Every year, Google creates new algorithm updates that keep content marketers on their toes, trying to figure out the secret formula that would send their content to the top of the search engine results page (SERP). Also, some marketers think that writing longer content can help them improve their ranking positions.
Word count has always been considered a contributing metric used by many content marketers to determine the quality of text-based content. In addition to keyword density, word count is also presumed to be a vital search engine optimization (SEO) factor. After all, Google is a machine, so how else would it evaluate the quality of the content? For content marketers, word count is a significant signal that Google can understand.
Is Word Count a Crucial Factor in SEO Content?
Over the years, content marketers debate whether word count matters for SEO. Some believe that longer content is better while others agree that the quality is always superior to the number of words.
John Mueller, Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst, has confirmed that word count is not a ranking signal in the search algorithm. He specifically stated that just blindly adding text does not help improve the ranking of your content. Google is more about creating fresh, relevant, and high-quality content. While word count is not essentially a ranking factor, it matters for SEO, especially when combined with quality.
In most cases, the longer and more in-depth the content is, the easier it is for search engines to determine the context of the article. Additionally, the length helps search engine bots crawl and construe what the information is all about and rank the content in the relevant SERPs.
Google and other search engines love lengthier and more in-depth articles. However, it does not necessarily mean writing long-form posts for the sake of it. Google is smart enough to tell if your content is a blunder, and so can your readers.
Creating relevant and unique content that directly reflects your post title is the best approach to satisfy your readers. Otherwise, your target audience will get bored and immediately abandon your page, resulting in an unpleasant impact on your reader engagement or SEO.
Also, lengthy content provides ample room for optimization. For instance, it allows content marketers more opportunities to insert relevant keywords, including long-tail variations, without the risk of keyword stuffing. It also enables marketers to boost SEO by working on other essential content elements, such as headings, links, and images.
Most importantly, writing longer posts allows you to delve into the topic in greater depth, tackle the problem and offer solutions than is possible with shorter content. While you can provide answers to some questions with thin content, a longer and more detailed post has more value to your readers.
How Does Word Count Impact Your SEO?
While there is no given specific, optimal number of words that ensures high search results, it does not necessarily mean that it has no impact on your rankings. Mueller may have stated that word count is not a ranking factor, but he did not confirm that it does not affect other ranking factors. For instance, meta-descriptions may not be a ranking factor, but they can influence the click-through rate and prompt prospective clients to visit your website.
A higher word count not only helps you answer your target audience’s search intent but also boosts your opportunity for other websites to link back to yours, which are both ranking factors.
On the other hand, if your content is overly written and goes off-topic, it loses the relevancy of the user’s search. Just because writing a long-form post ensures you have more word count, keep in mind that it does not equate to quality content. Make sure to always focus on your goal—and that is to provide your readers with relevant, engaging, and informative content.