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Why you should prefer a long-form copy to rank higher

October 8, 2015 - 4  min reading time - by Emma Labrador
Home > SEO Thoughts > Why you should prefer a long-form copy to rank higher

A few weeks ago, Moz was sharing the Google ranking factors for 2015. And with no surprise, content is still an important one. It also appears that long-form copies rank higher in the SERPs. Long-form copy refers to articles composed with more than 800 words. This type of content not only ranks better but offers a more qualitative brand awareness, boost conversions and improve social engagement and authority.
And as Google seems to reward qualitative and long-form copies in its in-depth articles, you can’t avoid this trend.

So why should you prefer long-form copy?

Content is the key

Content is king and Google tends to prefer rich content. Studies, like the one QuickSprout did shows that:

The average content length for a web page that ranks in the top 10 results for any keyword on Google has at least 2,000 words. The higher up you go on the search listings page, the more content each web page has.

Also, Serpiq has stressed out the fact that the average length of the top 10 results is in the 2,300-2450 words range.

seo long form rank better

Google is thus ranking higher sites with long-form copy that has developed content with more than 2000 words.

In the same way, people also prefers long-form copy. Even if readers like snackable content easy to read, it does not mean long content have to be boring or too complicated. Readers will definitely prefer a long and qualitative copy rather than a short but poor post. The website WordStream revealed that its most successful post nammed Find Your Old Tweets: How to See Your First (Worst?) Tweet, based on approximately 2,300 words, has been viewed more than 100,000 times and also has a superior average time on page estimated at 8 minutes. Even if this performance is also linked to the website authority, it shows the impact of rich content.

In fact, when people appreciates a type of content, they share it and are more likely to link to it – which leads us to our second point.

Rich content gets more links

People values qualitative content and are more likely to link to contents that offer a real expertise or value than a short one. In 2012, Moz realised a study on its blog to see if there was a direct correlation between backlinks and word count. First they analyse the word count for each blog post:

seo rankings

and then they associate this curve with the number of links each blog post received:

backlinks related to word count
It is easy to see that there is a correlation between the number of word in a post and the number of links it receives. And as we know, backlinks are a key metric to rank higher in the SERPs. The longer the copy is, the more links it gets and the better it ranks.

Long-form posts engage better

Neil Patel realised a study over 327 blog posts he wrote on QuickSprout and separate them between two categories: the one with more than 1,500 words and the one that were fewer than 1,500 words. Then he analysed how many tweets and likes each categories get.

link between word count and social engagement
The results showed that posts under 1,500 words get on average 174.6 tweets and 59.3 likes. The one that were over 1.500 words received around 293 tweets and 72 likes. This study shows that rich posts with more than 1.500 words reached a better engagement with on average 68% more tweet and 22% more likes than short posts.
This means that long-form copies are more likely to be shared and thus to increase your social signal. And a good social signal help rank higher.

Long copy converts better

Again, Neil Patel ran a study on its homepage. One with long content and a shorter version. With no surprise, the one with more content converted better. But this need to be tested out with A/B testing because conversion do not only relies on content. Call-to-action, headlines, images and other elements have a real impact on these conversions.

Enriched Content helps you gain in the long-tail

As searches are getting more and more conversational, people are often using until 8 words to look for something. Searches with only 2 or 3 words are not the global trend anymore. People are now writing entire sentences to reach answers. Capitalizing on the long-tail and on semantic search is now the best way to rank better.
This is why you should favor rich content to integrate a lot of different keywords, combination of keywords to develop a long-tail strategy. The more people will be likely to find what they are looking for on your blog, the more you will rank organically thanks to specific long-tail keywords. Moreover, long-tail keywords help you rank on specific niches which attract more visitors.

Long content helps crawlers to find you

Long-form copy are also the best option because they help crawlers to index your content. In fact, thin contents with less than 150 words are often excluded from search engine results because search engines do not consider that they offer real value for the visitor. And this is said without talking about bounce rate issue.

How to quantify your content?

If you run a blog for a long time or simply if you have to many blog posts to check them all manually, you could need to use tools to help you out optimize your existing content. The idea if you have too many thin content is to enrich them or rewrite them. I know this can be time consuming, but it worths it.

Oncrawl offers a feature – as part of its global on-page SEO analyzer – that allows you to know in a quick and easy view your word count distribution and your average word count by page depth. You can see how many rich content you have and its repartition and if you own too much thin content within your site.

word count distribution page depth

Emma Labrador See all their articles
Emma was the Head of Communication & Marketing at Oncrawl for over seven years. She contributed articles about SEO and search engine updates.
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