Is text and content length a ranking factor?

We all know how important content is to a website. Many previous studies have focused on the actual content and the positive or negative impact this could have to a website. Until now, little has been known about just how much the length of the content is either a ranking factor or is considered when determining the quality of the page or website overall. In our latest article, we’ll take a look at some recent guidance produced by Google which addresses this.

Google have confirmed that the number of words in a piece of content is not a ranking factor. Despite this, all is not as it may initially seem. Imagine a website with various pages, each of which having one sentence on each page, verses a competitor who has more content which explains their services for example, with everything else being equal. There can be no way that the website with a few lines on each page would rank better – partly because, the one with the more detailed content will attract, hold and keep its audience longer. This would then filter into its site metrics and ultimately rankings. Whilst Google’s admission is a general statement, we feel it applies in a broad sense and not to every situation as clearly highlighted.

At the other end of the scale an example is given where someone has content on a page, is looking to improve that content and writes substantially more so the piece is longer. The question is asked, just because extra words have been added, does Google deem that as better? This can’t necessarily be the case either you would think, as the extra content could be pure ‘rubbish’ and totally unrelated.

The central point here seems to be that quality is better than quantity and indeed that is true. There is an assumption that quality content is in- depth and longer and thus quality articles or writing should therefore involve a big length. As has already been shown in the above paragraph though, this is not necessarily true, and it follows that it wouldn’t be fair to judge things in this way.

To explain this further, Google quoted an example of a large book verses a small brochure – the former having much text, while the latter having less text overall but likely to be more eye catching and audience appealing. Some people would prefer the book scenario because it provides as many facts and information as there could possibly be. Others would prefer the brochure scenario because the information is in manageable sections offset by other features. In these cases, less can be more, because it has just the same impact on the reader, so long as the main and important points are covered. It is exactly the same with websites and web pages, therefore, to have a blanket rule on content length does not work as it really does depend on the situation.

It would therefore seem that if you want to improve any of your content (ultimately for a better website and rankings,) rather than thinking about the length, the clear points in your mind should be:

* What is the purpose of the page?

* Does the content in that page convey the purpose to its audience?

Having to mind the “quality not quantity” phrase should help many with this.

If you are interested in learning more about how websites convert and how we can help you improve your own, visit our convert optimisation page for more details.