Word count as a ranking factor - does it still matter? - Movers Development

Word count as a ranking factor – does it still matter?

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Easily counted among the most debatable topics when it comes to SEO, word count has definitely earned its day in our blog. Although a majority of studies and statements from Google officials point toward the conclusion that word count as a ranking factor is not relevant, there are still certain points to explore here. The truth is that back in 2005, the number of words played a much higher and more impactful role than it does today. However, despite the constant updates to the Google algorithm since then and the shifts in the relevant rankings factors, most professional SEO companies still refuse to neglect the influence of word count as a small cog in a large machine.

Does Google see word count as a ranking factor?

The realistic truth is that it used to matter a lot more than it does today. However, it’s not as simple to answer this question without taking all other factors into consideration. In recent years, we’ve seen Google being more insistent on the notion of creating content that offers value. So, the game of optimizing the content you create for search engines has shifted in favor of online users. And this can certainly invite in-depth and insightful content that both customers and search engines will find appealing.

However, we have statements from experts that negate the definition of word count as a ranking factor. Earlier this year, Google’s Webmaster Trend Analyst John Mueller regarded that simply focusing on ranking through matching the word count of top-ranked pages/posts will not work. This further validated his 2019 statement that word count is not a ranking factor.

John Mueller's tweet on the topic of word count as a ranking factor.

The other side of the coin that is Mueller’s statement is that although not a ranking factor, a high word count is certainly welcome so long as it offers value to the topic in question. And so, it is true that you will have higher chances of ranking higher with a bigger volume of words, so long as they remain relevant to the topic.

Counting words vs. counting words that rank on SERPs

Can word count boost the impact of your SEO efforts? When we consider the above-mentioned statement, the answer is simple. If your SEO strategy is solid and your approach to content is good, then writing 500 words should have the same influence as writing 1500 words. However, the condition here is that the quality of the content needs to be on point, and that means:

  • Relevant
  • Unique
  • Authentic
  • Engaging
  • Up-to-date
  • Optimized

Basically, using a 2500-word article to explain a topic that you could have explained in 500 words will offer you no real edge over your competitors. It’s no longer a matter of counting words so much as counting the words that can actually bring value to your pages/posts. And that is where the divide among digital marketing agencies happens. While some hold to the belief that bigger is better, others rely on the choice of words and how you present it all.

The importance of backlink building in all this

Schematic of backlink building
Unlike word count, backlinks are among the most important ranking factors.

To build further upon the essence of this topic – a business has to look beyond the word count. The true priority of the volume and quality of your words shows in the traffic and links they generate. In other words, whether you write a 600-word post or a 3000-word one, it makes no difference if you gain nothing from it. Rather than focusing your energy on finding that magic number of words to rank your pages higher, look at the bigger picture here – will it provide you value.

In the past, we touched upon the subject of just how important backlink building for companies is. And that is the goal here – to find the best words that will secure a steady share-flow of the content you create and attract more traffic to your website. Why is this so important? It’s simple – although word count as a ranking factor plays no real role, backlinks are the backbone of a strong ranking.

The potential gains of chasing after a high word count

Word count as a ranking factor aside, there are other valid reasons to chase after a higher number of words in the content that you create:

  • Demonstrate the authority you command in your industry
  • Boost credibility by educating others on a topic you specialize in
  • Lay the ground for your sales funnel and generate more leads
  • Provide online users with in-depth answers to their questions
  • Showcase your dedication through the effort you put into the content
  • Secure more options in terms of interlinking your own content

Despite not being to guarantee yourself a #1 ranking on SERPs with a high volume of words per page, there are other benefits to reap from your efforts. These are just some of the more obvious and vital ones to consider, but there are also others. And it all relies on the notion of creating quality content that provides an appealing insight for the ones reading it.

A gold nugget for you to take from all of this

Illustration of content creation process.
The verdict is simple – you need more for your content to rank high.

The conclusion is a simple one to make from all of this – word count as a ranking factor is by itself not enough. The role it plays is important, but it is a supporting one at best. But if you are looking to strengthen and grow your brand on the words you write, the following guidelines should be of use to you:

  • Having a higher word count alone is not enough – you need to focus on the content itself and what you gain from it.
  • Optimization goes hand-in-hand with content creation – you need to choose your keywords carefully to avoid content cannibalization later on.
  • Look at your content as a gateway to earning backlinks and generating organic traffic – create interesting and rich articles (with data, case studies, examples, research, and insights)
  • Always make sure to put the intent of your site visitors first by giving them the answers they seek.

And if you get lost along the way, remember that Movers Development is always at your disposal to offer professional guidance and support. For our team, word count is a small piece of a large puzzle – one that we can help you put together, giving your business the online presence it deserves.