SEO & Word count, does it really matter in 2023?
If you are a blogger, content marketer, or SEO specialist, you might have wondered how important word count is for your articles. Does it affect your ranking on search engines? Does it influence your readers’ engagement and satisfaction? Does it make a difference in your conversion rates and revenue? The answer is not so simple. Word count is not a magic number that guarantees success or failure. It depends on many factors, such as your topic, audience, purpose, and quality of your content. However, some general guidelines and best practices can help you optimize your word count for SEO and user experience. In this blog post, we will explore the following questions:
- What is the ideal word count for SEO in 2023?
- How does word count affect your ranking factors and signals?
- How does word count affect your readers’ behavior and expectations?
- How can you balance word count with other aspects of content creation?
Let’s dive in!
What is the ideal word count for SEO in 2023?
There is no definitive answer to this question, as different types of content may require different lengths. For example, a product description may be shorter than a how-to guide, or a news article may be longer than a listicle.
However, some studies and experts have suggested some average word counts for different types of content. For instance, according to a 2019 analysis by Backlinko, the average word count of a Google first page result was 1,447 words. Similarly, a 2020 study by SEMrush found that the average word count of top-ranking pages across various industries was 1,208 words.
These numbers may vary depending on the search query’s niche, competition, and intent. However, they indicate that longer content tends to perform better on search engines than shorter content. This is because longer content can provide users with more information, value, and relevance and satisfy their search intent.
However, this does not mean that you should write long articles for the sake of writing long articles. Quality always trumps quantity when it comes to SEO and user experience. You should write as much as you need to cover your topic comprehensively and thoroughly without adding fluff or filler words.
How does word count affect your ranking factors and signals?
Word count can affect your SEO performance in several ways. Here are some of the main ranking factors and signals that word count influences:
- Keywords: Longer content can help you target more relevant keywords and variations to your topic and audience. This can increase your chances of ranking for different search queries and attracting more organic traffic. However, you should avoid keyword stuffing or over-optimization, which can harm your readability and credibility.
- Content depth: Longer content can help you provide more depth and detail to your topic and answer more questions that your users may have. This can increase your authority and trustworthiness in your niche and improve your E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) score. Google values high-quality content that demonstrates E-A-T and matches the user intent.
- Content freshness: Longer content can help you update your content more frequently and add new information or insights that are relevant to your topic and audience. This can increase your content freshness and keep your content up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in your industry. Google favors fresh content that provides timely and accurate information to the users.
- User engagement: Longer content can help you engage your users more effectively and keep them on your page longer. This can reduce your bounce rate and increase your dwell time, which are signals that indicate user satisfaction and relevance. Google rewards content that engages users and provides a positive user experience.
- Backlinks: Longer content can help you attract more backlinks from other websites that find your content valuable and useful. This can increase your domain authority and popularity and boost your ranking potential. Google considers backlinks as votes of confidence and trust from other websites.
How does word count affect your readers’ behavior and expectations?
Word count can also affect how your readers perceive and interact with your content. Here are some of the main factors that influence reader behavior and expectations:
- Attention span: Your readers have a limited attention span and may not read your entire article if it is too long or boring. You need to capture their attention from the start with a catchy headline, an engaging introduction, and a clear structure. You also need to break up your text into short paragraphs, bullet points, subheadings, images, videos, etc., to make it easier to scan and digest.
- Reading level: Your readers have different reading levels and preferences depending on their education, background, age, etc. You need to adapt your writing style and tone to your target audience and make your content accessible and understandable for them. You should avoid using jargon, complex sentences, or technical terms that may alienate or confuse your readers.
- Relevance and value: Your readers expect your content to be relevant, useful, and valuable to their needs and interests. You need to provide actionable tips, insights, or solutions that can help them solve their problems or achieve their goals. You should also make sure that your content is accurate, up-to-date, and supported by credible sources and references.
- Scrolling behavior: Your readers may scroll down your page to see how long your article is and decide whether to read it or not. You need to make sure that your most important information and key points are visible above the fold and that your content is well-organized and structured. You can also use progress bars or visual cues to show how much content is left and motivate your readers to keep reading.
How can you balance word count with other aspects of content creation?
Balancing word count with other aspects of content creation requires a strategic and holistic approach. Here are some tips and best practices to keep in mind:
- Plan your content: Before you start writing, you should plan your content based on your goals, audience, and research. You should identify your target keywords, outline your structure, and gather your sources and data. This can help you focus on the most important aspects of your topic and avoid unnecessary or irrelevant details.
- Write for your readers: While optimizing for SEO is important, your primary goal should be to provide value and relevance to your readers. You should write in a conversational, engaging, and informative style that resonates with your audience and reflects your brand voice and personality. You should also address their pain points, questions, and interests and offer them actionable takeaways or insights.
- Edit and proofread: After you finish writing, you should edit and proofread your content to ensure that it is error-free, clear, and concise. You should remove any redundant or irrelevant words, fix any grammar or spelling mistakes, and ensure that your tone and style are consistent throughout your article. You can also use tools like Grammarly or Hemingway to help you improve your writing.
- Optimize for SEO: While writing for your readers is essential, optimizing your content for SEO can help you increase your visibility and reach. You should use your target keywords strategically in your headlines, subheadings, body text, and meta descriptions. You should also use internal and external links to support your claims and provide additional resources for your readers. You can use tools like Yoast or Moz to help you optimize your content for SEO.
- Monitor your analytics: After you publish your content, you should monitor your analytics to see how it performs and make any necessary adjustments. You can use tools like Google Analytics or SEMrush to track your traffic, engagement, bounce rate, and other metrics. You can also use A/B testing or user surveys to get feedback from your readers and improve your content over time.
In conclusion, word count can significantly impact your SEO and user experience, but it is not the only factor that matters. You should write as much as you need to cover your topic comprehensively and thoroughly without sacrificing quality or readability.
You should also focus on providing value and relevance to your readers, optimizing your content for SEO, and monitoring your analytics to improve your performance.