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How long should an article be for SEO?

Determining the optimal or average blog post length for an article is critical for any content marketer. It’s about more than just filling up space or meeting word counts—it’s about crafting content that effectively covers everything your audience needs. 

When we talk about the ideal length of an article, the question isn’t just “How long?” but rather “How many words should the article be to serve its purpose effectively?”

The short answer is however long it needs to be to cover the intent. This is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Different topics and audience expectations call for different approaches to article length.

Generally speaking, most articles sufficiently serve intent in anywhere between 1000 words and 2500 words. 

In this article, we will cover the long version of the answer, exploring several key factors that influence your article’s length. We’ll discuss:

  • The importance of aligning your content with search intent
  • Adherence to the principles of Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T)
  • How intent and E-E-A-T tie into Google’s guidelines for high-quality content 

Additionally, we’ll look at the challenges of thin content and its impact on search engine rankings. You will have a clear understanding of each element so you can craft articles that are right in length and rich in value.

The importance of search intent in article word counts

Understanding search intent is crucial in determining the right blog length. It is the reason behind a user’s search query, essentially what the reader hopes to find or achieve when typing a query into a search engine. 

Recognizing and aligning with this intent is key to creating content that resonates with your audience.

The four primary types of search intent are:

  • Informational – seeking specific information or knowledge
  • Navigational – aiming to find a particular site or page
  • Transactional – searching is about completing a specific action, like a purchase
  • Commercial – contemplating a purchase and comparing options or deals

The type of search intent greatly influences the ideal article length. Informational searches often require detailed and comprehensive articles, which means a longer word count is needed to cover the topic thoroughly.

On the flip side, navigational or transactional content should be concise, quickly guiding the user to their desired action or destination.

Take, for instance, a user looking for a chicken soup recipe. They likely prefer an article that takes them through the entire recipe, the ingredients required, and a step-by-step guide on how to create it. 

They don’t want 2,000 words of chicken soup history. This user’s intent is clear: Find a recipe quickly .

You can use SEO tools like Ahrefs to check and compare your blog’s length with competitor articles that are already ranking in the top 10.

A screenshot showing the top ten SERP results for the keyword "chicken soup recipe" reveals that most results for this keyword are a minimum of 2000 words long

Similarly, someone searching for an in-depth guide on starting a home-based business would expect a long, even more detailed article covering all aspects of setting up the business.

The impact of aligning content with search intent

Content that aligns well with user intent satisfies the reader, leading to better engagement and improved search engine performance.

On the other hand, a mismatch between the length of an article and the target audience’s search intent can result in lower engagement, dissatisfaction, and higher bounce rates. 

The importance of E-E-A-T in article writing

Adhering to the principles of Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T) contributes to the content’s quality and influences how readers and search engines perceive it.

Furthermore, integrating AI-generated content is increasingly common in the content creation process—and that’s fine as long as experts review and edit the content. This ensures that the final output aligns with E-E-A-T principles. 

The expert oversight guarantees that the AI-generated content remains relevant, accurate, and trustworthy, thus preserving the integrity and quality of your article. 

In short, Google does not penalize AI content as long as you can combine AI efficiency with human expertise to create informative and engaging blog posts.

Balancing the topic’s depth with brevity 

It’s essential to stay focused on the topic to maintain the reader’s interest and fulfill the article’s intended purpose. 

E-E-A-T principles might suggest more detailed content while staying on topic but balancing depth with brevity is key. The goal is to provide sufficient information to satisfy readers’ needs without overwhelming them. 

How to add depth to your blog?

You can add more depth to your blog by manually going through competitors’ blogs and identifying gaps: things they’ve missed that you can cover in your piece. You can also ask subject matter experts about their insights on the topic. 

For example, the top-ranking page on “how to create hybrid content” doesn’t have information about how it works.

An article showing high-level information on the collaboration between humans and machines

Wordbrew filled the gap by adding this information to a blog, offering more to the readers.

Wordbrew's article on hybrid content gives in-depth information on how a mix of AI and humans produce great high-quality content

Doing either will enable you to add unique information to your blog that is not present elsewhere. In this particular case, increasing your word count can be beneficial since you’re offering concrete value to your readers. 

Rambling or including irrelevant information to increase your word count can dilute the effectiveness of your article. 

Incorporating E-E-A-T principles into your article ensures your content is valuable, trustworthy, and credible. This enhances the value of your content in the eyes of your readers and search engines by extension. 

Understanding Google’s quality evaluator guidelines and low-quality content

Google's quality evaluator guidelines showing what constitutes as low quality content

Source: Google

Google’s rater guidelines assist in understanding high-quality versus low-quality content. These guidelines help determine how an article should be structured in terms of how many words you add and the value it offers to the reader.

Let’s look at some key takeaways from Google’s quality evaluator guidelines:

Google’s perspective on quality content

Google emphasizes the importance of search intent. This means providing clear, accurate, and helpful information to the readers. According to their guidelines, high-quality content should offer a comprehensive, insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond the obvious. 

Covering a topic is the bare minimum. Enriching the reader’s understanding and providing practical value is the objective you should aim to accomplish.

Low-quality main content

Low-quality main content is identified as content that fails to achieve its purpose. This could be due to a lack of subject matter expertise, shallow or poorly presented information, or content filled with errors. Such content often leaves the reader unsatisfied, as it does not provide the answers or solutions they seek.

Word counts and quality perception

While word count alone is not a determinant of quality, it often correlates with the depth of content. Short, superficial articles might not provide enough information to be considered high-quality, especially for complex or nuanced topics. 

Similarly, excessively long content that does not add value or wanders off-topic can also be perceived as low-quality.

Purpose of the blog

The purpose of your article must be the focus. Every piece of content should aim to address the topic thoroughly. This means providing well-researched, accurate information that’s presented clearly and in an engaging way. 

The ideal blog post length should be dictated by the depth required to adequately cover that topic, guided by the principles of providing real value to the reader.

In a nutshell, understanding and adhering to Google’s rater guidelines can significantly impact how your content is perceived and ranked. It’s about balancing comprehensive coverage and concise, engaging writing. This balance will ensure your content aligns with search engine standards and is genuinely helpful to your readers.

Thin content and why you should avoid it altogether 

Thin content, characterized by its lack of substantial or valuable information, faces significant hurdles in search engine rankings. 

This issue goes beyond mere word count. Fundamentally, it’s about the richness and relevance of the content provided.

What makes content “thin?”

An article falls into the category of thin content when:

  • It is long or short
  • It doesn’t offer meaningful insights
  • It doesn’t answer the reader’s queries effectively 

Thin content is not about brevity alone. It’s identified by its failure to address a topic or question thoroughly. The emphasis here is on the depth and usefulness of the information rather than content length.

Search engine rankings and thin content

Google prioritizes content that delivers genuine value to the user. Consequently, content lacking in substance often struggles to rank well. Search engines assess content quality based on several metrics, and thin content typically fails to meet these standards, particularly for complex or detail-oriented topics.

Comprehensive coverage is important

For content to rank effectively, it should comprehensively cover its respective topic. This doesn’t necessarily mean exhaustive coverage of every aspect but rather providing sufficient detail to satisfy the reader’s search intent. Articles that serve as thorough resources on their subjects are favored in SERPs.

Skimmability and why it matters

Readers prefer quickly digestible information, so making well-structured, skimmable content is a must. Additionally, search engines disregard thin, unsubstantial content. This means you don’t just have to create valuable content. You also have to make it skimmable for reader engagement and optimal search ranking.

How to avoid thin content?

Avoiding thin content involves a focus on the article’s core purpose. Ensure that your content sufficiently addresses the topic by elaborating on key points, incorporating examples or case studies, or including expert perspectives. The objective is to produce content that is rich in value, not just in word count.

Note that only value-added information in articles will benefit your website. That’s because Search Generative Experience (SGE) is already transforming how readers access information, akin to an enhanced version of featured snippets. 

This technology swiftly interprets and presents precise answers to user queries, streamlining the search process. It is imperative for content creators to craft articles with clarity and to align them with the Google algorithms that extract these snippets. 

Summing it up

The optimal length for an SEO-friendly article is less about hitting a specific word count and more about providing comprehensive, value-rich content. 

So, focus on search intent, adhere to E-E-A-T principles, and avoid thin content. Moreover, craft articles that offer in-depth insights, preferably from subject matter experts, while being concise and engaging. This approach will fulfill your readers’ intent while keeping your content aligned with Google’s quality guidelines.

Still struggling to create a concrete, value-driven blog? Let Wordbrew help.

We have subject matter experts from various industries and backgrounds who know precisely how to tackle user intent for your blogs. Sign up here.

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