SEO Copy Length


Why Does Copy Length Matter?


Writing short, irrelevant articles or blog posts about somewhat relevant topics is so five minutes ago. This practice was business owners’ attempt at trying to draw the search engines to their websites, without having to invest the time and finances needed to create quality content. Well, trying to rig the search game will end in failure because eventually the engines will discover you’re trying to cheat the system and the offending site’s rank will be handily demoted.

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SEO Copy Length

Search Engines & SEO Copy Length


As the search engines evolved and rolled out algorithm updates over the years, SEO content strategy had to evolve along with them. Even if your website is optimized for search, with content relevance in mind and written to high-quality standards and proper keyword density, there’s one often-overlooked variable that dramatically impacts how your content affects your website’s search engine results ranking: copy length.

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SEO Copy Length

Ideal Copy Length

Even if your article is relevant and well-written, if it is too short, search engines see it as being of less value for the user. So if short articles are out, what should you be aiming for? There is no hard-and-fast rule for how long an article or blog post needs to be, but after monitoring recent Google Panda updates, SEO Expert has found that 500-1,000-word articles consistently out-perform shorter articles.

SEO Copy LengthSEO Copy LengthSEO Copy LengthSEO Copy Length
SEO Copy Length

Page Length Research

It’s been said (and we’ve even said it ourselves) that people are inherently lazy. It’s true, and we group ourselves in that category too. We have short attention spans and, in keeping in line with this thought, we’ve “dumbed down” online content. Content writers have shortened up their text, thinking that if the page is shorter they will garner more conversions. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

SEO Copy LengthSEO Copy LengthSEO Copy LengthSEO Copy Length
SEO Copy Length

The History of Copy Length in SEO

The goal of a search engine is to be an answer machine that brings visitors to sites with relevance and popularity about their query, and the algorithm updates are created to improve this function. Search engines have forever altered not just how consumers seek information, services and products but in turn how those services and products are marketed to them. How an SEO writer considers copy length has had to change to fit the way search engines work.

SEO Copy Length

Article Length and
User Engagement

 

SEO Copy Length

Writing and Sharing
Longform Content

 

SEO Expert Tips on Copy Length


SEO Copy Length

Link between length and quality

 

SEO Copy Length

Engagement Metrics

 

SEO Copy Length

Headlines and Meta Descriptions

 

SEO Copy Length

Don’t Ramble your way there

 

SEO Copy Length

Formatting 101

 

Search Engines & SEO Copy Length

As the search engines evolved and rolled out algorithm updates over the years, SEO content strategy had to evolve along with them. Even if your website is optimized for search, with content relevance in mind and written to high-quality standards and proper keyword density, there’s one often-overlooked variable that dramatically impacts how your content affects your website’s search engine results ranking: copy length.

Crafting great content that satisfies both the needs of the user and the needs of the search bot must take copy length into account. Pages that rank higher in a query also statistically tend to be the pages with longer articles and posts relevant to the search.

The current evidence is resoundingly clear: short articles that aren’t entirely relevant to your website or your business won’t garner you any special favors with the search engines or your audience. Black hat techniques just don’t cut it anymore, and that applies to copy length just as much as to keyword density or content relevance. The search engines have gotten smarter, and when it detects that a website is pushing out short, throwaway content, the site will get buried beneath other results. Farewell click-through rate.

Ideal Copy Length

Even if your article is relevant and well-written, if it is too short, search engines see it as being of less value for the user. So if short articles are out, what should you be aiming for? There is no hard-and-fast rule for how long an article or blog post needs to be, but after monitoring recent Google Panda updates, SEO Expert has found that 500-1,000-word articles consistently out-perform shorter articles. At this word count, an article can convey quality information and insights relevant to your targeted consumer.

Now is the time to embrace big content. Why? Besides keywords, popularity plays a huge role in getting your content seen. Longer posts tend to be shared, discussed and linked to more frequently on the Internet and in social media, which contributes to an improved ranking for that website. SEO Expert works with clients to place content at the center of any SEO campaign. Despite the cost of producing great content, it’s one of the sure things in SEO marketing: content is king.

Page Length Research

It’s been said (and we’ve even said it ourselves) that people are inherently lazy. It’s true, and we group ourselves in that category too. We have short attention spans and, in keeping in line with this thought, we’ve “dumbed down” online content. Content writers have shortened up their text, thinking that if the page is shorter they will garner more conversions. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Back in 2012, SEO guru Neil Patel researched this very topic. Fearing that his home page was too long at 1,200 words, he created a new home page with just under 500 words. The result? His conversion rate went down almost 10 percent—even with his opt-in much higher on the page. And numerous online marketers have researched—and proven—that long form content is good for business.

Garrett Moon of CoSchedule also performed an experiment on long-form content to see if longer posts truly did convert better than short posts. His findings? Longer is better, but only if it’s quality content. He also found that domain authority is a good indicator of where a page will fall on the search engine results pages. In general, authoritative sites were able to secure top results with short posts. Sites with lower domain authority need to stick to long-form posts.

Now good content certainly has a better conversion rate than crappy content. Anyone can write a great 500-word post or a terrible 2,500-word post. So if you’re going to take the time or spend the money for a long Web page or blog post, be sure it’s quality content, laced with keywords, for the best conversion rates.

The History of Copy Length in SEO

The goal of a search engine is to be an answer machine that brings visitors to sites with relevance and popularity about their query, and the algorithm updates are created to improve this function. Search engines have forever altered not just how consumers seek information, services and products but in turn how those services and products are marketed to them. How an SEO writer considers copy length has had to change to fit the way search engines work.

As website owners jockeyed to be at the top of the search results in the early days, a cottage industry of search engine optimizers popped up, adept at altering on-page elements in primitive ways to improve rank. One of the early SEO copy tactics was to push out short, throwaway articles or posts full of keyword stuffing and low-quality writing. A lot of websites were guilty of this SEO shortcut, and it worked! But as users became more sophisticated and the Web became the go-to place for everyone from children to seniors, start-ups to multi-million dollar businesses, shortcuts no longer worked. People wanted real content, and the search engines had to deliver it.

Google was created in 1996 and has grown to be the biggest of the search engines, capturing 70 percent of web searches. The first algorithm update to have a significant impact on copy length came out in 2003, taking on the prevalent keyword stuffing and spam techniques of the late 1990s. Suddenly companies had to hire SEO experts to rescue their lower rankings. With the “No follow” update in 2005, Google began to punish the heaps of suspicious backlinks that had been built and clear out spam-ridden content that was cluttering the Internet.

Then in 2011, Google Panda 1.0 arrived. Many websites with black hat techniques instantly fell and lost massive amounts of revenue from decreased traffic. The Panda update marked a decisive turning point in SEO content. The new demand for quality content had an effect on how long articles and blog posts would be. As bad content was being instantly de-ranked, the search industry quickly took note of a new phenomenon: longer content was beginning to rank better.

Article Length and User Engagement

Copy length has become a key piece of the SEO copywriting puzzle. Changing your approach to article length can revitalize your efforts to engage consumers. But why do longer articles correlate with higher user engagement?

Article length matters because readers will stick with an article when they perceive it will offer new insights and valuable information as pertains to their search. Our attention spans are pretty short these days. Think about it, tweets are 140 characters long, commercials are flashy and jump from frame to frame quickly and newspapers are offering online versions with condensed content. You have to give the reader a reason to keep reading after your headline, and it needs to stand out.

Longer, thoughtful posts demonstrate a commitment to the consumer and convey authority in your field. Connecting with your target audience is a powerful marketing move, as quality content empowers your consumers to be emissaries of your brand through sharing and linking to your content. But in order to engage your audience, you must have something to say.

Writing and Sharing Longform Content

It’s true that not every reader will take the time to read your entire Web page or blog post, and that’s okay. And the time it takes to create long-form content might be cost-prohibitive. Work your creative juices and you can easily curate long content that can help boost your SEO.

We believe in the value of repurposing content. Not reusing it as-is, but rewriting it to use in different formats. Several social media posts can be expanded to create a blog post. A blog post can be summarized into a marketing email. An idea you discuss on a static web page can turn into a white paper you promote in a variety of ways. And any of these pieces of content can become a long blog post that you can share in a variety of formats to drive traffic to your website.

The goal is to create long-form content for your website that will be shared across multiple platforms by you and through backlinks.

Link between length and quality

A throwaway blog post of 250 words or quick article jam-packed with keywords is hardly worth reading. A consumer will quickly realize by skimming a short article or blog post that there is nothing new or credible to be found, and move on. In order to achieve content quality, copy length is key. In a content-saturated world, a longer article must instantly engage the reader, and make it clear that among all the noise and potential distractions, the article is worth their time investment.

Engagement Metrics

The average copy length of the top 10 search results that show up first are longer than the content found on the pages with lower SERP rankings. Users respond favorably to content length, as concretely measured through engagement metrics. Do an audit of your own site. How do your longer articles or in-depth guides compare to the shorter posts? You will likely find that users stay on the page longer and link more frequently to longer posts, and these actions positively impact your SERP ranking since they make your site appear relevant to the query. Consumers have grown savvier with search. They expect to find high quality, informative content quickly that’s housed within an intuitive user experience. If they don’t, it won’t take them more than a minute or two to navigate away, back to Google, back to their search, confident they will find better results.

Headlines and Meta Descriptions

There is a place to be brief within SEO copy, and that is with headlines and meta descriptions. Excellent meta descriptions describe the content on your page to search engines, the keyword needs to be toward the top of the copy. Yet they are also read by the user on the search results page, and should encourage readers with concise and engaging language to click through—in 150 words or less. Headlines should also be short and to the point, containing the keywords and a sense of what can be found in the article.

Don’t Ramble your way there

While aiming for longer articles, don’t make the mistake of taking 100 words and bloating it to 1,000 with fluff and filler or you lose out on content relevance. Make sure you have something to say before you start writing. Conceptualize each article with the 500-1,000-word length in mind, while knowing that no one is going to share an article that is unnecessary since the reader will quickly figure out that it was written for a search bot. Watch out for constant calls to action since these will bore the reader. The rules of good writing apply to SEO content. Be concise and don’t use five words when two will do. Make it worth the readers’ time to stick with you until the end of the piece.

Formatting 101

We cannot overstate the importance of formatting. The last thing your website needs is a 1,000 well-crafted wall of words that appears like an impenetrable fortress to the reader. If it’s not scannable and quickly digestible, it doesn’t belong on the Internet. Pressed for time, readers want to find information and grasp the key points of whatever they are reading with ease. That means you should include pull-quotes, subheadings, bullet points, lists and graphics throughout the text, as appropriate. This makes the content easier to read and digest, and visitors can scan it to grab the tidbits on information they were looking for when they started their Web search. Formatting also plays an important part in search engines comprehending what the article is about.

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