How Many Words Should an Article Be?

How Many Words Should an Article Be

A lot of people wonder how many words an article should be to rank well in Google and attract a lot of user engagement.

There is no magic number. However, I can tell straight off the bat that generally speaking, the longer your content is the better it will perform. It’s not as simple as that however, as it absolutely has to be quality or it will be counter intuitive.

User engagement has a huge impact on SEO in Google’s algorithm. So for example, if you wrote an epic 5,000 word post you may think you have covered a load of keywords and will do well. But if visitors bounce quickly, or return to Google’s results and spend longer on a competitors page, you’re article will slip in the ranking’s.

What we can do is look at some statistical evidence and see what’s working for others sites. I really like using factual information of what’s actually working, then seeing what I can apply to my own work.

What Is the Average Word Count of Top Ranked Articles?

At the time of writing this the average word count for top ranking articles was around 2,400. Again, this is just a snapshot at the word count and doesn’t tell the whole story. Typically in depth articles this long have a wide range of multimedia to present the information. All helpful SEO factors that when combined with a long, well written, detailed post can make a difference.

This doesn’t tell us when these long article hit the top spot either. It’s perfectly rational to think they they have been on a steady rise for a while, attracting links and social shares along the way. Then there is the other factors, such as larger established sites with high domain authority usually being the sites that can afford to invest in such detailed content.

So don’t be disheartened and think that you have always publish 2,000 words, there are lots of factors that may make these results look the way they do. I personally don’t stress over word count. I write an article to completion, and it ends up the length it needs to be. Some of my best ranking articles are around 600 words as it happens.

Longer Copy Outperforms Short Copy Articles

There have been a wide range of tests over the performance between long and short copy articles. Long copy always outperforms the shorter copy pieces, and there are a few reasons for this.

Longer copy is better at converting. This means that there are more people converting on the page. So if the article is selling something, looking to collect an email, or any other call to action – longer copy can convert a higher percentage.

Don’t worry about being too ‘wordy’ or having too much information. Just keep it all relevant and easy to read. People will skim and pick up what they need if it’s well laid out.

Understanding the Short Concentration Span of Online Surfers

Concentration spans get shorter and shorter all the time. People want information, and they want it quickly with minimal effort. Webmasters are always looking for ways to reduce bounce rates, and increase time on site.

With the need for longer in-depth articles keep all the relevant information near the top of the page. Also using a table of contents or easy access links at the top of page can make your content a lot more unfriendly.

Avoiding Google’s ‘Thin Content’ Penalties

Anyone with any interest in blogging will have heard or seen people get hit with Google penalties. You may even have been unlucky enough to have received a penalty yourself.

Google released an update called Panda. This update targeted websites with poor quality content in particular. The general thoughts here is that if you had a page of content with less than 200 words you were in danger of a penalty.

The absolute minimum length of content seems to be 300 words to be ‘safe’. Although, there really isn’t much that can be explained in detail in such a short article. Such pages like eCommerce are often shorter than this.

You also have to produce high quality content. If you are trying to just pad out your articles, you’re at risk of a penalty. Google is already advanced in reading content and rating it, it’s just not worth trying to game the system in my opinion.

In Summary

You can look at statistics and the results of testing different lengths, types, and forms of content and draw you own conclusions. But there is a simple answer, and one that works well with the intention of search engines.

Write naturally at all times, and be as in-depth and helpful as you can.

Always work on improving your content and making it more user-friendly. Do this and you will see your posts being read, shared, ranking better in Google, and attracting links.

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