Which is better for SEO results: a 500-word article or a 3,000-word article?
The answer is whichever is more relevant and interesting to the reader.
Some people will tell you that the key to writing, especially on the Internet, is to keep it short. Seth Godin, for example, has done an excellent job mastering the short blog post.
Others will tell you to stretch that 500-word article into 2,000 because that’s the magic number a study from serpIQ said the Google algorithm looks for. Yet, I’ve seen a 50-word blurb rank better than a 1,500-word landing page.
My philosophy, and one that is shared by most marketing experts, is that content should be as long as it needs to be.
(I should note that I’m talking specifically about blog posts, landing pages, product descriptions, and other website content. Twitter, Facebook, meta descriptions, title tags, email subject lines—there absolutely is a character limit and a “sweet spot” for these.)
First and Foremost, Write for Your Human Audience.
Don’t try to write for the search engine and slip in extra keywords hoping it’ll bump you up a couple spots in Google rankings. It won’t.
There are still articles floating around out there telling people they have to hit at least a 4–7% keyword density in order to rank well. Meaning that they should use their keyword 4–7 times every 100 words.
While keywords are important (after all, that’s what your reader will be typing in the Google search bar), if you pepper them throughout your writing unnecessarily, your writing won’t flow naturally. It’ll be too clunky for your human audience to read, and no amount of keyword stuffing will bump up your rankings.
Pro Tip: Write like you’re having a conversation with your reader. Tell them a story. Make it interesting, so they’ll come back to your website, share it with friends, or link to it from their own blog. THIS is how your content gets better Google rankings.
Break up Long Content.
Can you imagine if I had posted this article without any line breaks or headers to divide up my content? It’d be a nightmare to read.
I’m a big fan of paragraphs with just 1–2 sentences. These short, punchy paragraphs make it easier for my reader’s eyes to continue down the page.
Longer paragraphs aren’t inherently bad. But I try not to let my paragraphs be longer than 4 lines on the screen, as it tends to create a large block of text that is harder for the reader’s eye to navigate.
Pro Tip: Sometimes writing is like feeding a baby—you have to break up big chunks into smaller pieces that are easy to digest. Use hard returns, paragraph headers, bullets, images, and infographics to break up your content.
If you need 1,500 words to explain the awesome benefits of your company or product, then use every last one. If you can write a great message that connects with your readers, and you only need 300 words to do it, that’s ok.
But, PLEASE, don’t stretch a 100-word idea into 500 because some self-professed guru tells you that’s the magic number for great SEO results.
You know that great line from Field of Dreams? “If you build it, they will come.” When it comes to writing, the catch-phrase is “If it’s interesting and relevant, people will read it.”
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