For as long as search engine optimisation (SEO) has existed, people have been trying to determine what the ideal word count is for a blog.
One of the most vocal about this matter is Neil Patel, who has even written a guide to the ideal word count for blogs on specific industries. However, even Patel, who admits he talks about word count a lot, always clarifies that quality content is more important than length. He makes this point both at the beginning and end of his piece, concluding that a high-quality shorter piece will perform better than a poor-quality longer one. Still, his work is often quoted out of context, with many people clinging to a quote he made decades ago that a piece of content should be at least 800 words.
Google, meanwhile, has always denied that word count is a factor in successful search rankings, and it gave yet another reminder of this last week through a tweet from its Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan.
Reminder. The best word count needed to succeed in Google Search is … not a thing! It doesn't exist. Write as long or short as needed for people who read your content. That's aligned with what our ranking systems aim to reward: https://t.co/NaRQqb1SQx #PeopleNotRobots pic.twitter.com/wdjhHn9RR3
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) June 22, 2023
Indeed, in the last couple of years, Google has been making noises about avoiding “fluff” in content. Last year, Google Search Advocate John Mueller noted that blogs or articles that make it difficult for search engines to figure out what point you are making are inevitably going to suffer in rankings.
In recent months, one website noticed that Google is now automatically returning more answers to basic questions. This may be an attempt to direct people away from long-winded articles full of thin content that are written purely to rank for straightforward questions similar to “when does Wimbledon start?”
The right answer for “how long should my piece of content be” is always as long as it needs to be for you to answer the question fully, yet concisely. Academics write theses running into tens of thousands of words of original research because that’s how long they need their work to be to tackle complex and previously uninvestigated subjects and arguments. A question like “what time does the football start tonight?”, on the other hand, can be answered in a few words, so why write 800 on it?
If you’d like to hear further ranting on this subject, here’s our Marketing & Communications Director, Darren.
At Engage Web, we produce high-quality content to engage your readers while also helping your site’s rankings. If you’d like to learn what SEO-friendly content can do for your business, speak to our team.