do long-form articles rank better

Do Long-Form Articles Rank Better than Short Ones?

Do Long-Form Articles Rank Better than Short Ones? – In this article I ask the question ‘Do long-form articles rank better than short ones?’

The question is current and touches on a number of sub topics like the Panda update, the concept of thin content, some research on top ranking content and a recent comment by Google’s John Mueller.

If you want to learn more about Wix and SEO, make sure you check my other article:

If you need help with SEO for your Wix website, make sure you get in touch.

What is a Long-Form Article?

A long-form article is considered a piece of web content, like a page or blog post, with +1,000 words.

For the sake of argument, I shall say that there are mixed opinion on what ‘long-form content’ is: some considering as long-form content as any content with +700 words, while others think of no less than 1,800 words.

What is a Short Article?

By contrast, a short article (or short-form article) is considered any piece of content that is below 700 words.

A number of SEO tools set the threshold between 300-600 as the recommended minimum number of words for an article.

In the SEO community short articles are considered as thin content.

What is Thin Content?

Thin content is an SEO concept originating mainly from the Google Panda update. Specifically, from one of the 23 bullet points about building ‘high-quality- sites listed by Google’s Amit Singhal:

  1. Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?

What is the Panda Update?

The Panda update was a major update by Google to its search algorithm that occurred in 2011.

According to the numbers shared, it impacted around 11.8% of the queries. Most importantly, it set the standard for quality content much higher than it was.

The main target of the update was short, low-quality articles published on article directory websites as a way to build backlinks.

Do Long-Form Articles Rank Better than Short Ones?

Some research shows a correlation between long-form content and rankings but Google doesn’t seem to ‘care about the length of articles’.

According to some research, specifically this one by Backlinko, there is a correlation between long-form content and high rankings:

Content with more words can cover a wider breadth and are likely preferable in the algorithm compared to shorter, superficial articles. Indeed, one recent ranking factors industry study found that content length correlated with SERP position.

 

content length and rankings
Source: Backlinko.com

Having said that, Google’s John Mueller stated the following when answering a specific question on the topic:

Sometimes short articles are completely fine. I wouldn’t focus so much on the length of the article […]

and

For web search, we don’t care about the length of articles […]

My Experience with Long-Form and Short Articles

I mostly write short articles but I have also written long-form content.

The results I have got are mixed: some long-form content ranks very well, some doesn’t.

At the same time, some short articles rank very well (If you search for ‘downgrade WordPress’, you will find my sister company’s Increasily short article) higher than websites with a lot more domain authority than mine.

Do long-form articles rank better then short ones?

In my opinion, the question to focus on is #16 of Amit Singhal’s bullet point list:

Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?

In some cases, users are looking for a very specific topic like ‘How to downgrade WordPress‘ or ‘what is Google SMITH’ and short articles are fine.

For example, in the article ‘How to downgrade WordPress’, I don’t need a paragraph explaining what WordPress is to make it complete, because I already know!

Vice versa, if I write an article about Instagram SEO I will certainly need a much bigger depth in terms of content.

In brief, do long-form articles rank better than short ones? This is my experience on the topic:

  • If I write a 300-word long blog post on Instagram SEO, the content length-rankings correlation will favour long-form content
  • If I write a 300-word long blog post on a ‘how-to’ topic such as ‘How to Downgrade WordPress’ or ‘How to Edit Shopify Page Title and Meta Description’, the content length-rankings correlation won’t matter much

Do Long-Form Articles Rank Better than Short Ones: Sources

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-on-seo-best-practices-for-news-sites-short-articles/396645/
https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-algorithm-history/panda-update/
https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2011/05/more-guidance-on-building-high-quality

Featured image by neONBRAND on Unsplash

About Pasquale Mellone

Pasquale is Founder at Increasily.com, a digital strategy agency based in Dublin, Ireland; and Co-Founder at luxury ecommerce marketplace Thesidebe.com. Pasquale has +15 years of experience in Digital Marketing and Account Management. He currently lives in Dublin with his wife, stepdaughter and cat.

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