It doesn’t matter how many times I write about this subject I always end up coming back to it.
Due to various reasons, the SEO community still believes that long-form content is better.
Better than what exactly though?
The idea has always bugged me. Long-form content is better than concise content? Really bucko?
As an SEO one of our many roles is to help map content to certain common search queries.
Not all search queries require long-form content… However, the idea that it is superior still persists.
So instead of looking at it through the eyes of whether it’s better for the audience, we should at least consider that maybe it’s a ranking factor. Because that’s what some folks will tell you.
That’s clearly wrong though when you do any kind of analysis of a SERP. While there is a correlation that sites in the top 10 have a similar amount of words, there is no proof that more words mean better rankings.
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This is just one SERP, but you can see quite clearly that the top ranking pages aren’t actually the ones with longest word counts.
This is common, and I see it all the time. Too often these days positions 20–60 are littered with SEOs long-form content…
I’ve written and spoke many times before about things like cognitive biases and heuristics which explain a lot of the reasons why people find it so easy to believe things that are commonly wrong or inaccurate.
When you actually think about it though it doesn’t really make sense any way you look at it to say that more words correlate or cause better rankings. It’s a massive over-simplification and it’s also ignorant of the actual search results themselves.
If it were true then by now we would already be churning out 30,000–50,000 word articles of absolute garbage. The inflation or math of the entire thing doesn’t even work or make sense… Which is often one of the best ways to look at something. If the numbers aren’t sustainable, yet the results being observed aren’t either skyrocketing or plummeting out of control then the numbers aren’t the variables you’re looking for.
So in the case of long-form content, we aren’t seeing a rapid increase in word volumes in the top 10 positions on Google. So that means that the figure or number of words isn’t the key variable.
Much like in corporations where the focus is profit over everything, it’s common to see people cutting corners. In long-form content the focus isn’t quality, the focus is word count. Which means that people cut corners. Lower quality content is the result, with more fluff, misinformation, and non-information.
Long-form content is good for certain types of articles, but it’s no guarantee of results.
Stop trying to win by simply writing more words, because when the focus is more words the results are bad all around.
In all cases, the right amount of content is the right amount of content. Which is usually around 500–2,500 words.
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