If you’ve ever written a blog post or article online, you’ve asked the question before: How long should this be?
In other words, what is the optimal length of web content for SEO purposes?
Depending on the year and source, you may hear that the ideal word count for SEO ranges from 250 to more than 2,000 words per piece.
Proponents of a lower word count will argue that it is not the number of words but the quality of the information and the number of backlinks that matter most.
Those who advocate more word count claim that very few words will be registered as “poor” content by search engines and, therefore, will not rank as highly as their verbose counterparts.
So what is the truth? Does word count really matter to search engines? And if so, what is the best length to cut the content?
According to Google’s John Mueller, the source from which much of the search engine knowledge flows, the number of articles is not included in Google’s quality scores.
So, that’s it, right? Case closed, the shortest article in Search Engine Journal history emphasized that you don’t have to worry about word count.
Word count isn’t a direct SEO ranking factor, but it’s still something to keep in mind.
In the course of this article, we’ll discuss why it’s important, how your cut length can indirectly help and hurt your ratings, and give you some pointers to help you write a cut with the perfect length for your needs.
Use 2000 Words and an Optimized H1
This is SEO advice in a nutshell.
But is it best practice, common knowledge, or urban legend?
As mentioned earlier, there is no consensus on the ideal word count, but there is a general rule to follow: in general, long content tends to outperform shorter content.
If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Google’s algorithm seeks to measure search intent, and long snippets help give it a better idea of what your page’s content is about.
So, bigger will always be better, right? not nessacary.
If you only flesh out articles by adding extra phrases, unnecessary adjectives and adverbs or intentionally taking a circuitous route to the point, you will shut off readers. This will harm your quality results.
Therefore, each article should be as long as it should be. Clear as mud, right? do not worry. We will explain further.
It’s not the length of the content that ranks the article – but the backlinks associated with the length
Yoast conducted a study in 2022 which included information about the relationship between post length and SEO ranking. You specify that the minimum word count depends on the page type.
As a general rule, Yoast suggests that taxonomy pages (those used to categorize content and data) should be 250 words or more, posts and regular pages should be 300 or more, canonical content pages should be north of 900 words, and product pages should require a paltry 200+ words. .
As you can see, there is a lot of variety.
Category and product pages tend to do well with fewer words because they are so specific. Users generally don’t access it directly from the search results and instead drill down from the top of the website.
For example, if you’re shopping for a new set of kitchen knives, chances are you’re not looking for it [Wusthof Performer 8” Chef’s Knife]. Instead, you will search for [Good Chef’s Knife] And scroll down from the Wusthof or the retailer’s general page.
At the high end of the spectrum, longer content is usually more focused on providing useful information. This, in turn, tends to earn you more backlinks.
2020 study by Ahrefs It analyzed about 900 million web pages and found a strong positive correlation between word count and average number of referring domains.
In another 2020 study, Ahrefs nearly 91% From all pages you don’t get any organic traffic. And this seems mostly because they don’t have any backlinks:
“It appears that 66.31% of the pages do not have even one backlink. And 26.29% of the pages have links from fewer than three sites.”
Therefore, the impact of content length on ranking appears to be a two-step process rather than the “if it’s longer, it will rank better” equation.
The path to success in ranking looks like this:
- Longer content leads to more links.
- More links lead to better rankings (and more organic traffic).
It seems that what can rank a website has less to do with the length of the content itself but more with the number of links the page has received.
Directories, skyscrapers, column pages, and content centers make for the most interesting link targets. Thus, it is recommended to create the most decisive, interesting and in-depth part of the web and run a massive awareness campaign for it.
Making it exciting may not need more words. Instead, it could just be more precise targeting, better graphics, or more detailed market research results.
Answer your research intent effectively by starting your article with the most important information
Ahrefs advice on content length:
“Don’t shoot for a specific word count—just make sure you cover a topic completely. Whether that calls for 500 words or 10,000 words, the key is that you create the best resource available for your target keyword.”
In other words, your content should be as long as it should be to give enough information for search bots to determine what it is about and long enough to satisfy user queries.
What does it take to satisfy a search intent?
For many years, SEO professionals have tried to write longer content, no matter the cost of usability. This resulted in very long chunks rather than word count relevant to your goals.
This may also have inspired Google to push out featured snippets – giving answers instantly rather than providing a bad user experience with a scrolling marathon.
It wasn’t so long ago that the query “how to lower your bounce rate” would return first page results talking about the importance of the 700 word bounce rate even before the first tip on how to reduce it was revealed.
But if we need an introduction to bounce rate, we’ll Google it. These pieces clearly fail in research intent.
Thankfully, Google is getting smarter, and these types of returns are less common than they used to be, but they should still be an invitation to rethink your content creation and search intent.
I would recommend turning your content structure upside down – thus providing value to the user from the first moment they land on your page.
Turn your SEO article into a newspaper article or executive summary:
Most important information first = answer the question.
Start with the main message.
Then dig deeper as the piece goes on, and detail-focused users keep reading.
Second, give your users a clear path to convert and make next clicks.
This is important for your business, revenue and marketing goals, but also for users who came to the website with a certain intention. Make it easy for them to find what they need.
This could include:
- Links / Read more related articles.
- Sign up for a white paper or how-to guide.
- Buy the product.
Confusion hurts content ontology and therefore keyword/topic targeting
The main reason I want to consider fulfilling search intent is because there is content and hierarchy between keywords and articles.
This is something Google has been thinking about as well, as thin pages, duplicate content, and keyword eliminations can negatively affect your SEO results.
Getting your search intent right will also allow you to create a clean website structure – making it easier for Googlebot to crawl and index your site.
If we thoughtlessly aim to write 2,000 words on a topic like “apples” (as per best case practices), we will quickly realize that most writers and SEO pros tend to talk about “bananas” and “oranges” when running among the things that can Saying it about “apples”. They are trying to hit their target word count no matter what it takes.
This impairs the page’s keyword targeting – and your ability to reach the search intent.
Instead of explaining to Google that this is the best page for the “apple”, we are now confusing users and the search engine about the purpose and topic of the piece of content.
We call this content cannibalization when we talk about “fruits” in general to aggressively expand our article on “apples” to reach our target word count.
It’s called keyword cannibalization when we confuse Google so much that it doesn’t know which piece to rank in the query “apples”, causing it to alternate between the two – hurting overall ranking performance.
- 1 article per keyword (group) (eg 1 piece for “apples/apples”).
- Respect the relationship between your articles (ontology or content hierarchy). Everything about “fruits”, in general, goes to that homepage/category page.
- Make it clear to users and search engines what the single concept/theme of each article is: only talk about the “apples” in the “apples” piece.
The goal of creating the best piece of content for the “apples” will determine the length of the content.
How articles are ranked: satisfying intent, appropriate word count and backlinks
Considering what page your competitors are currently doing in terms of content length, meeting search intent, giving the best answer, inviting users to convert – not only have we created a piece of content that will rank itself well – we’ve also created a piece that makes a great backlink target that will to successful ratings.
It’s time to move on from the word count obsession
In the early days of SEO, ranking high for a keyword generally meant jamming that word or phrase into your content anywhere you go. Those days are long gone, and gone are the hard and fast requirements for content length.
Yes, this article asserts that longer is often better for SEO purposes, but it’s for a more circular reason than you might think. A higher word count alone will not help you rank higher.
Instead, you need to create high-quality content with the information that searchers want.
remember why users come to your page; Satisfy their intentions and give them what they seek.
By doing this, you will make your content attractive to other content creators. And speaking of which, it’s a good idea to implement outreach initiatives to build inbound links and build your site’s credibility in the eyes of Google.
- Does word count really matter for SEO content?
- 4 SEO Copywriting Tips for Sharper, Effective Copy
- Completely optimized content from start to finish
Featured Image: Lots of People / Shutterstock
Published Images #3-5: Paolo Bobita/Search Engine Journal