If you type this question into Google, you’ll be overwhelmed with all sorts of conflicting advice and research. As always with SEO advice, we recommend beginning with information from Google.
John Mueller, Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google has repeatedly stated that word count is not what matters, quality is. What follows is a short compilation of his quotes on this topic.
“Word count is not a ranking factor. Save yourself the trouble.” Reddit, August 2019
“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.” Twitter, July 2018
“I really wouldn’t focus so much on the length of your article but rather making sure that you’re actually providing something useful and compelling for the user. And sometimes that means a short article is fine. Sometimes that means a long article with lots of information is fine. So that’s something that you essentially need to work out between you and your users.
“We don’t have an algorithm that counts the words on your page and says, oh, everything until 100 words is bad. Everything between 100 and 500 is fine, and over 500 needs to have five pictures. We don’t look at it like that. We try to look at the pages overall and make sure that this is really a compelling and relevant search result to users. And if that’s the case, then that’s perfectly fine if it’s long or short or lots of images or not. That’s essentially up to you.
“Sometimes I think long articles can be a bit long winded and might lose people along the way, but sometimes it’s really important to have a long article with all of the detailed information there. But really that’s something between you and your users and not between you and Google Search Engine.” YouTube, July 2016
“If you write low-quality content (short or long), then yes, our algorithms and even our manual webspam team may choose not to trust your website.
“There’s no minimum length, and there’s no minimum number of articles a day that you have to post, nor even a minimum number of pages on a website. In most cases, quality is better than quantity. Our algorithms explicitly try to find and recommend websites that provide content that’s of high quality, unique, and compelling to users.
“Don’t fill your site with low-quality content, instead work on making sure that your site is the absolute best of its kind.” Google Forum, November 2014
“Rest assured, Googlebot doesn’t just count words on a page or in an article, even short articles can be very useful & compelling to users. For example, we also crawl and index tweets, which are at most 140 characters long.
“Sometimes a short article can trigger a longer discussion – and sometimes users are looking for discussions like that in search. That said, one recommendation that I’d like to add is to make sure that your content is really unique (not just rewritten, autogenerated, etc) and of high-quality.” Google Forum, November 2012
In short: write as many words as your users need to understand the topic.
Want more content marketing strategies like this?
Subscribe to Manufacturing Marketing Magazine — the only magazine with practical marketing strategies for industrial manufacturers.