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Does Longer Content Actually Rank Better? Finally Answered

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Whether or not content length helps a page to rank better has long been debated.

One side says, "It sure seems like it does" while the other argues that "It's not the length of the content, it's that long form content attracts more links and that's why it ranks better."

I used to be in the links camp, until I figured out a relatively simple test to determine this conclusively, at least in my mind.

The test was simple: Find situations where a site with zero/near zero backlinks was ranking well in Google that was beating out sites that had plenty of links but shorter content.

The logic is really simple: The sites with the long form content and zero links can't be beating out the other sites due to backlinks, since they don't have any.

I was incredibly surprised by the results.

It's actually quite common for a piece of long form content on a domain with zero quality links, to beat shorter content on a domain with an established backlink profile.

So, yes, long form content, that is high quality, and contains a lot of relevant information, does actually rank better on it's target keyword.

Edit: This does not mean that long content alone is adequate to rank in competitive search queries. This test indicates that long form content performs better than short content, it does not necessarily mean that the longer the content the better it will rank. /edit

About the data:

These are all information keywords, not local businesses, and do not represent a specific thing or entity.

These are averages across 100 rows of data for this test.

Note: The data is highly biased and does not represent typical results, the data was filtered out from a much larger data set.

The average word length was 2655.

Average ranking for the target keyword was: 1.9

Average traffic per page, according to Ahrefs was 268 visits per month.

Average Domain Rating (DR) in Ahrefs was 0.166, scored 0 to 100.

Average URL Rating (UR) in Ahrefs was 1.75, scored 0 to 100.

Average SEMRush Domain Score (Similar to Ahrefs DR) was 1.11, scored from 1 to 100.

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This sounds like a lot of "I found what I wanted to find" versus any kind of concrete evidence. 

If you want to prove that longer content ranks better, you would need to setup multiple domains with pages targeting the same keywords and put content of different lengths on them. Obviously, you are introducing tons of other variables when you do that, so you would have to do it a few thousand times to have any kind of reliable "evidence".

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On 1/16/2020 at 10:23 AM, Wunderkind said:

This sounds like a lot of "I found what I wanted to find" versus any kind of concrete evidence. 

If you want to prove that longer content ranks better, you would need to setup multiple domains with pages targeting the same keywords and put content of different lengths on them. Obviously, you are introducing tons of other variables when you do that, so you would have to do it a few thousand times to have any kind of reliable "evidence".

I have no plans on doing that. The pattern is clear enough to me, if it isn't for you, then I suggest you come up with a test that satisfies you.

Edit: And no, it's definitely not what I wanted to find. I would much rather have found out that it isn't true, as that requires much less work on my end.

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