Is More Content Better for SEO? (Quality Trumps Quantity, But..)

The line is thin between a 'lot of content' and 'too much content'. None of the two is a ranking factor - so relax. But, with your wits about you, here's some info to self-examine if 'too much' means throwing quality down the ditch.

Consistently publishing great content - and some more - is key to ranking higher, enhancing your SEO game, and ultimately landing more traffic.

At least that's what they say.

In this realm, it's not as simple as comparing apples to oranges. It never is. From personal observations, the SEO space is stuffed with a lot of educated guesses, expert opinions, and anecdotal evidence. I mean we are just trying our best to figure out a very complex algorithm. But one thing's clear: we can increase the odds of ranking by better understanding our niche and applying some tried-and-true practices.

So, here's my promise: After reading this, you'll know what Google generally prefers for content size and volume. I'll help you figure out your needs, so you can aim for the right publishing frequency and content size that ensures solid growth and visibility within a single year.

Join me.

First, how does content impact SEO?

Directly answering user queries, utilizing semantics, and ticking off that content publishing checklist aren't just best practices – they're your best chances of ranking.

To spill the beans here. Sure, Google's latest updates tend to prioritize helpful, quality content. By having an optimization-focused blog you're actually prioritising quality. However, I've seen a lot of quality, helpful content slipping behind in search results.

Why, you may wonder? Well, it didn't check all the boxes. Google uses NLP to understand your material. Without optimization, your content is not equipped to appeal to Google.

Good SEO content needs to take care of three things: matching user intent, using the right language (WDF-IDF), and passing through a content publishing checklist.

With that said, optimized content helps your content rank higher and builds relevance and discovery. Plus, other companies refer people to your site a lot more (backlinks), internal links make it easier for users to explore your website, and your domain authority gets a boost. It all adds up to more traffic coming to your site. All thanks to one thing – engaging, optimized content.

Does more content help SEO?

A tricky one.

For starters, the amount of content you have on your website is not a ranking factor. So, no. More content doesn't define your success in engines.

So where's the trick?

Well, pushing out more content - especially content optimized around gaps your competitors aren't fully utilizing - will help you in less direct ways. If, and I can't stress this strong enough, only IF you're diligently taking care of all details necessary for content to rank. For example, I've seen companies forcing out more content and in doing so giving up quality. That won't help you get the results you want to see.  

But, if you adhere to the best practices, more content may translate to more content that ranks. Meaning, over time you'll probably collect more high backlink profiles without too much hustle. Plus, if you're diligent, internal linking efforts will also contribute to channeling the link juice to the right places. As a result, you'll see your domain authority spiking relatively quickly.

Another thing. Striving for more content isn't just about quantity – it's about keeping your content fresh.

And freshness is another ranking factor.

Since Google's 2011 Freshness Update, you guessed it, fresh content is getting a free pass to top spots more often. In 2019, the Featured Snippets Freshness update reinforced this commitment. In simple terms, Google has been committed to delivering more fresh content in featured snippets ever since.

I've seen the impact of the 'freshness privilege' firsthand. In September 2022, two pieces I crafted for Wakeout, a physical activity break app - Front Kicking Exercises & How to Rejuvenate - snagged the #1 spot on Google. Shortly after they got featured as a snippet.

Fast forward a year and a half, and they're still rocking a close second spot in the US and most of Europe. But here's the twist: the snippet's no longer ours to claim. It's staying fluid, always changing, and never missing to showcase the freshest content. It went from showcasing other brands to highlighting Google's own recommendations based on crawled content.

I've been on the winning side of the 'freshness privilege' as well. Just take a look at the content published more recently in November 2023.

The point is: making more content is good. Still, it's probably not the direct reason you rank better. Instead, it sets in motion other factors that play a role in boosting your position.

How much content is good for SEO?

Size matters. Luckily, in SEO, you have some degree of control over it.

We can discuss the issue at hand from two different angles. One is (1) SEO content length or how many words per page Google generally prefers. The second one is (2) publishing volume: how much material you should publish within your respective industry on a weekly/monthly basis.

1. Content-Length: Does longer content rank better?

As a rule of thumb, longer content ranks better. Generally, the ideal length seems to land somewhere between 2000 to 2500 words per blog post.  At least that's what most mainstream SEO sources like Neil Patel, Search Engine Journal, and SEOptimer report. And who's to say otherwise, right?

Well, you should take all the recommended sweet spots with a grain of salt. According to SEMrush, the suggested general target is notably bigger at 3000. Out of sheer curiosity, I decided to test my own ranking content to see which way it leans – toward the first or second school of thought.

Interestingly, most of my ranking content is above 3000 words.

I looked into the ideal content length based on relevant, ranking articles I helped publish. Out of 100 articles that ranked for two of my clients, the average content length was a hair over 3,000 words.

Keep in mind, I typically match the length of my content with an average word count of the top 10-20 competing articles.

The article size also varied by topic. In the vending niche, articles averaged 2,900 words, while in the physical fitness niche, they were around 3,000. Another client I recently started to work with, a company selling mushroom supplements, easily exceeds the "ideal content length size", with each piece averaging 3,300 words.

ranking content word count illustration

Needless to say, I've seen articles rank at different lengths - from 600 words to 5,000 words.

Why am I telling you aside from trying to find the right mark?

Well, the mark is obviously relative. There's no one-size-fits-all approach that works. The ideal content length for each piece depends on the (1)niche, (2)topic, (3)user intent, and (4)publishing format.

(1)niche and (2)topic? Google's preference for content length differs by industry and topic. I just can't assume why some niches favor longer content while others prefer shorter pieces. But the numbers do vary.

Understanding (3)user intent boils down to whether users are seeking specific information (usually long-tail keywords) or looking for broader details on a topic (usually the mid-tail keyword). In general, specific queries match shorter content, while broader intentions call for longer content.

The (4)publishing format also decides how long your content should be. Here are the usual, super-rough size estimates for different types of content:

  • Landing pages - 500 - 1,000 word count
  • Product pages - 100 - 800 word count
  • Whitepapers - 2,500 - 5,000 word count
  • Case studies - 1500+
  • Research papers - 5000+

2. Publishing Volume:  Should you focus on producing more content?

Let me lay it out straight before we dive into the nitty-gritty: how often you put out content, or in fancy terms, your publishing volume, is not really important to Google. In other words, Google couldn't care less about your posting frequency. But, as always: a but...

Publishing volume may determine how fast you reap results.

If you've built your content using SEO article outlines and good optimization practices, more content means more chances to rank.

You could come up with a rough estimate and hit the sweet spot. And the sweet spot is... Well, as always, relative. It's a number you should guesstimate for yourself. A number that should allow you to outrank your competitors in due time while not over-exhausting the pool of topics and your resources. Here's what I mean by this.

One you know your rough goal, you can arrive at your ideal publishing volume based on your (1) resources and (2) the competitive landscape of your niche (2).

(1) Resources.

First off, figure out how much time and cash you're dropping on each masterpiece. From my own experience, I've clocked in at 8-11 hours to publish a 2000+ word blog post. That includes the whole shebang – digging into the topic, picking the right keywords, writing, decorating with visuals, taking care of metadata, WDF*IDF analysis, and finally, passing the checklist.

A seasoned SEO content writer might charge you up for around $35 to $60 per hour. Crunch the numbers, and you're looking at a quality piece settling anywhere from $250 to $600.

Now, I've said this before, but I'll say it again!

Don't fall into the trap of cutting your content costs to a $50 per piece. Trust me, it's not the magic ticket to fast growth.

Some brands have rocked the search engine stage with just one piece a month. Just like others who were able to punch out dozens of monthly pieces. More doesn't always mean faster. Especially if you're sacrificing quality for the mere sake of pushing more content out. Lower costs might seem tempting, but they can bite you straight in the Google search rankings.

So, settle on a number that sits well with you. Don't hack away at crucial parts of content creation just to boost the quantity.

(2) Competitive landscape

Let's run a quick test to size up your competition.

Throw 10-15 common phrases about your core topic into Google. Collect 10-20 competitors in your niche somewhere in Google Sheet or Notion. Please, skip the big-shot competitors playing in multiple fields. We want the ones diving deep into your specific topic of interest.

Now, snoop around and see how much content they're churning out. Is it 100, 500, or 1000+ pieces? Check if they've hit the brakes or slowed down recently.

Now, take notes and figure out the average for your niche. Please, leave out any domains with a low content count or those just starting.

So, what have you just done?

Well, think of this rough number as the tipping point, where topics might start to thin out, needing more effort and variety. All the way to your average content count, content production will likely feel effortless. And the higher the ceiling, the faster the tempo - think of it like having a lot of catching up to do.

Second. I hope by this point you have an SEO tool handy. SEMrush, Ahrefs, or even SERPstat. Alright, check your competitors' domain authority scores and calculate the average.

Here's the lowdown:

  • If it's below 40, awesome news! Your niche has plenty of content gaps to explore.
  • If it's between 40 and 60, things are competitive. You'll need to get savvy and find the low-hanging fruit.
  • If it's above 65, switch industries 😂. Jokes aside, it's a signal that your niche is huge and competitive. You gotta be strategic in picking those super-easy wins and keep the strong publishing pace.

Finally, the good stuff I've been eager to share... Combine these insights with your expectations, and you'll figure out your perfect publishing pace. I can't pinpoint the exact number for you, but I can guide you on engineering results and avoiding over-exhaustion of the pool of topics.

Let me share a real-life example from working with a B2B SEO client. They didn't lack resources, so any content publishing frequency was fine. Their niche had an average domain authority below 40, and the typical content count around the industry was around 150 articles. A few other factors were good too - no sketchy backlink profiles, good site health, beaming speed...

We aimed for 2.5 articles per week, hitting 50 pieces in about 5 months. After that, I hoped we'd ease up on publishing to maintain traffic. Long story short, in 7 months, we hit 15K+ monthly search visitors, turning their previously non-existent visitors into relevant, converting traffic.

Now, with a bi-monthly schedule, I estimate they can reach 35K+ monthly visitors over the next two years, keeping the traffic steadily climbing without burning out on topics. The common-sense goal is not the heart EKG graph - fast ascend, and steep fall - but a sweet, stable growth in the long haul.

PS. There's so much to cover on this topic that I couldn't squeeze it into a few paragraphs. If you want more details, shoot me an email. I'm ready to dive deeper into the content publishing volume discussion.

Can too much content hurt SEO?

answer to the question if too much content can hurt SEO
Content volume statement

SEOs usually speculate that there's no such thing as too much content. As long as it's relevant, informative, and original - if users are fine with it, so is Google.

I completely agree.

However, too much content can lead to repetition. And having repetitive content isn't good for SEO. It can lead to keyword cannibalization, and Google is quick to spot duplicate content, whether it's on your site or elsewhere. Repeating info in the same style across pages can harm your rankings.

Also, bombarding viewers with too much information can be annoying. Google watches over users by valuing quality over quantity. So make sure your content is clear, to the point, and, most importantly, interesting for the reader.

Should I update or publish new content?

Content creators and marketers often grapple with the question: Should they focus on crafting fresh, new content or invest time in updating existing material? The answer depends on your goals, resources, and content strategy. Most of the time though, it's probably best to balance both.

Signals you should focus on new content

Writing new content keeps you on top of current trends, targets new keywords, generates buzz, and showcases freshness. If you're nowhere near maximizing the content gaps within your industry, a solid strategy would be to focus most of your effort on new content.

In my work, I typically prioritize creating new content when:

  • A domain is starting fresh. A no-brainer and a favorite scenario. They need new content to establish an online presence. A lot of untapped potential calls for new content production.
  • A content marketing team hasn't prioritized SEO. Even if a piece of content ranks here and there, I ensure we address content gaps the company hasn't targeted yet. As a result, the growth follows much quicker.
  • The team had no real grasp of content SEO best practices. It's common for many companies to treat SEO as just a checkbox. When they take this approach, I assume they haven't thoroughly explored the most promising keywords. I roll up my sleeves and run a content audit only to find we should focus on new content and get rid of the content bottlenecks.
  • A company operates within a large industry. In large industries with numerous subtopics, focusing on new content creation is key to covering diverse aspects, catering to a broad audience, and establishing the company's authority across various niches.

When should you spend more time updating content?

an illustration explaining when should you spend more time updating content

On the flip side, updating old content boosts SEO by enhancing quality, leveraging existing position on SERP, and saving time.

When assessing the need for content updates, I have a simple approach. I run the website through an SEO tool, checking if any existing content ranks in the top 100 on Google. If it does I check whether the metric is trending upward or downward and if it has enough search volume to bring in some traffic. For new clients, I do this right away; for existing ones, I check every couple of weeks.

Why? If the content is already in the index, ranking, and growing, I consider it a positive signal from Google that the content is relevant. Sharing this argument has so far made my clients nod as to say "He knows what he's doing".

With that said, I don't bother updating content that's not ranking. This doesn't help build discovery and relevancy as much as updating relevant content does. The companies I partner with mostly seek quick results. I can't just improve random, unranked content that isn't up to par, even if clients request it. Google's feedback indicates the content didn't capture user interest or align with any specific intent. The way I see it, the task should likely be lower on the priority list.

After a quick quality check of each ranking piece, I benchmark against top competing content. If promising, I perform a content audit using WDF-IDF analysis to assess the optimization level. Most of the time, the content is under-optimized, falls short of word count, and could be a lot better.

Finally, I suggest additional subheadlines, and word tweaks for semantic alignment, and propose visual enhancements like a table of contents and key takeaways. This streamlined process ensures efficient content updates and delivers fast results for my clients.

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