Does Google Now Prefer Short Content?

Last Update: Sep 27, 2022

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So, that's pretty controversial, isn't it?

Keep reading, as I am going to show you an interesting new feature in Google!

For years, it has been said, that the longer content the better, that it shows authority.

And, of course, here at WA, people are encouraged to aim for 1000 words.

Various stats are often mentioned, such as the average length of a post on page 1 is 1400 words, or 1800 words.

But Google themselves have said that the word count is not a ranking factor.

But, you must fully cover the topic, and give the best possible answer to what people are searching for.

No more, no less.

Don't stop writing at 1000 words just because you've hit that target, if you have more helpful information to share.

And believe me, I've seen hundreds of your sites, where you literally stop at almost or exactly 1000 words, not even adding a summary or conclusion, just literally stopping.

But conversely, don't ramble on, adding more and more irrelevant fluffy stuff just to meet that target.

If you have covered everything and fully answered the question in 600 words, that's fine.

So, here's a couple of reasons that might prove that Google now prefers shorter content.

Take a look at this screenshot.

Google is deliberately highlighting posts in its search engine results that take less than 5 minutes to read.

And they are on page 1.

This is a new feature that is being tested, called the Quick Read label.

So, how long is a post that takes less than 5 minutes to read?

The average adult reading speed is 200 words per minute.

Clearly, these posts are under 1000 words, using that logic.

Does that mean Google now prefers posts under 1000 words?

I can't answer that for certain, but let me mention my second point.

If you are following Partha's blogs, you will have heard him mention this previously.

On the three sites we are collaborating on, all of the posts are between 600 and 800 words, 900 at most.

And I can assure you we are ranking for thousands of keywords on page 1.

Our second site, which is around 4 months old, is already attracting just over 100 visitors per day, and all the post have a relatively low word count as mentioned above.

So, is it time to ditch the 1000 word target?

Thoughts welcome!

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Recent Comments

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Yep - I remember a recent post mentioning that your new articles are under 1000 words, and you guys are ranking.

Since then, I'm not stressing about hitting 1000 words anymore - I'm somewhere between 800 - 1000 with recent posts, using Partha's keyword method, and these articles are being found.

The surprising thing is these articles are utilizing keywords that WA says have zero monthly searches, but collectively, they are bringing in the majority of my traffic now. So, the Partha keyword method clearly works.

I'll second that :-)

I still hit 1400 words without really thinking about it though!

Best news yet. Trust me, when I see a long read time, sometimes I print it, and sometimes I put it in the list that never gets read. It makes sense, doesn't it, if I don't have time to read long articles, except in extra time (when is that?), why would the average person? The possible exception being yours' and Partha's, posts, of course.


Interesting, Diane. I hadn't noticed that but I have that little feature on my articles: "x minutes to read". I've noticed that in my niche, people want short and to the point. They seem to engage more with those articles. So, maybe it's true. Thanks for pointing this out.
Paula

Hi Palatia,

What do you use for your "x minutes to read"?

Cassi

It's not really a widget, it's part of the theme I'm using. Under Theme Customizer > Blog > Individual Posts, there are Meta options for what you want to include in the breadcrumbs. 'Read Time' is one of the options, along with whether you want the author's name, date published, etc. I'm using the Astra theme for this site. bodyluminate.com

Thank you very much, Diane, for this info. At the moment, I think it is fine to write content that explains well the issues that our various audiences want. If it can be within 400-900 docket that is fine. Otherwise, writing with the aim of fitting in the below 1000 words bracket, may again fail to serve the purpose.

Hi Diane, I have quite a few posts on my site under 1000 words and still get indexed. I personally find that when I read about something, I don`t want to spend 30 minutes reading about that something. I am more interested in answering my question that took me to that website in the first place. You have a great day, take care.

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