Does Word Count Still Matter in 2022?
In SEO, the debate about whether word count matters or not has been raging for decades. Some say that it does since machines need lots of words to understand content while others say this is not true. With so much debate raging online it is time to examine if word count still matters.
What Google Says
Google has always insisted that word count does not matter and that its algorithms can understand content and rank it no matter its length. However, this has previously been shown as untrue, as tests found content between 1000 and 2000 words ranks better. With this contradictory information, we cannot rely on Google or the tests to determine if word count matters, but we can use other signals to make an educated conclusion.
Why Longer Content Often Ranks Better
One theory why longer content tends to rank better is context. More words on a page make it easier to provide context. Context makes it easier for Google’s bots and algorithms to understand the content on the page. Longer content also allows algorithms to understand the relationship between anchor pages and the pages they link to so they can rank both, which often leads to higher rankings.
Secondly, long-form, well-written content positions you as an authority on a subject. We already know authority, trust, and credibility are important ranking considerations.
Also, longer content makes it easier to add long-tail keywords and their variants to the body of text.
Usefulness and Backlinks
Google gauges how useful content is on a page before ranking it. Longer content is often better researched so Google might find it more useful than shorter content.
Also, we know the number and authority of backlinks to a page are important ranking factors. With long-form content being better researched than shorter content and thus more useful to more people, it is easier for it to gain backlinks on other sites. This increases the potential for this content to rank higher.
Improving Content Quality
With Google insisting content length is not a ranking factor, the best thing you can do to rank higher is to improve the quality of your content. The first way to do so is to do keyword research with your users and visitors in mind. When you research potential keywords for a piece of content, you will find yourself including a long tail variant without thinking about it.
Secondly, you should improve content structure. Content structure is useful for readability, which improves user experience, reduces bounce rates, and increases the amount of time visitors spend on the website.
It also has the added advantage of helping search engine bots crawl and understand your content. Start by breaking your content into sections and using the right headings for each section for better content structure.
Lastly, always review your performance. This is the performance of content of different lengths, structures, and so on. With this analysis, you will be able to tell the ideal word count for your website and type of content and find areas for improvement.
In a world where more words do not necessarily mean better content, word count alone cannot help your content rank higher. It is important to also work on the quality of your content to make it useful for visitors and crawlable by search engine bots.