Word Count: Everything you Need to Know


Word count is the most discussed topic in SEO even though technically it’s a part of copywriting.

There have been numerous debates around whether or not it is a ranking factor, and what is the ideal word count for different types of content.

By the end of this post, you will understand everything whether or not it matters for SEO, the minimum count, what Google thinks about it, and more.


Too Long; Didn’t Read

Word Count is the measure of the number of words in a document. It is not a ranking factor, but it indirectly influences the search rankings. Instead of focusing on word count, one should focus on creating helpful and quality content for their audience.


What is the Word Count?

Simply put, word count is the measure of how many words are present on a page or document.

When we talk about it in the terms of content marketing or SEO, it mostly refers to the total number of words in a blog post or any content.

For example, some posts have 500 words while some have more than 5000 words.

The concept of word counting can be used when you are giving a content brief to a writer or you are submitting your post to another website (like say, doing a guest post).

It is also used to determine the price of content. The majority of content writers write content by word count, so it helps to determine the cost of content.

P.S. I did a study in which I found out that most agencies in India charge between $0.0092- $0.037 per word.

Why does Word Count Matter?

In the context of SEO, word count matters because even if it is not a direct ranking factor, it can still affect user engagement and the quality of the content. It also helps in ranking for more long-tail queries.

Having a decent word count helps:

  1. Google understand more about the post
  2. Ranking for more long-tail keywords
  3. Attract more links
  4. Users trust your content

Meaning, if you create long-form content, you are helping Google understand more about the content. Google can use this knowledge to serve better to its users.

When you write more comprehensive guides and content pieces, you establish your authority and you get a chance of ranking for more long-tail keywords.

Interestingly, a study done by Backlino reveals that both lower word count pages and higher word count pages have the same chances of ranking. More on this later.

Is Word Count a Ranking Factor?

Word count is not a ranking factor but it can indirectly influence the rankings.

It is confirmed many times by John Mueller as well as other industry experts that word count is not a ranking factor.

Besides this, there is an ongoing debate between SEOs. And it is because while word count can is not a ranking factor, it still can influence rankings as we talked about earlier.

How to Determine the Word Count for Your Projects?

The word count of any post is determined by the topic and the search intent for it.

Let us understand this with an example:

Suppose you’re writing a post on a topic like “How long to brew coffee in French press”, try to think from a user perspective.

What kind of content would they like to see on this topic? Judging by the search intent, the post should be on the shorter side. It should tell exactly how long should you brew your coffee.

Ideally, you should not write long-form content on it because the user is looking for a quick answer.

Writing long-form content on a topic like this will not help either the user or the search engine. It is because the user is not interested in reading a long post. And if the user bounces off quickly, it increases the bounce rate of your website, which is not the ideal thing.

On the other hand, if a user is searching for something like “a guide on French press”, then they are looking for a comprehensive guide that covers everything related to the French press.

On this topic, it will make sense to write longer content. If you write shorter content, then it will not help the searcher and they will explore a different page. Because your page didn’t satisfy their intent.

In a realistic world, the word count should be determined by the topic and search intent.

Additionally, it can depend on your competitors. When you’re writing content, you could check for your competitor’s posts on SERP by entering the keyword you’re targeting and then analyzing the word count.

Generally speaking, if we talk about writing blog content, it is written between 500-1500 words. This is for a standard post.

But if you are writing copy for a landing page or service page, then it would be a different number.

Comprehensive guides are anything above 2000 words. They explain a topic in-depth and that’s why it needs a longer word count.

You must have heard that the lengthier the post is, the better, but it’s only partially true. Read this in the next section.

What is more important than Word Count for Rankings?

Being helpful to the user, the quality of content, and the content structure are important factors when it comes to ranking higher in search.

Before writing any piece of content, you should think about the user and what exactly they’re looking for. Because if you cannot provide them with the right information, somebody else will.

The quality of information you will provide is a necessary part of helping the user. The user doesn’t want to read the same stuff 20 times on the same page.

They don’t have much time to read through every single word, so as content marketers and SEOs, it’s your duty to give them the appropriate info, fast.

To provide more quality, try to cut down on any fluff before hitting that publish button.

And as a good practice, wait at least a day between the writing and your publishing day so that you can analyze the draft again to see how you can improve the post.

Another important part is content structure.

You cannot expect the searchers to read through every single word you write.

So it becomes important to structure the text in a way that they can consume the information easily.

That means, removing the long walls of text and breaking down the text into shorter and more digestible sections. And using formatting options like headings, lists, and points whenever necessary. Remember that people like to scan things and not actually read everything.

How can Word Count affect User Engagement?

The length of the article influences the time spent on the website. Research study shows that the longer the article, the more engaging it will be.

According to a study done by Chartbeat, it was found that content with a word count of less than 4000 performed significantly well in terms of engagement. This means that users were spending more time on the site and engaging with the article.

But when the article length goes beyond 4000 words, the variability in engaged time also grows.

This means that if you write content longer than 4000 words, it is not guaranteed to be engaging for the audience. Furthermore, the return on investment for the additional length is uncertain at best.

So in the end, we learn that longer content is the winner and it engages users more. Keeping this in mind, you need to make sure that longer content isn’t necessarily good.

As content creators, you must make sure that the content you write is high quality and it matches the search intent.

Because it is not necessary to write 2000 words for a topic that can be written in less than 700 words.

Recommended Reading: What is the difference between a copywriter, content creator, and content marketer?

What does Google (and Experts) say about Word Count?

Time and again, representatives from Google like John Mueller have said that word count does not matter for SEO. The main focus should be to create helpful content for users.

When asked John if content in 2022 should be more than 2000 words, John said:

And here, John says that low word count is not a sign of thin content.

I asked Sebastian Gale, founder of Suede, a web development agency, for his thoughts on word count. Here is what he said, “I don’t understand the whole obsession over word count. It’s great to go in-depth into your topics, but I see too many websites with long-form content just for the sake of making long-form content. Focus on quality and what makes sense for your target audience instead of frustrating users in exchange for more keywords.

I agree with what Sebastian said. So what do we get to learn?

The main focus behind writing content is to help a user. Whether you are educating them, informing them, or guiding them, the main focus should be helping the users.

Final Words

Word count cannot say much about the content quality or how well it is structured. It is just a measure of how many words are in a document and not anything else. It is not a ranking factor but it indirectly affects rankings.

If you liked this post, then don’t forget to rate it down below. Also, don’t forget to check out Suede!

P.S. I have created an insightful user experience checklist. Be sure to check that out! You should find it in the sidebar.

FAQs

Is Word Count a Ranking Factor?

No, word count is not a ranking factor. However, it can indirectly influence the rankings.

Are 1000 words Enough for SEO?

There is no definitive answer about how many words are good for SEO. The number of words for a post depends on many factors like search intent, keywords, and more.

How many Words are needed for SEO?

Depending on different types of posts, the word count can go from 500- 2000 words. However, there is no specific word count that can guarantee your search success.

What is the Minimum Word Count for SEO?

There is no specific answer to it. Some posts have 300 words, while some have more than 1000 words. It’s important to focus on the quality and helpfulness of a post rather than chasing numbers.

What is the Ideal Word Count for a Blog Post?

Even though there is not a specific number for it, most blog post range from 700- 2000 words. The content type and search intent will influence the number of words in the post. A study done by Backlino suggests the average word count for a blog post is 1,447 words



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