Discover how to harness the potential of ChatGPT for advanced keyword research in SEO with our comprehensive guide.
If there’s one thing that keeps content marketers guessing, it’s the subject of word count. How long should a blog post or article be to achieve maximum SEO?
It’s no wonder that it’s such a confusing topic – depending on which source and year you look at, you’ll find a different answer ranging from as little as 250 words to over 2000 words for each piece. Many people say that word count doesn’t matter at all – it’s only the backlinks and information quality that count. However, others say that pieces with only a few words receive a “thin” score from search engines, causing them to rank poorly.
With all of this in mind, what is the truth of the situation? What is the optimal content length?
While Google have confirmed that word counts aren’t a direct ranking factor for SEO, they’re still important. So here, we’ll give you some expert advice so you can write pieces the perfect length to suit your needs.
If we were to sum up SEO advice, it would probably be something like the above. It may not be a hard and fast rule, but it makes sense. The Google algorithm gauges search intent, so a longer piece will give it the best idea of the content of the page. However, there’s a caveat to bear in mind – those 2000 words need to be high quality. If you just flesh out the piece with additional adjectives, adverbs and phrases, that’s going to do nothing for your quality score.
Essentially, you need to ensure that the length of each piece correlates with the type of the page. Taxonomy pages to classify data and content need to be at least 250 words, with regular pages and posts being a minimum of 300 words and cornerstone content being at least 900 words. Product pages, though, only need around 200 words to rank.
However, there’s another factor at play – backlinks.
To achieve ranking success you need to have plenty of backlinks, and that’s why longer content tends to rank well – longer content, in general, leads to a higher number of links which, in turn, lead to higher rankings as well as increased organic traffic.
It’s advisable to avoid aiming for a specific word count for each piece – instead, you should simply focus on fully covering the topic in question. Whether that requires just 500 words or as many as 10,000, the aim is to create the very best possible resource for the target keyword.
The search bots need to have sufficient information to work out what the content is about, and the content also need to be sufficiently long to satisfy all user queries. Longer content that is irrelevant will be discounted. You need to avoid fluffing up pieces and instead stick to a word count that’s relevant to your goal.
One of the best ways to avoid fluff is to give the searcher the information they’re looking for at the start of the article. Answering the user’s question gives them immediate value from the moment they land on the page. You should always start with your main message before going further into depth throughout the piece so that users who are focusing on detail can continue reading while those who only needed a quick answer can leave the page satisfied. You must also give the user an obvious way to convert, with links to more related articles, a how-to guide, or a CTA to purchase.
Focusing on satisfying the user’s search intent will help you to avoid content cannibalisation – something that confuses the Googlebots and leads to keyword target diluting. It can be very tempting to try to fill a specific word count by covering other related topics once you’ve finished discussing the one in hand in full.
Aiming to hit the target word count at any cost will lead to this kind of keyword cannibalisation and will cause Google to struggle to determine what the piece is about. In the end, that will only harm your ranking.
Make sure you only write a single article for each keyword cluster and have respect for the relationship between those individual articles, clustering everything under a specific umbrella to go on one parent or category page.
Both search engines and users need to be very clear about the specific topic or concept for each article, so you must only discuss that topic in its own article – don’t mention it elsewhere. If you aim to create the very best piece of content on that topic, that will determine how long the content should be.
Intent, Backlinks, And Word Count
It’s clear, then, that word count, while having a role to play in your SEO strategy, isn’t the be-all and end-all. You need to also give the very best answer, satisfy the user’s search intent, and invite them to convert too. All of those factors come together to ensure that the content will rank highly by itself while also ensuring that the piece will be a good backlink target.
When SEO was in its infancy, achieving a high ranking for a specific keyword typically meant shoehorning that phrase or word anywhere into the content where you could find it a place. Those days have now gone, and so have the requirements regarding content length. While longer will often be better for the purposes of SEO, that isn’t always the case, and simply having a high word count won’t enable you to achieve a higher ranking.
Rather, the content has to be high quality, and give searchers the information that they need to know. If you can achieve this goal, your content will automatically be successful. It will also be an attractive backlink for those who are creating other pieces of content on similar subjects.
So, the takeaway from this is – focus on satisfying your users, and the word count will take care of itself.