Having worked in internet marketing for many years, with most of that time spent studying and practicing the art of search engine optimisation, I’m very familiar with the phrase “content is king”. This was the mantra of every SEO practitioner way back in the early 2000’s, before everyone became obsessed with link building as a result of the dominance of Google. (One of Google’s main criteria for assuming a web page is relevant to a particular search query is the quantity and quality of the inbound hyperlinks that the page has attracted).
In recent years, the focus on content has made something of a comeback – especially following the Armageddon-style devaluing of particular types of links that occurred with the various alterations to Googles algorithm known as the “Panda” updates. So we now see a vast array of “content marketing experts” who recommend the development of quality content that can then be promoted around the internet. (The primary purpose being, of course, to attract more inbound links in order to satisfy Google in this regard).
Indeed, web pages that have attracted a large number of inbound links but don’t appear to have much going on in the way of text content are certainly well represented when it comes to Google rankings. A good example of this is the site www.xe.com – which always appears well ranked for relevant phrases such as “currency exchange”, “currency converter” etc – though there fewer than 100 words of text on their home page.
So you wouldn’t be off the mark in assuming that links are still “where it’s at” when it comes to search engine optimisation for good rankings. However, it is also the case that quality text content is a factor in determining a page’s ranking position, as Google is keen to reward a searcher with something of value when they click on of its search results. Given that searches are performed using words, it is thus only natural that the pages most likely to be recommended by Google are those that feature content that includes and expands upon the words in the search phrase being used.
In the olden days (late 90s, early 2000’s), keyword stuffing of web pages was a prevalent method of achieving good ranking results, with many search engine specialists recommending a particular “keyword density” in a page’s text content in order to convince Google that your web page was a good match for the search phrase or phrases being targeted.
And certainly it is still true that featuring a specific set of words in a particular order is more likely to see your page being featured in the results for a search that uses those same words in the same order. But nowadays there is much more to it than that, with keyword density and keyword stuffing essentially being consigned to the past.
Which all adds up to providing a very good reason to make your blog posts longer in length than what appears to be the de facto standard of around 300 words. Writing about a particular subject in an expanded fashion will definitely assist with your search engine placement efforts, so should certainly be something you consider when putting posts together.
And as an SEO expert myself, I have no problem advising people to write longer blog posts for that reason alone.
There is another very good reason to write longer posts (that just so happens to also assist with good rankings), in that longer posts are much more likely to be read for a longer time period than shorter posts. Not exactly rocket science, this one, as clearly it takes longer to read something of 1000 words than it does to read something of a couple of hundred words. The length of time someone stays on your page having arrived at it via a Google search is one of the known elements for helping a page to climb the rankings, so encouraging people to stay on the page for longer is another beneficial result from an SEO perspective.
But it’s not just good for rankings to encourage people to stay on your site for longer, it’s also good for conversions, as you can get your message across multiple times in the same post. This should help to persuade the people who are reading the post that your message is a worthwhile one, which is obviously the whole point of saying something in a blog post in the first place.
My recommendation is to aim for posts of 800+ words. So a post of 1000 words – such as this one – is not only a good bet, but it also appeals to my liking for rounded figures. (1000 words thus being a more pleasing length than 800!).
Even better still is a post of greater than 1000 words. (The entry level for my ongoing search engine optimisation service actually includes an 800-2000 word blog post each month, alongside Links Outreach, which is outside the scope of this particular article, but is no doubt something I’ll be returning to in the future).
There have been several studies of Google’s top ten rankings (though I’ll be returning to the idea of whether there even is such a thing as a “top ten ranking” at a later stage!) that indicate blog posts of 800-2000 words dominate the results pages. And my own research does back up these findings a little. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is essential to write posts of this length, though, as I have also been responsible for creating many blog posts of 1000 words – and sometimes less – that enjoy similar rankings success.
To sum up, my suggestion is to write 800-2000 word blog posts wherever possible – both for SEO purposes and to drive your message home more forcefully than a shorter post could. But if you can only think of enough to say to fill a 300-400 word post, that’s fine, too. As there’s nothing more likely to make your site visitors bounce straight away from your page than to fill it with padding and waffle. (Another sure way to get Google to downgrade your page in its listings, too).
So to revise the well-known phrase “content is King”, I’d add in an extra word, which is essentially what I’m promoting here – “quality content is King”. If you can write 800-2000 words of high quality content, your blog posts will always achieve their goals.