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Why Long Copy and Content Ranks Better in Google’s Results

Ana Pomposo | March 10, 2014 | Content

Longer content ranks better in Google search results, as well as improving social engagement.

Less is more is not a myth, but it only shows one side of the story. Those who believe that readers don’t have the time or patience to read long posts are missing out on the value that long copy can bring.

Long posts have a longer shelf life, gaining more authority and social engagement.

It’s true that the amount of content that is created on a daily basis is shockingly large, every minute more than 347 blog posts are created, but the dangers of content shock are over-hyped.

Long posts have a longer shelf life due to higher quality. They enable you to demonstrate your authority and people tend to share them more because longer content is more valuable and credible.

To determine whether long copy came higher in the results, and if you should change your content marketing strategy, we looked at numerous studies from sources such as Quick Sprout, and Moz, as well as looking at our own data to back it up.

For example, take a look at these blog posts statistics. We published both these blogs in May of 2013, but whilst one was over a 1,000 words, one was under 500. Can you guess which?

Long Copy Blog Stats

In case you can’t guess, the second blog was the one that was less than 500 words. You can’t tell from the screenshot, but not only did it see less engagement over the last year, it also saw less initial engagement.

It is not just about finding pages that have particular keywords and phrases within them, it’s about recognizing people’s needs and wants, and finding the best content for them.

Better Search Rankings

Getting found should be your main aim. You might have a cute 100 word blog with a concise message. But if Google can’t find you then Google is not going to rank you.

Looking at the average top ten results on Google, the higher up we go on the search listing pages the more content each page has. All of them are around 2000 words in length.

Google’s latest additions to their search algorithms mean that they’re better at picking out higher quality results, and it’s hard to deliver that quality in a short form when you’re dealing with big questions. Though this isn’t to say that short form will rank worse, just look at how well Yahoo Answers does in search results. It’s about serving a need.

More Keyword Matches

Google’s Hummingbird algorithm launched in 2013 is focused on searching great quality content websites with substance and meaning behind the searcher’s query.

It is not just about finding pages that have particular keywords and phrases within them, it’s about recognizing people’s needs and wants, and finding the best content for them.

Searchers often put a whole question or sentence into Google, something that is a growing part of the long tail of search. The longer your content, the more words it has, so that number of keyword matches will most likely be higher.

Interestingly, studies have shown that visitors coming in off the long tail of search tend to convert better than those that don’t. This is due to the specific nature of typing in a longer search query, these kind of searchers have a specific requirement at the time of search. If you meet that need they’ll convert, as compared with those coming in on shorter terms who are more comparable to window shoppers.

More Social Engagement and Links

As mentioned before, people are more likely to share longer content because they feel longer is more valuable. A Moz study found a direct correlation between the length of the content and the number of people who link to it. As a consequence of this data, and to serve customers’ needs, Google will then factor in the number of social shares and backlinks into a websites ranking.

The longer your content is and the more words you use, the better you rank by Google’s hummingbird.

Neil Patel’s studies also confirm that longer content gets more social engagement. He separated blog piles into two categories depending on how many words they had.

He found out that blog posts under 1,500 words received an average of 175 tweets and 60 Facebook likes whereas posts with more than 1,500 words received 293 tweets and 73 Facebook likes.

This suggests that if a blog post has more than 1,500 words, it averages 68 percent more tweets and 23 percent more Facebook likes.

You need to keep in mind that although longer post do better, if you haven’t built up your social media presence you won’t magically find success with a longer post.

Is Quality Content Really the King or is it the Length?

Although length is important, it’s important not to take this too far. Well-written quality content is the key, if you write a 2,000 word article that’s just fluff and filler then you’re not going to do well in the rankings.

Always be thinking of the reader, make your content informative and readable. Use images, videos, whitespace and headlines to make it digestible and avoid overwhelmingly large blocks of text.

Content should be related to your business, products or brand but being valuable and trustworthy to your audience. It must empathize with your customers and must give them something useful that would make them come back. It is key to be aware of things that may cause them switch off.

In some industries customers will want shorter posts whereas in other industries longer and detailed articles or even tutorials will be more appreciated.

What Google Loves

Google loves what users, customers, and searchers like you and I love, so what you need to do is to identify your customers needs and write what they want to read. You shouldn’t jump in with useless me-too content that doesn’t add anything to the subject just to reach a 1,000 or 2,000 word article.

Test and verify if you are on target through your analytics, write unique and valuable content for your audience and do not get too obsessed with Google.

Are you writing content for the sake of it and wonder if it’s bringing you business?

Tell us the aspirations you have for your content and let us solve your issues cost effectively. It takes less than 3 minutes to outline your issue. Simple!

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