Why the Length of On-Site Content is Not Everything: Here’s All Else That Also Matters

You’ve probably heard about the mysterious Myth of the Word Count. Google supposedly sets a ‘minimum’ length for on-site content such as blog posts. That minimum is sketchy; some say it’s 300 words, and some say it’s as high as 1,600. But is there really a sweet spot that can make your blog post rank higher?

The answer is no. Such a standard does NOT actually exist.

It’s easy to see why this myth has persisted despite all evidence to the contrary. SEO experts love measuring things, after all—and having that magic number somehow makes it easier to quantify an otherwise vague blog post. There’s also the logic that more words = more opportunities to use keywords and rank for them.

But here lies the danger: When you obsess about meeting a certain word count, it becomes tempting to stuff your post with fluff just to satisfy search engines. You might end up with content that’s long and keyword-optimized but says nothing of value.

So what can you do to avoid this? If there’s no such thing as a magic number, how do you determine the best length for a particular topic? 

1. It’s all about fulfilling search intent.

As you plan your blog post, think about these questions:

  • Are users looking for long-form content to get an answer to their query? If yes, then write a longer post.
  • Is the intent better answered with less text and more pictures/drawings? If so, then it’s wiser to optimize your post with related images while reducing its textual length.

The best way to understand the searcher’s intent is to analyze the results page and see what blogs/content Google finds valuable for your target keywords. Do the highly-ranked pages tend to have longer content? Or are they short and sweet?

Of course, site authority and credibility can dramatically affect rankings, too—and often more dramatically than word count does. Still, a SERP analysis will give you an idea of what you’re up against and what content length the audience prefers for that subject.

 2. Substance beats length.

Blog posts that rank well are not necessarily the longest, but they certainly offer high-value content. An informative and engaging post that’s only 200 words short can rank higher than an 1800-word long litany that says nothing useful.

This is why it’s more important to focus on quality, not length. Your goal should be to create valuable and unique content that builds authority, trust, rapport, and brand awareness.

If you think you only need 300 words to fulfill your target reader’s intent, then keep it short. If the subject requires 4,000 words to be of value, then go ahead and write that.

Your writing style will also dramatically affect the length of your post. Concise and to-the-point writing styles yield shorter posts. If you want to be more conversational, your blog will likely end up being longer.

 3.  Measure, measure, measure.

Monitor the performance of your content. Which posts are bringing in organic traffic or converting visitors into customers? There are many tools you can use for blog analytics. By measuring the success of your posts, you can make the necessary adjustments to give value to your readers and ultimately boost your rankings.

At the end of the day, there is no such thing as the perfect content length for search engine optimization. It all boils down to what the intention of the searcher is and how long/short they expect the answer to be. Long blog posts just tend to provide comprehensive answers. But they rank not because of their length—rather, they rank because they satisfy the question that was asked.

Don’t let a minimum word count be your goal. Instead, aim to create valuable content for your audience on a consistent basis. Over time, Google will see your website as an authority in your niche, and you should rank higher even for competitive keywords.

Need advice on a content strategy for your website? Contact SEOValley today.