SEO And Word Count – What Every Content Marketer Needs To Consider

Gary Green
Gary Green
May 19, 2023

Does content length have any impact on your SEO? Do you need to be concerned about word counts? Anyone who has ever written online articles or blog posts will have asked “how long do I need to make this content?” Everyone wants to be sure that their web content is at the optimal length for the purposes of SEO. However, there is no clear-cut answer to these questions. 

Depending on different sources, you may have heard that the perfect SEO word count is anywhere between 250 words and over 2000 words per article. Some people argue that the actual number of words in the content doesn’t really matter, but the backlinks and quality of information matter most. Others say that not enough words in an article will be scored by the search engines as being “too thin”, and so will fail to rank well. 

With all of this conflicting information in mind, what should you know about SEO and word count? Here, we take a closer look at this vital component of your content creation. 

Is Word Count A Direct Ranking Factor For SEO?

The simple answer to the above question is no. Word count isn’t a direct ranking factor for SEO. But that doesn’t mean you should overlook it completely. It still matters, and that’s why content length is something to keep firmly in mind. 

Although no consensus has yet been reached about the ideal word count, in general, it has been found that content that is long-form will typically outperform that which is shorter in length. The reason for this is that the Google algorithm gauges search intent, so a longer article will give Google the best idea of the content of the page. 

Nevertheless, longer doesn’t always mean better. If you’re fleshing articles out with unnecessary phrases, adverbs, or adjectives, readers will be turned off and that is going to negative impact your quality score.

Page Types And Content Length

In general, taxonomy pages which are used to classify data and content should have a minimum of 250 words. Regular pages and posts, meanwhile, should have at least 300, and cornerstone content should be longer than 900 words. Product pages, on the other hand, only need 200 words to achieve their goal. 

Backlinks Count 

There has also been shown to be a positive links between referring domain numbers and word count. Around 90% of pages get no organic traffic at all, and often that’s because they lack any backlinks. Over 65% of pages have no backlinks at all, and over a quarter of webpages have backlinks from under three websites. That means content length and its impact on rankings has another element to consider. Longer content can result in more links, and more links can lead to a better ranking as well as increased organic traffic. 

Covering Topics In Full

There is also plenty of advice out there that advises avoiding aiming for a specific word count and focusing on fully covering the topic instead. Whether this is achieved in 10,000 words or just 500, the main principle is to ensure that your resource is the best available for the target keyword. Essentially, every piece of content needs to be just as long as necessary so that search bots have the information they need to work out what the content is about while also being sufficiently long to answer all of the user’s questions. 

Topic And Keyword Targeting

A main reason for satisfying the user’s search intent relates to the hierarchy that exists between articles and keywords. Google has recently been looking for duplicate content, keyword cannibalisation and thin pages in order to determine which sites deserve the highest search engine rankings. If your site has any of the above, your SEO result is likely to be negatively impacted. If your search intent is on the mark, your website architecture can also be built cleanly, so Google bots can more easily crawl your site and index it. 

Mindlessly focusing on writing two thousand words can all-too-easily lead to creating fluff about other topics in an aim to hit that target word count no matter what. This dilutes the page’s keyword targeting, and, in turn, your chances of hitting search intents. Google becomes consumed about the topic and purpose of any given piece of content. 

In general, best practice is to create a single article for each keyword or cluster of keywords and to respect the relationships between those articles, with everything relating to similar subjects going onto that parent category page. 

You should also ensure that both search engines and users have complete clarity about the single topic and concept of your article by focusing on creating the very best piece on that subject. 

Forgetting The Obsession With Word Counts

In SEO’s earliest days, ranking highly for just one keyword often meant filling the content with that specific phrase or word as much as possible. Fortunately, those times are over, and that means that the definitive requirements regarding content length are also in the past. 

While longer is sometimes better when it comes to SEO success, it’s important to note that simply having a high word count on its own won’t help your content to rank any higher. Rather, your content needs to be high quality, and must provide searchers with the key information that they are seeking. You must keep in mind the reason why users visit your web page, then satisfy that intent, giving them precisely what they’re looking for. 

When you do this, you automatically make the content appealing as a backlink target for other people creating content in a similar niche, and we all know that maximising your links is a great way of making your site even more credible in the eyes of the Google algorithms. 

Taking the time to focus on the quality of your content rather than solely its length will give you the best chance of achieving SEO success today.

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