Straight from the horse’s mouth: The length of your online content doesn’t matter as long as it’s good. Barry Schwartz reported that Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller made this case in a thread on the Google Product Forums site. Mueller shared the answer in response to a webmaster’s question about whether the search engine generally treats shorter content as low quality.
“There’s no minimum length, and there’s no minimum number of articles a day that you have to post, nor even a minimum number of pages on a website,”Mueller answered.
There is no golden SEO number
Mueller’s response seems to be part of Google’s uphill battle to teach SEOs there is no ideal word count, production volume or inbound link number that will guarantee them a coveted position on the first page of search results. Head of Webspam Matt Cutts has previously spoken out, saying that websites will not necessarily rank better if they have more pages, especially if the content on those pages is poorly written or lacks worthy information. Theoretically, a site with fewer pages will rank higher if the data it shares is in higher demand and more accessible.
“There’s no minimum length, and there’s no minimum number of articles a day that you have to post.”
The absolute importance of great writing may not be news to marketers and brand managers, who have always remained steadfast in the belief that compelling copy will drive results.
“In most cases, quality is better than quantity. Our algorithms explicitly try to find and recommend websites that provide content that’s of high quality, unique, and compelling to users. Don’t fill your site with low-quality content, instead work on making sure that your site is the absolute best of its kind,” Mueller added.
Are readers as lazy as we think?
Mueller’s guidance comes at an important time for marketers, who are facing the ever-important choice of long v. short. There’s fresh data surfacing that says longer blog content and news stories are outranking shorter pieces. Some reports even suggest wordier headlines perform better.
At the same time, it’s a well-accepted fact that internet users have shrinking attention spans, and you can’t expect them to invest time reading articles with comprehensive narratives. Brands that want people to pay attention to their messages need to hit them with ‘snack-sized’ facts, lest they risk losing their audiences to competitors that are faster on the draw.
Do what’s best for your audience
So which is it – long or short? What Mueller seems to say is that it depends. If it will benefit readers to get the full backstory on a certain topic -say, the history of healthcare legislation and how it’s led to the adoption of electronic healthcare records – then it’s a good idea to go long. However, if it’s a basic product spec sheet that’s promoting one item, it’s probably not necessary to write long paragraphs just to hit a certain word count.
Content marketing is all about the end-user. Will the information provided satisfy their search query, or will it leave them searching for meatier answers? That’s what marketers should ask themselves when they sit down at the content drawing board, and with enough production flexibility, they can strike the correct balance to make quality a priority every time.