The past 12 months have been a busy time for SEO professionals with a number of changes coming into effect which impact the way search engines rank websites.
Links continue to be the most powerful ranking factor but on-site content is increasing in significance, especially longer form content items. As common sense suggests, the more content there is on a website the more there is for search engines to find.
This means websites with lots of pages and lots of content tend to dominate the rankings of search engine results pages (SERPS) - provided they also have lots of lovely high authority links coming in of course.
It also means that individual pages packed with content should, in theory at least, perform well in search.
Trend for 2023
Over the past few months we have seen a trend towards more content on individual pages and it’s something we are expecting to continue into 2023. Google has implemented several algorithm updates this year and sites with longer form content seem to have benefitted from these changes.
It’s the web pages where the word count runs into the thousands rather than merely hundreds that are benefiting the most from the recent changes. Pages with 2,000 - 5,000 words of relevant content are outranking shorter pages with similar link profiles and in some cases even outranking pages with better link profiles.
If you think about it logically, if two pages are competing for the same placement in search and have a similar number and quality of links coming in, it makes sense that the page with more content will outrank the shorter web page.
Search engines are constantly reviewing and improving their results pages. Google and co are rewarding websites which have invested in their content as well as in Digital PR and link creation and attraction. So much so that a site with slightly less impressive link profiles can outrank a competitor if it has plenty of relevant content for the search engines to find. Word count is crucial because people search with words rather than images.
We are starting to see some clients taking this as far as creating 10,000 word webpages and even more. At one client meeting recently I was told that they were investing in 600,000 words of new content for their site - that’s about ten novels worth.
So what should this content look like? It isn’t enough for it simply to be long. It also has to be relevant. How to articles and guides are a good way to go. Whatever business sector you’re in, try to break down your offering into a series of bullet points and then expand upon them until you have several hundred words for each - put them together and you’ll have at least a couple of thousand words about how to order from you.
When the copy has been written it’s a good idea to include some photos or graphics to help bring your points to life. Then you’ll also want to think about how to host the content on your website. Downloadable PDFs may be great for attracting links but using the copy in a blog post or other webpage will be better for the search engines when it comes to indexing.
It’s also important to consider keywords. If you focus on creating relevant content it should already be keyword rich. Don’t over stuff your articles with keywords. Instead just focus on creating the very best how-to guides that you can and offer your website visitors real value.
Improving a website and optimising it in search has to be an on-going process. In 2023 we expect to see more websites investing in longer form content creation and building more pages with word counts running into the thousands.
If you’d like some help developing long form content for your website please do get in touch for a free consultation.