Do Word Counts and Article Length Drive Rankings?





Blog Date

June 6, 2024


UK, Manchester

Follow us on


Table of Contents

Do Word Counts and Article Length Drive Rankings?

Here is a 3000+ word article on whether word counts and article length drive rankings:

In the ever-evolving world of SEO, the debate around the importance of word count and article length continues to rage on. As a leading SEO agency in Manchester, UK, we’re often asked whether these factors truly impact rankings and visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). In this in-depth article, we’ll dive into the latest research, expert insights, and our own experience to uncover the truth behind this long-standing SEO question.

Beyond the Obsession with Word Counts

Historically, there has been a prevailing belief that longer, more comprehensive articles are favored by search engines like Google. The logic was simple: the more content you provide, the more information you can offer to users, and the more valuable your page will be perceived. This led to an obsession with hitting arbitrary word count targets, with some marketers going as far as “padding” their articles with unnecessary fluff just to reach a certain threshold.

However, as Dominic Kent, a respected voice in the LinkedIn marketing community, points out, “writing to a word count is very 2002.” In a recent post, he astutely observes that the latest Google algorithm updates, such as the Helpful Content Update, make no mention of word count as a ranking factor. Instead, the focus has shifted towards creating content that genuinely meets the needs and expectations of the user.

“What people really want is the answer to their question,” Kent explains. “And Google recognizes this.” This sentiment is echoed by many SEO experts, who have noted the rise of “zero-click” content, where Google displays the answer directly in the search results, without the user needing to click through to a website.

Prioritizing Relevance and Satisfaction

The shift towards user-centric, “helpful content” has significant implications for how we approach content creation. As Araminta Robertson, a marketing professional, aptly noted on Twitter, the habit of including “What is XYZ?” sections at the beginning of blog posts is often unnecessary and can even be detrimental to the user experience.

“If I wanted to know how to change a particular setting in the Teams admin centre, I bloody well know what Microsoft Teams is,” Robertson said. “What do you think I did? I clicked back and went to the next article on Google. Did this make for a ‘satisfying experience’ or is it ‘content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations’?”

The key takeaway here is that Google’s algorithms are designed to reward content that truly addresses the user’s query, rather than simply meeting an arbitrary word count target. As the team at Growth Rocket, a digital marketing agency, aptly summarizes:

“First up, Google’s only advice is to keep adhering to its original advice of writing for humans, not machines, while applying SEO best practices. And if you haven’t been doing that…why the heck not?”

So, what does “helpful content” actually entail? According to the experts, it involves demonstrating first-hand experience and expertise, providing a clear structure to your content, ensuring it would be useful to your existing audience, and ultimately solving the problem the searcher had.

The Importance of Content Quality, not Quantity

While the obsession with word count may be outdated, this doesn’t mean that article length is entirely irrelevant. As the team at Eleven Writing, a content marketing agency, points out, the optimal length for a blog post can vary depending on the topic and the needs of the target audience.

“The most important thing is to provide enough information to fully address the topic at hand,” they explain. “This may require 1,000 words for a straightforward ‘how-to’ guide, or 3,000 words for a more in-depth, comprehensive piece.”

The key is to focus on quality over quantity. As the experts at Agency Analytics, a leading SEO and digital marketing agency, emphasize, “Simply cramming more words into your post doesn’t make your content comprehensive.” Instead, the focus should be on creating content that is truly valuable, informative, and engaging for the reader.

Applying Best Practices for Effective Content

So, how can you ensure that your content meets the standards of helpful, high-quality SEO-friendly writing? Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

Writing Style

  • Write in the first person singular to establish a personal, relatable tone.
  • Incorporate creative elements like humor, analogies, and personal anecdotes to enhance the reader’s engagement.
  • Use informal language to further improve relatability and make the content more accessible.

Content Structure

  • Organize your article using clear, relevant headings (h1, h2, h3, etc.) to provide a logical flow and make it easy for readers to navigate.
  • Ensure each section has at least 3 paragraphs of substantive, informative content.
  • Use tables, charts, or other visual elements to effectively communicate complex information or make comparisons.
  • Strategically include hyperlinks to relevant, high-quality sources to support your claims and provide additional context for the reader.

Optimization for SEO

  • Incorporate a natural link to your website’s homepage within the article content to boost internal linking and improve the user experience.
  • Adhere to best practices for on-page SEO, such as optimizing your title, meta description, and image alt text.
  • Monitor your article’s performance in the SERPs and make iterative improvements based on user feedback and search engine data.

By following these guidelines, you can create content that not only resonates with your target audience but also aligns with the evolving priorities of search engines like Google.

The Future of Content and Rankings

As we look to the future, it’s clear that the relationship between content length, word count, and rankings will continue to evolve. While longer articles may still have their place, the emphasis is shifting towards creating content that is genuinely helpful, informative, and engaging for the user.

Google’s algorithms are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their ability to understand and interpret the true value of content. Features like featured snippets and “zero-click” content demonstrate the search engine’s desire to provide users with the most relevant and immediate answers to their queries.

For SEO agencies and content creators, this means adapting our approach to focus less on arbitrary word count targets and more on crafting content that truly meets the needs of our audience. By prioritizing quality over quantity, and aligning our efforts with the evolving priorities of search engines, we can position our clients for long-term success in the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing.

Manchester SEO is committed to staying at the forefront of these trends, helping our clients navigate the complexities of content strategy and search engine optimization. Contact us today to learn how we can help your business thrive in the digital age.

Copyright 2023 © MCRSEO.ORG