Does The Length Of Your Content Affect Your Google Rankings?
Many people say that the length of your blog posts matters more than you think. Thus all of the recommendations to write longer posts. This could prove to be true. If you look at some of the top results of any Google Search Results page, the top content is always around the mark of 1500 words. People tend to publish content that’s even longer than that. However, the debate still stands whether these rankings come from the inevitable quality of these articles, more space for good keyword placement and more place for backlinks – all known factors in the Google Algorithm.
Longer articles are naturally predisposed to get more attention in most cases. Readers can usually find more value in them and they are more optimized.
However, could it be true that longer content really does rank better and that it, in fact, is one of the factors when it comes to Google Algorithm?
One of the top people in Google, John Mueller said a few years ago that the algorithm doesn’t count the word count since it can index even the smallest texts like Twitter posts. Yet, people keep searching for an answer since so many of the top search results links have high word counts. Even the texts on the same subject but different word count have different rankings, especially if one of them has a word count below 1000.
Several case studies have been performed over the years. For one, Brian Dean did a study in 2016 which stated that length of the content does have something to do with ranking. He also presented a graph which showed how content above 1500 words had a higher ranking than content with lower word counts.
SerpIQ also did a study and came to a similar conclusion when it comes to ranking and length. But, their opinion on the results was different and they said that when it comes to well-positioned websites, the length doesn’t play a huge role. They said that they think that many other factors are more important and that they are related to length – that this is why so many people perceive length as something crucial. rs more and better correlates to their success.
A different study, done by Cognitive SEO stated that at least for the first five spots on the search engine results, shorter length matte
These studies, no matter how different in opinions, have all brought new light to this topic and allowed us to see both sides of the debate where we can make our own, educated conclusions” explains Michael Watson, a Marketing Strategist at Best british essays and Study demic.
The conclusion is, inevitably, that the length really has little to do with ranking. But other factors are so often connected to the length which is why it’s so important.
So, what really happens here?
Some of the possible answers why length seems to affect rankings include:
- Longer content gets more links
- Popular sites publish longer content
- Longer articles give more room for optimization
- Longer content causes more engagement
- Experts on authority sites write more
As for the first answer – longer content gathering more backlinks – there are several different explanations.
Backlinks are an extremely important thing to Google algorithm because these state that the content is high quality, relevant and that someone found it useful. However, does longer content gather more backlinks?
MozRank did a study which concluded that shorter articles actually do a lot better than long ones do. Many other studies confirmed this too. But the same studies also compared ranking and length and concluded that linger content in those articles did gather more backlinks. So, this may be one of the factors that matter but it’s certainly not the only one.
So, next up we have the notion that popular websites publish longer content (which ranks better banking on the popularity).
It would be simple to say that yes, popular websites publish longer content because they have more resources and more motivation when it comes to length. However, MozRank debunked that as well in the same study. They stated that the length of content on popular websites was somewhat longer than content published by medium influencers but that it was not as long as the content coming from small businesses and blogs. With that logic, first on any list would be a small business blog.
And are longer posts more optimized?
The answer to that is yes. Longer posts are better optimized than the shorter ones but the optimization is mostly noticeable when it comes to content being relevant to a certain subject. Long content dealt with the topic much better than short content and it was more oriented towards providing relevance and quality than keywords.
How about engagement? The Moz study wasn’t able to make a definitive relationship between content length and engagement. o
Experts which usually create on popular websites do write more and write longer. They have a better scope of the subject and they like to write thoroughly. While there isn’t a clear correlation between these two, it’s mostly backed by logic and examples available all over the web.
So, while all of these elements do play a role in the final result which is the content length and high ranking, none of them are sole contributors to a high ranking of longer content. Sometimes the length does matter and sometimes it doesn’t – what’s more important is the relevance of the content. If your content is more relevant to the subject it will also get more time on page and this is one of the decisive ranking factors.
Length is a great thing to have. However, shift your focus from length to quality in all aspects of creating content. Here are some things that will help your content have more quality:
- Provide useful content
“You have to work hard to position yourself as a leader in your niche. This means creating useful, highly topical and relevant content that is well-optimized for search engines”, says Hugo Greg, a content marketing manager at Oxessays and Boomessays.
- Create unique content
Above all, your content can’t be plagiarised or duplicated in any way. Google is strict about this and you might get a penalty if you disobey this rule. You can always check your content to see if any part of it is plagiarised
- Format your content for people who just skim through it
People are mostly skimmers nowadays. There’s rarely enough time to read everything top to bottom so in most cases they just scan through subtitles and bullet points. If the topic agrees with them, they will pay more attention. So, format for these readers. Use plenty of enticing subtitles, bullet points, images, links and so on. Create short paragraphs and leave plenty of white space on the page so that the reader can take a break.
- Link to relevant websites
You can’t just place an unrelated link within your text. You need to add a link that’s relevant to the subject and that adds more value for the reader. You also shouldn’t backlink to websites which have a shady history or maybe in a shady industry. Make sure that you only relate your website and content to relevant, authority websites.
While the length can play an important role in your Google ranking, studies have shown that it’s not a decisive factor. Other things like quality, optimization, relevance and so on play a much more important role. Length is a tool to improve your strategy and maybe add something new and different – explore other content formats like ebooks or courses.
Nora Mork is a journalist and content editor at Write my Australia and Academized. She helps brands create better marketing strategies and contributes posts to blogs and magazines, such as Top Canadian Writers.