Does Word Count Count in SEO?
To be an SEO success, you need to pull out all stops in optimising your website - from its architecture, link profile, to content. And in the subject of content creation, an intriguing question persists: Does word count - still or ever - matter in SEO? If it is, what’s the best word count to live by when creating content?
Since the beginning, being able to reach the minimum word count is one of the skills companies look for when hiring content writers. To be fair, search engines use hundreds of factors as ranking signals, it’s easy to get hung up by a few trivial ones - word count being one of them.
Don’t trust us? Google already pounded the gavel on it: Word count isn’t a ranking factor. Which means whatever piece you’re writing, word count should be the least of your concerns.
AVOID CREATING CONTENT FOR SEARCH ENGINES
In the past, there was a vast body of SEO literature that explicitly told us long-form content was highly favoured by Google. Because long-form was generally seen as more comprehensive, it’s intuitive to think that longer pieces of content offered more value to the users. Not to mention, if done right, long-form can improve a website’s engagement as visitors tend to stay longer on the page. Lower bounce rates contribute to higher rankings!
However, in one Google Search Central YouTube video, Google refutes that it promotes a preferred word count for each piece of content for it to rank well. In fact, there’s no sweet number at all. This means adding more words isn’t better, it just makes your content, well, longer.
If you want your page to rank, write quality content, not longer ones. Dispel the mindset of catering to search engines alone. Start putting human users back at the perch!
- Search Intent Compatibility. When you write content and infuse it with keywords, ensure that the keywords match the users’ intent. Only then does your content become valuable.
- High Quality. Does the write-up read like an expert wrote it? Is it original, helpful, and informative?
- Readability. Is the content structured and sectioned well? Can it be easily scanned? Do you provide deive headings, graphs, photos, bullets, or lists to make it consumable?
- Comprehensiveness. Does your content provide complete information or does it miss some key pieces that users are better off looking for other sources?
HOW LONG SHOULD I AIM FOR?
Now that we learned that word count is immaterial to Google, we can now flexibly play around with the length of every content we’re creating. So how do we determine what word count is best for our next content piece?
SEO Premier gives you some guidelines to consider when producing content, whether it’s a website copy, service and product pages, or blogs:
- Study the Competition.
The easiest way to recreate the success of others in your space is to look at how your competition does it. Read their blogs, check out their website and social media pages. Chances are since the search engine ranks their pages highly, that means they’re doing something right. Assess the depth and usefulness of their content and see their lengths. The word counts should give you a basis as to how you should write yours.
- Be an Expert in your Niche.
Your expertise should dictate the length of your content, and not the word count quota. The most acceptable reason for writing a 2,000-word blog is if it showcases your expert knowledge in a topic, especially if your content answers questions that are not available on some other websites. It’s not enough that you parrot or rehash content that is found on a well-performing competitor. In every blog or page you produce, show that you are a credible and authoritative voice on the subject.
It’s final: Adding more words to a thin, fluffy content won’t get you in the good graces of Google, so better not try. More words aren’t as important as quality, relevancy, and structure. This is a call for us to strive in continuously creating quality content and regularly updating and optimising existing ones published on your website.