How longer articles can hurt your Google ranking (Here's what works)

Last Update: December 16, 2020

If you're trying to hit that 3,000 words milestone for every article, you got to stop. Writing longer articles to rank on Google is a piece of obsolete SEO advice.

If anything, writing a longer article can backfire, particularly in recent Google algorithm updates.

I used to have a piece of 3,500 words 'Best of article' that is on the #3 spot on a high-traffic keyword.

Somewhere in 2018, it got demoted after one of these algo updates. I tried adding more words into it and it doesn't change anything.

Forget word count, focus on Search Intent.

Google has made it clear that Google is not a ranking factor. While there's no denying that a 3,000 words article can easily rank in the past, it's not the case anymore.

Instead of fretting over wordcount, you'll need to focus on search intent, which is what Google is prioritizing these days. (and beyond).

When a user searches for a keyword, will that 3,000-word article fulfill their search intent?

Here's an example.

The user is searching for 'best yoga mat for beginners'. You've written a piece of a blog article that consists of the following headings

  • What is Yoga?
  • How To Practice Yoga.
  • Why You Should Use A Yoga Mat
  • How To Choose A Yoga Mat
  • Best Yoga Mats for Beginners

Users searching for 'best yoga mat for beginners' are more likely to be interested in comparing top yoga mats that are available. That's the search intent.

They are probably not interested in the definition of yoga or why they should be using a yoga mat. These are NOT the search intent of the users.

The users are unlikely to scroll through paragraphs of unrelated content to get to what they want.

So, having a 3,000 article, but cluttering it with information that does not fulfill the search intent will not get you a favorable ranking.

I'm Writing Shorter Article With Better Results

Lately, I revised the old 3,500 article that's lurking on page 2 for 'best organic chia seeds' and knock off a good 2,000 words.

The revised article has only 1,500 words. Here are two obvious changes:

1. I removed subtopics that do not fulfill the search intent.

2. The original article listed 10 products. The revised article only has 5 products, which simplify decisions for users.

Slowly, it inches towards page 1 and it's now on position 8.


Some of my articles, which are written to answer a specific question, range between 500-700 words. Most of them are ranked on page #1 on Google.

I've also revamped a couple of articles that fail to rank for the keyword at all, based on the same principle. Those articles are now appearing on page 2, and I'm confident it's only a matter of time before they hit page 1.

Less Is Sometimes More

Writing more words is only useful if it helps the users in answering their questions. Putting in more words just for the sake of hitting the word count can be counterproductive.

Instead, think about how to provide the best search experience to your readers and Google will reward you for that.

Hope this helps members who are still wondering what's the ideal word count for a blog post.

Cheers,
Kenny

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DianneBee Premium
Good to know Kenny. I spent a year putting out 3000 word articles and none ranked very well.
And I'd be thinking to myself - I'd never read through long articles like this.
I'd include all kinds of related material, but not all of it was laser-pointed to the search words.
I am relieved to think I can write the way I want to.
Best wishes1
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Sebastian089 Premium
That make sense. Thank you for sharing!
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Newme202 Premium
I will try this. Starting today. Thank you Kenny for posting
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KeyToSuccess Premium
That's very interesting. I understand your point of view, Kenny. Less is better sometimes.

I've heard from a very popular Blogger School that there are three types of articles Google likes. First, when you answer people's question up to 1250 no more. Because people just need a quick answer. Those are the articles with HOW TO, 5 Best, Why etc. You mentioned it in your post.

The suggestion would be, especially for a new website to start answering people questions with short articles up to 1250. When they have around 20 posts, then juice it up.
I think we need a variety. Some could be short, some could be long. Popular bloggers have a success with long articles. Long articles also make people stay on the website longer. But there should not be fluff there, but well researched and well written.
I have a success with short and long.
Stay Blessed!
Haly
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Caruana Premium
Hi Kenny, thanks for sharing this, and I agree with you. I have been noticing most best ranked posts in the health and beauty niche are short and to the point.
I gather it all depends on the niche. Good day. Marisa
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