Does Content Length Predict Traffic Generated?

Alexiy asks, “What is your opinion: To maximize success with content, is it best to stay consistent with the length (how many words) and medium (blog vs video) or provide a variety for your audience?”

Opinions without data are irrelevant, so let’s look at the data to make this decision. I took a sample of 35,438 pieces of content over the last 7 days from the AHREFS SEO tool on the search term “a OR and OR the” with explicit results filtered out – in other words, the most generic search possible.

Let’s take a look at traffic versus word length of each article:

Word length versus traffic

Already we can see there’s not much of a relationship. Let’s put on a simple regression line to confirm this:

Word length versus traffic with regression

That flat red line? That’s a pretty clear indicator that no, there’s not really any relationship between content length and results, at least in terms of content that drives traffic.

That begs the question, is there anything that does hint at this, that does suggest what generates traffic? The data we obtain from AHREFS is fairly limited, but we can run a larger Spearman correlation to find out:

Spearman correlation

To make this easier to understand, let’s filter down only to traffic:

Spearman correlation for traffic

We see there’s a strong correlation between the amount of traffic that a website gets overall and traffic to any given article. We see an almost equally strong correlation between traffic and website traffic value. Third in line is domain rating, the likelihood that a website domain will rank well in search results, and fourth are how many tweets any given article receives.

How do we interpret these results? Unfortunately, traffic to any given page and website traffic is a problematic relationship mathematically speaking, because website traffic inherently includes traffic to the pages we’re studying. We can broadly make the statement that popular websites will pass some of that traffic across many of their pages, and it’s probably safe to say that a well-known content brand (the New York Times, for example) is likely to attract more readers to any given link than, say, Bob’s Random Blog. But that’s about it.

So, is there anything prescriptive in this mix? Nothing beyond the obvious – write great content, of any length, and continue to build your site’s overall SEO profile to better show up in search results.

In other words, make your content as long as it needs to be to satisfy search intent and provide the answers your audience is looking for. Don’t worry about a required or recommended length.


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