What is the ideal length of web content for SEO?

27 October 2016

If you are planning on helping your website move to the top of the search engine rankings then you will always be told that content is a vital factor in optimising your site. However, we often get asked just how much content business owners are expected to write as the thought of having to fill web pages with interesting and engaging copy can be quite daunting! There will always be debate amongst the SEO industry as to the optimum length of web content and there can be pros and cons to both short and long articles. This means that there are a number of factors that you should consider when planning the length of your web copy.

At Wagada we are experienced in writing user-friendly web copy that adds real value to your customers and, in doing so, will give your website a boost with Google too. So here are our guidelines on how to decide on the ideal length of web content for SEO and our top tips for how to write effective online copy.

Understand what Google wants to learn from your web copy

Whilst there is no limit to the maximum word count that you can use we would always recommend keeping to 500 words as a minimum ideal length of web content for SEO. This is because Google can class any article or page below this word count as having ‘thin content’. This means that they feel that if there are not enough words on the page there is a risk that there is not enough information to help the customer effectively. By using this as a minimum word-count guideline you will know that Google should view your content as giving more value to your readers. It also means that your articles will be long enough to include a good amount of information, and you can fit in your keywords easily without making your page look over-optimised which Google definitely doesn’t approve of!

Google’s bots and algorithms are becoming more sophisticated all the time and they are now looking for web pages and articles to clearly demonstrate their intent and the field that they are in. You should make sure that your web content is of a good length as you will need to include relevant information to show that you are an expert in your field – and that you can convey a high level of knowledge to your customers.

One thing that has also become increasingly important to Google is the usability of your website. This means how easy it is for your customers to find what they need on your site. With more and more customers shopping online and more products available online it’s all too easy for customers to make a quick decision to leave your website if they can’t find what they are looking for. Therefore you need to make sure that your copy is focused on helping the customer find the information that they need quickly and effectively.

Create a usable website that is focused on what your customer needs

As usability is so highly valued by Google then to make your site work for the search engines you need to make sure it works for your customers too. When you are planning your word count for your online copy never make arbitrary limits or feel constrained by numbers. Instead concentrate on whether the length is right to provide the optimum online experience for your customers.

Begin by thinking about what your customer is looking for when they visit your website and what they will be wanting from each page. For example your Home Page will often be much shorter in terms of text than other pages. Customers come here to be signposted to the areas of your site that will help them and so they won’t want to have to wade through lots of irrelevant text to get there! If you make this page too text heavy you could risk losing them altogether.

Likewise there will be some pages on your site that you can use to really show off the knowledge and expertise that you have in your business area, and you will want to make these as detailed as possible. This is particularly relevant to blog articles or news pages which you should fill with lots of engaging web copy. Longer copy is often much more valuable for these pages.

Present your web copy clearly

Whilst the content of your web copy is key the way that you present it is also really important and can help your users to find what they need clearly and easily. This can be particularly important if you are looking to write a longer article. Although long articles can be great for your site optimisation one of the downsides to longer pieces of online copy is that often time-poor browsers just don’t have the time to read them and may be put off by an overly long page. Alternatively they might decide to come back and read them later when they have more time but this can lead to pogo-sticking which could give a bad impression to Google.

One way to get round this problem is to clearly pick out the main points of your copy so that customers can understand the key issues without having to read the whole article. Use elements such as sub-headings, bullets, bold text and links to highlight the most important areas of information in your text. This allows people to scan your article and pick out the elements that interest them without necessarily having to read the copy fully.

Write copy to encourage social shares

Social sharing is a fantastic way to get your content seen by potential customers and if your blogs or website are shared on media such as Facebook or Twitter it can encourage more people to visit your site – and may help to move you up the rankings. Interestingly research from Paddy Moogan shows that the longer the post is the more likely it is to get social shares with posts of between 3000 to 10,000 words the most likely to get shared. You can see this in action in the below chart

So we can see that high quality content is vital to help boost your site’s optimisation and it’s important to think about the ideal length of web content before you plan your web copy. However whilst you should aim to keep your text above 500 words don’t get tied down by setting definitive boundaries to your word count. Consider each web page and blog post individually and review how it will help your customers and what they will be looking for when they visit your site. You can then tailor your copy to meet that need. Don’t be afraid to write longer posts as they can be really popular with customers and will help Google to see that you are a real expert in your industry.