Longing for an answer. Just how long should an SEO article be? Or a headline for that matter.

Google anaytics search on a laptop

Search engine optimisation has long been hailed as a mysterious science clients and copywriters/SEO experts alike. Businesses want in on the secret of just how many words and/or keywords will magic them above that £5bn megacorp for their desired search term, copywriters and consultants want to promise that they can probably do that. And so it goes on.

It does not help that Google (for it is they we must all bow to here) keeps moving the goalposts, like a particularly jumpy groundsman/woman. Just as you come up with a formula that seems to work, Google changes their criteria. Once, keywords were king, they even toyed with author authority. The short answer is usually that paying helps. After all, that is the Google business model.

Still, we all like to have the belt and braces of both paid and organic search. So we sit up straight, pay attention and try to adapt. We shorten our sentences. We try to make sense. We don’t flood the copy with keywords. Green smiley faces welcome us in our Search Engine Optimisation software plug-ins. Phrase used twice. Thumbs up for 2021 content.

Until recently, the common knowledge among both business and copywriters was that blogs of around 400 words were the killer SEO must-have. Okay, so some say it was 350 words and some say it was 500 words. But we were all in the same ball park.

There was a lot of wishful thinking here. As business knew that 400 words was relatively inexpensive and writers knew they could say that two 400 word blogs represented a day of labour, when they may well be able to squeeze in three, or even four if they tried hard/didn’t try at all. The truth, was somewhat different. And now it seems it is totally different.

Next year it will be different in a different way. And so on.

The considered correct length of articles is now long. Very long. Your 400 word blogs do not cut it here. Better to stitch six together, as you need something above 2,000 words for an article to have super-authority. We want scholarly, but not too scholarly. This is SEO, not academia. Unless you are doing SEO for academia, in which case I wish you luck.

As ever, there are cautions, conditions and exceptions. But it does seem that most people get better results with longer blogs. This does not mean that you should abandon and burn your 400 word posts. Just that you should maybe mix them up with quality 2,500 word blogs that are essentially long reads. That is they are in-depth, offer new learning and could really be split up into three or more posts.

You want shares of snippets, chunks of your wisdom to be shamelessly stolen on social media and the odd line that ends up over an inspirational picture of a kitten on Facebook. If it inspires a TikTok dance video, then so much the better.

Of course, for any of this to happen, what you need is a decent writer, or even a roster of them. You also need to give them time to go away and write something that is worthy of being published in 2,500+ words. No one is going to read your screed and park themselves on your page if you just deliver them 2,500 words of drivel. More writing does not mean less quality. If that were true we would be back to the days of thousands of keywords in white text on a white background.

Most of all, you need to have a reason to publish an article in the first place. If it is neither informative, interesting or useful then you would be better off not bothering. Even SEO robots get bored you know.

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