So many people nowadays claim that length of posts has a bigger role in your Google rankings than previously thought. This can be true – if you look at some of the top articles in search results in almost any niche, you’ll find that none falls below 1500 words.
However, people are wondering if they rank better because of length of their articles or they have longer articles because they have more resources and are stronger, more popular websites.
Some speculate that they are as powerful as they are because they have so much content but some still claim that there are many more things that go into their search engine ranking and that length plays only a minor role if it even has one.
There are, of course, things that come naturally with length. Longer articles can have more value in terms of being more useful to the readers; they can be optimized better than short articles with more space for keywords.
Or is it true – longer content really ranks better?
The question of how content length affects search engine ranking is the one that has been asked many times, and we continue looking for our answer.
Google has given its answer a few years ago when John Mueller said that Googlebot doesn’t count the number of words since even the smallest posts like Tweets are still indexed. However, he said, what does play a significant role is how useful those articles are to people and how popular they are.
But people keep analyzing the data and they have made some real connections between length and rankings.
There have been several case studies performed by experts over the years.
Brian Dean conducted a study in 2016 on which factors affect Google Ranking. One of the factors was length and he concluded that length does have some effect on search engine position of articles. He presented a graph, which clearly shows that articles of length above 1500 words have the highest position while shorter articles fall down on the search engine results. There is only a small bump in length when it comes to second position articles – they are slightly longer, according to this study, up to 2000 words.
To an untrained eye, it’s simple to conclude that length does play an enormous role in search engine ranking.
A different study conducted by SerpIQ and essentially came to the same conclusion that length affects your position on Google Rankings. The graph that they presented is similar to the one Brian Dean created but the numbers differ. However, as they go further in the study, they conclude that content length doesn’t play a significant role in the position of well-established and popular websites and blogs. They said that there are a lot of other factors affecting their respective positions.
Third study, from CognitiveSEO said that their conclusion was different. They stated that at least for the first 5 articles on the search engine results, the shorter length better correlates with their success.
Kenneth V. Maize, an SEO-specialist at Paper Fellows, explains, ‘These studies have really brought a new light to our opinions on relation between ranking and length. However, we have done a small case study of our own and believe that there may be more factors involved that inevitably come together with content length.’
This has brought an inevitable question: What really goes into the Google Search Ranking?
Seth Godin, a content writer from Sethgodin.com, confirms, ‘Many popular sites state that being brief is the key to gaining and retaining attention but what that really means is sharing what you have to say without beating around the bush and getting straight to the topic at hand. That may well be an article of 1500 words or above if written concisely.‘
Possible Answers As To Why Content Seems To Affect The Ranking
Experts have pondered on this and came up with some questions that we need to propose in order to reach a final conclusion on relation between Google Rankings and content length.
- Does longer content gather more links?
- Do popular sites publish longer content?
- Are longer articles simply better optimized?
- Is longer content more likely to cause engagement?
- Do experts from popular websites write more?
Does Longer Content Gather More Links?
This is one of the first things that comes to mind when it comes to Google Rankings. Are people simply more likely to link back to longer articles?
The answer is no – as it was concluded in many studies, most notably the one which is done on MozRank, the length doesn’t play a significant role in gathering more links. In fact, shorter articles have done better than the longer ones. Many studies confirm this and a general opinion is that this is not the science behind content length and content ranking.
However, when the same study plotted ranking versus length they have determined that higher ranking sites do, in fact have longer content because it generates more links.
But before they decided that this is the case, they had to check for other mechanisms that may be at hand.
Do Popular Sites Publish Longer Content?
A simple answer to this problem would be that popular websites simply publish longer content because they have more resources and higher expectations.
Same study concluded that big brands do publish slightly longer content than medium sized websites but it’s not as long as the content published by small websites so this could explain for some of the effect but not all of it.
Are Longer Articles Simply Better Optimized?
They have concluded that longer posts are, in fact, better optimized than shorter ones but the optimization is most notably better in topical relevancy and less in other factors. Longer content is not necessarily packed with a ton of keywords, but it’s rather more oriented towards being relevant to the topic.
It’s also easier to cover a topic thoroughly in a longer post.
Is Longer Content More Likely To Cause Engagement?
This case study wasn’t able to determine relation between content length and engagement but by sheer logic, you can conclude that people will interact better with longer content if it’s packed with valuable information.
Do Experts On Popular Websites Write More?
You might expect this to be the case with websites run by experts. Naturally, they have a better understanding of a topic and they are dedicated to writing about it thoroughly.
For instance, if you are highly interested and knowledgeable about writing, you are likely to write passionately and in-depth about a certain topic related to writing. This is what happens on popular websites.
But while you may think that it makes sense that there is a correlation here, there isn’t a clear one. It’s simply not backed up by data.
All of these elements might play their role in the final result combined with length. In some cases, length has shown to be the most relevant thing while in some it wasn’t that important.
What does matter with length though is that longer content often has higher topical relevance which is an important factor if you want to rank higher on search engines. If you manage to achieve the best topical relevance in your posts, you are likely to rank better as well. Pay attention to this rather than length. This inevitably leads to longer time on site, which is also an important factor. You want to retain your audience once you grab their attention with your ranking. Keep your site updated, take care of its design and features that may resonate with people. Build a strong brand and stick with your brand voice.
While length did prove to be important, it is not something that you should focus on – focus on providing quality.
On the other hand, Google does seem to reward posts that are longer by putting them higher on the list. Whether this is really the case or just a result of other factors like popularity and relevance, we will not know until Google confirms it.
What May Help
We have determined that content length has some relation to general ranking but only when combined with other factors. This only goes to show that quality and value of a text has a lot more to do with its popularity and, by default, its ranking.
However, ranking doesn’t mean that you can neglect other things in order to increase length. Your main goal may be to rank higher but what you really want is to retain your audience and length doesn’t play a significant role there – at least not on its own.
Other things may help you there, though.
No matter what your niche and goal are, always strive to produce maximum quality for your readers. There is no better way to retain visitors and gain leads – no shortcuts, no overnight wonders. You have to work hard to maintain your position once you acquire it.
You can try using tools for content creation like Brafton or Big Assignments to achieve content perfection. They will put in all the necessary keywords and provide you with an easy solution to regular posting.
However, if you prefer human interaction, it might be a good idea to hire writers to write your content for you. Find experts in your niche by visiting freelancing job boards like Up Work or Fiverr. You can find an expert who will write your posts and optimize them for SEO at the same time.
While hiring a writer or services to write your articles and optimize them for SEO of your website is a good idea, you always have to be on the lookout for plagiarism. This affects Google Rankings and Google doesn’t look too fondly upon those who just copy and paste. You need original, new, fresh information if you really want to have a higher ranking.
Use services that check for plagiarism like Copyscape or Siteliner. These will make your job easier and you’ll be sure that what you post on your website is truly valuable.
Format for scanners.
While good and long content is always a good idea – it provides value and a lot of useful information – you always have to be prepared for scanners. And truly, most people nowadays like to simply scan through your post, reading only the most relevant and prominent parts. If you really want to retain their attention and draw it to bits that you think are the most important, use bold text.
Have enough information in subheadings, create lists, bullet points etc. Separate your text into shorter, more readable paragraphs with more white space. This is a good way to make your post seem shorter than it really is. Use illustrations, graphs, images and videos – anything that will help you convey your message in a fun and entertaining way without asking for much effort from your readers.
Length may play a certain role in your Google Ranking. Studies have shown that this is often the case, but they neglect to count in all of the other factors. Quality, optimization, popularity of the website, all play a vital role in your Google Rankings. You can definitely use length as a tool to improve it – longer content can have more useful information and more space for relevant keywords. In this respect, yes, length does play a role in your ranking.
But on its own, it’s not that useful. Just make sure that whatever the length of your article, you provide value and originality in your posts – that’s the only surefire way to get on top of Google Search Rankings.