It used to be that good content was 300 words and had a couple of headlines. Then, 500 words started becoming the minimum for a “good search-engine optimized” post. However, this year is becoming the year of meaty content – you have to add real value to readers to even have a shot at Page 1 of search.
Even last year we were talking about thin content being out. But now there is solid proof this is the case, and that is just the starting point.
Let me give you some examples…
The Top Articles in Search are Long
Pick out any random search topic and type it into Google, and look at the results. For example, I searched for the phrase “get started investing”.
The first result was from Daily Finance and was 713 words long. The second result was from USA Today and was 562 words long. The third result was also from USA Today and was 940 words long.
The average content length of the first 10 results (all of Page 1) is 785 words. Do you think your little 300 word article is going to cut it?
An Experiment With Article Length
I’ve also done a very non-scientific experiment with article length on my sites over the last few weeks. A commitment I made to myself was to write at least 700 word articles for the majority of 2013.
As I’ve been writing articles, I’ve also been noticing that my articles seem to be getting indexed faster. How can I tell? Via Google Alerts.
Last year, it used to take several days for my own articles to come out on Google Alerts. Say I published an article on Monday, I would actually see the alert for that article until Thursday or Friday.
However, every article that I’ve written that has been over 700 words has been indexed the same day, and I’ve received a Google Alert on the same day as publishing.
You might just think that Google has changed their timing algorithm for alerts? Well, I’ve published two short articles this year across my sites – one 350 words and one about 450 words. Both of those still took several days to index and send the alert. I don’t think that is coincidence.
How Do You Build Meaty Content
If you’re a blogger, it may be hard to build meaty content. You usually just throw out an opinion and roll with it. However, there are several steps that you can take to really beef up your content without losing your perspective.
First, consider adding multiple arguments to baseline. For example, I recently wrote a post about how I believe that the stock market will be a Long Term Bull Market. That’s a pretty classic blogger approach – take a side and write about it.
However, what made this piece different from my normal articles is that I tried to support my argument with a lot more facts – instead of just one or two key points, I dividend my key points into sub-headers and elaborated a bit more.
Another example was my recent article on Black Swan Events. Not only do I discuss what they are, I leveraged recent events to make a point, and even included some pictures to make the argument clearer.
2013 SEO Challenge
2013 is going to have a lot more changes to Google’s algorithms. How do I know? Because that is the fact of life on the Internet. But Google does keep it an open book test – write great content for readers.
Remember, Google makes money on advertising, not search. Search is just the medium. If they start returning weak results that their users don’t find useful, they could lose customers, so they could lose advertising revenue. Google can’t afford that, so they consistently try to look for the best content to highlight at the top.
So, the challenge isn’t really what URL structure you use, or even how think your content is. I can write a lot of fluff, but is it meaty?
You have to provide solid content that is relevant to your readers. It has to be long, yes, but it also has to be full of good ideas and solid points.
Just think, if you were searching for the phrase “get started investing”, would you rather have runny and thin content, or think and meaty content that actually helps you?
Do you have a content goal this year? How are you adding value to your readers and improving your SEO at the same time?