An often debated topic in the SEO world, a confusing sea of ever-changing answers for bloggers and content creators. How long does a piece of content on your website need to be to be successful?
There are a few problems with this and similar questions regarding content and length.
Every niche and audience is different.
What works for Audience A might not work for Audience B. Let’s think about BuzzFeed and HubSpot as an example. BuzzFeed content is short and funny, that works for them. HubSpot content is longer and more informative. That works for them. In each case they know the audience they’re serving and create content specifically for those people.
Many people are recommending that you not publish anything under 1,000 words on your blog these days. “Google wants long form content,” they say. I’m not going to argue about what Google does or doesn’t want, but I am going to suggest that you not plan your content around only that recommendation. Google changes their standards frequently and they don’t always tell us what they are. Write your content for the people you reach, not for Google. If the people like it, chances are Google will eventually like it too.
So how long does a blog post or article really need to be?
The simple answer that I like to offer is as long as it needs to be to get your point across. If you say what you want to say and it’s what your audience needs to hear and it’s only 400 words, don’t force another 600 words onto the page just because you think the search engine wants those extra words.
Write for people, not for search engines.
Honestly, when you’re writing your blog post or article, just write it for the people that are going to read it and forget about the search engine. Yes, you’ll go back and optimize your title and all of that stuff so that search engines find it and rank it, but make the focus your audience, the people who need and want the content.
If you’re writing about how to prepare and serve your grandmother’s casserole recipe, Google doesn’t care about the casserole. People care about your casserole. Google actually cares about people, because people click on search engine results and advertisements, and that’s what they want. If you’re making people happy, Google will be happy.
In this example, write excellent easy to follow instructions, add a nice photo, and give your post a good title and make it easy for people to share with their friends how awesome the recipe is. The rest should take care of itself.
But, the experts are all saying…
The thing is it’s easy to get stuck in the data and the numbers and the algorithms. Algorithms don’t buy stuff from your niche website, people do. Focus on them first and worry about the algorithm later.
Experts and SEO professionals gather data constantly and analyze numbers and figure out the best way to do things and we can learn so much from them, but we also want to be careful not to let that turn us into content churning robots throwing 1,000 boring words onto a page at the end of the day.
The Internet Changes Every Single Day
Not only that, but this data and these “rules” are constantly changing. Tomorrow they might find that 5,000 words is the new “best practice.”
If you tried to keep up with whatever the newest theory was all the time, you’d likely get stuck in a rut. When you focus on writing good content for the people who are going to use it instead of what you think the search engine wants, your content is naturally going to end up being what the search engines want because it’s what people want.
How do I know what the audience wants?
If you’re not sure what content your audience wants to needs, just ask them. Run a poll on Facebook, add a quick two or three question survey to your email list auto-responder, tweet out a question, or just start reading other blogs on your topic. Then give the people what they want.
Now go out there and create awesome content, because awesome content is better than long content.
Transcriptionist, passionate cross stitcher, writer at heart, wife, mom, and finder of lost shoes… Loretta Oliver, married to the comic book geek of her dreams and mother of four amazing young men, has been working from home full time since 2001. With a busy transcription service business, a few niche sites, and a handful of other internet marketing projects on the go, the computer is always fired up and the ideas are always flowing.