Is Google Looking for a Minimum Word Count on Webpages?
You’ve probably heard at some point that your webpages should have a minimum word count for SEO. And you’ve probably heard Google say that they don’t care about word count, only about quality.
There is no rule that says you need a minimum word count. When it comes to SEO performance, there is no “one size fits all” word count for pages.
While a general word count minimum is not in the ranking algorithm, you need to be able to compete against the top-ranked webpages in the search results.
Yes and no. A minimum word count is not required unless you want to rank. If you want to rank, then the practical answer is yes, based on the query. But Google simply does not care if you rank or not, and word count is not a requirement for Google.
Google’s ranking algorithm applies a different set of signals depending on the search engine query: If it is informational or transactional, or where in the country, time of day or your search history, etc. – all these factors and more change the results.
So, really, there are endless combinations of what Google thinks is important for a webpage based on a query.
While you may find that the top 10 ranked webpages for one type of query average 2,000 words, another query may see only 800 words on average.
Even then, Google does not look at word count. But you need to express your expert stature, and if other ranked pages offer more visitor-pleasing content, then you may lose.
If you are weak compared to those already ranking, then it may negatively impact your ability to rank. I think it does.
Of course, you will find guidance out there that suggests longer content performs better. And you could potentially rely on that.
The question you will want to ask is: Why write 2,000 words when 800 will do? Why rely on arbitrary practices that may not apply to your industry, let alone the query, when you can analyze the search results and see what’s working for a query?
You can determine this by understanding what works on Page 1 of the search results, then be least imperfect compared to the competition.
We think it is safer to go over the average word count on the top-ranked pages than to write less. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 500+ words. It is hard to demonstrate expertise and authority under 500.
Our WordPress SEO plugin gives a target word count based on the query. It pulls real-time data from the search results and calculates the exact word target range you need to compete.
Target your word count appropriately for what Google is rewarding, and you will have a better chance to compete in the search results.
This article was inspired by a question we received during a Live Q&A session at SEOtraining.com. Monthly Live Q&As with Bruce Clay are one of the many benefits members enjoy. Join SEOtraining.com and start your SEO training journey today.
Word count is an indispensable element of content success, as its influence can dramatically impact its ranking, visibility and SEO.
The Goldilocks Principle: Finding the Ideal Word Count
Finding the perfect word count for your content is akin to Goldilocks searching for the ideal porridge. Too few words, and your content might lack depth, failing to engage your audience or satisfy search engine algorithms.
Conversely, excessive wordiness can overwhelm readers and dilute the core message of your content.
A sweet spot for blog posts and articles often lies between 1,500 and 2,500 words. This range allows you to provide comprehensive information, answer user queries and incorporate relevant keywords effectively.
However, it’s important to remember that the ideal word count may vary depending on your niche and target audience. Researching your competitors and analyzing what ranks well in your industry can guide you toward the optimal word count.
Long-Form vs. Short-Form Content
Word count isn’t a one-size-fits-all metric. Short-form content, typically 300 to 700 words, can be ideal for topics requiring concise, quick information delivery. Such content is perfect for engaging mobile users and addressing specific straightforward questions.
Long-form content delves deep into a subject, offering comprehensive insights and in-depth analysis. Content ranging from 2,500 to 5,000 words can establish your authority in your field and cater to users seeking detailed, well-researched information.
Quality Over Quantity
Quality should always take precedence over the quantity of words. Search engines, notably Google, prioritize content that offers value to readers. Your content should be thoroughly researched, well-structured and free from errors.
SEO cannot deny the relationship between content length and performance. Striking an ideal balance between quality and quantity will boost both rankings and user engagement on any website.
At the same time, every piece of content will have its own individual purpose and success formula. Experiment, analyze and adjust to find the best sweet spot for your niche and audience.
Step-by-Step Procedure to Determine Optimal Word Count
- Identify your target audience and niche to understand their content consumption preferences.
- Research competitors and top-ranking websites in your field to determine the word count trends.
- Select your content type – short-form or long-form – based on the complexity of your topic and audience’s needs.
- For short-form content, aim for 300 to 700 words, focusing on concise, valuable information delivery.
- For long-form content, create pieces ranging from 2,500 to 5,000 words, offering comprehensive insights and in-depth analysis.
- Leverage Google Keyword Planner and other tools to locate pertinent keywords, then incorporate these naturally into your content.
- Give priority to content of high quality that has been thoroughly researched, structured and is error-free.
- Experiment with different word counts and analyze their performance using SEO analytics tools.
- Focus on user engagement metrics, such as time on page, bounce rate and click-through rate.
- Tweak your content strategy based on the performance data, aiming for better user satisfaction.
- Regularly update and refresh your content to remain relevant and competitive.
- Monitor search engine rankings and adjust your word count strategy accordingly.
- Be adaptable and open to fine-tuning your approach as SEO algorithms and user preferences evolve.
- Seek expert advice and stay updated with SEO trends to stay ahead.
- Continuously refine your content to offer value to your audience while maintaining an ideal word count.
- There is no single solution; word counts will depend on your topic and style of writing.
- When creating content, focus on user satisfaction and experience.
- Optimize images and multimedia elements to complement your written content.
- Promote your content through various channels to increase its reach and visibility.
- Evaluate the results periodically and adjust your word count strategy to align with your SEO goals and user expectations.