August 3, 2020
It is a common SEO method to start a blog on your company’s website in order to attract more users to your site. It’s been proven that providing useful and relevant content on your website will do loads to improve your SEO and increase your site’s traffic.
Another widely-accepted belief is that longer content equals better content. But is this concept actually true? Do your posts really need to be 800+ or 1500+ words to rank?
In this article, we’ll be figuring out how word count really affects your posts, and just how long your copy should be to have the greatest effect for your website.
Before deciding what the ideal word count is for your blog post, you probably want to know if it’s something worth worrying about in the first place. So does word count actually affect your page's ranking?
You may have heard that in 2019, Google analyst John Mueller declared on Twitter “word count is not a ranking factor” for Google.
But this doesn’t mean you should completely disregard word count while writing your blog posts. Even though word count alone won’t put your page at the top of the results list, research has shown time and time again that longer copy can position better. Plus, there are definitely drawbacks to having too few words on a webpage.
You want your blog posts to be at least 300 words, or else you run the risk of it being classified as “thin content” - meaning the word count is low enough where Google considers the page to have little to no value for users. This content won’t do well on the SERP, and your blogging efforts won’t produce the results you want.
So our official answer is yes, word count matters, but many other factors matter more when it comes to ranking on the SERP. If you don’t perfect these attributes of your writing first, having the ideal word count won’t save you.
No matter the length of your post, it needs to be quality writing throughout. Try to keep the reader engaged by being entertaining and straightforward with information. Being redundant and superfluous in your writing to increase its length won’t do anything but decrease the readability of your piece and make people confused or frustrated in the long run.
Likewise, if you’re just trying to reach a certain word count, you may end up going off-topic in your writing, when your main goal should be to stay relevant to the user. Make sure everything you include in your writing stays to the main topic of the post, and answers the user’s query. Keeping a user’s search intent in mind is key to staying relevant.
Including keywords in your page’s title, headings, and copy is an excellent way to help your page rank for certain queries. Do careful research to figure out exactly what keywords that your target users will be searching for and add them into your writing in a natural way. Make sure they are incorporated smoothly and refrain from falling into the trap of keyword stuffing your articles.
In order to rank higher, you want to generate as many quality backlinks to your page as possible. As long as they are all from credible sources, having a large number of backlinks will give your page authority. This in turn increases the page’s ranking on the SERP.
Longer content often gives the opportunity to generate more backlinks. Therefore, having at least a few pieces of long-form content on your website is ideal. When there are more snippets of information to link back to it is intuitive that the number of backlinks will rise.
However, don’t feel bogged down by the need to create 2,500 word blog posts every time. The truth is, this is not a steadfast rule and can easily be disproved by many different pages ranked number one on the results page. If you are answering a simple question and find that you’ve simply run out of relevant things to say, the best thing to do is to keep it concise and stop writing.
Not every user is looking for a complex and in-depth response to their answer, but some users may be looking to do some serious research. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to show off your expertise and add depth to some of your articles while keeping it brief in other posts.
So we’ve covered the fact that we want both long and short posts, but what’s the norm?
You may have been expecting a simple answer for this one, but unfortunately that’s not the case. According to a recent article from Hubspot, the typical word count depends on what type of post you’re writing.
A simple what is post, explaining the definition and a brief overview of a particular subject, usually runs on the shorter side. They typically span about 1,000-1,500 words, and will link users to helpful articles if they would like to know more about the topic.
How-to posts range from 1,500-2,000 words. While it always depends on how complicated the task is that you’re explaining how to do, providing a fairly simple explanation that is easy for users to follow is the best way to go here.
Listicles, or posts that contain lists, can be a bit longer. These posts are usually 2,000-2,500 words. While these posts have a pretty significant length to them, they are easy to scroll through, making them popular among users.
The all-encompassing and in-depth guides known as pillar pages are usually around 5000 words, or more. This is the long-form content discussed above, meant for users who are trying to perform deep research into a subject. They are important pieces of content to have on your website, and will serve as the main topics that all of your shorter blog posts will relate to.
From the averages listed above, using the number the type that correlates best to the post you’re writing is a good jumping off point when determining your ideal word count. Again, make sure that your writing stays purposeful and relevant as you try to reach that number. If you couldn’t fit all you needed to say in those specified ranges, don’t be afraid to write more, as long as you are keeping your content readable and easy to scroll through.
If you’re looking for the most general rule of thumb, most SEO experts say based on their research that around 1,600 words is the ideal word count for a blog post. However, others say that the optimal word count depends on your particular website.
Another method to determining the best word count for your blog post is to find the average word count of your ten most heavily trafficked blog posts on your website with the resulting number being your ideal word count. With this method, you are using your own data to figure out what is working best for your business. This number will be completely unique to your website, and if used purposefully will generate even more traffic to your website.
While word count is not the determining factor for your webpage’s ranking on the SERP, you still need to be deliberate with the length of your blog posts. Too short, and your content is thin; too long, and you’ve potentially gone off topic!
If you absolutely need a goal number to go by, 1,600 words is the latest widely-accepted ideal word count. No blog post is the same though, and so feel free to stray from this rule. It may be worth it to analyze the highest performing posts your own website and try to write a similar length to those.
Make sure you’re writing is quality, relevant, and readable, while also keeping in mind the search intent of the user. Some queries require long answers, and some require short ones. If you’re creating content that users will find useful and are willing to link to, your blog posts are doing great.