Part of my job which I love is helping business owners get their content noticed in print and online.

Accomplishing this is by no means easy; it requires you to generate focused, useful content that the reader can utilize to enhance their own knowledge. Knowledge is power, and that power helps bolster the bottom line.

Adding content to your website is one of the ways to boost your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which can boost the visibility of your website and its content in online searches. People sometimes ask me if articles around 500 words in length are best for (SEO).

Google recommends 500+ words as a broad guideline for crafting written content. This guideline is based on a Google algorithm. The problem is, no one really knows what Google’s algorithms are or how they work. They’re a closely guarded secret. In other words, recommending your content be 500 words or so in length is basically Google telling you your content should not be too long, but not too short either. A happy medium, so to speak.

Engaging content is content that resonates with your reader. Different kinds of content have different purposes. White papers and other kinds of reports can be thousands of words in length. A typical feature story can be anywhere from 750 to 2,500 words in length. There’s a time and place for content that is longer and more detailed.

Other kinds of content — like this very column — are meant to be far more concise and focused.

What is better — a long, in-depth report that takes time to digest or a much shorter piece that can be read during a coffee break?

Neither one is better, just different. They accomplish different goals.

No matter its length, good content does the following for your reader:

  • Helps to solve a problem they have
  • Tells them something they didn’t know
  • Comes from a trusted source

Can more words allow you to expand on a topic and offer your reader a big-picture view? Of course. Might a shorter read be just what they’re looking for during break time? Quite likely.

I advise people not to focus too heavily on SEO recommendations when crafting content. The 500-word guideline is just that, a guideline. It’s not a rule. Focus first on what your content is meant to do and go from there.