Why size matters for SEO

Updated June 21, 2015

Let me guess. When you write, you…

a) Go wild and nothing will stop you. You write by the mile, tirelessly.

b) Write as short as you can so you can briefly justify your title and focus on your visual content or hit publish at once. You have the urge to feed the net.

c) Look at your post a thousand times and start separating your paragraphs carefully so it looks organized. You even add some color and decoration. You are the content crafter.

a, b, and c are all writer behaviors. They can define a writer or a writing moment, and now they all need to include a new element in the equation to keep your content SEO friendly (and Google as your BFF). It is called… character count!

Yes, size definitely matters in SEO, and it proves very challenging. Specially when you write in another language with longer words and sentences. Blame it on the tech.

1. Your title should be 70 characters: Google will be able to read as many characters as may fit in a 512 pixels content block and don´t exceed one line of text. Otherwise it will truncate the crown of your masterpiece.

A site called Title Dog Interactive claims that after testing they found out that Google can accept more than 70 characters without truncating the title. They will calculate if your title fits in the 512 pixels for free (just click here and scroll down until you find the white space to input your title).

If you don´t have time for this, sticking to the less than 70 characters rule is the safest solution, and SEOMoz agrees with this. Here you can use a free tool to test the length of your title.

2. Your meta description should not exceed 160 characters or it will be truncated. Meta descritpions do not account for SEO ranking but Google pays attention to them and could decide to not even show it if it is not relevant. There is more to a successful meta description than its size (only).

Meta descriptions sell your site in a search engine. When the user is in the search result page and needs to choose where to click, your meta description is your chance to stand out.

The two biggest mistakes you can make when writing a meta description are copying the same meta description in every similar article, and filling the meta description field carelessly because you don´t have time.

Meta descriptions offer big room for improvement in general. SEO Journal tells you how to improve yours.

3. Your body should contain a minimum of words. 350 words if you are in the writing world, and this figure has increased in the past two years, with most of SEO experts saying you should write 500-1000 words (including spaces) or “the longer the better”.

Consider if your piece of content needs that amount of words, though. Remember that User experience is always the priority.

The next most effective SEO item: hyperlinks. Keywords that point to related content in your site or other sites.

Just remember that those hyperlinked keywords need to be both relevant to the content and limited in number so you are not treated by search engines as a link farm.

Some experts say 20 hyperlinks in a page (including those provided in the right, left and top navigation bars, which brings the total for your body down significantly). Others say one hyperlink for every 100 words is a good rule. Search engines don´t give priority to the number of links to rank you higher anymore, but to the quality of the content they are pointing at, so that is what you should care about.

Clarisse Céspedes

Journalist and Content Strategist. SEO, sponsorships and video. Follow me on Facebook and @ClarisseCespede.

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