How Content Length Affects Google Rankings

As a blogger, you’ll have heard a lot about how blog length matters to your readers and SEO rankings. Does the length of your posts really matter when it comes to Google, or is more the actual content that matters?

Content vs. length

So first things first: Is it length or content that really matters?

It’s true what Bill Gates said that content is king. If a reader clicks on your blog and they don’t find anything of value of them, they’re not going to hang around. Your content has to be well written and compelling, or you’re just not going to get readers, no matter how long it is. It has to be something that they can use, or they can learn from.

On the other hand, longer content can be better for your blog. According to study conducted by Brian Deanlonger content tends to rank higher in Google search engine. He even found that the average content word count is 1890 words.

According to another study by BufferApp, the ideal length of the post is 1600 words. If you’re giving yourself more room to write, then you can really go in-depth about your topic using statistics, researches, etc. This, in turn, makes your content better quality, and much more worth reading. As well as this, it can give readers more of a reason to click through, if you use the right headline with optimum words in it.

According to research conducted by BuzzSumo, the headlines with 12 to 18 words receive more engagement from visitors. Den Gorn, SEO-specialist from Big Assignments says, “Also, there is a connection to some words like “tips”, “the reason”, “how to”. If you show you have 10 tips on a subject, which help readers to find a solution, then your blog offers a lot more to the reader.”

So as we can see, there’s no common answer to whether content or length is better. There has been research though, into which content type can affect your readership more.

Google and length

It’s worth noting here that Google representative John Mueller has said that Google doesn’t use length in its SEO rankings. Word count itself isn’t a good indicator of quality. As he pointed out, Google will pick up on Tweets, and they’re only 140 characters long. As it is, word count won’t tell Google if your post is a good quality piece of writing.

He also pointed out that a blog of any length can trigger a discussion, and that will add to both the length and the quality of the blog. As it stands, the issue of blog length isn’t as clear cut as it seems.

Length is no guarantee of quality

No matter how long a post is, there’s no guarantee that it’s something that’s worth reading. You can probably think of a few examples where you read something that was in dire need of an edit. You can write a 1000 word post, but when you come back to work on it, you may find that 300 words need to be taken out of it. If a post is simply repeating itself or isn’t giving you concrete evidence for the claims it’s making, then length isn’t going to matter in this case.

Plagiarism is another concern. This can happen in two ways: either the blogger knows that they’re plagiarising, and they’re hoping that no one will notice. The other way is that the writer has used other sources, but not cited them properly. The latter is what happens to a lot of writers, and they caught out by Google.

If you’re not getting picked up by the Google algorithm, and you’re writing longer content, this could be the reason why. The best thing to do in this case is to run your blogs through Paperfellows and Plagium. These will show you where your blogs are being picked up for plagiarism, and where you’ll need to cite sources or amend your blog.

Length does have its advantages

While the length of your blog itself won’t have any effect on how your blog is ranked, it can actually give you some advantages. Here’s how it can help:

  • More links: If you have more room to write, you can include more links to other content. Backlinking is a good way of climbing up the rankings, as you’re showing that you’re researching from other, quality websites. Because of this, you’re showing the reader that you’re a blogger to be trusted. As well as this, it’ll give your post more reach, so adding more links can only help you build your audience.
  • Go more in-depth: As mentioned above, having longer blog posts means that you can go into much more detail about what you are writing about. This offers more value to the reader, as they can get a lot more out of it. This is especially true of how to style posts, as you can add in detail and other points that a shorter blog just wouldn’t allow.
  • Include more keywords: The right keywords are vital for getting the right audience to your blog and for Google ranking. If you have more space to work with, you can include more keywords. Of course, you do still have to be careful with your keywords. Having more words to play with means that you can’t just keyword-stuff to get more readers. Also, there has to be no grammar mistakes, typos, errors, etc.
  • Longer content is expert-driven: Longer posts are often written by experts, who have a good deal to say on their subject. The longer post gives them space to explain their topic fully. Readers can see that, and so will stick around.

Balancing content and length

So, as you can see, the key to good content is to balance the length of your post against the content contained within it. The best way to do this is to keep both in mind as you write. Does your topic need more room to breathe?

Is length important?

In the end, does the length of your blog really matter when it comes to Google? The actual word count on its own doesn’t, but writing longer posts can lend your blog other benefits. You’ll have posts that are more thoroughly researched, useful, and connected to other quality sites. Keep this in mind the next time you write for your blog.

Niki Vajdova

Marketing Intern

Student at Faculty of management - Comenius University in Bratislava.

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