Why Writing Longer Content Isn't Always the Answer to Good SEO

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December 26, 2020
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One thing most affiliate bloggers will ask at the beginning is around how long is long enough. This is the wrong thought process and instead your thought should be, should I choose to write this content, if so, what is the competition writing for a word count and how long should a blog post be for good SEO value?

Most sources will claim around 2000 words to allow for enough content within the post to hit on multiple keywords and give your content much more opportunities to be listed within the Search Engines. In application you can target long tail keywords sometimes with much shorter posts but they may not hit many other semantic keywords.

For example, if you are writing a review post at 2000 words because a blog told you to you may never rank on page one and due to that see almost ZERO traffic to your post.

Many review posts in popular subjects can be 4000+ words long, with multiple headlines and be very in depth. Your 2000 word post will just die on the vine and not serve you any benefit other than loss in time and income.

Examine the SERP for Current Keywords

The first thing you will want to do when you find a keyword or phrase that you would like to target is to evaluate the first page of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) to see a key few things from the competition to better understand how to approach the topic.

Note to evaluate the SERP is a very manual process overall unless you choose tools which can assist. This process can be made easier by using tools like SurferSEO to understand the SERP if you wish.

How Long Should a Blog Post be for Good SEO

What Type of Media Shows in Rankings?

This one can help you immediately in understanding what Google believes to be the best content for a specific query. The SERP is full of very different types of listings from video, recipes, news, ads, products ,and much more.

If, for example on Google, that YouTube is showing as 8 of the top results on page one that means it is more likely that users prefer or click a video to answer the query and no matter how long your post is it may never rank above any one of the videos.

Understanding what content the search engine likes or prefers for a search intent is a first key to ensuring you create content that is useful to the users, yourself, and the search engine.

This may help you immediately start splitting your videos into a informational post, money post, or a video to ensure the best results.

What Is the Word Count of Ranking Material?

This one seems to be overlooked by a large section of bloggers and is probably the worst thing new bloggers fail to pay attention to.

When the word count of everything on page one is 2000 words and you write a 800 word blog post in almost all cases unless you have a crazy amount of backlinks you will never reach page one.

I am a large proponent of taking all blog posts on page one and adding the word counts together and then dividing by the count of blog websites.

This gives me a solid average for what is required to cover a topic solidly and reach page one, then my goal would be to look at what sub topics may have been skipped that I could add for more value.

This added value and understanding the word count can help you to take over the top spots over time as the algorithm and user interaction shows Google that you have excellent content that people love to stay and read.

What is the Heading Count of Ranking Material?

When you are looking at the word count I would look at how many headings they use, starting first with the count of H2 subheadings, then whether they break down into H3 and maybe into H4.

This can tell you how far they dug down into topics overall and give you an idea of what amount of headings may be valuable to ranking.

Please don't take this step as a "I should copy their headings" as that isn't fresh or unique content which won't help you rank in the end.

Use these heading counts to build your structure for your post and once you build out the framework of the subheadings you plan to write about.

Then you will be able to write much more clearly and concisely along with being able to lead the reader from one heading into the next since you have a clear idea already built.

What is the Image Count of Ranking Material?

Another key to the blogs which place already on the SERP is their image counts and what are their Alt tags.

This can help you see whether they focused on generic imaging from a stock site or are using their own custom images along with how they are tagged as this is used for vision impaired descriptions along with can help your site be more useful to all visitors.

Check For Forums and Non Blog Content

A big key to the overall ability to place in the top ten in a SERP will be when there is forum threads, Reddit, Quora, or similar non-blog content which is able to rank.

These are typically disjointed short snippets of information and are a very good signal of your ability to rank well for a given search phrase.

What is the Ideal Word Count for a Blog Post?

To be bluntly honest no post should go online at less than 750 words if the intention is for SEO on your site, this little amount of text shows that you typically have less than full knowledge of a topic.

Along with this is the issue that 750 words gives very little chance for your post to rank for other semantic terms which can help you pull in more visitors from the SERP listings.

ahrefs Study shows that the post length does correlate to placement

What Can Increasing Content Length Provide?

Increasing your content volume and length helps to give you more semantic terms, or highly related search terms, for this same post.

This is very valuable to get you more visitors with writing less content and is a reason why places like Backlinko write 10k word posts for specific terms, not just to win first but to place for numerous high search terms.

This is where people get search volumes incorrect from tools. Yes, your search phrase may show (10 avg searches per month) but in truth the post may rank for 200+ keywords and if each was to provide 10 searches this would mean this post could get 2000 visits a month.

This is why paying attention ONLY to search volume means you leave plenty of visitors to your site on the table when choosing not to write content.

I may use it as a barometer but if the topic makes sense for my blog I will write it and write it very well, then add in a tool like LSIgraph to find other semantic terms that I can look to insert into the post to help it rank in other directions at the same time.

How To Add Value Into a Blog Post for SEO

One of the things you can do which can help you in your search ranking is to add extra value into your posts which are linked and very on topic to your post and information.

In writing this post I found this YouTube video by Shaun Marrs which I included to help give another perspective along with it helps him on YouTube to get more views and possibly a farther reach than YouTube alone provides him.

Stay On Topic Don't Meander

One big thing you can do to rank better and with more ease is to stay on topic, many people will start their blog posts but then slowly over the course of writing change topic because they didn't have a solid outline built prior.

Insert Video Content From You or Others

This is growing in popularity due to the ever increasing internet speeds on both mobile and desktop and the ease at which inserting this content. This can help to provide additional viewpoints on the topic you are discussing and doesn't have to be a mirror of your blog in its content.

Final Thoughts on How Long Should a Blog Post be for Good SEO

What you really need to do is to focus much more on the content and the competition with the content you plan to create. There is an infinite amount of long tailed keywords available that you can write on with far less words and rank on page one.

Now whether you are looking at an informational website which will cater very highly in ad based revenue or product based which requires keywords with a buyer intent will change the focus of your keyword research and hence the content length for SEO use.

There is no magic bullet of xxxx post words and length that will make you take first place in the SERPs and that is the main fallacy many have to face.

The sooner you get to understanding this key concept the sooner you will begin to write content which will rank and can provide you traffic.

Did I get anything wrong? Did I miss something valuable? I would love to hear so in the comments below, I want this to be the most useful site to help new and experienced bloggers gain footing and search more effectively and to find their way forward!

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