Humpback WhaleWhile plowing my way through an extremely overwritten article, I came to a one-word response in the comments section at the close of the article–flensing. I figured that unfamiliar word must be packed with meaning if it conveyed all that the other reader had to say, so I looked it up. I was treated to a laugh-out-loud moment because that comment was right on.

Flensing is a whaling term: “removing of the blubber or outer skin of whales.” On a large whale, blubber can be several feet thick, and that’s a lot of blubber! (Indeed, it was a whale of an article.)

With all the recent speculation of needing 1000 – 2000 word articles to get high Google ranking, there is the danger of producing “blubbery” content that needs flensing as word count becomes the driving force for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). It’s tempting to keep talking and dropping in more keywords after you’ve said what you had to say, but don’t do it.

Although the most effective length of copy may be debatable, there is no argument that content must be of high quality to get top ranking. Quality over quantity is the rule. Create the best content you can that provides high quality, relevant information for real people; write for your audience, not the search engines.

Over the past few years as search engines have gotten more sophisticated, such practices as keyword stuffing can actually have a negative impact. Nate Dame of SEOPerks explains, “Producing great content that people naturally share, that’s what search engines are looking for and they’re able to figure out the sites that are really doing that and the sites that are faking it.” (Flensing!)

The following comments from copywriters and SEO experts discussing copy length are compelling arguments for the importance of quality over quantity for content marketing:

  • “Use the word count you need to do the topic justice and write for the reader.”
  • “The reader would prefer to read 200 words that get straight to the point than 1000 words of keyword padded content.”
  • “For a new blog, a minimum of 500 words, but the post should also be as concise as possible.
  • Stick to quality, coherent articles that keep your audience on the page longer.”
  • “Whatever you write must be interesting…your copy will be read and socialized.”
  • “Google is going to give preference to articles with 1000 words or more if content is relevant.”
  • “Better to create a short article with great quality than a very crappy and long one.”
  • “The rule of thumb is 500 words for a blog post or web page. Key is quality writing.”
  • You have to write really great content. Good content gets the tweets, links, conversions, and higher rankings.

So, write your content filled with relevant, informative, and entertaining information and don’t be overly concerned with the word count. Say everything you have to say, in the best way possible. Write for your audience, with solid SEO principles in mind, but don’t “blubber up” just for a higher word count.

Join the Conversation:

  • Have you been guilty of padding content in the hope of a better SEO ranking?
  • What does “write for your audience and not the search engines” look like in actual practice?
  • If your content is not getting high ranking, what can you do to improve?