For SEO copywriters, here’s a question that remains valid to this day: “How many words should a blog article have?”.
Writing an SEO-optimised article isn’t easy as Google has reportedly more than 200 ranking factors. It isn’t easy to read into the minds of Google’s search engine engineers, and the fact that it doesn’t publish how its algorithm works doesn’t help either.
Often, writers are in a dilemma with the number of words they need to squeeze into an article. Would Google rank a 3,000 words article better than 800 words one? Does the search engine ignore anything that’s below 300 words?
If you’re troubled by such questions, you’re not alone. This guide is meant to shed some light on what’s the ideal word count for an article. More importantly, you’ll pick up on ranking factors that are more important than mere article length.
What Is the Ideal Length/ Word Count for a Blog Post
There was once where you could put up a 5,000 words article and propel it to the first page of Google.
Today, long-form content isn’t guaranteed to rank if they are not ticking the boxes of other important ranking factors.
Fulfil Search Intent
Google shed some light on how word counts matters for SEO earlier this year. John Muller tweeted that having the same numbers of word counts as a top-ranking article doesn’t necessarily guarantee a similar position for your content.
Google has been harping on fulfilling search intent in many Ecuador Phone Number List of its recent algorithm upgrades. The reasoning is simple. Google functions to match users with content that best answers their queries.
If you’re delivering a 5,000 words article, but fail to provide answers to the user, it isn’t going to rank anywhere near the top pages.
Rather than obsessing with cramming an ‘x’ amount of words in an article, you should be focusing on fulfilling the user search intent.
When creating an article, you’ll need to put yourself into the user’s shoes. Think of what the user hopes to achieve when searching for a specific keyword.
For some keywords, it may take a longer content to thoroughly address the topics, which is why long-form content tends to do better than shorter ones. Content length and SEO keyword ranking are co-relational rather than causational.
User Experience Matters
Content length doesn’t matter either if you do not prioritise user experience. For example, you can have a 10,000 words long-form article published, but if users have a hard time digesting the content, it isn’t going to rank well.
A longer piece of content can sometimes backfire, particularly if it confuses rather informs the readers. Not every article needs to be monstrously-long.
This article takes the top spot for ‘does Febreze spray kill dust mites’, and it only has 500 words of content.
It answers the question concisely, and in detail compared to its competitor, which is a comparison guide of dust mite sprays.
User experience is also influenced by factors like web page layout, loading speed, mobile-friendliness and finer details like typography.
If users came across a well-written article that’s bogged with a slow page loading speed, they are bound to exit the page in seconds.
The same is true when your website isn’t optimised to be mobile-friendly. More than half of the global population are browsing the internet from mobile devices. If it takes too much effort to enlarge the text or scroll around the content, you’re going to get a high bounce rate.
Google prioritizes user experience and sites that have UX issues, particularly mobile-optimisation ones, aren’t going to do well regardless of content length.
It also Depends on the Type of Industry Topics and Articles
While we’ve cited an example of ranking on Google #1 page with a 500 words article, it is not a rule of thumb that applies to other niches or types of articles.
The keyword ‘digital marketing tips’, returns articles that are above 1,000 words. HubSpot’s content takes the top spot, with 1,300 words well-written content. It triumphs over LyfeMarketing’s longer 2,300 words article.
Investopedia’s article on investment tips ranks on the first page with 1,700 words.
Articles that provide an in-depth guide, tend to rank better with higher word counts. That’s because it takes a longer article to properly explain the process to the users.
An article that contains a step-by-step guide of building a website, ranks on the first page of Google with a mammoth 4,500 words content.
If you’re creating listicles like ‘9 Best Vacuum Cleaners” or “Top Budget Laptops In 2020”, you’ll want to go above 2,500 words. That’s the numbers of words needed to run through a list of product descriptions and answers commonly-asked questions from the readers.
It’s obvious that the ‘ideal’ content length varies depending on the types of topics and industry you’re writing for. Don’t go fretting over hitting a world count limit just because you’ve heard someone is ranking with a 5,000 words article.
Still, it never hurts to create long-form content if it suits the given topic.
What Major Publishers Have To Say About Content-Length
It seems that the argument on the perfect article length produces varying answers even amongst top publishers.
Medium, which boasts 60 million monthly readers, reported that a 7-minute article is the best for capturing attention. A 7-minute article is generally made up of 2,100 words. Still, Medium cautioned that authors shouldn’t be forcing themselves to produce 7-minutes worth of articles. It stresses that quality always triumphs over content length.
Hubspot, known for its vibrant marketing community, ran an analysis of over 6,000 of its published articles to determine the ideal article word count that attracts organic SEO traffic. The results indicate that those between 2,250 -2,500 words attract the most organic traffic.
However, Hubspot also found that articles that are above 2,500 words tend to get the most shares on social media. They are also more likely to be tweeted via the ‘click-to-tweet’ feature.
Long-Form Content Is Still King Where It Matters
What’s evident from the various analyses is that long-form content still matters, for topics that demand so. It’s impossible to provide an effective guide on building a website, except elaborating the steps in long-form content.
The same applies to publishing a comprehensive list of industry-specific ‘tips’. You won’t be doing the readers justice by producing a 500 words ‘marketing tips’ article and calling it the most in-depth guide on the internet.
When creating pillar articles, which forms the foundation of a website, long-form content is mandatory. You’ll want to go beyond the 4,000 words mark to create articles that are perceived to be authoritative.
So, long-form content is very much alive when you’re competing within certain types of keywords and industries. If anything, it’s better to play safe by producing longer articles than thin content.
Benefits of long-form articles
There’s much to gain and little to lose by producing long-form articles. That’s a fact that remains true throughout the years.
Increase Time Spent On Page
When a user clicks into your webpage, he/she expects to be satisfied by the underlying content.
A well-written long-form article not only engages the reader but also keeps him/her on the webpage longer. By increasing an article by 350 words, you increase the dwell time of the reader by 1 minute.
Often, blog articles are created as a content strategy that turns visitors into leads. It involves breaking down information into smaller chunks for the readers.
Writing long-form articles allow you to address every possible question from the reader, gain trust, and ultimately boost conversion. It also allows the opportunity to address criticisms and doubts from would-be buyers.
You can’t ignore the power of social media in content marketing. After publishing an article, it’s only natural that you promote that piece on social media and hope it got shared by users.
If the article is less than 1,000 words, you’ll find that it will have very low share numbers on the social media network. The figure is backed by an analysis by Backlinko on over 912 million blog articles.
The magic word count number that you need to hit for maximum share rate is between 1,000 – 2,000 words. Primarily, articles that got the most numbers of share are listicles and how-to articles.
There are reasons to believe that content within 1,000 – 2,000 words strikes the best balance between depth and reading time. According to the same study, the share rate gradually decreases when the article goes beyond 2,000 words.
Improve SERP ranking
Despite Google denying that content length is a ranking factor, it is undeniable that articles that are relatively longer rank better on the search engine.
A longer article can answer questions more thoroughly. For a list-type content, it takes considerably more words to produce a better piece of content. Backlinko’s Skyscraper technique is based on offering longer and better content.
When you create superior (and often longer) content, it naturally attracts more shares, clicks, and backlinks. Some of these metrics are used by Google to rank web pages.
Therefore, it is fair to state that having longer content helps to improve SERP ranking.
In the SEO sense, what should an optimised article do?
There is much more to optimising an article for SEO than obsessing about word count. You shouldn’t be obsessing about word count at all when you’re crafting an article.
SEO copywriting is all about having the correct mindset that adds value to user experience. Here are some tips to get on the good books of Google.
Write content that serves meaningful information
Chances are, what you’re going to write is already published on the internet many times over. If you’re going to take an article and rehash it, you’re going to end up with a piece of content that offers no value. The same goes for unscrupulous parties that publish plagiarised or ‘me-too’ articles.
So, your best bet in writing an article that ranks is to ensure that it’s deeply-researched, unique and easy-to-understand. Most importantly, the content should fulfil its purpose, which is to address the user’s query.
A user who’s searching for ‘how to practice yoga’ should be presented with an article that dictates the steps of doing so. It shouldn’t be an article about yoga mats or online yoga courses.
Write For The Right Audience
Whenever you start on a piece of an article, you should have a target audience in mind. To get the best engagement, you’ll need to write in a tone that resonates with the audience.
For example, if you’re writing a guide for yoga exercise, you ought to be familiar with terms like ‘asana’,’ hasta’ and Drishti’. It helps the readers to connect with the content.
It’s also a best practice to use simple terms when you’re writing for the broader audience. This is particularly true when you’re explaining technical concepts to the general public. Avoid using technical jargon. Instead, provide explanations using laymen terms.
Avoid Clickbait Content
It’s tempting to come up with a clickbait title that’s guaranteed to lure the audience into clicking into your article.
You can potentially get huge traffic as the readers are tempted by the overhyped title that sparks curiosity.
However, there’s very little value generated by traffic to clickbait content. The nature of a clickbait article is that the content is a mismatch from the title.
Therefore, users are bound to be disappointed when they learn that what’s offered in the article is far different from their expectations.
Low dwell time and high bounce rate, which are red flags that will harm SEO ranking.
Don’t Write For Search Engines
One of the most common pitfalls when writing an SEO-optimised article is to write for search engines.
It sounds ironic but it’s a fact that writing for search engines is the ONE thing that you want to avoid at all cost.
But then, what does writing for search engines mean?
It stems back to the dated-practice of keyword stuffing to gain SEO ranking. It has stopped working since the Google Panda update in 2011.
An ‘overly-optimised’ article often sounds unnatural and fails to deliver value to users. Therefore, it’s crucial to write with your users in mind instead of worrying about keyword density.