Finding the best strategy for search engine optimization (SEO) is a never-ending journey with Google’s continually shifting algorithms. There are so many factors that affect SEO, such as keywords, images, alt text, and more, so what about word count? There have been many debates about whether word count actually matters for SEO, and it’s time to debunk the myths and get to the bottom of it. Here’s everything you need to know about why and how word count matters.
Is Word Count a Ranking Factor?
Google’s John Mueller confirmed that word count is not a ranking factor for SEO. Google has spent years battling spam and low-quality content, so it would mean nothing if you could simply add more words to a page to climb to the top!
Instead, Google’s algorithms search for relevant, original, and high-quality content.
Does Long-Form Content Tend to Rank Higher?
Why do people still recommend using longer word counts? In fact, three popular SEO institutions have given the following recommendations:
- Yoast – Word count and SEO: 1.000.
- Backlinko – We analyzed 11.8 million Google search results: 1,447.
- Hubspot – How Long Should Blog Posts Be: 2,100 – 2,400.
There are several reasons these correlations between more optimized SEO and longer word count may exist.
- Writing longer content can make it easier for Google’s algorithm to figure out what your page is about. Comprehensive pieces can enable you to rank for long-tail keyword variants and position you as an authority on the topic.
Long-tail keywords often have lower competition and higher conversion rates. Identifying these long-tail keywords that you want to target and using your word count to address these keywords can effectively address these search queries.
- Marketers who are specifically trying to improve their SEO may intentionally write longer pieces of content and improve other factors such as keywords. This is correlation rather than causation.
- Users may stay on the page for longer periods of time if the content is longer. Google interprets time spent on a page and how far down the visitor scrolled as an indicator of engagement, which will signal to future users who have the same search query that the page is relevant and will rank well.
- You can provide more detailed information. Providing in-depth, valuable information will improve your relevancy. However, this is not effective if all you are adding is fluff. In addition, writing more content improves the content available for backlinks, improving the visibility of other content you’ve created.
So How Many Words Should I Write?
There’s no specific rule defining how many words your pieces should be, but a good strategy would be to look at competitors and past performance to find an optimal range.
In addition, using a keyword strategy can help improve SEO over a specific word count. This means that you should write content with specific keyword targets in mind. Pay attention to search intent with your targeted keywords, which will define what makes the content useful and relevant to the user. Answer their questions based on what they would want to know or learn when they type a keyword in the search bar.
Review your SEO performance (see which blogs/pages are receiving more visitors) regularly to see if there is a sweet spot in what length works best for you. Is there a range where your content tends to rank higher? Keep experimenting with this; after all, every search query is different and requires an individualized approach.
Other Ways to Improve SEO
SEO prioritizes quality over quantity. So how can you improve the quality of your content?
- Produce evergreen content. This is content that never “expires”, which means that it will be relevant for a long time.
- Create reliable content. Google prioritizes pages that “demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness on a given topic.”
- Use clear structure and formatting. Attractive formatting and easy-to-read and follow content will be more engaging for your audience. Use subheadings, shorter paragraphs, and relevant images in your content.
- Optimize for Special Content Blocks. These search results appear at the top of the SERPs and give the user a quick answer to their search query. Around 70% of these Special Content Blocks are paragraph types that can answer the keyword questions using 50- 250 characters.
Optimizing content for SEO isn’t as simple as writing the longest content that you can or hitting some magic number of 1,000 words. You need to understand your audience and the relevant keywords and search intent. Word count is not the deciding factor for ranking but can help define what is relevant and useful for particular keywords. But most importantly, writing content that will provide value to your readers. Have you figured out what word count is optimal for your site yet?