Last Updated on March 3, 2021 by Dustin Bow
SEO Pro Tip – What Length Should My Content Be?
Oh boy, this topic is messy.
But, it’s an important one to be familiar with. That’s why we’re going to do our best to summarize and include our own recommendations for you. After all, we produce content for our clients that performs well in the SERPs every single day.
Here’s a little background first.
There have been many very detailed studies on this topic by some of the most technical SEOs in the industry. From major tool providers like SEMRush, Moz, AHREFs, BuzzSumo, and more to content giants like Neil Patel, Backlinko, and Medium.
They’ve all researched millions upon millions of search results to try and let the data decide on this topic. And just like most things data – the answer falls within the fat part of a bell curve. Go figure. In case you’re not familiar with bell curves, that just means that there isn’t one single answer but many answers.
If you’re interested in the nitty-gritty technicals – feel free to search “content-length + anyone of those brand names.”
Here’s what’s important to you
Almost all of the studies show that content 1K words and above rank better and get more shares.
They also show that content in and around 2k words tends to rank the highest, make more money for the site, and gets shared the most. So ding ding ding, we have a winner right?
Not so fast…there’s a twist.
Most notably, in my opinion, Neil Patel pointed out that content length differs among different industries. And some of them are quite a bit different from his analysis.
Another factor to consider here is how well the piece is written. If it’s drab, boring content you’re not going to win in the SERPs as often. Obviously, some industries just bleed boring reads and can’t be avoided. Keep this in mind.
Medium.com showed us that the time of the read dramatically impacts performance. Their data showed that on average 7 mins is the correct reading length. That means the content is typically 1600 words long or so (depending on images).
And lastly, as if this wasn’t crystal clear cut enough for you – things like the number of images, page load time, and user experience all play a role in performance too.
Here’s how I recommend you build content
If you want to give your content the best chance to succeed here’s what I recommend to my clients…Use a tool called Thruuu (it’s free) to find out what the average word count of the top ten results is. Utilize all that the tool has to offer to build an in-depth content brief.
From there have one of our writers build out an article based on that content brief. Or you can develop a piece of content yourself that’s engaging, helpful, and covers the topic in depth. If you do this you’re nearly guaranteed to meet most of the messy performance requirements of all the world’s most glorious studies.
Google officially launched Passage Based Ranking on February 10, 2021, in the US.
Passage ranking is an update to how Google’s algo chooses results to share based on a search query. Currently, Google indexes pages to display in the search results. With passage ranking, Google can serve up sections of a page that’s most relevant to a search.
Google has clarified that they will still be indexing the entire page. Moving forward they will be ranking passages to give users the “needle-in-a-haystack information” they’re looking for.
Because this change is so new, it’s far too early to comment on the impact this will have. We’ll keep our eye on things and update you with any pertinent information you need to know regarding this change.
Other Recent Changes in Google SERPs
Image search has gotten an update and it was a much-needed one. Have you ever done an image search only to find the results were basically all the same image? Yeah, we have too. Google’s taken steps to improve the relevancy of results while drastically cutting down on duplicate results.
Some words have multiple meanings. That can make showing relevant images tricky. To help combat this you’ll now find tabs above images to help Google understand which meaning of the word to display results for.
In a recent lightning talk, John Mueller shared some image SEO tips. We’ve made a bullet point list of his tips below. If you want to hear it from John directly, here’s a link to his 9 min. video covering these tips.
- Begin by Knowing What Your Goal is – Don’t bother optimizing a generic image that doesn’t add value to the page.
- Provide Good Context – Try to add images that actually add value to the content.
- Add Titles – Adding titles to the content adds relevance to the image.
- Optimize Image Placement – When possible, place the image near the most relevant content. Place the most important image near the top of the page.
- Use Captions – This is a no-brainer, just like alt attributes.
- Alt Attributes – This is the basis for image SEO. Use very descriptive alt attributes without keyword stuffing them.
- Use High-Quality Images – By using the best quality image you can the thumbnail version in the SERPs will be crisp and more enticing to users.
- Optimize for Mobile – Make sure your images display well on all screen sizes
- Use 301 Redirects When Image URLs Change
That’s it for this edition of SEO you need to know. Our goal with this content is to give you relevant, tactical SEO information you can use today. SEO theory is fun, but the info you can put to work right away is better. What do you think of this new format? Any questions? Let us know in the comments below.