How can Marketers Optimize their Content Length for SEO?
Because Google revises their algorithms so frequently, tactics that may have worked well from a search engine optimization (SEO) aspect even a year ago, may need to be reevaluated periodically.
If a marketer wants answers around the “ideal” length of a particular piece of content, they will encounter recommendations ranging anywhere from 300 to 2,000 words, each reason having merit. Even though the formula for the perfect content length is not one-size-fits-all, two things have remained a constant for content marketers: quality content ranks well.
How Long is too Long for a Blog?
With everyone and their brother filling the internet with noise, trying to gain visibility to grab the consumer’s attention is difficult. The attention span, or lack thereof, is why shorter blogs between 300-500 words became popular.
Recent studies by a SEMrush report that the longer the blog, the higher the ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs) and the more engagement. Furthermore, another study by Moz and BuzzSumo showed that blogs with more than 1,000 words receive the most links and shares - another historically important factor in SEO.
Brian Dean, the Founder of Backlino, agrees with this notion. He conducted a study of over 1 million Google search results and concluded that long-form content outperforms short content. Dean found a sweet spot that blog content with at least 1,890 words performs the best.
This does not mean content writers should fill blogs with fluff and the blog will magically rank well. Ranking well comes down to the quality of the post. Quality over quantity, always.
How can marketers optimize content for SEO?
While length is important, it’s not the only ranking factor when it comes to SEO. Marketers must optimize their content in order for it to be seen.
According to Neil Patel and Brian Dean from the videos below, marketers who want to improve their SEO content and click-through rate must:
Focus on the Quality
Google wants to give its users the best experience and the best content. Dive in deep when explaining a certain topic instead of being vague. Analyze key competitors’ blogs and keywords, and use their work to improve owned content.
Engage the Consumer Instantly
Use tools like CoSchedule Headline Analyze to have a captivating title that draws people in. Putting the main topic/targeted keyword in the title, URL, meta description, and within the first hundred words makes consumers want to read the content while telling search engines what the content is about. Though the content can be lengthy, the URL should not be - keep it short.
Fix Technical Issues
Google punishes sites with slow load times, so be sure to reduce load times by compressing pictures, limiting videos and excessive animations, and eliminating outdated or irrelevant content. Search for broken links and update them with 301 or 302 redirects. Explore additional articles relating to the blog’s topic and check them for broken links. Reach out to the writer about replacing the broken links with your content - the more outbound links directing to the brand’s site, the better.
Use Keyword Resources
Free tools like Ubersuggest, Google Search Console, and Google Suggest show which keywords the consumer is using so that the brand can beef up content or influence future content. If marketers want more sophistication in their keyword research tools, there are paid options like SEMrush and MarketMuse, which show exactly where competitors are gaining traction. Quora is another useful content planning tool because it shows the industry’s most popular questions. Use this to answer the consumer’s burning questions and draw them in. If Google deems the content beneficial to the consumer, the content will be ranked higher.
Optimize and Update Blogs Frequently
Keeping an eye on the Google Search Console, where competitors’ content is ranking, and what consumers are searching will inform future blogs. Auditing past blog content using the above tools can guide whether or not the outdated/useless content should be deleted.
Optimizing content for length applies to more than just blogs. It’s also important to optimize content on social media channels.
Though the character count increased, a study by Buddy Media and Track Social showed that posts shorter than 100 characters get 17% more engagement.
Facebook, like Twitter, is a platform that succeeds with fewer words according to a Jeff Bullas and BlitzLocal study (links). Posts with fewer than 40 characters and with images perform 120% better.
Optimal content length depends on the target audience. A study conducted by Compendium (link) showed that for B2B company posts, 16-25 words are best, as compared to optimal B2C included 21-25 words.
At the end of the day, it is the marketer who knows their client personas and target audience best and can determine what content will be the most engaging. Follow length and search engine optimization guidelines, analyze the results, and be ready to adapt.