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In SEO as in so much else, size isn’t everything

The excellent industrial PR consultant Richard Stone got in touch with me after a blog I published a couple of weeks ago, to politely disagree with my conclusions. Now, Richard’s company creates SEO-targeted content about technology for a living, so he knows his stuff. I’d written that Google wants meaty content, and that “studies of blog posts show that those with high rankings in the search results are much more likely to have 2,000 words than a few hundred.”

Richard replied: “I think it depends on how the blog is hosted and optimised and, crucially, it depends on the competition. One of my favourite tools analyses the top ten phrases for a particular keyword, and suggests a word length.” This, he says, is “brilliant”, and “sometimes it says you need 600 words, sometimes 2000.”

Unsurprisingly, the flexibility he recommends turns out to be correct. If you’re trying to rank for something obscure, your competition may be negligible, so why would you need to write a lengthy paper? I can be top of Google for this term with a fairly weedy 350 words because nobody else wants to write about the topic.

The point I was trying to make was that Google isn’t so concerned with ultra-targeted articles any more – it can get a good feel about the subject from any document and matching actual words and phrases isn’t critical. That means it’s an option to merge what might have been separate pieces into a more substantial one which could target a wider brief and perhaps attract more links. Long term, I think that may be a better approach, although nothing is ever certain in SEO, and we should all listen to those with greater experience.