Content is not just a ranking signal. Content is an exceptionally important ranking signal; so important that you may have heard the trite statement that “content is king.”
You also may have kept up with the numerous asseverations that longer is better, and that any effective content strategy must have long-form content. How long, exactly, is really anyone’s guess. All the same, you don’t need to dive too deep into research until you find what seem to be credible sources that claim long-form content should be 2,000 words or longer.
But does this mean that content is not long-form content if it is short of the 2,000-word mark? Does it need to be that long to matter? Can effective eCommerce SEO services hinge on an SEO content strategy that does not provide content of such length?
These are all good questions, and you may have some of your own. First, the bad news: The answer, as is so common in SEO, depends. Now the good news: Peeling back the layers can give a more definite answer.
E-A-T: How Google Evaluates Content and SEO Content Strategies
It’s a misconception (albeit maybe no longer common) that Google predominantly indexes content based on keyword density and content length. There are numerous other signals Google uses to evaluate content, including user interaction, backlinks, content depth, and more.
However, there is one factor that Google uses more than anything else in the determination of whether or not content is “good” and therefore “long enough,” and it isn’t length. It’s whether or not the content answers the user’s query, thereby satisfying search intent.
To illustrate this, many content producers and providers of eCommerce SEO services use what they call E-A-T, which is an acronym for Expertise, Authority, and Trust. They say that if content conveys expertise and authority on a subject and is trustworthy, it will carry a lot of “rank-factor.”
This is a very high-level way to summarize how Google evaluates content, but it is largely true, and its effects can be seen even with a quick Google search. There are very effective ranking pieces of content that meet and far exceed the 2,000-word-wonder-limit; yet, there are ranking blog posts and news articles for some search queries that barely scrape 300 words, yet have a significant amount of social cues and backlinks indicating them as an authority, thereby perpetuating their value.
Therefore, content can vary significantly in length and still be highly effective, especially as it supports eCommerce SEO services through a dedicated SEO content strategy. But let’s ask a question that few too many have been willing to ask and even fewer have been willing or able to answer: can content be too long?
Can Content Be Too Long? What Happens?
Ask 12 different eCommerce SEO experts about the ideal length for content developed pursuant to an SEO content strategy and you will get a dozen different answers. You might get a baker’s dozen, with an “it depends,” thrown in for good measure.
There’s no universal consensus on how long content should be. Backlinko has said the optimal length for content is 1,890 words. Moz suggests a minimum word count of 1,000, and that anything shorter than 1,000 words lacks proper optimization, at least on the grounds of content length. SEMRush has stated that longer content is, in fact, better – with a caveat. It’s better if it satisfies the user’s search intent.
Here’s the thing about content length. It actually can be too long, but there’s no easy answer about what “too long” is. Here’s what we can say. Our developers and SEO experts wanted to answer some questions about content length, so they audited the performance of the current SEO campaigns we’ve been managing for our eCommerce business partners. Here’s a summary of what we found.
Long content is not bad, but neither is short content. The thing is, if the content is long simply for the purpose of being long, it can generate lower average time on-page and high bounce rates. These things are big red flags to Google that, regardless of what’s actually in the content, it’s not creating a satisfactory user experience. And that is not a good thing.
So longer content does not always equal better content, but that doesn’t mean that short content equivocally outperforms long content. Far from it. That begs the final question: How long should optimized content be?
So, How Long Should Content Really Be?
There is no easy answer to how long content should be, but we’re going to answer as succinctly and directly as possible. Content should be exactly as long as is needed to satisfy the search intent of the user; no longer and no shorter.
The truth of the matter is that some keywords, especially long-tail keywords associated with processes and tutorials, actually do merit long-form content. By long-form, we mean even longer than 2,000 words. There are long-form guides and expositions out there that are well over this limit, straying into 5,000-word territory and even better. If you have something to say and it takes 5,000 words to say it and users want to hear what it is, then 5,000 words is the optimal length. A 500-word post will just be too brief and won’t answer all the customer queries.
But here’s the flip side of that observation. There are ranking, shareable, highly useful blog posts and articles out there that are even shorter than 500 words. Moreover, there are valuable eCommerce-related keywords associated with high user intent to purchase that simply don’t warrant long-form content. If you can answer a question or offer value in 300 words, then 5,000 or 2,000 or even 1,000 words might just be too long, which will cause high bounce rates, which is not optimal for the success of an eCommerce SEO campaign or for that particular eCommerce site in general.
In short, content should answer the user’s search intent or query. Content that answers a question or delivers value is the perfect length to support an SEO strategy.
Applying the Principle to SEO Content Strategy
Armed with the knowledge that content of all different lengths can be highly valuable to an eCommerce website, how do digital marketing agencies put this into practice? By creating content of all different lengths that address different customer concerns and is optimized for a wide range of diverse keywords and subjects.
We have always offered, and continue to offer, a wide variety of optimized content to our SEO clients in order to support their SEO content strategies, and we’ve noticed without a doubt that content of varying length can be used to support a campaign’s success. It really just comes down to what aspect of the content or the online store (such as a blog, a category, or a product page) we need to optimize, keeping in mind that keyword optimization, length, user search intent and search volume, internal link structure, and user experience are all interrelated.
We’re Here to Answer Your Questions about eCommerce SEO Services
Whether you have more in-depth questions about content strategy, content creation, or even developing an editorial calendar, our eCommerce SEO experts are here to help. Contact our SEO experts and content marketing specialists at (888)-982-8269 and let us know how we can help.
- Michael Esposito
- October 15, 2021