Does the ranking depend on the length of an article? [A review]

Length of article


The fast-paced digital world would always startle you with its fast-paced updates.  Sometimes, it feels like Google uncle is breathing down your neck as he calls the shots. Dear uncle changes his algorithms faster than models change their clothes. Not surprisingly, some of your content doesn’t perform as per your expectations (you know the opposite of *some* fits here though).

As a marketer, blogger, or SE optimizer, you are probably sick of news & views on the length of articles, among other matters.

What exactly to follow if you want to produce quality material that serves your audience well, yet stay in Google’s good books? That’s one main concern of content producers today.

So that’s the question we have decided to address in today’s blog post.

They say that the content as long as about 2000 words serve you well. Okeh, Gotcha.

Then they say people are looking for short, to the point answers. They are too busy to read a 2000 words manuscript. Oh really? Thanks, that was helpful!

That actually was helpful.

It really depends if you need to produce long content with all the details or quick short answers.

Depends on what genius?

Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty and break it down to you.

What does Google uncle say?

Uncle Google is probably too shy to be vocal about it, so he merely does.

Thanks to some of the sharp-witted researchers and content producers, Google’s plans are revealed to us (often quite in time).

If you believe in *Content is King*, you must always be ready to update your content as per the strategies Google doesn’t tell us about (but we still manage to get to know them).

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What do the researchers and influencers say?

Here’s a brief compilation on the views of big names from the industry.

BuzzSummo’s View:

In a relatively ancient article (even yesterday is ancient in the digital world) on BuzzSumo in 2014, Steve Rayson establishes that long content form is the most desirable one.

He backs his argument based on the following articles in his blog:

A screenshot from Steve Rayson’s blog showing the articles he based his research on to endorse lengthy content.

Brian’s views:

Brian’s research in 2018:

So, the fantastic Brian Dean, the face behind (and on) backlinko.com brought a list of 200 factors Google counts on for ranking your content. The 16th number in his blog post is occupied by *Blog length*.

The graph he added shows a correlation between the content length and its ranking on Google.

 

A screenshot from Brain’s blog on 200 factors Google takes into account for ranking. The graph shows a correlation between number of words and Google ranking.

 

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Brian’s research in 2016:

A few years back in 2016, Brian published his findings on SEO upon analyzing 1-million Google search results. Here are the key outcomes you should keep in mind to come to a logical conclusion on the topic:

  •    *Topically relevant* content performed better than the content that did not cover the details of a topic.
  •    Based on SEMRush ranking, the results on the first page on Google had an average of 1890 words.

ProBlogger’s views:

Ali Luke on ProBlogger came up with a relatively small blog post (less than a thousand words) on the topic of ideal blog length.

A screenshot of Ali Luke’s featured image from the post on content length

Ali mentions that the length of a post depends on the information your reader needs, information that needs to be provided as well as what is convenient for you.

So, topics requiring in-depth details are naturally going to be long reads, but if your readers are up for a quick read, you’d better provide for them (or prepare to lose them).

Also, no matter what SEO benefits are associated with long-form content, if that’s not your style, don’t go for length. Because if you do so, you won’t be far from scaring your readers away.

QuickSprout’s view:

This infographic, published in 2019 is a huge help to be used as a checklist for your next blog if you are up for ranking it. However, for now, we are concerned with the length factor. As per QuickSprout, Google Ranks a website with more words.

An infographic from QuickSprout showing the factors Google takes into account for ranking your content

 

Buffer’s views:

An infographic by Keven Lee on the optimal length of every social media post (updated edition) stated that the optimum length of a blog post is 1600 words.

A graph from Keven Lee’s blog on length of different Social Media Content. The graph shows a correlation between length of a blog and social shares.

He says that this is the length at which your readers can spend maximum time on your post (of course provided it reflects their interest).

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Yoast’s views:

Yoast.com endorses long-form content.

The reason it presents is having more focus keywords throughout the long posts for Google to understand the content and context well. It refers to short content as *thin content*, as Google calls it, that is not much helpful for users.

If it’s not much useful, why would Google bother ranking it? Because, Google can only be user’s top priority by making users its top priority (and that’s what it is doing when it ranks you, or it doesn’t. No personal grievances, we tell you).

Neil’s views:

Neil supports the idea of lengthy content stating that content ranging between 3000-10000 words gets an insanely higher number of shares compared to content with lower word count.

A highly useful read by Neil breaks down the average *sweet spot* length for different industries.

Guess what, for the sales industry, the average length is between 2500-2700 words as he states it.

Moreover, surprisingly, it is 800-1000 for the tech industry.

Are *Gadgets still killing it at 300-500 words? Well, that’s shocking now.

Marketing and advertising, as you might have guessed, is holding a higher average-desirable-count position with 2500-3000 words.

Neil’s advice

Neil Patel specifically advised keeping your content lengthy in a blog post about ranking your blog posts. He backed his argument by a simple search on *Exercises for strength*.

A screenshot from Neil’s blog post on optimizing a blog to rank it. The image shows SERP results for a search query *Exercises for strength*.

 

Side note: Want to see how our results were different from Neil’s and WHY? Keep reading through the end to find out.

Is longer really better? Neil’s blog post

In an exceptionally incredible blog post (like all his other ones), Neil states that Google doesn’t care about our word count.

A heading screenshot from Neil’s blog post on ranking blog posts. The heading says *Google doesn’t care about word count. They care about three other things.*

That being the case, why on earth is Neil’s average blog post count 2300?

Also, why did he advise to keep the blogs lengthy?

Here’s why.

A screenshot from Neil’s blog post on ranking a blog post. The graph shows correlation of content length and average linking domains

 

A screenshot from Neil’s blog post on ranking a blog post. The graph shows correlation of content length and average Social shares

A screenshot from Neil’s blog post on ranking a blog post. The graph shows correlation of content length and average Organic traffic

 

These are the benefits of long-form content.

Neil says that Google wants good content and good content needs to cover details that [often] need more words. Therefore, better content is mostly lengthy.

The three factors Google is watching you for, as per Neil Patel, are:

  1. How in-depth is your content?
  2. How comprehensively your data is covering the topic?
  3. How relevant is your article to the keyword you’re trying to rank for?

So these are all the views we have gathered by influencers over time.

It is about time we speak for ourselves, folks.

What do we say?

We have already said what we say.

Does ranking depend on the length of an article? Well, it depends.

We second Neil Patel on some of the points. We can’t agree more with Ali Luke.

How so?

Most of the people we know prefer quality to quantity. That includes us too.

Imagine this scenario.

Your user asked you for tips to ride a bike. How detailed could you be? Could you write a 5000 words article on that?

At least we don’t stand a chance to go this detailed on riding a bike. Chances are, we’d be out of details at 800th word AT THE MOST.

If that’s the case, we won’t beat around the bush just because we have already gotten to the bush. We’d try to keep it just as long as a user needs.

As long as we are covering everything up a user needs in 600 words, Google won’t reward us for writing six hundred and first word.

That being the case, why bother writing unnecessarily long (read WRONG) when short serves the purpose?

Also, why do you think the user would be interested in reading your 2000 words when they can find about the same quality info in 500 words? They say *time is money*.

Neil vs. Us on *Exercises for Strength*

Remember reading about Neil search on *Exercises for Strength*?

We used the same search query on Google and found our results to be different, quite different.

Here’s the difference we found:

A screenshot of our search query on *exercises for strength* in comparison to Neil’s search for the same query.

 

Can you spot differences? Let’s suss-out them all one by one:

  1. Neil’s results do not include the first result in our search.
  2. His results do not include *people also ask*.
  3. We do not see video results in his search results.
  4. Neil’s number 1 ranked article is ranked number 4 in our results.
  5. Number 2nd ranked result in Neil’s results is number 3rd in our results beating the other (by one position).

So not only did some new results appear for our search, but Neil’s high-ranked results are ranked down in our search. Also, Neil’s findings have now swapped position in our search with respect to each other.

As for why did new results appear at the top now (and were nowhere in Neil’s search), here’s an explanation.

The game of Featured Snippet

The first result is a featured snippet; a new feature Google favors in the ranking. A featured snippet is a part of your text that wholly and directly answers a search query (What, when, how, why, etc.). If you have optimized your content for it, Google ranks your snippet higher than the complete web pages with detailed information. This saves users from clicking on a page and scrolling here and there to find the exact information they need.

Also, Google rewards other snippet optimized relevant content by adding a list of *People also ask* section. This is what a featured snippet and *People also ask* section looks like.

A screenshot of search results for the query *Featured Snippet*. The image depicts a featured snippet ranked at the top of search results

Interestingly, that is a deviation from the rule all the influencers have talked about i.e., lengthy content is king. This proves that as long as your content is relevant and precisely according to the user’s intent, it doesn’t matter if it is lengthy or short.

Videos are another kind of content Google is extending special favors to. As per the new rules in-game, you have better chances of ranking higher with related videos than you have with another kind of content. Additionally, featured snippet features videos as well.

Other ranking factors

As for the swapping of other result’s position, even if the content length is counted on for ranking, it is not the only factor considered for the ranking. As and when you optimize your content for different factors, Google plays a fair game and ranks you accordingly. However, you’d have to patiently wait for Google to crawl your content the next time.

Mention in the comments if you want to read more about these updates. For now, let’s get back to our topic and our views on it.

As Neil Patel mentioned different desired lengths for content in different industries, we believe the clichéd 1890 or 1600 or more than 1500 is no norm to be followed. Quality and maximum value provision should be our norms here.

Hummingbird-our most recent and most extended love

Remember reading about 200 factors Google takes into account for ranking a result? Well, the algorithm that does it for Google is called Hummingbird.

Thanks to Hummingbird, you are getting nowhere merely with keyword stuffing. You have the chances to rank for a query if you optimized for it even it is brief and to the point, Thanks to Hummingbird. Thanks again to Hummingbird, Google now understands what your content is all about.

So, no worries ABOUT THE LENGTH if you have written a 400 words article explaining everything YOUR readers need. Length won’t be a hurdle in ranking anymore. Congratulations.

We are, by no means, trying to deny the importance of length. The importance of lengthy content is irrefutable, especially after the explanation by Neil Patel.

Conclusion:

Content is our king; it really is. So let’s treat it like one.

So what are our findings by far?

1-  Go for long content because you need to satisfy your user. Long content gives you the freedom to bring to light every blind spot and every hidden aspect. That’s what your user is looking for.

What’s the catch here?

No catch, only SCORE if you provide them with what they want.

2-  Do not punish yourself and the user by creating and reading long content when there’s no need for it.

The golden line in the rule book states, *Not every blogger is Seth Godin. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be good (or better)*. So go for short if that’s your style and go for short if that’s the demand.

After all, why else did Google give search intent a massive round of applause? Yes, part of it is to welcome your content based on its value and quality, not the length.

Your call:

So, long or short is really your call, now that you have read up on it. However, before you begin working on your next write up, we’d like to hear from you.

Let us know what you’re writing on.

Is it going to be short or long-form content this time?

Oh and don’t forget to mention if you’d like to read about anything else in detail. How would you like reading on Google algorithms?

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Happy reading 🙂

 

 

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