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Does Word Count Matter for SEO?

Does Word Count Matter for SEO?

There has been a lot of debate over the years about how long your content needs to be to rank keywords on Google. And that debate has heated up again with recent algorithm and guidance changes posted by Google. Some people believe you need to set a minimum word count for SEO, while others think it doesn't matter. So, what's the truth?

When it comes to SEO, there is no clear answer as to whether or not word count matters or if there is a minimum word count required to rank. While it is true that Google does take into account the length of your content when determining your ranking, that has more to do with how informative the article is and how well it answers the user's question.

In Google's eyes, a shorter article that gets to the point is better than a long blog post filled with fluff and redundant content that doesn't help the searcher find what they are seeking.

Google even removed the section from its official article recommendations page where it used to say "make sure your articles have more than 80 words." Danny Sullivan from Google said on Twitter that they purposefully removed that reference because "people shouldn't be stressing about word count."

Is There Such a Thing as a Word Count SEO Factor?

Here are a few quotes from John Mueller, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, about word count:

Google also clearly stated in their recent post about the 2022 Helpful Content algorithm update:

The helpful content update aims to better reward content where visitors feel they've had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn't meet a visitor's expectations won't perform as well.

And regarding word count itself, they called that precisely in the "Things to avoid" section:

Are you writing to a particular word count because you've heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don't).

In the end, the quality of your content is much more important than the word count. So, even if you have a shorter article, as long as it is high-quality and informative, it will still rank well on Google. Following a well-crafted content brief that thoroughly covers the topic is far better than writing to a specific, targeted number of keywords.

Case in point, the length of this article is exactly 684 words. But you managed to find it on Google's search engine, didn't you?

Another factor to consider is that people often search for specific keywords or phrases. So, even if you have a longer article, if Google can’t figure out that what you’ve written matches what people are searching for, it's not as likely to rank.

So, What's the Best Word Count for SEO?

However many words it takes to provide the information the user is searching for. It's as simple as that.

You need to ensure that your article is relevant and informative if you want it to rank well on Google's SERPs. Although there is no definitive answer as to whether or not word count matters for SEO, we can say for sure that quality trumps quantity every time.

Google Content Feedback Tool

If we can take one note from the feedback tool used by Google search engines results page is that it is constantly changing. The page that you are trying to rank must be helpful and relevant. If the answer a user is looking for is in the middle of your long-form content and it’s hard to find, it is not helpful. If the article is about how mold can impact your sleep problems and all you do is tell them to contact a mold specialist, it is not really helpful or useful.

Google has implemented several different tools to gather feedback. but the main thing they are trying to understand from the user is if the content is “helpful” and if they are “satisfied” with the quality of the content the search results provided.

As digital marketing experts, your goal should be to focus on writing high-quality content relevant to your client's audience and not on filling a page with a bunch of words, like banana or avocado. There, we're now at 699 words, but I doubt they helped.

Written by

Paul Stainton

Paul Stainton is a digital marketing leader with extensive experience creating brand value through digital transformation, eCommerce strategies, brand strategy, and go-to-market execution.

Read more posts by Paul Stainton ›

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