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Why You Don’t Have to Write 2,000-Word Articles

I write long articles. Most of the time, I’m in the 1k-2k range. I’ve written a few humdingers that clock in at over 4k words.

That’s a lot of writing. I do it for a reason. My number-crunching, data-loving self has come to the conclusion that search engines and people are really into long content. It converts better, shares better, looks better, and just is better.

But only to a point. I don’t want you to grovel in guilt or give up on blogging, just because you can’t write 2k-word articles. In an ideal world, we’d all be churning out 2k-word masterpieces. But in the real world, you don’t have to write 2,000-word articles.

Here’s why.

1. Because quality is more important than quantity.

More than it loves quantity, the search engines love quality.

Don’t believe it? Then check out Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines. In the latest leaked document, we found out that Google hasn’t backed down from its insistence on quality. Google employs real people to ensure that the algorithm is accurately selecting only results that demonstrate impeccable quality.

So, that much is clear — quality is killer.

But what happens when a writer pushes himself to produce 2k words at all costs? Quality might drop. Instead of focusing on great content, the writer is focusing on a number of words.

That’s not good. Quality is always more important than quantity in Google’s algorithmic analysis. If you produce 2k words that lack quality, you will lose whatever rank ability you gained by having 2k words in the first place.

2. Because quantity without quality is counterproductive, both for users and search engines.

Let me show you another angle to this.

Data shows that users like and share longer content. But with a decline in writing quality comes a commensurate decline in just about everything else. Dwell time goes down, bounce rate goes up, and clickthroughs decline. The result is a loss of rank.

Search engines stop liking you, and users do, too. If you let length be your guiding star, you’re going to lose the very two things that you want — readers and rank.

3. Because the goal is to help the user, regardless of length.

I’m a huge believer in helping the user. If I think it’s going to help a user to have a 4,000 word article, then I’m going to bust out 4k words. No prob.

If I think that 20 words could do the trick, then I’m going to write 20. My personal page, Neilpatel.com, for example, is really important to me. But it only has 26 words. By rigorous A/B testing and analysis, I’ve found that 26 is just the right amount of content for that page. For now.

An article at Copyblogger brought some perspective to the discussion. The headline was, “How to Write the In-Depth Articles that Google Loves.” That’s the point right there — in-depth articles. I could really care less about Google loving them or not, because if users love them, then I’m happy. And Google’s going to love it if the users love it.

Users first. Always. Whatever the word count.

4. Because there is no “standard” length that is conclusively proven to have higher ranking.

I’ve run the numbers, performed the analysis, and counted word beans like a nerd. To be totally honest, the data does show a nice little uptick in many metrics right around 2k words.

But most analysis ends up at conjecture. We don’t know exactly the algorithm responds based on content length alone. There are a ton of factors in the mix beyond raw word count. Furthermore, even if we’re aiming for the satisfaction of users, we can’t say beyond any doubt that a certain length of article is the clear mark of excellence and appeal.

There is no single, standard length threshold that shows a consistent and conclusive correlation with better ranking, higher ratings, more shares, longer dwell time, lower bounce rates, etc.

That’s why I’m not stressing about 2k words, and why you shouldn’t either.

My most popular Quicksprout article of all time has 1,091 words. Go figure that out.

5. Because “depth” and “quality” don’t correlate with a specific length.

I want you to walk away from this article with this fact firmly planted in your mind: Write quality articles. If you can write a deep, authoritative, and high-quality article in 500, 600, or 1,000 words, then do it. And don’t feel bad about it.

Great articles don’t have a length requirement.

Conclusion

If you write 2k-word articles of high quality, then I applaud you. If you can’t write 2k-words articles, then I also applaud you. Just keep the quality up.

But what does that word quality mean?

  • The article should be thorough. Don’t skimp on details, and don’t be afraid of going deep. Your goal is to cover a topic as thoroughly as possible.
  • The article should be authoritative. Write from a position of knowledge and mastery.
  • The article should be free of mistakes. We all commit the occasional grammatical uh-oh, and we don’t lose sleep over it. But don’t be sloppy. Check your work.

You can write a 2,000 word article every couple of weeks, and then you can sprinkle in an article or two of 500 words. Do your own tests. Find out which ones are more popular, have higher share rates, and gain more conversions.

Keep in mind that there’s always more to it than just length. Focus on quality, and you probably won’t have a problem with rank.

And in less than 1,000 words, I’ve made my point, sustained my quality, and am satisfied with this article. Hope you are, too.

About the Author: is a lifelong evangelist of Kissmetrics and blogs at Quick Sprout.

  1. Francisco Sanz Aug 29, 2014 at 9:31 am

    … but, if you CAN write an article of more than 2k words, then do it. Because if you have two evergreen articles, with similar quality (domain/page authority, low bounce rate and good user experience)… then the “in-depth” article is going to rank better.

    Don’t you think?

    • Did you even read the article?

      Yes, if you can write a 2k word article of QUALITY then write it. Neil’s emphasis for this article is produce quality not quantity.

      If you can’t write 2k words of quality content then don’t try.

      A 2k word article of low quality work is worse than a 800 word article of quality content.

  2. Torkild Smith Aug 29, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Great article and thanks for sharing
    Concise and to the point!
    I am not the best writer so my articles/blog posts normally ends up at around 500 words.
    But a you say, writing a longer article once in a while is definitely doable. All thats needs doing to it is to spend longer time writing it. Then it will be two or three weeks apart each long article too ;)

  3. Thanks for the article Neil Patel: “But what does that word quality mean?” This is a really good quesiton. Yes, I know. Quality means an article written by a person who is master in a specific field, many details, backlinks from quality sites and a correct grammar (I am german, so my grammer is not perfect in this comment). But what will happen when I write such an article. How can I get higher listed in Googl search results than e.g. Wikipedia? I have had written articles which are much better and more detail and more scientific like an specific article from Wikipedia, but still Wikipedia is ranking much higher on this keyword. Will I ever have the change to get on top position without having the huge network like Wikipedia? Many regards, Elke Greim

  4. Having just written my first 4,000+ word article, I hope it pays off…but you highlighted some points that may have me rethinking the efficacy of such a large post. I tend to scatter my affiliate links within each post. So now, with Google’s live readers backing up the algorithms, it would be interesting to test out how much of a hit posts take for having what the Google proofreaders deem too many links.

  5. And then, of course, there is the old, well-worn, variously attributed, but still accurate saying that goes, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I ran out of time.” :)

  6. I actually struggle to keep the length DOWN. 1.5k words is normal, and I’m then looking to get rid of waffling and rambling. Sometimes it hurts to delete a passage you laboured over, but you have to “kill your darlings” as the saying goes.

  7. Hey Neil

    I think long articles can be great and I tend to write posts that go over 1500 words, but I think its not always the best go to strategy for everyone for the simple reason that a lot of people can’t write 2000+ words of engaging and educational content.

    I would recommend for anyone writing more than an article of 800 words or over to create a rough outline of what they want to get across to the audience.

    The longer the word count the more people tend to ramble and get off topic and this is a great way to make sure your post stays tight, focused and is useful.

    Paul Back

    • Paul, great point. I think engagement really matters. By creating unique/in-depth content you can really capture your audience’s attention and sustain it.

  8. Phil Szomszor (theredrocket) Sep 02, 2014 at 6:17 am

    Yes, there’s no doubt we’re seeing a flight to quality, as we’re living through the content overload.

    Personally, as a blogger and PR professional, I’m working hard to write less, not more.

    What I mean by that is to edit my copy down better. I have a habit of writing long introductions. But most of the time, people are familiar with the topic, because that’s why they’ve clicked on my post.

    So, yes – it’s all about trying to produce quality at the end of the day. Word count is just a number.

  9. Roz Swartz Williams Sep 02, 2014 at 8:07 am

    As a content writer, I’m sometimes to challenged to say in 1500 words what could really be best stated, succinctly, in 800, and vice versa, to squeeze enough value into 600 words when 2000 would provide the best coverage of the topic. One of the reasons I prefer flat rates over per word. I’m happy to see the focus shifting to quality over quantity. And even though considering quality may be subjective from one topic or writer to the next, I still think we can all recognize quality when we read it.

  10. Well-written content is the most important piece of the content puzzle, just as you put it “quality over quantity.” However, the key is still long content – search metrics and top resources I’ve been reading say so. Search Engine Journal promotes over 2,000 words. Searchmetrics said that 3000-10,000 words will be given ranking preferences according to forecasting. I think these predictions are accurate. Google wants to rank the content that is the most thorough. Of course they can spot out a 2,000 word ramble. It’s the time, energy, and research, along with good writing skills, put into a REAL 2,000+ word article that makes length a winner.

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