- 1.TL;DR SEO Length Guidelines for 2017: Metadata
- 2.TL;DR SEO Length Guidelines for 2017: Blogs & Page Content
- 3.TL;DR SEO Length Guidelines for 2017: Social Media
We began this series discussing the recommended length of your meta tags, particularly meta descriptions and titles. Today, let’s not waste any time diving into page content and blog length. Yippee!
Blog Post Length
More words mean more opportunities to get picked up on a search engine results page—yeah, I guess that makes sense—but the real barometer of a blog’s success is how, or rather who you’re targeting. Do you want readers to leave with a newfound set of skills or knowledge, or would you rather they skim, share, and move on?
Longer blog posts should draw in more compounded “high intent traffic,” but four shorter posts might produce more total visits in the short term, even if the clickthrough, bounce, and conversion rates aren’t anything to write home about. (One must also consider the time it takes to create a robust 1000-word post versus four 250-word posts.) Each has its perks depending on your goal, but let’s swim through some data anyway.
Perform a search for anything—dog obedience training trophies, Spanish rice with hot cheese sauce, plastic gnomes carrying overly large pitchforks, whatever—and identify the blogs on the first page of results. We’d bet that an inordinate amount of those links go to a post that has a substantially high word count (over 2,000). These are the long-form blogs that compound visits over time, and they are the best way to organically pull readers without any ongoing upkeep. Essentially, once a blog like that hits the top of the SERP, it’s hard to dethrone it.
Why? Various reasons, really.
- A low bounce rate means more engagement. Google likey.
- More time spent on the page means more engagement. Google likey.
- Authority on the topic (as suggested by the SERP rank) means more engagement. Google likey.
- A reader navigating the entire site, either by anchor or menu links, means more engagement. Google likey.
A page at the top is usually at the top for one reason: a high engagement rate, especially when it comes to long-tail queries. And, as you know, Google likey the engagement.
Multiple SEOs and bloggers agree that a longer post is the best way to rank. Orbit Media surveyed bloggers across the world and found that longer 1500-word posts returned better results than shorter posts. Yoast thinks 1000 words should be a good starting point. Buffer Social pegs 1600 words as the target. Backlinko.com found that 1900 words should be the sweet spot. Content evangelist extraordinaire Neil Patel goes further by breaking down word count by industry, which averages out to be about 1200 words.
That’s not to say that all your blog posts should break 1000 words! Some data suggests that shorter blogs might be more lucrative in terms of clicks (see below).
Let’s consider a 2500-word blog brings in 6500 social shares. Great, even if it took two workdays to research, write, edit, and publish. On the flipside, you can create a 600-word blog in 3 hours, and it’ll bring in 1750 shares. If my math is correct—in this case, I assume you’re playing fetch with social media marketing, not just blogging for SEO purposes—you can produce four 600-word posts in the same amount of time and with similar results. Are they going to be as good or enjoyable a read as the long post? Not likely, but that doesn’t mean they won’t serve a purpose.
As Mr. Rand “Moz” Fishkin himself says, “the perfect blog post length…doesn’t actually exist.” When it comes down to it, you should write as much as needed to get your point across. No fluff needed—this isn’t a research paper.
TL;DR: We recommend a target blog post length of about 1000 words for organic positioning. If you’d really like to corner a niche market or are attempting to rank for competitive keywords, shoot for 2000-plus words at least once a month. If you’re in love with short-term value (i.e. social media shares), then aim for 600 words, and pump ‘em out at a steady clip.
SEO Page Content Length
Along with backlinks, local SEO rank, and a strong domain authority, unique, high-quality page content is the most essential aspect of your SEO efforts. A shoddy page, both in UX aesthetics and copy, can be the death knell to even the finest company. So, if you’re lacking in this department, you should absolutely consider making a change, either by setting aside more time for content creation or hiring a content marketing and SEO firm like OppMax.
But I digress; let’s get down to business. How long should your on-page content be, exactly?
Like blog posts, there’s no one-size-fits-all limit to your web pages’ word count. Some high-ranking pages make out like bandits with only 300 words. Others are packed with characters, only to find their view obscured by four search engine pages full of links, and vice-versa. Although some case studies suggest that longer page content performs better, your page length boils down to this: how well does the content serve both your target audience and topic? If you’re writing content about a general, well-known topic, it better be damn good if you’re going to find a place atop the leaderboard (do you know how many sites there are about the Italian Renaissance?).
However, the old adage of “length is strength” is a good way to tackle page copy. More content typically means more ways to organically mention synonyms and long-tail keywords. If you had a 300-word page, for instance, keywords like “on-page SEO length,” “best SEO page content length,” and “SEO page word count” wouldn’t really flow (keyword stuffing is a no-no). However, if you stretch that word count to anywhere from 800 to 1200, you’ll have more places to tack on such phrases.
On the other hand, shorter “thin page content” (under 300 words) is a common strategy for sales and e-commerce sites, and that hasn’t stopped some of the big-name players from succeeding. Just keep in mind their budgets are probably sky high, so SEO content is often complimentary to other click-attracting avenues, like paid search, email marketing, and social media sharing.
To determine how long you should make your page, start by identifying these 4 primary components:
- Your Goal – Do you want continual traffic to funnel here or is it simply in the background, such as a “Your Cart” or “Privacy Notice” page? Are you going after desktop or mobile users, primarily? (Yes, it apparently makes a difference.)
- Audience Goal – Your brand voice, as mentioned in this OppMax post from 2016, is what will set the stage for your audience, but it’s the show (substance) they’re after. When you prepare to build and ultimately write your page, you should consider what the reader’s motivation is. Do they want to solve a problem or learn more about a solution? Do they want to buy something? Or do they simply want to let off some steam with a fun read?
- Audience Awareness – Once you’ve determined both goals, you need to ask yourself, “how much does my reader know about [topic or product]?” If they need a lengthy rundown of what you can offer, expect to write more. If not, save yourself from carpal tunnel by limiting your copy to necessary areas. Instead, focus on UX.
- Audience Qualms – You’ve determined what the audience wants out of the page, so now’s your chance to give them what they want (what they really, really want). Consider what would prevent them from engaging further, and address those concerns in no uncertain terms. Include free trial options, testimonials, call to actions, FAQs—whatever will tell the reader that you mean what you say, and say what you mean (see image below).
Only you can prevent forest fires identify the web page length necessary to get the best results, whether that’s 2,500 words to capture competitive long-tail keywords or 300 words to describe a pair of pickle-designed socks.
TL;DR: SEO page copy length should be based on intent, not a strict number count. Along with many other experts in the industry, we recommend filling out essential pages (e.g. home pages) with 600 to 1000 words and writing at least 300 words on other non-essential pages. But, again, these lengths aren’t set in stone!
Part 3 (social media posting length) of this blog series will continue next time. Catch up on part 1 here, and be sure to reach out to our Opportunity Max representatives if you need help understanding or implementing a new SEO strategy.
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