“I’m creating a new website, and I want to rank on page 1 of Google – how many words do I need on each page?”
For marketers and SEO professionals, it’s a question that has been raised countless times and answered with numerous variations of the same answers: “Well, that all depends”.
Contrary to popular opinion, the ‘Google SEO Word Count’ algorithm isn’t a thing. Sure, there are reasons why long-form content tends to outrank shorter content, but it can’t simply be chalked up to the length of the content.
Think of it like this. You’ve got two speakers at a conference, and both of them are tasked with speaking about the same topic. The first speaker is given a 5-minute time slot to cover the topic; the second speaker is given a 30-minute window to address the same topic. You would, therefore, assume that the second speaker is able to provide a much better account of the topic, answer related questions, and have the audience leave the auditorium with a much deeper understanding than speaker one. But that’s not always the case.
Let’s look at some of the variables that may swing the pendulum towards speaker number one (short content), and away from speaker two (long-form content).
Speaker one is more knowledgeable about the topic, has a far greater understanding and is able to discuss the topic in simple, concise terms.
Speaker number one jumps straight into the topic and leaves out the information that is not directly relevant to the topic (think: relevancy & search intent).
Speaker number one is more engaging and earns high praise from the audience who recommend the speaker to friends (think: backlinks).
Speaker number two talks in general terms, skirting around the topic at hand, which causes audience members to leave the conference before they are able to get to the main point (think: bounce rate).
The reality is, a long-winded presentation does not equate to a high-quality presentation. The same could be said for content – comprehensive and lengthy content does not always mean it is of high quality and great use to the searcher. If you’re still asking, “how many words for a blog?”, then you need to reconsider your approach. For SEO blog length, the content that will rank well is the content that articulates the answer to the searcher’s query well.
Long-Form Content & Google SEO Word Count: Where Did It Come From?
The idea that there is an ideal SEO blog length or that there is an arbitrary ‘Google SEO word count’ has long been spoken about within the SEO community. Part of the reason word count has remained of importance is that there have been several correlation studies that show search engines to be ranking web pages that are only of a certain length.
There have been several studies that create a correlation for long-form content SEO. Namely, backlinko conducted a study back in 2016 analysing 11.8 million Google search results to prove the reality of Google SEO word count. The study revealed that the average page one result of Google contained 1,890 words of content.
SerpIQ created a post that went viral in 2012, in which they explained a study that had been conducted to show the average content length of each high-ranking page. The research suggested that there is an ideal number of words for increased rankings, and ultimately changed the industry of SEO at the time.
These studies are frequently cited in SEO blogs, forums, and communities. The problem with these correlation studies is that they are just that; correlation studies. Correlation does not imply causation.
The drawn conclusion from this type of research does not necessarily equate. While it appears that these pieces of content that are ranking on page one are lengthy, they also seem to be answering the user’s search query and have plenty of authoritative referring links pointing to them. So, while it is abundantly clear that many of the pages ranking well have something in common, to say that the reason they are ranking on page one is the content length, is false. Furthermore, Google has wholly debunked the idea that word count matters. I.e. there is no ideal “SEO blog length”.
Factors Influencing Ideal Google SEO Word Count
Back in February of this year, Google’s John Mueller gave some additional insight into whether or not content length is a legitimate ranking factor: “Having the same word-count as a top-ranking article isn’t going to make your pages rank first, just like having a bunch of USB chargers isn’t going to get you to the moon.”
While John Mueller is clearly stating that word count is NOT an SEO ranking factor, it doesn’t mean that the content length does not impact other ranking factors. We do understand that several factors are influencing the “ideal” Google SEO word count. These factors include:
1. Business Industry/Niche of Website
The ideal blog length for SEO will largely depend on the industry or niche of the website. If the topic at hand is rather complex, it may need to be lengthy to adequately cover the user’s search query and cover the topic. If the subject is relatively simple, going off on long tangents purely to fill out content is not recommended. When it comes to the minimum blog length SEO, consider your industry, the topic, and the best way to answer the query. Covering the query in full is much more important to your users and search engines, than whether or not it is a full 2,000 words.
2. Google EAT
When crawling and indexing webpages, Google relies on quality guidelines to determine the value of each page. Page quality ratings work to gain an understanding of the true purpose of each page – pages without some sort of beneficial purpose receive the lowest rating. For all pages that do have a beneficial purpose, the amount of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (EAT) of the content is analysed.
If a page can provide adequate levels of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, it will be deemed high-quality content and be rewarded in the search engine result pages. These quality guidelines have a significant influence on what is considered a good blog post length. Rather than looking specifically at word count, Google will analyse content to monitor cited information (expertise), the backlinks pointing to the page (authoritativeness), and the quality of the material (trustworthiness). Quality guidelines also take into consideration whether the page is fluffed out with unnecessary content – Google deems content that is off-topic and irrelevant to be of low quality.
3. Ability to Satisfy Search Intent
Finally, Google takes into consideration whether or not the content clearly satisfies the search intention or query. How many words for a blog should really depend on how many words are needed to answer the search query adequately. Blog length SEO should not be the focus; marketers should really consider the quality and usefulness of the content before thinking about length.
So, What’s the Ideal Blog Length for SEO?
If you read any older SEO or marketing articles, you’ll notice that content length has long been considered a Google ranking factor. Even to the extent of many SEO tools analysing word count to determine the relevance and quality of a page. The truth is, there is no arbitrary number for the ideal blog length – minimum blog length SEO is not something webmasters should be concerned about.
The ideal blog length is one that adequately answers the user’s search query, provides useful information to back the answer up, and is of high quality. If your content can concisely answer the search query and then back it up with relevant information and data, it does not matter how many words for a blog are used.
To clarify: increased word count alone is not enough to get content ranking. High word content does not equal high-quality content. For word count to be a Google ranking factor, the content needs to answer the user’s search intent and provide an increased opportunity for backlinks. Articles need backlinks to rank. Studies suggest that longer content gets more backlinks than shorter content; however, creating the most interesting and intentional article will attract the most links.
Remember why users might be coming to the page in the first place. Answer their queries, questions and satisfy their intent, then give them a reason to stay on the site. If the content can and will do those things, its length will work in its favour.
Wrapping it up
Well, there you have it – we can finally debunk the myth that is Google SEO word count as a ranking factor.
It isn’t the length of the content that is getting pages to rank well in Google; it’s the contents ability to answer the users search query best. A good blog post length will be one that relies on precise keyword targeting, avoiding content fluffing and the foundations for a well-written and intentional article. For the length of content to work in favour of Google’s ranking algorithm, the author first needs to consider the quality of the article and its intention.
If your goal is to put out 2,000-word articles for SEO, you’re missing the point entirely. There is no “perfect blog length” to rank well in organic search results. Your aim should be to supply the most informative, insightful and intentional content for your target audience, to comprehensively cover the topic at hand.