’s still short if you write about Financial Services and Planning.
Therefore, you need to do more research before you can come up with an optimal length for content in your industry.
Here are some questions to ask that will help find your optimal length:
- How long are the articles my competitors produce on their blogs?
- What type of content does the audience in your industry prefer to read? (long/medium/short)
- How many words do I need to write to help my readers solve their problems?
2 – Keyword competition:
Keyword competition plays a major role in determining the length of your articles.
Many short-tail keywords are too broad that they can represent a whole topic. And that makes them hard to rank for because everyone uses them when creating content.
If the topic you want to write about is competitive, creating comprehensive long-form articles is your best shot at ranking. You need to prove all answers your audience needs if you want to claim the first position in the SERPs.
Why Long-form Works:
There are three reasons why long-form content brings better SEO results:
1 – Social Shares:
Experts at Backlinko recently conducted a study by analyzing article length for millions of blog posts. At one part of the process, they wanted to identify the relation between article length and social shares.
Their findings were as expected.
Longer in-depth articles got more social shares on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter.
Although the reason for that is still not completely clear, it gives publishers a rule of thumb to follow. If you want your content to go viral on social media, make them long enough to get you social shares.
2 – Backlinks:
Another study by Moz shows that long-form content link compared to thin content.
The reason for that is simple.
With a higher word count, other websites will have more quality information to link to. But not only that, because if people love your content, they’ll be more likely to share it with others and help you gain more backlinks and followers.
3 – Dwell time:
Dwell time is the time a user spends on a web page before they leave a website. When search engines compare the quality of different articles, they take into consideration dwell time. The longer it is, the better for your SEO rankings.
Longer dwell time tells Google that visitors are enjoying your content — which means that your web page provides value. Therefore, it deserves more clicks and visits and it’s ranked higher in the rankings.
How Long-Form Content Can Backfire:
If you can answer a question in a 300-word article, there’s no need for you to write a 2000-word article just to get better rankings.
Long-form content often opens doors for irrelevance in the topics you talk about.
For example, a potential customer may be looking for a quick answer to help them overcome a challenge. And upon landing on your website, they’re faced with 1500 words that don’t provide a direct answer.
Guess what happens next? They’ll leave your website in less than ten seconds. And that will damage your rankings and make your long-form content counterproductive. Do not waste your visitors’ time with unrelated nonsense.
Takeaway: Not only does shallow content not work, but it will work against you in the long run. Length won’t matter if there’s no value in what you’re offering.
An invaluable 500-word article will drive better results than a shallow 3000-word post. Make sure that the content you serve is relevant in providing tangible solutions. Even if what it takes is only 300 words.
How to Decide an Optimal Article Length for your Article
1 – Precise & Detailed Answers
Lots of SEOs overlook the quality of their answers when crafting content for their blogs.
It’s not about how many words an article has to be, but more about how many problems you’ll help your audience solve.
For example, if a user is facing a challenge in their life, there might be some smaller problems associated with it. Your goal should be to help them answer all those questions in one place.
When creating content, start with one goal in mind — which is to provide precise detailed answers.
2 – User Experience
Visitors will click on your website after searching for solutions to the different problems they face. And with each problem, there are some expectations on their end for what it takes to find an answer.
For example, no one is going to read a 2000-word article to learn how to tie a tie. But it’s perfectly reasonable to read a 3000-word article on how to start a low-carb diet.
Understand your visitors, what they’re looking for, and the intent behind their search.
Learn about their expectations and behaviors. Then, create content that’ll meet their needs and help them improve their lives.
3 – Competition
Until now, we still haven’t given you any precise numbers to work with. And that must have not been that helpful to you.
In this step, we’ll provide you with some tangible steps to help you decide on an optimal length.
Competition is everything that’s been driving content length up in recent years. Because your competitors will get higher rankings by doing better on certain aspects.
If you were alone in your industry, you’d rank for every single term without having to think about quality or quantity.
This method will maximize your chances of ranking first for each article you create.
To come up with a word count for different articles, follow these steps (you don’t need any premium tools or paid services):
1 – Go to Google, and search for the main keyword for the topic you want about.
2 – Visit all the 10 results on the first page. (Make sure the result is a blog article)
3 – Define the word count for each article on the first page. (You can count article length by pasting the post to WordCounter)
4 – Calculate the average blog post length by dividing the total number of words on the number of articles.
Now, It’s time for you to create a longer article with higher quality to outrank your competitors. Don’t just create a longer article with more words and expect better results. Instead, it needs to be better than what’s already ranking.
Important: Use more visual elements such as images and videos. And make sure your new blog post provides relevant value and answers every related question on the topic.
Wrapping it up
The only thing that can guide you when it comes to content length is the value provided. Your article needs to be long enough to help the reader overcome a challenge.
Once you’re certain about the quality of your content, you can start thinking about length. Keep your articles long enough to gain you some advantage against your competitors — but short enough that it doesn’t bore your readers to death. And remember, always avoid keyword stuffing or adding fluff to your articles just to hit a certain word count.
Need assistance creating content for your website or blog? Check our content writing services or get a quote here. We will have a team of professional copywriters and bloggers help you with every step of the process.