Many entrepreneurs, SEO experts, bloggers and other content creators often want to know how long their content should be, or how many words an article should contain.
The size of an article is a ranking factor but not in the way most people think. First of all, in 2016, and historically, the power of the domain is one of the most important ranking factors. For example, an article about peanuts on CNN will outrank an article about peanuts on this website.
That aside, search engines are getting significantly better at discovering what a page is about, especially the most important engine, Google.
20 years ago you could trick search engines by just having a good title, meta description, specifying keywords, and by repeating a keyword a handful of times. 10-15 years ago search engines were to the point where they no longer needed (or used) meta keywords. Now, the words from a title of an article do not even need to be in an article and Google is getting better at finding answers. For example, a search for “how long does it take to get gingivitis?” could turn up a page titled “get serious about sore gums” and within the page will reside an answer which discusses the minimum length of time needed for gingivitis to develop.
As for businesses creating Q&A style content, an article should completely and comprehensively answer a question. For example, if you are an attorney putting up an article called “can I sue someone if I wasn’t wearing a seat belt?” should explain the laws in their state- contributory negligence is much different in California than in North Carolina. So, if you’re rear-ended by a drunk in CA and you go flying out of your windshield you can still sue even though you weren’t wearing a seat belt as the drunk driver contributed to your injuries.
I am not the type of guy to toot my own horn often but I have said this so many times when a client asks me what the “word count” of their article should be that I am framing it! Don’t count words, cover topics. If your article is about “creating thrust in outer space” I expect a much more detailed answer/article than, say, an article on “how many quarts are in a gallon?”.
Also, brush your teeth, don’t drive drunk, and wear a seat belt.