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Is There Such a Thing as the Best Word Count for SEO?

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Is There Such a Thing as the Best Word Count for SEO?

Word count has usually been a contributing metric helping content marketers judge the quality of text-based content. Historically, some assume Google has been doing the same.

Together with keyword density, word count has been assumed to be an SEO factor as part of educated theories: Google is a machine, and how else would a machine understand content quality? Word count seemed to be the only straightforward signal a machine would be able to understand.

Yet, Google representatives clearly state word count was never an SEO factor claiming, “More words are not better.”

So why does the word-count belief persist? Quite a few tests indicate a connection between word count and Google’s rankings. Each of those analyses found content between 1,000 and 2,000 words seemed to rank higher.

But with so many signals in play, you can never tell if word count is a causation factor or an indirect influencer. In other words, longer content may be better researched (so Google has found it useful) and it may attract more backlinks. Both of those (content value and backlink profile) are confirmed direct ranking signals.

In and of itself, word count may not be a ranking signal, but content depth definitely helps, so instead of focusing on numbers, focus on quality.

Instead of focusing on word count, focus on quality for #SEO, says @SEOSmarty via @CMIContent @semrush. Click To Tweet

Here are five ways to improve content quality apart from a word count:

1. Content structure

Content structure helps readability and usability, and it makes your content easier to understand for a search algorithm.

Structuring content is about breaking your content into logical sections so that it’s not just a wall of text. Instead, subheadings drive a reader further into an article.

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Creating a logical structure helps make your content more user-friendly, and everything user-friendly is also Google friendly because Google definitely prioritizes its users.

A logical content structure makes your content more user-friendly, which makes it @Google friendly too, says @SEOSmarty via @CMIContent @semrush. #SEO Click To Tweet

Site Checker is a great tool to evaluate your page structure as it appears to a search crawler:

1641815658 564 Is There Such a Thing as the Best Word Count

2. Semantic optimization

You need rules and guidelines for writers to follow. Semantic evaluation is one of the easiest ways to encourage them to create in-depth content without blindly using the word-count metric.

Semantic evaluation with a tool like @textoptimizer encourages in-depth content without blindly using a word-count metric, says @SEOSmarty via @CMIContent @semrush. #SEO Click To Tweet

Semantic analysis focuses on making sure the content includes related concepts and entities to ensure Google can definitely understand what it is about. Text Optimizer is a great tool to score your content’s semantic optimization:

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Text Optimizer’s score is based on how many related and underlying concepts have been included in the article on a specific topic


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3. Data freshness and sources

The inclusion of external links as a direct ranking factor is another matter of SEO debate. No one knows for sure, but one thing is certain: External links can make your content more useful and trustworthy.

External links can make your #content more useful and trustworthy, says @SEOSmarty via @CMIContent @semrush. #SEO Click To Tweet

Your referenced sources show how well-researched and up-to-date your content is. For example, don’t just cite any web page mentioning a statistic you included in the content. Do your best to track down the original source because that shows to your readers and Google that you took your research seriously.

Try searching for official sources using this advanced Google search: [keyword site:.EDU OR site:.GOV]

This search brings up official educational and governmental sites (those using .edu or .gov domains) mentioning your keyword or data. They usually have high standards for quoting their sources, so you are likely to find the initial source of any statement or number using that data.

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TIP: Make sure OR is in all capital letters for this trick to work.

4. Keyword and search intent

More importantly, no quality metric works for every case. Some search queries are straightforward, meaning an essay is not needed to provide the most useful answer.

For example, someone asking, “How far is the moon,” needs an answer in the form of a number. Of course, you can expand on that by converting that number into different units or comparing it to something a human could relate to (e.g., how many Empire State Buildings that is). But that is hardly long-form content. NASA’s page is a perfect example of that search intent served well.

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NASA’s copy provides different and captivating ways to represent the same data without being repetitive. It is short but unique, interesting, and engaging, and covers the query from different angles, all of which are relevant.

The bottom line is that the length of the copy is hardly an important SEO or usability factor but search intent optimization (i.e., how good of a job your copy is doing answering the actual question behind a search query) surely is.

Strive for originality and usefulness, not for the word count.

5. Content usefulness

Based on your identified search intent, you can make content more “useful,” including:

  • Definitions, frequently asked questions, etc. Instead of linking to other sites explaining a concept, define them within your content. This trick also works great for organic featured snippet optimization.
  • Tables of content. For long-form content, make it easy to jump to the most relevant part of the document. A table of content is easy to create.
  • Visualizations (graphs, comics, etc.) or videos. Most content should be visual, but sometimes search intent calls for visual explanations, so things like infographics or how-to videos would be helpful.

It is a good idea to add these tips in your brand’s writing guidelines your writers are using to create content.

Stop counting

You can stop calculating and adding extra words for your content to hit the perceived SEO sweet spot. In many cases, you still will create long-form content to include all the necessary angles, definitions, and concepts. But using a cookie-cutter method to ensure all your content has a certain number of words or characters is a poor strategy. By following the five concepts detailed here, you are more likely to find the topics and cases most helpful to your content and your target audience of searchers.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

All tools noted in this post are identified by the author. If you have a tool to suggest, please add it in the comments.

For helpful advice on search, content creation, and more, subscribe to CMI’s free weekday or weekly newsletter.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute




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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples [2024 Update]

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples

Introduction

With billions of users each month, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and top website for video content. This makes it a great place for advertising. To succeed, advertisers need to follow the correct YouTube ad specifications. These rules help your ad reach more viewers, increasing the chance of gaining new customers and boosting brand awareness.

Types of YouTube Ads

Video Ads

  • Description: These play before, during, or after a YouTube video on computers or mobile devices.
  • Types:
    • In-stream ads: Can be skippable or non-skippable.
    • Bumper ads: Non-skippable, short ads that play before, during, or after a video.

Display Ads

  • Description: These appear in different spots on YouTube and usually use text or static images.
  • Note: YouTube does not support display image ads directly on its app, but these can be targeted to YouTube.com through Google Display Network (GDN).

Companion Banners

  • Description: Appears to the right of the YouTube player on desktop.
  • Requirement: Must be purchased alongside In-stream ads, Bumper ads, or In-feed ads.

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Resemble videos with images, headlines, and text. They link to a public or unlisted YouTube video.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that play outside of YouTube, on websites and apps within the Google video partner network.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: Premium, high-visibility banner ads displayed at the top of the YouTube homepage for both desktop and mobile users.

YouTube Ad Specs by Type

Skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Placement: Before, during, or after a YouTube video.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
    • Action: 15-20 seconds

Non-skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Description: Must be watched completely before the main video.
  • Length: 15 seconds (or 20 seconds in certain markets).
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1

Bumper Ads

  • Length: Maximum 6 seconds.
  • File Format: MP4, Quicktime, AVI, ASF, Windows Media, or MPEG.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 640 x 360px
    • Vertical: 480 x 360px

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Show alongside YouTube content, like search results or the Home feed.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
  • Headline/Description:
    • Headline: Up to 2 lines, 40 characters per line
    • Description: Up to 2 lines, 35 characters per line

Display Ads

  • Description: Static images or animated media that appear on YouTube next to video suggestions, in search results, or on the homepage.
  • Image Size: 300×60 pixels.
  • File Type: GIF, JPG, PNG.
  • File Size: Max 150KB.
  • Max Animation Length: 30 seconds.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that appear on websites and apps within the Google video partner network, not on YouTube itself.
  • Logo Specs:
    • Square: 1:1 (200 x 200px).
    • File Type: JPG, GIF, PNG.
    • Max Size: 200KB.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: High-visibility ads at the top of the YouTube homepage.
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 or higher.
  • File Type: JPG or PNG (without transparency).

Conclusion

YouTube offers a variety of ad formats to reach audiences effectively in 2024. Whether you want to build brand awareness, drive conversions, or target specific demographics, YouTube provides a dynamic platform for your advertising needs. Always follow Google’s advertising policies and the technical ad specs to ensure your ads perform their best. Ready to start using YouTube ads? Contact us today to get started!

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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