Does Word Count Really Matter For SEO Content?

In the world of SEO, the best copywriting strategies are constantly changing as we adapt to Google’s algorithm updates.

You may have come across digital marketing experts who provide guidance on how to improve your place in the search rankings by following their word count range recommendations.

There have been multiple debates about whether word count matters in SEO, and it’s time to get to the bottom of it.

Is word count a ranking factor?

John Mueller of Google emphasized that word count is not a ranking factor for the search algorithm.

Specifically, he said that “just blindly adding text to a page doesn’t make it any better.”

Instead of looking at the number of words on a page, Google’s algorithms look for relevant, original, and high-quality content.

Why long-form content tends to rank higher

Although Google assures that word count does not directly affect ranking, you can still find a lot of articles and keyword widgets suggesting longer word counts.

So, why tools like Yost And the clearscope Provide a recommended word count if the numbers on the page do not directly affect ranking?

There are a few reasons why a higher word count may indirectly improve your ranking.

Some of these tools rely on word count recommendations based on competitive analysis.

Writing longer content makes it easier for the Google algorithm to know what your page is about.

Well-written comprehensive pieces also position you as a reference on the topic and enable you to rank for long-tail keyword variants.

How to determine the right word count for your content

There is no general rule to follow in terms of maximum word count in SEO.

Instead, you can look at your keyword research, competition, and past performance to determine the best word count range for your content.

Start with your keyword strategy

You can create a new piece of content with one target keyword in mind.

But the Study by Ahrefs Longer content found most likely to rank in the top 10 for multiple keywords.

By increasing the length of your article, you can cover your core topic from different angles, which means you can rank for more keywords.

In particular, longer articles have a higher chance of ranking for long-tail variations of your primary keyword, with lower competition and higher conversion rates.

For example, long-tailed variants of “Microsoft Word” might include “Microsoft Word for Mac” and “Microsoft Word Resume Form.”

Screenshot of search [Microsoft Word]Google, March 2022

So if you’ve identified the long-tail keywords you want to target, consider increasing your word count to address those more specific queries.

Check out the competition

You can also use word count as a benchmark when comparing your content to the competition.

Many keyword research and content optimization tools provide word counts for top performing articles for any given keyword.

Clearscope grade summary graph with content grade, word count, and readabilityScreenshot from, March 2022

If you don’t know how long an essay should be, looking at the current top performer’s word count is a good place to start.

Pay attention to your search intent

In addition to looking at what the competition is doing, you should always pay attention to the search intent associated with your target keyword.

Intent will help define what makes the content useful and relevant to the user.

In other words, think about what your target audience wants when you type a keyword into the search bar.

If they want comprehensive information, you might aim to meet or exceed your competitors’ word count.

Conversely, you might choose to create shorter content that gets to the point faster for keywords where the audience wants quick answers.

As it relates to word count, search intent can help you decide whether you want to follow the lead of the competition or differentiate your content through length.

Review your performance

Finally, you can take a look at your past performance to discover what length of content works best for you.

Review your SEO performance regularly and see if there are trends.

Is there a good point in word count where you tend to rank higher?

Or maybe you have some shorter articles that aren’t arranged in the order you want them to be.

In this case, try going back to keyword research and see how you can lengthen the content with more useful and relevant information.

Additional factors affecting your ranking

You can use word count to improve your keyword research and competitive strategy, but it will not be the final deciding factor for the search algorithms.

If you want to improve your SEO performance, here are some additional writing tips to consider:

Content structure

Google looks at structural elements, like heading tags, as a way to better understand your content and send the right users to your page.

Formatting your content with a clear logical structure for your content improves readability and usefulness for people searching on Google.

table of contentsImage created by the author, March 2022

Instead of just stuffing your title tags with keywords, think about the best experience for the reader.

Use headings to break up large chunks of text and make it easier for anyone to find the information they want.

Information quality

Information quality remains a major determinant of search engine results page (SERP) rankings.

In other words, adding a bunch of fluff to increase your total word count won’t help.

to me The Googlethe search algorithm prioritizes authoritative information and pages that “demonstrate expertise, credibility, and trustworthiness on a given topic.”

Back up your data and prompts for links to relevant external data sources to improve the quality of your content.

You should also ensure that your content is original by performing plagiarism checks and avoid duplicate content on your domain.

Visual support and photos

Images and other visual support can help you show how relevant it is to your target keyword, which is another primary factor used by the algorithm.

For example, if you target the keyword “Harry Potter,” Google will search for it Relevance signals Like character photos or videos related to books or movies.

Adding media can improve the user experience by breaking up large blocks of text and catering to visual learners.

It also allows you to get high quality original photos Ranked in google images.

Optimization for private content blocks

Google continues to make SERP pages more accessible and navigable with special content types and featured snippets.

These content resource blocks appear at the top of SERP pages and often give users a quick answer to their queries.

SERP results for Screenshot of search [best places to live in the us]Google, March 2022

Optimizing your content for featured snippets can bring your content to zero, above all other results.

About 70% Of all the snippets featured are paragraph types, which can be an excellent place to start experimenting.

Aim to answer the keyword question using 50-250 characters.

Final Thoughts: Why is word count important to your SEO strategy?

Optimizing content for SEO is not as simple as running a checklist of keyword signals and article length.

Ultimately, you need to understand each keyword’s audience and post content that best serves their needs.

Word count will not be the factor that pushes your content to the top, but it can help you determine what is “relevant and useful” for a particular keyword.

Use the writing tips and questions above to find the perfect starting point for your word count, but keep in mind that all of your words should provide value to your readers.

More resources:

  • 5 Most Important Website SEO Factors
  • Does content marketing’s love for AI make writers sloppy?
  • Completely optimized content from start to finish

Featured image: Wall to Wall/Shutterstock

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