500 Word Articles for “SEO” Are A Myth: Here’s What You Should Know

December 4, 2019

As a business owner, one of my primary responsibilities is to be deeply involved in the sales process here at PoofNewSales

Finding new prospects to contact and work with is an integral part of my daily job – and I look at literally 1,000’s of job posts for content marketing related jobs every single week.

While some larger enterprise companies have a very solid understanding of what their content marketing needs are and the role they are seeking to fill, a lot of small to mid-size businesses struggle greatly to truly understand what it is they need to succeed with content marketing. 

One of the biggest struggles I see them go through is the misunderstanding that 500-700 word articles are going to be the big breakthrough they need in order to start ranking organically for important keywords in their industries.

Sure, at the end of the day, something is better than nothing, and it’s good to have material for leads to read, and to build some trust and a brand voice with small bits of content.

But, if you are a business owner that is serious about developing an effective content marketing strategy in 2019 and beyond, you need to scrap the idea that a 500 word article will be the SEO savior your website needs. 

I wrote this guide to help business owners get better insight into the world of content marketing – specifically blog content – in order to give you more insight into why paying for these short “SEO articles” is almost always a waste of your money, and point you in the right direction towards what you should be doing to cultivate your organic search traffic in 2019 and beyond. 

It’s Not 2004 Anymore – You’re Going to Have to Be Comprehensive 

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice that Google is all about fulfilling user intent. At the end of the day, there isn’t some Oz-like character sitting in your computer pressing buttons to help you find the best content for your search. It’s all based on algorithms.

While Google keeps their algorithms very close, and no one knows what exactly they are or how they work, we can put together pieces of evidence from the results that are displayed in our searches to learn more about what they look for in the top-ranking content for a given search. 

One common theme that has been drastically improving over the last few years is Google’s want for comprehensive content. 

Basically, this is content that: 

  • Answers the main question at hand 
  • Helps guide users through a process 
  • Answers additional questions 
  • Is clear and concise 
  • Comes from a trusted source 
  • Links to additional resources 

Back in 2004, you were able to get away with simply having a few SEO keywords on a page, a well thought out header, and a few paragraphs of information, a solid URL slug, and BAM! You could make it to the front of Google for a wide variety of subjects. 

That’s not the case anymore – and for good reason. Imagine every time you searched something like “How to Market My Company Online”, you got a result that was 500 words. Do you think that would help you at all? 

Could fewer words than what is found on the average page of a book truly encapsulate every bit of essential information you need to get started marketing your company online? Of course not. 

That’s why the organic #1 spot on Google contains roughly 2,000 words on average, and every other result on the first page averages about 1,500 words. 

And even if you read through the entire article (most of which is spent on the intro and conclusion), would you be likely to stay on the site and click through to other resources they made? Probably not. What about stay on the page once you were done reading? Again, the chances are slim. 

The main point here is this: Google interprets how you react to a page and uses that to rank web pages in SERPs. So, if you come to our webpage from the example above, stay for 15 seconds, don’t click through to another resource, and leave our site, then click on another page with more information, stay there for 10 minutes and click through to 5 other resources – guess which webpage is sending better signals to Google?

So what makes your industry different? Nothing. 

I’m about 750 words into this article right now, and I have just delivered the main point of it. Sure, some of that is because I like to tell stories and use metaphors to teach, but a vast majority of those words are used to grab your attention, frame the subject matter of this article, and then give you valuable information that provides value to you as a reader. Your blog content should be no different. 

Put simply: 500-700 word articles are not enough. They achieve nothing for users, and hardly anything for Google. They are better than nothing, but if you are serious about your organic traffic, you should seriously consider upgrading to a serious solution that gets real results. 

The Good News – Your Heads in the Right Direction 

Look, I’m not here to crap on small to mid-sized business owners. My heart goes out to you. On any given day, you’re probably wearing 5-10 hats, getting less sleep than you need, and still barely scraping by while being under tremendous amounts of stress.

With that being said, you simply don’t have time to understand everything that goes into building and converting organic traffic. And even if you did, you don’t have the time or budget to get it done. 

On top of that, you’ve got 500 gurus and influencers in your ears on every platform you turn to for information – each telling you that their strategy is the best and that it’s as easy as watching a webinar and doing “this one thing” for only 15 minutes a week. 

It’s overwhelming to say the least. But, you have something going for you. By simply understanding the value of content marketing, and knowing that organic search is important to your brand and bottom line – you are light years ahead of a lot of the pack that only wants to pay for leads every month, without any real plan to bring them in outside of advertising. 

Chances are, you’ve done a bit of content research, along with a handful of other things like keyword research, competitive analysis, etc… but haven’t seen the results you were hoping for. 

If that’s the case, here’s what you are probably missing: 

1. Content Strategy 

An in-depth content strategy that ties all of your content in together, planning out blogs, newsletters, social posts, and more for months in advance – all tied together in a way that is designed to make your life easier, and your campaigns more effective. 

2. Content Topics Backed By Data 

Lots of business owners think that they know what to write about in their industry. Don’t get me wrong, you have key insights into your audience’s wants, needs, and problems – which can provide tons of topics for content at various stages of the funnel. 

But, what you lack is a list of topics that people are actually searching, that your competition is ranking for, backed by analytics data. This helps you to make sure your content marketing budget is allocated towards the most important topics first. 

3. Applied Keyword Research 

Not just knowing what terms people are searching in your industry, but the individual keywords that make up important pillar posts in your industry that you want to rank for with your comprehensive content. 

Simply adding a few phrases to the headings and body of your content organically can make a massive difference in rankings over time.

4. Proper Content Outlines 

I always say content is 90% research and 10% execution. You can have the best writer in the world, but if you don’t give them the right skeleton for their work, it will be all over the place, and it definitely won’t rank well in search, regardless of what “SEO experience” they claim to have – which probably amounts to a HubSpot certification they earned in an hour. 

You need content outlines that are in-depth, with every section cleverly laid out to be best for users and search engines in order to get the best results.

5. Real SEO Optimized Content 

A lot of business owners get the idea that anyone who can make all the meters on their YoastSEO WordPress Plugin green is an SEO guru, and that anyone who can stuff keywords will be able to help their business grow. 

But, they neglect some of the most important on-page SEO factors that can really make a difference, such as optimized headers, meta descriptions, title tags, URL slugs, alt tags for images, and the overall structure of your articles. 

6. Consistency 

Google loves it when you are consistent. Lots of business owners view content as patchwork, much like how a lot of Americans view fitness – show up to the gym every day for a month in January, then come back next year. 

But, if you want to be successful, you need to make sure you are consistently adding content over a long period of time. 

7. Effective Calls to Action 

At the end of the day, the purpose of content is to get someone to your site in order to convert them. 

You need calls to action that stand out, and that impress people with a value statement right off the getgo, not just text-based links that only reach those who read through every last word. 

8. Consistent Optimization and Reporting 

I don’t care who you are, you could write the best resource on the planet for something, but if you do not optimize it by looking at the analytics data for it, and use this data to make informed decisions that will improve its rankings – you will never move up the SERPs in Google. 

You can’t operate under the “set it and forget it” mentality if you want to build consistent organic search traffic – everything must be consistently optimized and reported to ensure quality and results.

9. Patience and Vision 

Last, but definitely not least, you need patience. You can’t expect a post to be published and just rank in the top 10 on Google overnight. Expect to see results in 1-3 months, and not see the post reach its full potential for 3-6 months after publishing. 

But, build your content with the idea of being #1 and most comprehensive, then add a bit of optimizing into the mix every month or so, and you will always find your content in the top 10. 

The Bottom Line: What You Can Do Today, Even with a Small Budget

Even if you can’t afford to work with a content marketing agency on a monthly basis, you should at least consider paying up for an in-depth content strategy and some consulting from time to time in order to make sure that the money you are spending on content is a step in the right direction for your business. 

Otherwise, you run the risk of being like 75% of the business owners I run into on job boards who want “SEO optimized content” – tossing money in 10 different directions, claiming nothing works, and wanting immediate results – but never really taking the time to understand what makes a successful content strategy work from the ground up, then implementing that into your daily routine. 

Why Should I Invest in Content Marketing in 2019? 

For the skeptics out there, I know what you’re thinking to yourselves: 

  • 45% of mobile searches no longer end up in clicks – organic search is dying. 
  • I am competing with giants in my space, I could never outrank them organically with content, so why bother? 
  • Why would I pay for organic search traffic that might not convert when I could buy leads and run PPC campaigns? 

Look, don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to tell you that building a content strategy that focuses on organic search is the end-all, be-all marketing solution your company needs. It is just one piece of the puzzle. But, it is a VERY important piece of the puzzle. 

Let me explain why: 

1. Organic Search is Great for Funneling Leads 

We have all run PPC campaigns that simply didn’t do well. Whether it was the copy, the targeting, the audience you chose, or something else – one thing’s for sure, it hurts. 

But what if you had a never-ending supply of highly relevant potential customers to target, who already somewhat recognize your brand, and who you know are interested in what you have to offer? 

That’s exactly what organic search traffic is. Imagine even 10,000 organic leads per month? What could that do for your business? 

2. Over Time, It’s Cheaper than PPC

Sure, when you get started with content marketing, it seems expensive. Why should you pay for content that might attract 200 visitors in the first month, when you could take that same money and put it into a PPC add that would get 5 times the clicks? 

Well, over time, if you focus heavily on results, content becomes cheaper than PPC, because it can have a larger reach with the same upfront cost. In other words, you don’t pay more for scaling up your ability to reach new leads. 

Over time, this can save you 63% or more on acquisition costs according to research by HubSpot. 

3. You Are Building for the Long Run 

There’s an old tale about three Egyptian Kings who were the sons of the Pharoah. They were given as many resources as they needed to build a pyramid of a specified size and dimensions. The first one to complete it was promised their father’s throne. 

  • One started building right away but ran into trouble quickly because of mistakes in construction. 
  • The other waited a few years and then began building after some quick planning. 
  • The third son didn’t start construction for 5 years, but finished in just 2 years, while the others never finished theirs as long as they lived. 

What can we learn from this story? You need to build with the long run in mind. Sure, you can get all of your leads from paid ads, and that’s great if it works for you. But in 5 years, will those ads cost more or less per click? Will the space be more or less crowded? How will you differentiate your brand and build a unique following of people who help share your mission, value, and consistently buy from you over time? 

Building an organic search strategy starts at a crawl, but it is geometric in terms of growth – not linear. This means that while the growth you gain from your PPC campaigns remains relatively tied to the input of money, your organic traffic can rise more and more over time, even if you are putting the same amount of money into it.

4. You Can Eventually Rank Organically for High CPC Keywords

If I wanted to try to rank for the word “best lawyer in Los Angeles”, the costs per click for that keyword would probably be outrageous – so outrageous that they may barely be worth paying for. Chances are, they will only get more expensive over time also, with even more competition for them. 

But, what if instead, I slowly built my site’s presence in Google’s eyes over time so that I could begin ranking for this keyword organically? All of a sudden, if I can rank in the top 5 for this term, my CPC goes from $95+ to $0. 

How does content marketing help you to do this?

Suppose this same site had an in-depth content calendar that produced highly relevant content on a regular basis for years. Suppose also that they have a site architecture designed around the user experience – making it easy to find answers to hundreds of frequently asked questions, information about their firm and their practice, and even resources for other lawyers. 

Each of these resources can then be used to develop their internal linking strategy – helping Google to better understand their site and position it as a resource for people looking for this type of content. 

Over time, you will find that this internal linking strategy and comprehensive view towards content combine in order to allow you to begin ranking for extremely competitive terms you could have never hoped to rank for organically without the backbone of content. 

While this example is of an industry that requires much more than just content to rank for, you get the idea. 

Proof That Content Marketing Works – Organic Search is Far from Dead in 2019

Now for my favorite part – addressing the naysayers. 

You’re asking for proof, and you’re entitled to that. 

At PoofNewSales, we believe in content marketing and organic search traffic so much that we made a side project site just so we could have access to some analytics that we could actually share (most clients’ data is under strict NDA) – to prove the viability and ROI of content marketing over time. 

Here are the inputs from our end: 

  • A brand new blank site with no domain authority, traffic, or existing content
  • 2 – 1,800+ word articles per week 
  • High focus on internal linking strategy 
  • Optimized images, title tags, meta descriptions, keywords, URLs, headers, sections, etc…
  • In-depth 52-week content calendar with competitive research 
  • In-depth content outlines for each article
  • No backlink outreach or generation 
  • No press or media coverage 
  • No paid clicks to the site 
  • No social media presence 

After 1 year, here are our results:

  • 99 blogs published 
  • 10,000+ monthly visitors
  • 500+ keywords we rank #1 for 
  • Bounce rate of 1.29% 
  • Average dwell time of 2:12 
  • Average CTR of 4.14% 
  • 450,000+ monthly impressions in SERPs 
  • Total potential of 40,000+ monthly visitors if we get all content to rank #1 
  • Domain Authority moved up to 43 
  • 250+ organic, quality backlinks built with no outreach

To learn more about this site and the case study behind it, check out this comprehensive article I wrote about it here.

Pretty impressive right? Now keep in mind, this is in an industry we knew nothing about before starting, with an average competition of 0.81 across all of the topics we write about. On top of that, we are facing some goliaths in the business, 10 competitors with over 200,000+ monthly visitors and DAs above 70. 

And you know what? We have still been able to outrank their content on a consistent basis. Not only that, but we have done all this without a single cent of paid promotion, social media presence, email collection, or paid backlinks. 

Why? We wanted to isolate the content, and put it in a vacuum, in order to get a true idea of just how valuable it is to a business as a standalone service. And it didn’t disappoint. 

If we can get these results with minimum inputs, imagine what an effective content marketing strategy like this could do for your business when you combine it with everything else you are doing? 

Even if we aren’t the right fit for you, I promise that we can add immense value when it comes to the content strategy side of things. Our in-depth process has allowed us to bring success to dozens of clients who have used our strategies to build massive organic search traffic and convert it over time. 

I Want to Build Organic Search Traffic with Content – What Can I Do? 

You have finally seen the light and understand that a 500-700 word article isn’t going to cut it, and you are serious about growing your organic search traffic over time with a strategy that is geared towards building your brand voice and reaching your target audience. 

At PoofNewSales, this is what we specialize in. We work alongside business owners to help you build effective, in-depth content marketing strategies that build your organic search traffic and bring a voice to your brand – getting real results. 

If you are serious about your organic search strategy and are looking for a strategic partner that can help you take your content to the next level, get in touch with us today, and I will personally reach out to you in order to learn more about your business, and how we can provide value. 

We will work with you to plan and implement a high-quality content strategy focused on data-driven results. Fill out this form to take the first step in transforming your content and your business. 

You May Also Be Interested In: 

Want to learn from the experts to improve your content strategy, but still stay hands on? We made these resources just for you:

For even more in-depth content marketing resources, be sure to check out our Content Marketing School, where you can learn everything you need to be successful at content creation in any industry. Also, be sure to check out our blog for more helpful guides.

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