The Ideal Word Count for SEO
As digital marketing agency, we often provide content services to our clients. The one question that is repeated, without fail, by every client is the ‘ideal word count’ that we would furnish.
Despite having been in the digital marketing industry for so many years, and having delivered SEO content for several projects, we are yet to know this ‘ideal number’.
However, what we find unfathomable is the client’s belief in this magic number and their insistence on hitting that number for every content piece, irrespective of other content goals.
More relevant details like customer profile, content purpose, user questions, gaps in competitor’s content, etc. are almost always ignored. The focus is on ‘word count’.
For long, we have contemplated writing about this. But today, we were compelled as we came across a highly relevant article on the same topic.
Maybe when authority sites like SEJ start talking about the nonexistence of the ideal word-count, clients and brands may just listen up.
So here are some important takeaways from the article.
The Genesis of the Ideal Word Count Theory
Back in April 2020, Backlinko published a study stating that the average Google first SERP results had a word count of 1447.
Several other studies before this one had similar findings. Based on these, the demand for long-form content, as it is popularly known, soared.
However, the point that was comfortably ignored was that the study presented a finding. An observation that was common to most first SERPs. As the article puts it, it is a correlation. Not a cause.
Then What is the Ideal Word Count?
The fact is that there is no such thing as an ‘ideal’ word count. Our attempts to quickly make it t the top SERP ranks are only moving us away from it.
Quality, not Quantity is the Key
A web user who searches for information, and visits your page is looking for specific information. Whether you educate your users with a short and concise piece of content or, give them detailed, in-depth information depends on the information and the context.
Search engines will not rank you higher because you wrote a longer content piece.
Time and again, Google has reiterated the importance of relevant content that focuses on delivering quality information rather than a voluminous one.
Here’s an old tweet from John Mueller that holds relevance amidst this discussion.
And it seems like John is periodically faced with similar questions. He reiterated the same this year, in another tweet.
Then What’s the Key to Top-ranking Content?
Before we answer that, let’s go back to the point we started with about content length.
The top-ranking results that made it to the first SERP owe it to multiple SEO factors rather than just the word count. The link profile of the page, along with the quality of information and other SEO factors, make up the rank.
And When in Confusion, Go Back to the Bible
The Search Engine Giant’s SEO starter guide states, “Content should be factually accurate, clearly written, and comprehensive.”
None of the adjectives used here make any reference to the word count.
It is thus, advisable to focus on the content quality and serve the visitors with the information they are looking for.
That said, there is no harm in writing long-form content. But, increasing the word count by adding filler matter, just to make up for some 1500 words, is not going to help gain SERP positions. It may even dilute the quality of the information, and make you lose the SEO advantage.
The key is succinctly written content, targeted at providing useful information to web visitors.