Does Word Count Matter?
No matter where you look, you’ll find over and over again that your word count impacts your SEO. Word count is one of the easiest factors to control, and hitting the sweet spot captures Google’s attention and encourages engagement with your readers.
But exactly why does it matter so much? When packaged in an accessible article, quality content will get you higher ranks in Google’s SERPs. Too long, and you won’t engage your users. But if your post is too short, you can’t cover your topic, and Google won’t have enough information to crawl.
So what’s better: one long post or many short ones? First, let’s break down exactly how long “long” is. From there, we’ll see what Google thinks about post length and frequency.
What is the Ideal Word Count for a Blog Post?
When evaluating the first page of Google’s SERPs, you will find this to be true: longer posts do better. According to Backlinko:
- The average word count of a Google first-page result is right at 1,500 words.
- Long-form content earns more traffic than short, quippy blog posts.
- Longer blogs get more links.
- Longer blog posts get more shares.
But is this chiefly due to word count, or are there other factors to consider?
It would appear at first glance that a longer post (around 1500 words) is going to get you the rankings you want. We’ll argue that this isn’t the case. In fact, it’s more likely that long-form content performs better because of other factors and not word count. That’s not to say that sticking to 200-word blog posts will yield the results you’re looking for. After all, you can’t argue with the fact that 1500 words seem to be the sweet spot. But rankings are influenced by so much more than simply word count. Other elements are at play, which we’ll review below.
Ranking Factors to Consider
Publishing Frequency and Consistency
As Forbes says, “SEO is a long game.” Publishing blog posts consistently and frequently is going to do a few things. Firstly, your base will anticipate your next post. Sticking to a publishing schedule lets users know when you’ll come out with new content. The more reads you get, the more shares you get, which will boost your SEO efforts.
Secondly, frequent posting attracts Google to your pages. As your pages are updated, Google takes note and crawls them. While Google might consider frequent and consistent posting as temporary ranking factors, publishing fresh, quality content will ultimately help your rankings as well as your overall SEO.
Backlinks from authoritative sites give your page authority and, more importantly, direct access to users that might not visit your site on their own. The number and quality of backlinks you have directly correlate with your search rankings. As you become more connected with reputable sites that boast high link equity, Google will determine that your site has a high value, boosting your ranking.
Google wants useful, unique content to present on its SERPs. You won’t find copycat blog posts on Google’s first page. A unique article takes time to write. You need to research your topic, organize it, and then present it in a useful, helpful format. Google wants fresh, new content. Duplicate content won’t necessarily bring your rankings down, but it won’t help you rise to the top. Creating original content for your blog posts attracts Google’s crawlers, but more importantly, this kind of writing proves to be the most helpful resource for your users.
You can have the most well-researched, well-thought-out blog post of the year, but if no one reads it, all your work is in vain—and it’ll show in your rankings. Formatting your blog posts with the reader in mind should be part of your SEO strategy. Utilizing engaging font, format, and even multimedia to keep users interested and read your blog will help your SEO.
You’ll find that most visitors to your blog won’t read it word for word. They’re more likely to scan your post until they find the information they’re looking for. Construct your post in such a way that you highlight keywords and phrases, clearly label and define different sections of your post, and make finding topics simple for your readers.
There is perhaps nothing as important for your SEO as your keyword optimization. Regardless of how long your blog posts are, if you aren’t writing to include target keywords your users are searching for, they’ll never find you. Including keywords in the body of your text, your headlines, and your tags will help Google pick up on your page, so you rank for your keywords.
Quality Over Quantity—and Length!
So what’s best for your SEO: one long blog post or multiple shorter posts? At the end of the day, one longer post will likely perform better than multiple short posts. But take note: the most important factor is the quality of your posts, not the quantity or length. A post with 1,700 words might meet your goal word count, but if it doesn’t include targeted keywords and tags, lacks links, and is mostly copied content from another article, it won’t benefit your SEO. Overwriting to meet a word count will result in a cumbersome, forced post that won’t engage your audience. And if you try to write a bunch of shorter posts, but you don’t sufficiently cover your topic, include tags, or link to other sites or pages, the results are the same: you’ve not added to your SEO.
The bottom line is this: word count will not make or break the success of your blog posts. While there are trends and commonalities among popular blogs that rank high with Google, a one-size-fits-all word count doesn’t exist.
Focus on quality writing that provides answers to the questions your audience is asking. Include keywords, links, and engaging headlines and titles. Make it readable, and make it unique. Then you’ll see that you’re providing the kind of content that users are looking for and that Google loves.