Old-school SEOers will still tell you that a blog post, or any page of content on the internet, should be comprised of no more than 300 to 400 total words – maybe 500 words at a maximum and only 500 words if the subject matter that is being discussed really calls for it.
Although it may be true that blog posts, general pages of content, or articles should not ramble on and on just for the sake of increasing the total number of words used, the notion that all pages of content should be restricted to a cookie-cutter word count that does not exceed 500 total words is simply outdated and untrue.
Putting the final nail in this idea’s coffin is a new post on the official Google Search blog explaining how Google search results will soon include a special section for in-depth articles. The feature will be rolling out for English-language search results over the next several days.
What’s an “In-Depth Article,” Anyhow?
It’s actually quite simple: an in-depth article, at least according to Google’s definition, is a web page that covers a topic in greater and finer detail than the typical surface-level, introductory overview. And it has to come from a reputable, authoritative source, though this doesn’t mean that your content won’t qualify for Google’s in-depth article section just because you run a homespun blog instead of a major news outlet. In order to qualify, however, it’ll need to be a thorough, detailed, accurate, and preferably well-cited investigation into the topic at hand.
If you want some examples of articles that Google considers “in-depth,” you can find a few on the topic of censorship here, here and here. The topic doesn’t need to be too heavy, either; if you write an excellent, in-depth piece about teaching a dog tricks, there’s no reason why Google won’t consider it an in-depth article.
Should You Create In-Depth Articles?
Of course, not all site owners and bloggers should rush to their drawing boards and start brainstorming ways to incorporate in-depth articles into their content portfolios. As mentioned earlier, if a topic is too narrow to warrant an in-depth investigation, or if you simply don’t have the knowledge necessary to write up an accurate, thorough post on it, rambling on for one or two thousand words will not convince Google to include the page in its In-Depth Articles section within search results.
At the same time, if you’ve been on the fence about including longer, more thorough pages on your site, this is a great reason to go ahead and do it.