We’ve heard time and time again that content is king. But can you ever have too much of a good thing? How does word count impact your search engine optimization?
Some reports suggest 2,000 words is a good standard to ensure you delve deep enough into a topic to provide good value content marketing. But then others say that more than half of us won’t read to the end of any given article.
Surely it makes more sense to cut our word counts and give people what they want sooner. Right? After all, with about 58% of site visits now on mobile, who has the time to read through 2,000 words on a 5.8-inch screen?
Somewhat surprisingly, the general consensus is that longer-form content marketing still outperforms its shorter competitors. The average top-ranking result on Google contains 1,890 words.
Why? We’re all looking for answers to our questions that we’re not getting elsewhere. And if we’re invested, we’re willing to read for the reward. The best marketing strategy will be born from understanding your audience.
Long-form content marketing also offers the benefits of adding more keywords without skewing your density percentage, keeping the right people on your page for longer, and it earns (not “gets”) better backlinks.
But before you start scheming ways to pump out the highest volume of content in the shortest amount of time – and for the least cost – it’s worthwhile to remember that there are times when less is best.
Relevant, meaningful and value-adding content will always be the backbone of the best marketing strategy.
Here are a few instances where holding back will push you forward.
1. Guest Blogs and Backlinks
Most SEO marketers appreciate that guest blogging is a legitimate and robust way to establish relationships between sites, therefore implying trust in the eyes of Google. And trust = tick.
But, as is so often the case, everything is best in moderation. There’s no overnight fix-all for SEO, and just like any other white hat technique, it requires careful consideration of the value that you’re adding for your reader.
So before you start spamming every site you come across, asking for a guest spot and that all-important backlink, stop to remember that age-old principle: quality over quantity.
One amazing backlink from a huge, reputable site will be more valuable (and better boost your SEO) than 100 backlinks from very low-ranking sites. Spend your time and energy chasing the ones that really matter.
After all, remember that backlinking is a two-way street; if your host site gets penalized, so will you.
2. Keyword Density
Obviously, both long- and short-tail keywords are essential building blocks in any SEO strategy. We know that dotting these through our text helps Google to recognize what our content is about and direct people to it as needed.
But keyword stuffing – trying to jam in as many keywords into a page as you can – is one of the oldest black hat techniques in the book. Don’t even bother. In fact, back in 2011, Matt Cutts described it well: Keyword density is a bell curve: a rise, a plateau and a sharp fall.
There’s no ideal ratio, so you just have to aim for what feels natural and unforced.
3. Too Much Too Soon
Adding too much content in one hit – like thousands of pages at once – can be a bad thing for two key reasons.
First of all, we know that sites with fresh content added or updated regularly perform better. If you can spread out those thousands of pages into 10 x 100-page bursts, you’ll earn a better trust rating than you would have had otherwise, all with the exact same content.
Secondly, adding too much at once can raise a red flag with Google. Instead of giving you the instant OK, Google will likely think that it could be spam content and then will mark you for manual review, which can take up valuable time.
No marketer is ever going to tell you to minimize your content output to improve your search engine optimization. More content is great, but everything that you send into the world needs to be relevant, informative, funny or otherwise useful in engaging your audience.
Instead of spending valuable time and energy writing pages and pages of new content, Neil Patel suggests you consider updating old content to make it fresh again. It can double your traffic for minimal work.
There is no easy way out in SEO and content marketing. And if it seems like there is, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be penalized. “Over optimization,” or just running a white hat technique into the ground through overuse, worked once. Today, it doesn’t fly.
Remember, content for content’s sake won’t get you very far at all. Instead, the best marketing strategy is to do your research and follow SEO best practices for content.