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How Many Words?

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#1 jonbey


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Posted 28 October 2009 - 06:27 PM

OK, for some reason, I guess I read it somewhere, I though for SEO a good length for an article was about 600 words.

Also, a pal (successful aff chap) told me that the ideal length to increase conversions is 250 words (based on someone else's research).

I had been keeping new articles short.

But (big butt)

Just looked at my most popular articles in the SE's and they are all in the range 800-1500 words.

Got me thinking:

1. maybe many recent articles need beefing up
2. is there an ideal length?
3. why did I drink so much Rioca on a Tuesday night?

#2 Ruud


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Posted 28 October 2009 - 07:59 PM

is there an ideal length?

Yes. 287 words, Verdana, 14px (max!!), in black (you can get away with grey but I wouldn't risk it).

Every second paragraph has to be exactly 42 words unless your first sentence would be 18 words in which case every second paragraph has to be 37 words but that goes without saying, I know.

This post length thing is a bit of a nonsense. Yes, there is a bit of a minimum. Yes, if content gets too long you **may** run the risk of diluting certain queries for it.

As for the beefing up, I'm somewhat of a vegetarian so I guess it would be vegging it up for me?

#3 AbleReach


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Posted 28 October 2009 - 08:07 PM

Mix it up.
It will vary according to what you do, what the SERPS are doing, what the audience wants and your own goals.
What kinds of conversions are you looking for? Adsense? RSS subscriptions? Inlinks? Web design clients? Each of these will have different needs.

The SEO question is never enough on its own.

Write for your readers.

Shorter updates are good for taking advantage of the new content boost that can happen with new content.
Short pages are more targeted by nature - fewer words, fewer terms, harder to get a good spread of terms for adsense, but also good bait (if you're consistently the breaking news resource guy) for RSS subscribers.

Longer, more resource-like posts are more likely to pull in long tail search terms, lots of them. Even if those terms aren't covered on the page, seeing them in your server logs will give you ideas for more stuff. You might also use them to get inlinks from others who need a resource to link to. If you're selling ads based on page views, you'll want to break up longer posts into page 1, page 2, page 3, etc.

The short page could cover a specific item from a catalog. The long page could have a chart that compares different items, and describes factors to address when making a purchase choice.

If you're talking blogging and are establishing yourself as a WP resource, the short page could be like a service announcement, stating that a new version of WP has just come out, posted the moment you notice the update is going to be available. Include links to any of your previously written helpfulness -- troubleshooting & how-tos about upgrading, possibly ending with a short statement that you are available for hire.

The long-ish page could come next - perhaps a list of plugins that aren't getting along with the new version, yet, and possible workarounds. If you have enough stuff in there to be a trusted resource for breaking news, you will get links from other bloggers. Pinging plugin authors is a great way to get them to come out and interact, which is a networking opportunity.


Purely from a casual browse -- has anyone else noticed that Bing users tend to land on the longer pages?

Edited by AbleReach, 28 October 2009 - 08:12 PM.

#4 copywriter


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Posted 28 October 2009 - 08:23 PM

Agreed. There is no "optimal" length for the search engines. Write for your readers and include keyphrases. Give quality, non-promotional information that is helpful and useful to the reader then use the bio/About the Author section as your blatant advertisement.

#5 A.N.Onym


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Posted 28 October 2009 - 09:17 PM

It depends on how you do it and which pages we are talking about.

Can sales pages be short and long? Yes, depending on how you've written them.

Affiliates might work well with short pages to have people click-through to other sites: but is it your goal or you'd like to keep people on your site?

As with Elizabeth, I've noticed that longer pages get much more long tail traffic. With a sufficient amount of anchor text and links, it's possible to rank them for any phrases, so I wouldn't worry about dilution unless you really drown the keyphrases with your own hands (i.e., use them very, very sparingly yourself).

#6 jonbey


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Posted 29 October 2009 - 03:48 AM

I am surprised that there is not at least an optimum range for SEO. I am certainly seeing that on my main site. The bigger articles are getting a lot more traffic.

But, maybe I need to compare 3 shorter ones against one biggun.

#7 Ruud


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Posted 29 October 2009 - 06:23 AM

There isn't a real optimum because there's no such measure in Information Retrieval. That the keyword should be somewhere; yes. That when the title contains the keyword the document tends to be more relevant towards that keyword; yes. But length of article ... what would that say about whether or not a document is relevant to a query?

IF such a measure would exist it would be a local one (for your document only), like keyword density. IF there would be such a measure that would be weighted index wide we would have to speculate there are several such weights: the "optimum" content length for an article about parallel universes can hardly be expected to be the same as the optimum length for an article about spam.

Longer articles tend to get more traffic, often better ranking. Longer content = more changes to match it against a query. Longer content = usually more links.

#8 sonjay


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Posted 29 October 2009 - 06:50 AM

Remember back in high school, your teachers would assign term papers, essays & other writing assignments by number of words or pages? You had to turn in 500 words or 10 pages or whatever on the assigned topic?

In college, I majored in journalism, and my Journalism 101 prof confounded the entire class by refusing to give us any length requirement. The only guidance he gave us was, "Write enough to cover the subject adequately, and then stop." All the students were scratching our heads and puzzling over that. It took us a couple of assignments to get our minds around that concept, coming from the "10 pages" background as we did.

I find that guideline to be useful in writing for the web. Write enough to cover the topic, and then stop. I haven't counted words since high school.

#9 bwelford


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Posted 29 October 2009 - 09:32 AM

All of the above give useful points to consider.

Broadening the topic a little, I do not think you should consider only individual posts but the total output you will put into the blog. A key consideration there is the amount of time you wish to devote to the blog.

If you are blogging more than 3 times per week then you can basically make any blog post the length you want.

If you occasionally may drop to a post per week or less often then I believe that plays into the blog post length question. Even a short post of 200 words or less may be useful in creating an entry in the RSS news feed and providing a platform for all the internal links that blogs create. So try to do a 200 word post as a minimum every week. If you have a little more time, then expanding it into the 400 - 800 word range may give you more ability to do some significant SEO effort on it.

Of course if the spirit takes you, you can rant on for longer than that but diminishing returns quickly sets in from a SEO point of view. With longer posts, you can use synonyms and related concepts more that may open up some other interesting long tail traffic. I'm presently finding Google Insights is a useful mind-opening application here.

#10 pmolds


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Posted 12 January 2010 - 11:00 PM

i think you should follow se

#11 caneman


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Posted 30 January 2010 - 01:17 PM

I think article length really depends on what you are trying to do. If you are doing affiliate marketing using article marketing then 250-350 with a pre-sell teaser is what I have found is very good. If you are building content for your website then you need over 500 words. This has been my experience, ymmv.

#12 cre8pc


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Posted 30 January 2010 - 01:32 PM

That's a good point Caneman. I hear different suggestions on the amount of words but not qualifiers for different situations. And then, there is what to put into that content to be considered, in each of the different situations :)

:wave: Welcome to Cre8!

#13 jonbey


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Posted 30 January 2010 - 06:29 PM

Actually I heard an aff expert say before that 250 word reviews converted best.

Just realised that my most popular page is not over 27,000 words, due to all the comments. So maybe no upper word limit after all!

#14 netshmoozer


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Posted 01 March 2010 - 09:00 AM

Writers tend to write spontaneously on their first draft. It gives you freedom and you can detail whatever you want to say out in the open. The second draft would be for finding errors. Find mistakes and create a solid article that no grammar checker and editor can put a finger on. The final draft is what you want other people to view in your pages. You may have removed parts of your first draft or added a few points. After going through these stages, what comes out may just be your optimal, average number of words.

#15 jonbey


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Posted 01 March 2010 - 01:44 PM

Yeah, but I was asking if there was any stats on the optimum length of a page for best SE results. If you want to rank in 1st place, maybe too little or too many words could hold you back? But, I do not think this is the case now, from personal experience. If you are writing sales copy then limiting words seems to improving conversions, at least in some niches.

#16 EGOL



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Posted 01 March 2010 - 03:22 PM

I have pages on my site with a two sentence paragraph and pages with 4000+ word articles with ten to twelve large captioned images. The pages that rank for the most competitive terms are the long articles (1000 to 4000 words with several nice images). I believe that they have attained that because they are the most linkworthy and have attracted enough links to take top position.

I had about 80 pages with two sentences and one large image. I upgraded them to 500 to 1000 word articles with four to eight nice images. Rankings went up across the board.

In addition the traffic shot up for all of those articles. Because the 500 to 1000 words on the page put them in competition for a lot more long tail queries. Over 1/2 of the traffic comes from long tail queries that were not possible with the two sentences.

#17 Guest_Kik_*

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 08:20 PM

Personally I'd rather see a short but quality article rather than a very long winded one. I guess it depends on what the article is about, but I'd keep it rather average - so not too short that a lot of details are missed out on, but not so long that readers get bored after awhile :)

#18 jonbey


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Posted 10 March 2010 - 04:27 AM

Hi Kik, remember I am not asking about what the reader wants in this case, but what the search engine prefers.

#19 EGOL



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Posted 10 March 2010 - 07:28 AM

If you have long articles and divide them up into subsections that the visitor can scan, reading only the subsections of interest then that I believe is a good compromise.

Most of my long articles hold visitors for a much longer amount of time than my short articles - so at least some of the visitors are reading them.

#20 3 Olives

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 03:58 PM

If your website does not rank for a term, and you want it to. My opinion 750 words is a solid mark to shoot for.

User conversion is a separate discussion, for simple ranking alone 750 unique words on a topic seems to work well for me.

#21 Lyrafire


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Posted 09 September 2010 - 11:44 AM

If you want sales conversions, longer might be better, but the piece has to be carefully constructed with the idea of making the sale--even though you're providing helpful content, whether or not a reader buys your product. If you take a look at a lot of Copyblogger articles, when an author is getting ready to promote a product or is actively promoting a product, the author is carefully grooming the prospect to buy, all while also offering genuinely helpful and worthwhile content. I believe that at least some of their writers use NLP: neurolinguistic programming.

This doesn't mean that all your content articles have to be the same length, however. I like the idea of mixing it up a bit. It might also be a good idea to mix up the formats--a list article, a how-to article, an essay, and so forth.

#22 jonbey


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Posted 09 September 2010 - 11:48 AM

after realising that my most popular page has about 40,000 words on it, I am now all for more words. Ideally community drive ones though, as I ain't gonna type all that!

#23 Scratch


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Posted 10 September 2010 - 03:59 PM

SEO is only half the picture.

Success = Traffic x Conversion

If you stick to short posts and don't say enough, or you write more than you need, you'll harm your conversion rate.

Surely the best possible SEO is to write content that's interesting, valuable, and newsworthy!

My best-ranking articles are long.

This harks back to the age-old question in copywriting: Long or short copy?

In print ads, the answer is "Usually - long copy"! But that doesn't go the same on the web.

In ads, long copy gives you the chance to put everything someone may need to know that could convince them to take the next step.

However, becuase you aren't paying for space by the inch, you can create as many posts as you like, targeted at different people. Some may want a quick answer, others may want all the facts.

And different personality types require different amounts of info. The fact that long copy worked better overall in print is happenstance. It's like saying that more people like vanilla than chocolate ice cream, so let's only sell vanilla!

There's an old (and dated!) adage in advertising. "Copy should be as long as a woman's skirt. Long enough to cover the essentials, but short enough to keep it interesting." Sexist, but there's an element of truth in it.

Don't pad your wordcount, and don't skimp. Use as many words as you need to make your point powerfully, and no more.

Rather than worry about the number of words, my advice would be to focus on what the words say!

The best SEO is no SEO at all. Write great content that people can't wait to link to!

: )B

#24 sansonj72


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Posted 07 September 2011 - 11:12 AM

For starters I know nothing, so please enjoy me go on. Google is about mastering the highest level of quality. They are also math geeks, right? Quality + Math geeks = flawless and sick systems with constant improvement to GOD-LIKENESS.

They believe that everything is controllable through math and equations and systems etc. Eventually, they will have it down to know if you are writing SEO content or value adding content. Our website only should be google, and not our domain name, which we think are our sites. Our domain names are just one paragraph in google, and google does not want junk.

With knowing this and knowing google will not hire readers to make sure our content is quality and not playing google for SEO reasons, but ranking, because of valid quality google will eventually make an equation that uses all of the rules a Stanford English professor would use. For example XYZ words in sentence, XYZ sentences in a paragraph, XYZ paragraphs in a chapter, etc. Also nouns, verbs, etc.

I am sure in the future your will be able to use a very high level SEO to write perfect google content that is actually all SEO.

I know I am way out there like I always am when I post to your question/articles here, but that is how my brain works, and it kills me. LOL.

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