Do Shorter Articles Rank Worse? Fact or Fiction





Blog Date

June 6, 2024


UK, Manchester

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Do Shorter Articles Rank Worse? Fact or Fiction

The Myth of the Long Article

As an SEO enthusiast, I’ve come across countless articles and blog posts proclaiming the virtues of long-form content. The underlying assumption seems to be that longer is always better when it comes to ranking on search engines. But is this really the case? Or is it just a persistent myth that needs to be debunked?

Well, my friends, buckle up because we’re about to embark on a journey to uncover the truth. I’ll share my personal experiences, insights from industry experts, and a healthy dose of humor to get to the bottom of this age-old debate.

The Allure of Lengthy Articles

I remember when I first started out in the world of digital marketing, I was bombarded with advice to create “long-form, in-depth” content. The logic went something like this: Google loves content that provides value and depth, so the more words you can cram into an article, the better it will rank.

It made sense on the surface. After all, who wouldn’t want to be rewarded for putting in the hard work and crafting a comprehensive piece of content? I eagerly started churning out 3,000-word behemoths, fully convinced that I was on the path to SEO glory.

Backlinko’s research on Google’s ranking factors seemed to support this notion. They found that the average first-page result on Google contains 1,447 words. Aha! Proof positive that long articles reign supreme, right?

The Counterargument: Shorter Can Be Sweeter

But then, something curious happened. I started noticing that some of my shorter articles were actually performing better in the search results than my magnum opuses. Huh, that’s weird, I thought. Maybe there’s more to this than meets the eye.

As the USGS points out, the length of an article is not the be-all and end-all of SEO success. There are numerous other factors at play, such as user intent, page structure, and overall content quality.

In fact, research from the National Institute on Aging suggests that readers often prefer concise, easily digestible content. They’re more likely to engage with and share articles that get to the point quickly, rather than wading through a sea of verbose prose.

The Importance of Quality over Quantity

Alright, so maybe length isn’t the only thing that matters. But surely, a longer article must be better for SEO, right? Well, not necessarily. As Investopedia points out in their explanation of “The Big Short”, quality and relevance are often more important than sheer volume.

Think about it this way: would you rather read a 5,000-word article that’s packed with fluff and repetitive information, or a 1,000-word article that’s laser-focused, well-structured, and provides genuine value? I know which one I’d choose.

Google’s algorithms are getting smarter every day, and they’re increasingly rewarding content that resonates with users. So, while long-form content can certainly have its place, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. The key is to focus on creating high-quality, user-centric content that addresses the needs and queries of your target audience.

The Verdict: It Depends

So, the million-dollar question remains: do shorter articles really rank worse? The answer, my friends, is a resounding “it depends.”

There’s no universally applicable rule when it comes to article length and SEO performance. It’s all about finding the sweet spot for your specific niche, audience, and business goals. Sometimes, a concise, well-crafted 1,000-word piece might outperform a bloated 3,000-word opus. Other times, a comprehensive, in-depth article might be exactly what your readers are looking for.

The key is to experiment, test, and continually refine your content strategy. Pay attention to your analytics, gather feedback from your audience, and let the data guide your decision-making. And remember, at the end of the day, your goal should be to create content that truly resonates with your readers, not just to game the system.

So, the next time someone tries to tell you that longer articles are always better for SEO, feel free to politely (or not so politely) inform them that the truth is a little more nuanced. It’s all about finding the right balance between length, quality, and relevance – and that’s a balance that’s unique to your business and your audience.

And hey, if you’re ever in Manchester, swing by MCR SEO – I’d be more than happy to grab a pint and discuss the finer points of search engine optimization. Cheers!

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