What’s the ‘Best’ Word Count for Google? [Updated for 2019]

Have you wondered what the perfect word count was for a blog post or landing page?

Over the years, that number has been a moving target.

Twenty years ago, I would recommend that every page be at least 250 words.

Back then, people considered 250 words “too much content.” “Readers won’t like it,” folks complained. “I don’t want that many words on my page.”

My, how things have changed.

Here’s a (very) general word count guideline for 2019:

  • For landing page content, I’d recommend a minimum word count of 350 words.
  • If you’re writing a blog post that you want to position, the minimum (in most cases) would be 500 words.

Why is there no hard-and-fast rule? The true “best” word count for a post or landing page depends on many factors. I’ll talk about them soon and show some examples.

Having said that, many companies think “shorter copy is bad.” Instead, they focus almost exclusively on long-form content — for instance, 5,000+ word, in-depth skyscraper guides.

Why so many words?

Because the people who write the content think that’s the only way to grab search positions. If the copy is longer, it must be better — right?

So, what does this mean for content producers? Is the age of short copy dead? Does Google reward super-long content?

Well…not really.

You don’t need to write 5,000 words every time. At the same time, longer copy has specific SEO benefits.

I’ll talk about what this means to content producers and how to figure out the best word count for your posts. But first, I need to get this out of the way…

Let’s talk about Google’s stance on word count

Google’s John Muller 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.

In fact, Google has also said that word count does not indicate quality content.

This is good news — content producers aren’t forced to create long-form content every time we sit down to write.

We can write the right amount of content that satisfies the user’s query and provides the standout answer she wants.

But (because there’s always a “but” in SEO…..)

Google may not have an official word count stance, but research does show that longer copy can position better.

What’s the latest word-count research?

A 2017 study by ahrefs found the average #1 ranking page will also position for about 1,000 related keywords — which is something super-short content can’t do.

In a 2018 study, ahrefs found that longer copy positioned better:

HubSpot, in their 2017 post, found their blog post sweet spot was 2,500 words:

A joint study by BuzzSumo and Brian Dean found that long-form content gets more links than short blog posts:

This shows that long-form content does have benefits. It will position for more keyphrases and gain better backlinks over its shorter-copy brethren.

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.

This 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?

But…

Should you always write long-form copy? No. 

Shorter content can and does position.

For instance, the top-positioned page for the query [how to brew black tea] is 798 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 versa] is a scant 94 words:

Remember that Google Quality Raters link I included earlier? The article is just 171 words long and positions at number two for [google quality rating guidelines].

So, there’s no hard and fast rule.

How should SEO writers determine the best word count?

Your answer: Quit wondering “what Google wants” and focus on your reader.

The content length should depend on the user query and what your reader needs to see.

That means:

Plan on conducting some competitive research before you start writing.

SEO writing is more than shoving keyphrases into content. In today’s world, you also need to check out your top-10 competition. Things to look for include:

  • How have other sites approached the content?
  • Do their posts provide videos, graphics, or lists?
  • What makes their page an authority page?
  • Does the page link to other authority sites?
  • Who is the author? Are they a recognized expert in their field?

The key isn’t to copy a top-10 page. However, it is smart to see what’s currently positioning. This way, you can develop a writing strategy and make your content even better.

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 product page from Brookstone is over 688 words long. This HubSpot sales page is over 1,300 words.

Plus, Neil Patel found that long-form copy positioned better, plus provided a higher conversion rate and better-quality leads.

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.)”

Dive into your analytics and roll around in the data.

SEO writers can’t ignore analytics anymore. The data is too tasty, valuable, and fascinating to ignore. Google Analytics and Search Console provide the in-depth information you need to know. And, you can always dive into specialized solutions like Serpstat, ahrefs, or SEMrush for more information.

Analytics will tell you:

  • What are your most popular posts?
  • Which posts get great Google positions — and which ones are ignored?
  • Which posts are positioning?
  • What are your post bounce rates?

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.

Godin may write a 150-word post one day and a 1,500-word post the next. And that’s OK. Either way, his word count represents how long it takes to get his point across – and no more. 

“Fluffing up” a page just to meet a certain word-count requirement is horrible for your readers and it won’t help boost your Google rankings. 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.

Finally, think about this when you’re writing the copy:

  • Have I said everything I could?
  • 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?

If your answer is “yes,”you’ve done your job.

It’s as simple as that.

(Note: This post originally ran 11 years ago! Wow! So much has changed since then.)

Now, you can get the latest SEO writing tips sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for the SEO Copywriting Buzz newsletter today.

83 replies
  1. Patrick says:

    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!

    Reply
  2. Scott says:

    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?

    Reply
  3. Scott says:

    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.

    Reply
  4. Heather says:

    Hi,Scott!

    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!

    Reply
  5. Scott says:

    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.

    Reply
  6. Tyrone Campbell says:

    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.

    Reply
  7. Chris says:

    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.

    Reply
  8. Marc says:

    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.

    Reply
  9. Kevin Carlton says:

    Hi Heather

    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.

    Reply
  10. Kevin Carlton says:

    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.

    Reply
  11. Halona Black says:

    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.

    Reply
  12. Soumya says:

    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.

    Reply
  13. Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

    @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.

    Reply
  14. Deborah says:

    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).

    Reply
  15. Sam Mudra says:

    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.

    Reply
  16. Ahmad Fahrurroji says:

    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.

    Reply
  17. Craig says:

    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!

    Reply
  18. Sally Yunk says:

    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.

    Reply
  19. Ema Tiva says:

    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.

    Reply
  20. Vineeth Mungath says:

    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.

    Reply
  21. Bill Slawski says:

    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. :)

    Reply
    • Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      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!

      Reply
  22. Nick Raineri says:

    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!

    Reply
  23. Mozie says:

    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 :)

    Reply
    • Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      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?

      Reply
  24. Lily He-Prudhomme says:

    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 :)

    Reply
  25. IADMS says:

    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!

    Reply
  26. Jeevan Punetha says:

    Great Article….
    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.

    Reply
  27. Kangen says:

    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?

    Reply
    • Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      Kangen, hello!

      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!
      :)

      Reply
  28. George says:

    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.

    Reply
    • Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      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…

      Thanks!

      Reply
  29. Patrick says:

    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.

    Reply
    • Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      Hi, Patrick,

      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!

      Reply
  30. NetSearch says:

    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.

    Reply
  31. Edwin O. Polini says:

    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!

    Thanks,
    Edwin

    Reply
    • Mooks says:

      Hi there,

      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?

      Reply
  32. Kart Lane says:

    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!

    Reply
  33. Harry says:

    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.

    Reply
  34. Vcare says:

    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.

    Reply

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