What’s the Best Word Count for Google, Blog Posts, and SEO?
Are you seeking clarity on the perfect word count for SEO-friendly copywriting? Two decades ago, the standard recommendation was 250 words per page. Back then, this was considered “too much copy,” with many arguing that a higher word count could potentially deter readers.
Today, in 2023, many businesses prioritize long-form content, with comprehensive guides exceeding 2,000 words. However, it’s crucial to note that the quality of content, its relevance, and the number of credible backlinks it generates outweigh the strict adherence to a specific word count for SEO optimization.
In other words, short copy isn’t dead — there’s just more to consider when you’re creating content.
Let’s break down the research:
What’s a minimum word count guideline for Google?
Determining the best word count for blog posts and web pages has everything to do with your topic and reader. Generally, from a content writing perspective, some general word count guidelines are:
- Sales landing pages: A minimum word count of 350 words – however the content length depends on the product or service and what the reader needs to see.
- Blog posts: It depends on the search query. Generally, at least 250 words for highly-specific queries. Other queries lend themselves to a longer word count.
It’s important to note that these word count guidelines are not based on Google guidelines – they’re more around what works for readers. That’s an important distinction.
But what about pinpointing the magical word count that makes Google smile? You’re probably wondering…
What’s the best word count for Google?
And the answer is – Google doesn’t care about your blog post or web page word count.
Google’s John Mueller said in August 2019 that “word count is not a ranking factor.”
There’s no magical word fairy who reviews your word count and positions your page accordingly. The Google Quality Raters aren’t counting every.single.word.
Google said back in 2018 that word count does not indicate quality content.
This is good news!
Despite what some “experts” believe (and what some SEO writing courses teach), content producers don’t have to create long-form content every time. Nor do writers need to mindlessly add extra content to existing pages to “help the page rank” and showcase content quality.
It doesn’t work that way.
Google’s John Mueller clarified in 2021 that adding additional content won’t necessarily help a page position.
According to Mueller:
“From our point of view, the number of words on a page is not a quality factor, not a ranking factor.
So just blindly adding more and more text to a page doesn’t make it better.”
We can write the right amount of content that satisfies the user’s query and provides the standout answer they want.
This is why, after analyzing the information, Matt Southern from Search Engine Journal declared that content length is not a ranking factor.
But (because there’s always a “but” in SEO…..)
Google may not have an official word count stance, but some research does show that longer blog posts position better.
Let’s break down why that is…
What’s the best word count for a blog post?
It depends on what you mean by “best.”
For instance, a 2020 article by ahrefs stated there was a moderate correlation between word count (up to 2,000 words,) and organic traffic.
What’s interesting is content over 2,000 words had a moderate negative correlation. This means longer content doesn’t guarantee a top ranking. More words won’t drive more traffic.
It doesn’t work that way.
HubSpot, in their 2020 post, said that their blog word count sweet spot was 2,100-2,400 words. However, this is based on their average of 50 of HubSpot’s most-read posts – not a larger study with multiple respondents and search data.
So, the numbers are interesting – but they’re HubSpot’s numbers. They don’t necessarily apply to your site and target reader.
Plus, the article mentions that one-third of their top articles were less than 1,500 words. So, longer content isn’t always a magic SEO bullet.
Having said that, longer content can drive links. Moz ran a survey in 2021 asking, “When it comes to the execution of your idea, which of the following do you find to be the most effective in generating links?”
This result is reinforced by ahrefs, which found a positive correlation between word count and backlinks…but only up to 1,000 words.
Viola Eva discussed this in a 2019 Search Engine Journal article. Her take:
The path to ranking success looks like:
- Longer content leads to more links.
- More links lead to better rankings (and more organic traffic).
It seems what might be ranking the website is not so much the content length itself (though it for sure helps to be competitive with the Page 1 results), but firstly the amount of links the page received. Guides, skyscrapers, pillar pages, and content hubs make the most interesting link targets.
Eva’s take makes sense – especially when you consider that over 91 percent of content gets no traffic from Google. None. Nada. 91 percent. Ouch.
Is it any wonder why companies think that long-form is the only way to go?
Let’s turn to our friends at ahrefs again. They actually found a negative correlation between backlinks and articles over 1,000 words.
This makes sense. Sure, some general topics lend themselves to long-form content – for instance, an article about [what is b2b marketing].
But if you’re trying to write 1,500 words about [how to sew a button], you’ll throw off your reader. People don’t want to slog through useless, fluffy content to get their questions answered. If the search query only requires 500 words to answer it – then just write 500 words. Especially since…
Shorter content can and does position.
Is there a minimum word count for SEO?
For instance, the top-positioned page for the query [how to brew black tea] is 424 words. That’s still a lot of words — but the page has a number one result and position zero.
The top result for [how to restart a Fitbit] is a scant 94 words:
The NASA page answering [what is a solar eclipse] positions number one – and is less than 50 words:
Longer copy isn’t better – and shorter copy positions?
So, what’s the best word count for SEO?
There is no “best word count for SEO.”
Let go of the idea that you have to have a certain word count “for Google” or “for SEO success.”
In fact, the content length depends on the user query and what your reader needs to see.
Conduct competitive research before you start writing.
SEO writing is more than shoving keyphrases into the content. You also need to check out your top-10 competition before you start writing. Things to look for include:
- What’s the search intent for your desired keyphrases? If you’re seeing mostly informational pages, a sales page probably won’t position.
- How have other sites approached the content? You don’t want to copy them, but you do want to determine how to make your content unique.
- Does the competition link out to other sites? Outbound links to authority sites won’t help your SEO, but they are good for your readers.
- How could you create a more clickable page Title than what you see currently positioning?
- Are there other positioning opportunities, such as writing a FAQ page?
For more tips about how to research and write SEO content, check out this SEO copywriting checklist.
Throw your assumptions out the window.
One of the biggest SEO writing challenges is dealing with people who “just know” what works for their readers — but they don’t back up their opinions with data.
For instance, many writers think sales pages should be short (under 250 words) because “readers don’t want to scroll.”
However, companies create long sales copy all the time. And it works.
For instance, this sales page from Brooklyn Bedding is almost 1,400 words long, not counting the FAQ page. This HubSpot sales page is around 750 words.
Long copy can indeed clunk and be visually overwhelming. But, that’s true of any poorly-written page. As Seth Godin says, “Please, give me something long (but make it worth my time.)…”
And if you’re still not sure if you should write short or long-form content, check out this guide from ahrefs and this post from the Content Marketing Institute.
Dive into your analytics and roll around in the data.
SEO writers can’t ignore analytics anymore. The information is too tasty, valuable, and fascinating to ignore.
Analytics will tell you:
- Which posts get great Google positions?
- Is there a “sweet spot” correlation between your most popular posts and word count?
- Are posts positioning, but you aren’t getting click-throughs to the page?
Plus, you can always dive into specialized solutions like Serpstat, ahrefs, or SEMrush for more details.
If you’re freelancing, don’t be afraid to ask your clients for their analytics information. The data will help you better understand what’s working — and how to make their SEO content strategy even better.
Write as much as you need to — and not one word more.
“Fluffing up” a page just to meet a specific word-count requirement is horrible for your readers… and it won’t help boost your Google rankings. In fact, Google’s John Mueller said fluffy content makes “it hard for search engines to figure out what you’re trying to say.”
(Which means, no, having AI write your content isn’t a good idea. In fact, some writers should worry about AI content taking their jobs.)
Later, Mueller discussed fluffy copy in a 2022 video hangout, saying, “Just filling extra text on a page – I would not do that.”
Plus, since we’ve seen that shorter copy can still position, there’s no percentage to adding more content “just in case.” Focus on answering the query instead.
Content expert Ann Smarty wrote a great post about how to improve an article without fluffing out your word count.
Finally, think about this when you’re writing the copy:
- Did I fully answer the search query?
- Have I overcome all objections?
- Have I showcased the product or service?
- Is the keyphrase usage seamless?
- Does the copy encourage the next conversion step?
- Have I connected with my reader?
- Have I written the content in a voice that clicks with my readers?
- Am I open to making changes to the page as additional data rolls in?
If your answer is “yes,” you’ve done your job.
It’s as simple as that.
(Note: This post originally ran 14 years ago! Wow! So much has changed since then.)
I never thought about the word count of my content…I more focused on the content itself and utilizing my H1 and H2 tags. But from the sounds of it doesn’t matter as long as I get my point across. Thanks for the article, great post!
Thanks so much – I’m glad you found it useful! :)
Heather I still find myself using 250 as the word count when developing copy. But I’m curious, based on your experience, what you think is the most that can be put on a page that people will feel comfortable reading. I think at some point people will either grow tired of scrolling down or will be overwhelmed before they’ve even begun reading if it’s too much text. At what point would you recommend dividing it into more than one page?
Heather less than an hour after reading your post I began reading a column I was reading a column offering 20 things to improve your web site’s chances. One of the bullet points was “Are there at least 250 words of text on your home page to satisfy search engines?” I thought it was funny reading this so soon after reading your blog. Here was one person using this as a criteria for success on the search engines.
LOL – that’s funny about the column. Yes, that magical word count seems to be everywhere…I shudder to think how many copywriters are struggling to write exactly 250 words every single time.
The “best” word count can vary. For instance, I’ve read studies that show that folks in more technical fields (think IT) can handle a longer word count. Some pages do benefit from shorter copy.
When in doubt, it’s something to test…eventually, I’ll write a post about using analytics to help improve your content.
Thanks for your comments!
Heather I imagine your right about people in technical fields read more. I think in their cases they’re likely printing off the text and then reading it. I look forward to your post on analytics.
I work by the rule of only quality long posts if the quality is kept, re readig what you have write rathar than grammar checking it will make you aware of useless lines of text which may disintrest, personaly the best amount of works if the amount of words it takes to explain in detail.
I’ve started hearing this more and more lately. It’s not quantity, but quality. I’ve also heard that articles of 300 – 500 words tend to be the best, so I have been striving to hit at least 250 – 300 words and keep the writing brief and to the point. If you think that you’re going to end up making it too long, then that’s the point to stop, reevaluate, and possibly turn it into 2 articles rather than just 1. That’s my thought, anyway.
Focusing on readers is definitely good advice. From my own blogs I have never been able to see a pattern of how length factors into the rankings. I’ve had some very short posts that ranked well and attracted lots of search visitors, and I’ve had plenty of long posts that don’t rank very well. In the end, if you focus on the reader your content will be better and everyone will benefit.
These days, I seem to spend just as much time laying out content in panels, callout boxes, bullet points and tables (as well as suggesting complementary images and icons) as I do writing the actual text.
By doing this, you’re making it dead easy for the web page visitor to digest what’s in front of them. And, because the content is more concise and visually appealing, people are less likely to bounce and more likely to stick around and buy.
When I’ve finished the content, it always looks so obvious and simple in the end – even though I’ve slogged my guts out to get it that way.
But what gets me is when I present the content to the client.
Far too frequently for my liking they’ll say something like ‘Well you haven’t written very much’ or ‘You haven’t written enough words for Google’.
Sometimes I wonder whether I should give them the useless, flat, mono-dimensional garbage they think they want rather than the treatment they actually need.
Argh That must be so frustrating, Kevin!
I say keep on keeping on with what you’re doing. You’re doing everything you can for the reader – and that’s the most important thing!
That’s the answer I wanted to hear Heather.
Although I do need to focus more on getting the right kind of client. That way, I’ll be dealing more often with people who understand what I’m trying to achieve for them and the value of what I offer.
I really find 250 word blog posts to be too short. When I see companies that have those super short posts, I think that it must have been written by a content mill writer. The content is usually not very interesting and you can tell it was SEO driven. Seth Godin can write those short posts and get away with it at times because he has already proven himself as a thought leader. So when he writes a short post, he meets his objective, and he’s done with it.
On the other hand, I enjoy longer posts — about 1000+ words. However you need to have those subheaders in there to help your readers to skim. It is still the internet, after all, and people want to get to the point. If they choose to read the post word for word, GREAT! However I like to make it easy for them to get the info they need to find quickly, then move on.
Yes writing for users/audience/customer/clients is much better than writing your articles for search engines. This is understood and very natural, specially after 2013.But I have one question. Isn’t it better to write 3 articles with 500 words count each than writing one article with 1500 words count?
Because for 500 words count 3 articles we can target 3 page titles, 3 meta descriptions etc.
Please put some light on this point and share your valuable inputs on this.
@Soumya, you’re certainly right. Sometimes, it makes more sense to split one article up into multiple, smaller articles. This can be good for SEO purposes – but also good for your readers.
However, keep in mind that Google (and your readers) like in-depth articles too. So, you may want to experiment with longer articles and see if that makes a difference.
Thanks for your comment.
Kevin- Whenever I work with a client, particularly a new client, I try to explain what I plan to do and why it makes sense to do it. Most of the time people are responsive to that kind of education. You could also write a blog post on your site about how you tailor needs to individual clients based on your SEO knowledge (or something along those lines).
It is all about testing and measuring the conversions continuously. I guess, there is no typical word count for contents marked by Google or any other search engines. It depends on the industry or product or service we are writing on. At the end of the day Content Marketing is one of the best way to reach to your targeted customers. So creating good quality content consistently is more important than concentrating on their word counts. Sometimes a little content can also boost the traffic and itself ranks well and sometime a bigger one does it. It is all about my professional experience. Would like to listen the author’s opinion.
Sometimes I don’t think about the length of words on writing an article. Focus on how to make a high quality article. But your post is helpful for me to consider the length of words on writing an article.
Thank you for share and great post.
Was doing some research on this and your article has summed SEO & word count up very nicely – focus on the readers and make sure you do the necessary testing. Thanks a lot!
You’re very welcome! :)
No wonder nowadays is so hard to get a relevant search like 15 years ago. Now when I do search the first results are this pages with huge content and after been a considerable time reading, then I find out the content is heading nowhere, is a waste of time, searches are not the same with this ridiculous rules of Google and other search engines.
I have learn about SEO and I think the words count should between 1000 to 2000 per page.
And those words should be unique and high quality contents.
Content Length is a matter because there must be some content related to the keywords and topic we are targeting.
But activities done by the visitors makes your ranking fluctuations. Minimum content of 300-500 words is essential, and the page should be useful for the visitors ultimately.
I have found many tourism websites with very less text content that ranked extremely good (they have included packages, and some other attractive elements for the visitors to spend more time on this page.)
Informational pages( like blog article) and commercial pages ( business keywords) are performed differently in content length from my experiences.
Was wondering if you had a particular length in mind when you started rewriting this post, and if that changed during the process of doing so? I’ve had a number of stories in my head that I would like to include in future blog posts – I’m not sure that the additional length may help as much as the fact that they are interesting stories. It sounds like it’s worth testing. :)
Hi, Bill! ::waving::
I didn’t, actually — but your note inspired me to check something. Before, with a slightly shorter word count (around 550ish words, and without any graphics,) the page positioned at #5 or so.
The updated copy has around 750 words, and is now positioning at #1 and #2. Nice!
It’s interesting to note that the post is positioning well, even if it’s not considered a long-form post. Adding more content for a higher word count would probably make the copy too “fluffy,” which is what I wanted to avoid. In your case, I’d imaging that having an interesting story to tell would be more important than an artificially long word count. :)
Thanks for stopping by!
Great insight on the recommended word count for content you wish to rank for. I like how you paired this article with real data. Thanks for sharing Heather!
I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for stopping by, Nick!
Very interesting topic! I’ve been trying different word counts to help stop the guessing game and actually testing different word counts with the same keyword density mixed with long tail terms. I’ve noticed that all my 1000+ word posts outrank my lower word count posts. So I’d recommend always writing posts of 1000+ words and using Google suggest and Google related searches as your best friend :)
Mozie, it’s great that you’ve actually tested your approach! I love it!
Do you write for a number of industries/verticals? Or just one?
Mozie – great insights, thank you! Quick question – do you find the same applies for pages and posts, or are you referring specifically to post word count?
Appreciate the research – I think following your readers is the best way to grow…now I just need to come up with some readers! :P :)
Great post. I used to write content of 500-600 words. I think this much is enough to for my topic and optimizing keywords too. Well written post. Thanks for sharing!
That was a great post Heather. It made me think about a lot of things and I may make some page changes as a result.
Very cool! Thanks for letting me know!
Your way of explaining is really superb…..These day it’s very tough to rank high in google….I am new in blogging and your article helped me a lot.
Thanks for sharing amazing articles.
Thank you heather. My target is at least create minimum 1200 words per articles.
My question is do the images i inserted in the articles counted as word?
Unfortunately, images don’t count as a word. :( Having said that, images are great for readers, and many viral posts have multiple images (there are even stats about the number of images you should have in a post.) So, they are worthwhile — especially if you optimize your images for image search. :)
Thanks for your post and question!
I struggle at times with text content. I’m a wedding photographer and so my pages are and need to be very visual. Rather than a blog I create ‘photo stories’ with a brief introduction. Some of my photo story blogs have ranked pretty high but I’m still struggling with the main home page which is crucial. I’ve recently just added more txt so hopefully Google will like it.
George, I LOVE the idea of “photo stories!” What a wonderful way to combine text with your wonderful photos.
Good luck with Google — I hope adding additional home page text helps your rankings. Please let me know how it goes…
I think the best thing to do is to not think what Google wants. Ultimately, at least ideally, Google wants what the reader wants. In other words, the article should only be as long as it needs to be. Same with publishing frequency – keeping it regular is more important.
You’re right — it’s more important to worry about what the reader wants. Still, there are some folks out there churning out 5,000-word posts because they feel it’s the “right” thing to do. Sometimes, it is…but other times, it’s 4,000 words too many. :)
Thanks for your comment!
Very interesting topic! I’ve been trying different word counts to help stop the guessing game and actually testing different word counts with the same keyword density mixed with long tail terms. I’ve noticed that all my 1000+ word posts outrank my lower word count posts.
Hello Heather, great post!
I have read a few articles now, hoping to learn something on this subject to improve my blog, and nothing strikes me more than to focus on giving my readers what they want, regardless of what anybody else says.
I look forward to more of your writing!
Hey, Edwin! Thanks so much for your note! Happy reading! :)
This was very valuable information. Bloggers priority should be the readers first.
This topic is interesting enough to suscribe here ;)
I’m developping a website in which articles are in reality digital products descriptions (gaming, software, services). Like everybody, I want to be good for my readers AND for Google.
That’s why I have thought about something which can makes everybody happy (at least for a blogger which my kinds of article) : why not split our content/product description in 2 parts?
With some basic CSS, we can easily make a short description (200 words at least) which will give the most essential informations related to the subject. And at the end of this part, we can easily add a “want to read more” button or equivalent for people who finds this article interesting or just want to read it to the end.
If some SEO experts here can help me by saying what they think about a such practice… Because from my little knowledge, I bet that Google will fetch the content, and without applying a penality for the hidden content.
What do you think about it?
I never contemplated the word tally of my substance… I increasingly centered around the substance itself and using my H1 and H2 labels. In any case, from its hints doesn’t make a difference as long as I express what is on my mind. A debt of gratitude is in order for the article, extraordinary post!
I like to look at what the top 10 positions that are similar to the post that I am about to write about for the given keyword.
Get an average.
Then use that as my benchmark.
Then try to pack as much high-value content within that benchmark as possible – and not be too concerned if I got a little overboard.
I believe it’s best not to believe what Google intends to do. At least ideally, Google ultimately gets what the reader wants. In other words, only as long as it needs to be should the article be. Same with publication frequency – it is more essential to keep it regular.
Great Post Heather!
As someone who is the process of taking their blog to the next level this is something that is always in the back of my head. Is it too short, long enough, etc.
I have found my personal sweet spot between 1,000 and 2,000 word count of course this changes depending on the topic but I find most thing can be said within that range.
This blog has lots of quality for concept on the word count on the blog post. I have problem with my website pages generated from “product-tags”. It says they have low word count. I appreciate help from anyone.
I was watching a video from Matthew Woodward. I forget the name of the video but anyhow, he said that to increase traffic by as much as 14x times you should write at least two (2) 2,500 word high-quality posts twice per month that will help improve your keywords as well as your traffic. What’s your perspective on that?
Great question! I never buy into the “do X and get Y result” stuff because it’s never accurate. An SEO content strategy revolves around, so many other things — and how you’d approach the content depends on the site, the marketplace, the target audience — and a host of other factors. So, although I find articles like that interesting…and certainly, he may have gotten great results — I can’t say that I’d make the same recommendation…
Thanks for your comment!
Love this, Heather! Thanks for sharing. I’ve been asked to write using online tools that predict the word count needed for content titles recently. It’s a cool bit of insight to work with, but it doesn’t always make sense to write 2,168 words (??!!) on something that could be 1,000. It’s always good to question it rather than fill the page robotically with a certain word count.
I have such a love/hate relationship with online tools –sometimes, their recommendations don’t make sense for the reader. That’s why I love to showcase research showing longer content isn’t always better. It gives people permission to stop stressing and write the “right” content length — and not fluff up their content with extra words.
Thanks for chiming in!
I really try to keep my posts just around 1000-1500 words and I think this is really a good number I also got the point in your article like you explained how a 424-word article also ranked 1 on google. So, I think it’s really about the quality and quantity. Well, thanks for the great explanation and article as well.
It’s June 2022 and I just did a quick Google search for “word count and seo” and came across your post. Well looks like things haven’t changed much. I target 600 words for sales pages and looks like it remains the sweet spot. My take: these 1500+ word pages are not relevant in the video age we living in now. People want quick answers these days.