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July 9, 2020

Why Bloggers Swear Longer Posts Rank Higher (Despite Google’s Denial)

Will a larger word count make your post rank higher in Google?

A 3,000-word post won’t outrank a 1,500-word post because it’s longer. But, that added length can help you target a broader set of keywords and win more snippets. Two things that will get your post more traffic.

Let’s dive into why you would and wouldn’t want to aim for a higher word count in your blog post.

Google Has Stated More Words Won’t Make Your Post Rank Higher For a Specific Keyword.

On February 8th, 2020, John Mueller sent out this tweet about how a higher word count won’t help you rank any higher.

The argument is over, right? Higher word counts don’t help posts rank higher.

While I 100% agree that more words won’t raise you in the ranks for your target keyword. There are some real situations where more words will increase your traffic.

A Higher Word Count Means Higher Quality… To a Point

Pretend I have a 1-word post.

There aren’t many circumstances in which a 500-word post wouldn’t be a better user experience. The question is at what word count does that logic stop being true. 500-words? 1,200-words? 3,500-words? There’s clearly an upper-limit to this logic somewhere.

high vs low word count

This is the impetus for John Mueller’s saying more words won’t help you rank higher. Many bloggers swear that all you need to do to outrank a 2,000-word post is write a 4,000-word post. To beat a 4,000-word article, simply write an 8,000-word article.

That’s not true. Posts rank higher because they’re a better experience for users. At low word counts, a more in-depth explanation is likely a better experience. At high word counts, there’s a chance your user would prefer a more concise answer.

However, there are other reasons to consider making your posts longer.

Higher Word Counts Allow You To Win More Snippets

In 2020, most keywords will have a Snippet and a frequently asked question box at the top of the SERP.

snippet example

Making your blog post longer in an attempt to win these snippets will get you more traffic (assuming you win a few of them). For many keywords, snippets will propel you to the top of the SERP. Writing more words in an attempt to win snippets will increase traffic to the post.

Higher Word Counts Allow You To Rank For More Keywords

Many people think you target an obvious keyword, and that keyword is where 80% of your traffic will come from. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Here’s an example. In February 2020, I targeted the keyword “How to Embed a Private YouTube Video?” Below is a visual representation of the number of keywords I received clicks from in the months that followed.

keyword growth example

When a post performs well in Google, it’s going to rank for more keywords than you can imagine. Additional keywords in a popular post have the potential to expand your reach.

For example, my first post ever was about how to set up a green screen. When the pandemic hit, everybody started Zooming with each other. I noticed I was getting clicks from people asking about setting up a green screen for Zoom calls. So I went back and added a paragraph about Zoom in my post. This increased my ranking for all Zoom related queries.

A longer post won’t rank higher because it’s longer. However, touching on more keywords does help you to show up in the SERP for those keywords. This certainly increases how much traffic that post receives.

Ranking For More Keywords and Winning More Snippets Allows Google To Test Your Site Faster

Several years ago, Google’s Rankbrain Algorithm became one of their most significant ranking factors

What is Rankbrain? It’s artificial intelligence that’s moving your page up and down the SERP based on user experience metrics.

But, that’s a problem for new sites on a new domain. Only 2% of the total clicks happen on page 3+. It takes Google a long time to obtain the data it needs about your page when you rank so low.

But, if you win a snippet or a handful of long-tail keywords, you will start getting tested faster. Faster testing means you’ll rise up the SERP and get traffic more quickly.

Conclusion

A 5,000-word post won’t beat out a 2,500-word post just because it’s longer. Don’t add useless fluff to your post in hopes of ranking higher.

At the same time, longer posts can get you more traffic. You need to use that length to target a broader set of keywords and win more snippets.

Thanks for reading! Do you think posts will rank higher because they’re longer? Let me know in the comments!

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