Category: Author: David Hall
About three years ago I wrote a post disagreeing with one of our competitors in search engine optimization who was telling prospective clients that the optimum length for a page to gain high rankings in Google was 500+ words. We see variations of this idea being promoted by various SEO companies. Just Google “long-form content” and you’ll find articles from all over on this subject.
I have never seen anything substantial to justify this thinking, and we have found, for our clients, that often short pages will rank very well. Write well, cover the subject, and make it pertinent to real questions that people have, and it will rank well.
We subscribe to regular podcasts and online meetings with Search Engine News, and I was interested that in their September podcast, SEO expert Casey Markee addressed this subject. In that podcast he said, “There are a lot of myths out there about longer content essentially performing better.” He went on to declare, “Content length is not now nor has it ever been a ranking factor,” and he cited a couple of articles to buttress his point.
To further emphasize the point he used an example of a one-word website that ranks #1 for the query, “Is it Christmas?” The website simply says “NO.” Try it. One of the articles also mentioned that the page ranking first for “how to boil an egg” has 150 words.
Yes, there are surveys that show that the average length of pages that tend to rank well is more than pages that don’t rank as well. First of all, the differences revealed by those surveys are marginal, not dramatic. Furthermore, taking those surveys and translating them into the idea that you should write more words just to write more makes no sense to me. I will agree that the average well-researched, carefully-thought-out and accurate article will be, on the average, longer than the hastily and sloppily written article. But it’s the research, the thoughtfulness, the accuracy, and good writing that cause it to rank.