There's been some debate over the years as to whether the length of a webpage, blog post, landing page, etc., affects the page's search rankings. Some have suggested that its specifically part of the criteria Google uses in its algorithm to evaluate the user experience a webpage delivers to the user. In other words, is it what the user is truly looking for?
As recently as August 2019, Google's John Muller went on Reddit and said, "Word count is not a ranking factor. Save yourself the trouble." So there we have it... end of debate, right?
Well, not quite. After all, whether word count is one of the 200+ Google ranking factors is a much different question than "Does word count positively impact a page's search ranking?" Why? Because lengthy, relevant content makes possible so many things that definitely do help your search rankings. Even in the article referenced earlier in this paragraph, the author included word count as #16 on the list without really saying it's part of the algorithm.
So let's take Google at its word ... that they don't count the words on every page they crawl to use as a basis for their search results. The truth is, it doesn't matter if they're doing it intentionally. Study after study has shown that pages with higher word counts get the top spots, with some variation depending on the subject matter.
That means the longer content is doing something that appeals to the search algorithms. And while Google is pretty tight-lipped about what's actually in its algorithm, it's becoming clear that those extra words are helping out in some key ways:
So, now that we've satisfied the search algorithms' thirst for relevant keywords/key phrases and backlinks from other websites, let's turn our attention to the readers ... the human readers. The biggest challenge with writing long-form content is getting people to actually read it. People generally don't like to read, especially if they see a lot of text. This is where design comes in.
Think about how you feel when you pull up a website and all you see is text filling the screen. Top to bottom, left to right. For most people, before they read a single word, they think, "Holy crap, what a chore this is gonna be!" This happens in a split second on a subconscious level and it's based on how the overall design hits their eyes.
So when putting your content together, find ways to incorporate one or two bullet-point lists. Place an image so it's nested within the copy. And break it up into short paragraphs with occasional subheads. This will look more inviting to the reader and pull them in to your content.
That's why the best strategy for creating written content is to write as many words as you need to communicate what you want to say. It's never a good practice to pad the writing with irrelevant fluff, but don't cut yourself short either. Focus on good writing and inviting design for the best results!
blogging or journaling. Which is it?
Sometimes I write about writing. Or business. And then there are the times I just write about the loose change jingling around in my head... bacon, hockey, Stumpy, movies, lawn maintenance... who knows?