Word Count & SEO: What You Should Know
From bloggers to professional content creators, writers have been trying to figure out what Google’s “ideal word count” is. With the search giant continually tweaking its algorithm, arbitrary numbers have been thrown around for years as the SEO community tries to figure out the magic Page One formula.
Counts range from 500 to 2,000, but no one says why it’s so important to hit these high numbers. Then, in 2020, Google’s John Mueller decided to throw a colossal snake into the SEO pit by tweeting, “Why would a search engine use word count as a metric?”
It was only one of many tweets that the Webmaster Trends Analyst threw out there on the topic, and each one reaffirms that SEO content writers have been barking up the wrong tree. Now, if the word count isn’t the be-all-end-all determining factor the community thought, why do so many experts still consider it important?
Where the Word Count Myth Began
If a study says that a higher number of words is better for your SEO, how could it be a myth?
To be fair, it’s not so much a myth as misunderstood information. A correlation study by Backlinko in 2016 showed how most of Google’s top search results usually averaged out at around 1,890. Interestingly, an updated version of that same article now shows it to be 1,447 words.
A correlation study is just that; it indicates a relationship between two factors, but it doesn’t mean that one is undeniably the cause of the other. So, if word count itself isn’t the goal, which elements are essential for SEO?
Some SEO Factors That Are Important to Google
According to Click Intelligence, “SEO is a complex and time-consuming marketing strategy,” and the statement is spot-on. After all, Google considers about 2,000 different factors before deciding whether it will hide you in its ranks or lift you to the upper pages.
There’s a simplified way to look at SEO. If you want to optimize for Google, aim for EAT:
For the search engine to deem your content relevant, it’s going to:
- Determine whether you’ve cited credible information. (Expertise)
- Verify that other websites are linking to your post. (Authority)
- Check if it contains relevant, high-quality content. (Trustworthiness)
Creating an article that’s worthy of Google’s top spot is still a tricky thing to do. Write content that’ll answer a common, burning question in the best possible way, and you’ll be off to a solid start.
Is There an Ideal Word Count?
No. The goal shouldn’t be to hit a specific magical number. Instead, optimize for search intent. It’s better to write 750 words and cover a topic thoroughly, comprehensively, and succinctly than to submit a 2,000 word-piece filled with fluff and repeated ideas.
That doesn’t mean you should dismiss word count completely. Some studies and analyses have shown that more content makes a post or article increasingly referenceable, and reputable backlinks can still affect your search rank. However, the quality of the piece is always more critical than wordiness.
Google’s goal has always been to provide its users with accurate, usable information that answers their queries. If your article does that within 500 words, then stop writing. It’ll serve you better in the long run.
Write for People
It doesn’t get any simpler than that. If you’re genuinely invested in getting Google to raise your position in its search results, you need to write for human beings. Before you start writing on a topic, use the engine to find other top rankings, see how they answer the most common related questions, and then do it better.
You might not always be able to hit all of Google’s EAT goals, so aim to satisfy search intent instead. Most importantly, don’t fluff. Write, and when you’re done, stop. Sometimes, it’s that simple.
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