SEO Content Length & Strategy

Written by: Jason Bayless | June 26, 2015

SEO is a rapidly-evolving industry, especially with new Panda and Penguin updates from Google. Both of these updates have altered common SEO tactics quite a bit. Since search engines aren’t transparent about how their algorithms work, it’s a bit difficult knowing hard numbers like the exact length content should be and the exact strategy that you should follow like holy scripture.

Nonetheless, this guide serves to offer a good starting point. While it’s impossible to strictly define the “best” length, the information presented here should help you draw your own conclusions and come up with a good strategy.

It’s Not Just Length

When it comes to content influence, length is just one of many things to perfect. You need to think about how those factors influence the length of content.

  • Content: What do you want to say? If it can be addressed in 100 words, then that’s fine. If it needs 2,000 words to get the basic understanding out, then go for it.
  • Style: Some people write short and briefly. Others are better suited to interacting with readers, conversing with them and lend themselves to longer posts. Your style affects the length of your content.
  • Frequency: The frequency with which you post helps dictate length. Some people post lengthy, detailed posts once per week while others have shorter articles every day. This one mostly depends on how much you can manage — good SEO content doesn’t have any shortcuts.
  • Format: Longer articles need to be broken up with images, short paragraphs, subheadings and bullet points. Someone who is skimming the article should still be able to get the point.
  • Audience: Your audience has specific needs and interests, as well as problems and passions. The content you create should address all of these points. If the topics lend themselves to longer articles, then your content will inevitably be longer.
  • Medium: It’s not all about words. You might only need to provide 100 words if you want to introduce an infographic, for example. The rest are included in the image itself, which doesn’t really offer much in the way of word count. There is no need for word count at all when you post an infographic or a video, so it’s irrelevant.

The takeaway here shouldn’t be that content length is irrelevant all around; it just isn’t the only thing to focus on. Having said this:

Longer Articles Usually are Better

SerpIQ presents a convincing list of data that shows longer posts tend to perform better on just about every level. Why is this?

For starters, a higher count usually has more search traffic. More than 200 factors influence the way your content shows up on search engine results pages. Still, evidence suggests that more content helps push you towards the top position of results. The higher the position on the Google search engine results page, the page offers more substance. As the link above will show, all of the first page results have over 2,000 words on them.

Googlebot is the web crawler responsible for indexing your site to Google. Once it does, it approaches every word, tag and piece of information — with the exception of things like dynamic pages or media files, which don’t really have any information to give on their own, but that’s a separate article.

The different kinds of content that are indexed include headlines (the H1, H2, H3, H4, H5 and H6 tags), alt tags on media content, metadata and so on. Not only that, but the longer articles allow for more variations of keywords.

The more content that is available on your website, the more of it gets indexed into Google. The deeper your presence, the better you’re going to perform on search results. It’s as simple as that.