One of the longest-running debates in SEO happens to involve the length of content and whether it has an impact on rankings.
Word count is said to be a factor for search results, with claims suggesting Google sees high word counts as a sign of high-quality content.
Let’s investigate those claims and settle the debate around word count as a ranking factor.
The Claim: Content Length is a Ranking Factor
Content is king, so having more content than competitors is thought to be better for search rankings.
Based on the theory that word count is an indicator of content quality, SEO experts claim a larger word count can help with achieving greater ranking positions.
Some experts even go as far as to recommend a specific word count as a “sweet spot” for landing on the first page of Google.
These claims lead marketers and companies to believe they need to stretch their content to reach a certain number of words in order to be competitive in Google.
The Evidence for Content Length as a Ranking Factor
Google is frequently asked if word count is a ranking factor, meaning we have a lot of evidence to draw from for this section.
According to all the evidence available, it’s clear that word count is not a ranking factor.
“Word count is not a ranking factor. Save yourself the trouble.”
Here’s another statement from Mueller on Twitter confirming that word count is not used to evaluate content quality:
“Word count is not indicative of quality. Some pages have a lot of words that say nothing. Some pages have very few words that are very important & relevant to queries. You know your content best (hopefully) and can decide whether it needs the details.”
In one more example, Mueller advises that adding more text to a page will not make it better from Google’s perspective:
“From our point of view the number of words on a page is not a quality factor, not a ranking factor.
So just blindly adding more and more text to a page doesn’t make it better.”
Content Length as a Ranking Factor: Our Verdict
Word count is confirmed to not be a ranking factor.
What Google cares most about when raking search results is satisfying user intent.
It may take 50 words, 100 words, or 1,000 words to communicate what a searcher needs to know. That number will vary from query to query.
If a user is searching for a question that warrants a quick answer, then a shorter piece of content is more than capable of ranking on the first page.
There’s no benefit to extending the length of content to fit an arbitrary word count.
Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/SearchEngineJournal
Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a degree in communications, Matt has an uncanny ability to make the most complex subject matter easy to understand. When he’s not ferociously following and covering the search industry, he’s busy writing SEO-friendly copy that converts.