How Long Should a Webpage Be to Compete in the Search Results?

Pages with high word count.

A common question that website publishers, SEOs, and content creators grapple with is: How long should my content be so we can rank in the search results?

Many have tried to answer this question by conducting large-scale studies of the search results and coming up with a generic word count. But that is not actually useful.

Why not? Because every search query yields different results. Search engines like Google apply a different set of algorithmic signals to each query based on the searcher’s intent and other factors. So, you can’t determine the best word count if you don’t first have the keyword you are targeting.

So, How Long Should a Webpage Be?

The webpage you are creating should be as long as the webpages that are ranking in the top spots in the organic search results for your keyword.

The webpages that are ranking in the search results are there for a reason. And they will typically share some common features. Word count is often touted to be one of those features with a clear indication that size wins. We happen to disagree.

Of course, word count is not all there is to ranking. Analyzing the top results gives us a lot of clues into what is working for those webpages.

Plus, knowing the word count you should target saves you the headache of either spending too much time on a long-form article when it’s not necessary or investing time into a webpage that is not up to par with the top-ranked webpages. We believe that word count is important to compete, but that count varies by keyword.

So, how do you figure out the word count of the top-ranked pages?

Well, one way is to search for your keywords in Google in incognito mode while signing out of Google accounts. Look at the top organic results (positions 1 through 10 except Wikipedia) and get a word count for all of the top-ranked pages.

If you want to work a little more efficiently, you can use tools to help you do this, like the Bruce Clay SEO WP plugin.

Bruce Clay SEO WP Plug-in

Assuming you are on a WordPress site when creating your content (like 39.9% of the world), you can use our plugin (right alongside Yoast’s even) to determine the word count for your content.

Here’s how it works: Our WordPress plugin uses our patented technology to determine the top-ranked pages for a keyword. We spider those pages in real-time, and then we analyze them to get an average word count target range based on rewarded competitors — without ever having to leave the WordPress editor. Yes, this is a patented process.

Below, you can see a screenshot from our WordPress SEO plugin that shows that the webpage being analyzed is too short compared to the top-ranked pages. That page is just under 700 words. The goal, though, is between 1567 and 2363 words. The number of words is a range, and 700 is out of that range. And that, we believe, matters for ranking.

Content word count shown in Bruce Clay SEO Plugin for WP.
Summary tab in the Bruce Clay SEO WP plugin shows word count targets.

This effectively answers the question of how long a webpage should be to compete in the search results. It’s not a fixed number. So, whatever you’ve been told may be entirely wrong.

For more on this, be sure to check out our article: Want Customized SEO Advice per Keyword? There’s a Plugin for That!

Want to try the Bruce Clay SEO Plugin on your own site? Get a free trial at WordPress.org.

FAQ: How can I determine the optimal length for my webpage to rank higher in search engine results?

When it comes to crafting webpage content that ranks favorably in search engine results, understanding the optimal content length is a key consideration. While there is no magic number that applies universally, striking the right balance between comprehensive information and user engagement is essential.

Search engines prioritize content that provides value to users. Longer articles – typically over 1,000 words long – tend to perform best when it comes to results, providing high-quality and relevant content. Length alone won’t do. In-depth articles tend to attract more backlinks and shares, signaling their credibility to search engines.

On the other hand, shorter articles can also have their advantages. They are quicker to consume and may better suit certain user intent, such as providing quick answers to specific questions. Google’s featured snippets often pull content from concise articles that directly answer user queries.

Ultimately, your content should cater to your target audience. If your readers are seeking in-depth knowledge, a longer format might be ideal. If they’re looking for quick solutions, shorter articles can better fulfill their needs.

Transitioning between these options can be achieved through a tiered approach. Consider creating a mix of comprehensive cornerstone content with longer word counts and supplementary articles that address specific subtopics in a more concise manner.

Furthermore, analyze your competitors and the top-ranking pages for your target keywords. This can provide insights into the content length that’s performing well within your niche. Tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs can assist in this research, offering data-driven guidance for your content strategy.

Determining the optimal webpage length for higher search engine ranking involves a nuanced approach. While longer, comprehensive content often performs well, shorter articles can also cater to specific user needs. Enhancing SEO involves understanding your audience, researching niche markets, and producing high-quality content.

Step-by-Step Procedure: How to Determine the Optimal Webpage Length for Higher Search Engine Ranking

  1. Understand Your Audience: Define your target audience’s preferences and needs. Research their search intent and content consumption habits.
  2. Analyze Competitors: Identify top-ranking pages for your target keywords. Note the content length and depth of these pages.
  3. Use SEO Tools: Utilize tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Moz to gather data on content length and performance for your keywords.
  4. Set Goals: Determine whether your content aims to provide comprehensive knowledge or quick answers.
  5. Create Cornerstone Content: Develop longer, comprehensive articles (1,000+ words) for core topics in your niche.
  6. Craft Concise Content: Create shorter articles to address specific queries or provide quick solutions.
  7. Monitor Analytics: Track user engagement metrics for both long and short content to assess their performance.
  8. Evaluate Backlinks and Shares: Analyze how well your content attracts backlinks and social shares, indicating its credibility.
  9. User Experience Matters: Ensure that longer articles are well-structured with subheadings, bullet points, and images to enhance readability.
  10. Optimize for Featured Snippets: Craft concise, precise answers to common user queries to increase chances of getting featured snippets.
  11. Engage Continuously: Respond to user comments and questions on your content to boost engagement and visibility.
  12. Adapt and Improve: Regularly update and expand your content to keep it relevant and valuable over time.
  13. Test and Iterate: Experiment with different content lengths and formats to find what resonates best with your audience.
  14. Keyword Research: Conduct thorough keyword research to uncover relevant topics and user search trends.
  15. Leverage Internal Links: Connect your short and long content pieces through strategic internal linking.
  16. Mobile-Friendly Design: Make sure that the content on your site is easily accessible and responsive when accessed from mobile devices.
  17. Social Signals: Use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to share and promote your content in order to increase traffic and audience reach.
  18. Collaborate and Guest Post: Extend your reach by collaborating with influencers or guest posting on reputable websites.
  19. Monitor and Adapt: Regularly monitor your content’s performance and adapt your strategy based on data-driven insights.
  20. Stay Updated: Keep abreast of SEO trends and algorithm updates to refine your content strategy over time.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the BruceClay.com website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (11)
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11 Replies to “How Long Should a Webpage Be to Compete in the Search Results?”

The patented feature sounds exciting. Now, I am interested to use this plugin on my WP blog.

Useful post Thanks for sharing it that’s truly valuable knowledge about similar topic. Amazing. Have a more successful day. Amazing write-up always finds something interesting.

Great info. Your plugin is awesome.

I have read some of your posts regarding this topic. You seem to give an impression that the length of a post must be similar or median to the length of the top-ranking page for our target keyword. But I think this might not always be the case. Google isn’t fully smart though. In some cases, short length articles are shown at a place where a 5000+ word content must have been there to answer the user query effectively. After all, we must remember that Google is still and always tweaking its algorithm. Hence the top rank pages keep changing. If today there is a 1000+ word content ranking on top for a keyword then after some time a 4000+ word content might have overtaken it. So the key idea here I think Is that we must write content to the point that the query of the user is answered fully with clarity. When it comes to the word count I’m always on the side of writing descriptive and long content keeping topical relevance in mind. Somewhere I feel that Google itself is doing a lot of work to show short answers for content that requires a short description. For example, if we search for which is capital of south Africa then google itself pushes an answer. I think in near future they would come with more such tactics to answer queries that don’t require much lengthier content to satisfy the user.

It depend upon that what keywords you’re using for that webpage.

Your plugin seems great, I will have to give it a try. :)

Superb article you have here Bruce! The first and most important factor when determining an appropriate word count for a post is to have a firm grasp on who your audience is, and what their intentions are…

Thanks for the info Bruce! Your plugin is awesome.

The right content length often depends upon the type of a website. There are only two types which matter to Google – Transactional website or eCommerce websites where having 500 to 750 words are good enough for better rankings and the other type is Informational website / Thought leadership / Educational content – where the good word count considered is 1500 to 2000 as minimum. If you have other POVs, do please let me know.

Great info. & thx for confirming what I was doing is Right!

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