What is the best word count for blog posts in 2021? Let’s take a look. But first, let’s analyze other factors that influence rankings more than word count. At Nolen Walker, we’ve used these factors to achieve top rankings across various websites for tons of keywords. As a result, our clients get more than 400% traffic increases each year. But this post is not about self-glorification, it’s about getting to the bottom of the word count debate in SEO. Read through the post to discover more.
What Matters More Than Word Count?
Several factors outweigh word count, and here are some of them below:
- Inbound links
- Keyword Placement
- User Intent
- User Engagement / CTR
According to our in-house data, while some SEO writers claim these factors don’t count, they’re wrong. It’s not enough to be an expert on a specific topic or subject if you can’t match the user’s intent and engage them on your website—ranking factors like CTR and time-on-site influence where your page ranks on Google SERPs.
Best Word Count for SEO
Studies show blog posts between 1,700 and 2,500 rank best online. However, there is disagreement about whether or not word count is a direct ranking factor or an indirect ranking factor. Our research suggests the latter, as user engagement with shorter blog posts matters more than word count for posts without as much attention.
As for minimum word counts, 300 words tend to be the baseline for pages that can get indexed in the first place. Any post or page below 300 words may not get indexed and therefore can’t rank online. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but you should always be over 300 words for blog posts.
Other Indicators for Great Blog Posts
A well-written post between 1,700 and 2,500 words is an excellent place to start, but other factors can make or break your rankings. Focus on the following to give your post the best chance to rank in 2021:
- Target Keyword
- Images (w/Alt Text)
- Engagement (Put Videos and Catchy Questions at Top)
- Formatting (Use H2s, H3s, Bullet Points, etc.)
- References (Cite Statistics, Data Points, etc.)
- Optimize URLs (Shorter is Better)
Adjusting Post Length by Competition
Like with most SEO factors, word count is relative to your competition. Therefore, it is essential to analyze the SERP for that term or phrase when targeting a keyword. First, measure the average word count of each result by dividing the total number by 10 (or the number of results on page one).
If the number comes out below 1,700, your blog post can be shorter than usual. Conversely, if it’s more than 2,500, you may need to beef up your post. However, keep in mind that length only matters relative to engagement, so longer posts without engaging content won’t achieve good results.
How To Measure Blog Length in 2021?
The best way to measure blog length is to use a free tool called Web Page Word Counter. However, be aware that the measurement may be higher than the actual word count because of sidebar and footer content or user comments. You can manually subtract non-post content from the number, or you can ballpark it based on your perception. Of course, for your own website, you can look at WordPress’s word counter in the editor.
Quality vs. Quantity for Blog Posts
Quality beats quantity every time and will pierce through word count averages in every scenario. Focus on the following concepts when crafting a new blog post:
- Originality: Introduce a new idea, statistic, or method
- UX: Focus on the reader’s experience with infographics, videos, etc.
- Intent: Meet the user’s precise intent by answering questions and anticipating follow-up questions
Seeing Google Search Console queries for phrases that don’t fit your article’s intent is common and likely means there isn’t good enough content regarding that subject. So instead of altering your existing post to include keywords that don’t match its intent, create an entirely new article that addresses that topic.
How To Increase Word Count on Your Blog Post?
Sometimes writing long-form blog posts is difficult. If you find yourself stuck on 600 or 800 words, there are steps you can take to increase length. For example, search for the target keyword on Google and see if any People Also Ask questions come up. If so, you can answer these questions within your blog post and increase word count in the process.
Other Methods to Increase Blog Length:
Related Searches: Scroll to the bottom of the SERP and check out other queries associated with the term or phrase.
LSI Keywords: Enter your keyword on LSIGraph.com and check the semantic terms and phrases.
Answer The Public: Enter your keyword on Answer The Public and see related questions.
Google Trends: Enter your keyword in Google Trends and check for related and trending queries.
Prepping a Blog Post for Publication
Word count is one of many factors to consider when publishing a blog post. However, before you even measure your word count, you should conduct other processes to prepare a post for publication. Here are the most important:
Keyword Research: Use MOZ or SEMRush to perform keyword research
Related Content: Identify similar topics on your website, and ensure you don’t cannibalize existing keywords
Competitor Analysis: Check out title tags, structure, and UX for competing posts which you can find on Google page one.
The Dangers of Winging It
Traditionalists argue that writers should just write and not worry about user intent, keyword targeting, and word count. However, in SEO, ignoring these factors is malpractice and will always result in less traffic. As SEO professionals, it is our job to help the content rank as high as possible, and you must consider these factors to achieve your goals. Just winging it will result in lower traffic, less engagement, and worse performance. Furthermore, users who fail to engage with a post can harm your overall website metrics and lower rankings across the board.
SEO vs. Traffic
SEO is one way to get traffic for a blog post, but far from the only option. For example, some blog writers don’t care about SEO because they generate thousands of daily users through email marketing, social media, and bookmarking. However, these blogs are few and far between, and the purpose of this post is to explain how word count influences SEO. Still, it’s essential to understand the difference between organic and distribution traffic when crafting blog posts.
The Uniqueness Factor
If there’s one magic factor for outranking competitors with blog posts, it’s uniqueness. Is there an aspect of the user intent that page one results have yet to satisfy? If so, the fastest way to a #1 ranking is to meet the unmet user need. For example, a post about word count might lack specific examples and research. If you can provide those new facets, Google may rank your content higher.
Word Count Frequently Asked Questions
What is the average word count for a blog post?
The average blog post is 1,142 words, according to Torque Mag.
What is the minimum word count for blog posts?
There is no hard and fast rule for minimum word count, but posts under 300 words are unlikely to get Google indexing and therefore are too short. On the other hand, a 300-600 word blog post with images and videos may be enough to garner indexing and keep users engaged.
How long does it take to write 1,000 words of content?
A well-written 1,000-word blog post takes at least 90 minutes when you consider research, references, and proofreading. If you are responsible for adding images and videos, the standard duration increases to 2 hours.
SEO Word Count Case Study
Google gives us some guidelines to follow and occasionally releases a public statement, but SEO is a guessing game for the most part. Somewhere along the line, the phrase content is king became part of every digital marketer’s rallying cry. The problem is not in the statement itself but in how it is perceived and subsequently applied to digital marketing. Many in the industry equate content with word count. Let’s search for what day it is and analyze where sites rank relative to word count.
Now we’ll use the Bulk Word Counter from SEO Review Tools to measure the precise word counts of each first-page result.
Source: SEO Review Tools
While we can’t conclude a single search query, this one at least demonstrates a challenge to the conventional wisdom of the content is king legion. Out of 9 first-page results, the top result is 7th in word count and 6th in the corrected word count. The updated count is merely an estimate of words on the page that aren’t filler. Like Kennedy before the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, SEO experts have failed to acknowledge cases like these because no one else is talking about them and bringing them up in meetings. But what you’re about to learn is that we’re not refuting the importance of content for rankings.
Content is Dynamic
When most people think of content, they think about words. But why? Searching for the most contextual definition of content revealed that Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as the principle substance (such as written matter, illustrations, or music) offered by a website. Some might point to including written matter within the list of examples to validate their pre-existing bias. Still, the reality is that the need for multiple instances is proof against that ideology. Illustrations and music are content as well, and that is mostly the point. Consider these few notes:
- 1.) The “written word” may refer to everything from a single word to millions of them
- 2.) If illustrations and music are considered content, video is presumably content as well
User Intent Matters
Since SEO as an industry is for profit, salesmanship is inherently present within its marketplace. When you then consider the fact that SEO is a form of marketing, it is subject to the same talking points as those used by snake oil salesmen and used car dealers. But when SEO is not a marketing chip, it can lead us to tangible measurements that define trends without a plan. Users searching for what day is it, for example, don’t care about word count. So what do they care about? They care about what day it is. What the date is. And if it has any significance. Yes, it’s that simple.
Does Word Count… Count?
How would we know? Google makes the rules, and they’re invisible. The only thing we can do as analysts is to test the information we have. The best way to do this is by conducting research experiments. As an SEO firm that has noticed discrepancies between the claims of our competitors and the tangible results on our screens, we decided to test a long-held hypothesis that word count doesn’t always translate to results. This singular case demonstrates that word count doesn’t mean everything but does not refute the importance of content. Most importantly, it raises questions that others can then pursue answers to.
Will Google Rank This Page?
This page is 1963 words long. Will Google rank it? If you’ve arrived at this page, there’s a decent chance that it has been indexed for one or more keywords. There’s also a chance that you’ve reached this blog post indirectly. Perhaps you’ve entered from a different web page on this site (most likely the homepage) and then clicked on this post in the blog section. Regardless of who you are and how you got here, we would like to thank you for reading this through its duration. We decided not to make this post thousands of words because we know that your attention span isn’t that long. And why would it be when there are lots else to do on the internet then sift through 40 pages about SEO theories?. Still, Google rewarding word count for the sake of it seems unlikely.