Content Length Theory
It was five hundred words, then it wasn’t. Google changes all the time, is it now really two thousand words that make certain content place well?
To me, creating content (especially textual content) should be about satisfaction of hunger. Are consumers hungering for two thousand words? The long answer to that question is, “If it takes two thousand words to fill that consumer’s ravenous appetite for information.. Yes.” The short answer is, “Maybe…” If you can satisfy the question with an answer that users are looking for in a search query with two hundred words, or even a paragraph— then you’ve gotten something to the table for consumption. It is a appetizer or an entree?
Consider the question, “Why is the sky blue?” This is a common question asked by children. Google has condensed the informational answer into a two-sentence paragraph. Is this because Google prefers simple answers? Or is it because the answer is simple. They also include a link to the page at the University or Riverside (California) which expounds. The “Google answer” is the first two sentences on that page. Would that page place first if not for those first two simple sentences which condense the information on the page into one salient answer? Or is the secondary information available on that page more important?
I think that perhaps it’s due to the fact that the page has both the short answer, and the reasons why the short answer is true. The short answer is, “quantifiable” Science and math. Google is more than a huge company that shapes the Internet and physical world. It’s code, algorithms, bits and bytes. The people building those systems probably share a lot of traits with scientists. They like to have their curiosity satisfied, but satisfied with quantifiable results. Think of the original Page Rank. A website that was frequently being linked to was a “proven” web property.
Which brings us back to appetite and hunger. Some diners are light eaters. Some like to snack. Some folks are all about meat and potatoes. It goes a long way to be able to satisfy all of these individuals. If you can do that on one page, all the better.
When creating content it’s not always about answering a question. Sometimes it’s for entertainment. Sometimes it’s only an effort to boost a website, which brings us all the way back around to content length. Personally I’ve always been a both a fan of Dean Koontz and his fantastically intense way of describing things, and Thomas Jefferson, who is credited with saying, “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”
My urging is that if you create a lot of textual content, write until your thought is complete, and give not a whit to what some “expert” is saying about any particular lengths of content. I firmly believe that Google does reward hard work and consistent efforts. So like cooking in the kitchen, play around with your recipes, add a dash of “ALT TAGS” and a pinch of “H3” but more importantly, serve up a heaping helping of satisfaction for the end user. If you are needing someone to create premium content for your business, you can visit this page.
Originally Published for LinkedIn Pulse on 11/19/2014 – Elmer Twilley