So, you’ve just finished writing a piece of content for your blog. You’ve edited and proofread it, you’ve added and formatted your images, adding your keywords in all the right places and uploaded it to your website, and now you’re ready to see back and watch the views, hits and linkbacks come in.
However, have you ever considered whether or not you’re covering all the SEO requirements in your content writing process? Could something as seemingly insignificant as the length of your content affect your SEO ranking and actually be pulling your page down the search engine results page?
Today, we’re going to take a detailed look into exactly how the length of your content, more commonly referred to as your word count, affects your SEO ranking and what you can do to improve it.
Considering the Research
So, let’s start by taking a look at the research that has been conducted in regard to content length and SEO ranking. Medium, a leading online publication that covers all things related to the internet, business and technology, conducted an internal survey on their content and found that the most popular blog posts on their site took seven minutes to read.
This roughly translates to around 1,600 words per piece. In the same survey, Medium describes this trend was because longer form content was a much higher quality and provided more value to the readers. They also suggested that content that was longer than this benchmark experienced fewer views because it only appealed to a niche audience.
Similarly, SerpIQ studied their content pages and found their most common word length averaged around 2,450 words per piece, however, this included the text that could be found in their sidebar. When referring to all their content, the number of hits decreased the fewer the word count of a post was. To summarise, SerpIQ stated that their optimal word count was around 1,500 words.
Naomi Harrison, a content writer for Paper Fellows, shares, “As you can see from these two major studies, it’s suggested that the optimal word count is around 1,550 words in terms of popularity with readers on the internet since they crave valuable content that’s engaging to read”.
What Does Google Prefer?
Of course, at the end of the day, Google is the search engine that is ranking your pages, so it’s important that we refer to what guidelines and requirements it’s suggesting to be at the number one spot. SerpIQ has once again researched this point in immense detail by conducting a survey that analysed the top ten Google search engine results pages for over 20,000 keywords.
The results showed that the average length of content at the top ten results pages was 2,416 words. In fact, the average for all top ten results sat between 2,032 words and 2,494 words. With this information in our minds, it’s clear that Google is clearly favouring long-form content that provides their readers with valuable information.
As we all know, Google is all about providing their users with the best experience they possibly can. This means blog posts that are providing value to their readers by going into detail about their chosen topic are ranking much higher than blog posts that are simply conveying simple concepts in just a few hundred words.
SEO Ranking Through Backlinks
One of the main ways to boost your SEO ranking is by securing backlinks for your website and your content. So, is this affected by the word count of your blog posts? Moz, a leading SEO management platform, went to find out.
In their 2011 study, Moz studied the content on their personal blog to find out whether or not there was a correlation. The study covered 500 random pulled posts alongside their link metrics.
The results were shockingly clear. The blog post with the highest word count, totalling over 35,000 words had indeed received the most linkbacks from other websites. As the word count decreases throughout the 500 posts, as did the number of linkbacks that the content has amassed, par several spikes for what we can only assume is a specific niche of blog post or high-quality piece.
However, referring to the graphs that Moz provided in their study, you can see the overall correlations of both graphs are basically identical. As we’ve already established, the more backlinks you can, the higher you’ll rank in the search engine, and the more words you have, the more backlinks you’ll get.
Actionable Plans for Your Content
So, as you can see, it seems evident that the total word count of your content does indeed affect the SEO ranking of that post in a number of ways, not even including social media, which does in fact also contribute to your SEO ranking in correlation with your post’s word count.
As a business or content writer, how does this affect you? Using the information we’ve collected above, you’ll need to start paying attention to your word count, aiming for between 1,500 and 2,000 words.
Gordan Smith, a content manager for Resumention, explains, “Writing 2,000-word content gives you more than enough space to fully introduce, detail and conclude a topic that you’re covering, giving you ample opportunities to provide your readers with valuable information that they’ll actually benefit and learn something from”.
Naturally, this means your content will receive more backlinks over time, and you’ll rank high in the search engine result pages (SERPs). When writing your content, you can actively track the word count of your content using tools like Easy Word Count.
Also, be warned. The longer your content is, the more chance there is that they’ll be mistakes in your work, so it’s vital that you check it before uploading. If you’re checking grammar, you can brush up on your skills using tools like Grammarix. For proofreading, try using professional services like Ox Essays.
Bonus Tip – When writing content for your blog or website, be sure to check it for plagiarism. Plagiarised content is simply ignored by Google when indexing and ranking pages and therefore won’t have an accept SEO ranking, positioning you low in the SERPs. You can easily check to see if your content is plagiarised using tools like Academized or Plagium.
To summarise, you will need to avoid writing short-form content where possible. Although acceptable in the past, writing blog posts that are several hundred words long simply won’t work in this day and age. However, be sure that you’re not filling your content with fluff but actually providing your readers with educational, inspiration and beneficial information that they’ll connect with which, in turn, will rank you dramatically higher in the SERPs.