Search engine optimization (SEO) is at the center of all conversations regarding a website’s success. The goal of content creators is to get their website to rank on Google as high as possible.
For a while now, the focus in content writing has been on word count, with some experts claiming 2,000 words is the number every writer should aim for.
However, experts are now starting to question the importance of word count. More and more industry gurus are moving away from the idea that content needs to reach a certain number of words for it to rank high. While it may not hurt if your content is at a certain length, word count isn’t – and never has been – the end-all and be-all of SEO performance.
As SEO expert Neil Patel says, there are indeed more important things than the length of your content.
Here are five things to prioritize over word count:
Readers will not read low-quality work, regardless of length.
The truth is, short, well-written content is better than a long, poorly written post. If you are writing and your focus is reaching a word count target, you may end up jeopardizing the value of your work.
Readers can tell if you have something substantial to say or if you are just writing a fluff piece. It is also crucial that you value your readers’ time as they do not want to read a 1,000-word blog that could have easily been said in 500 words.
Another important aspect of quality is the level of your writing. An article littered with spelling and grammar errors makes it seem like little or no effort was put into creating or publishing the work. If it appears that you do not care about what you, yourself, have to say, why should your readers? Most people are dissatisfied by work that is difficult to understand and riddled with errors.
You have to think about the structure and flow of ideas, too. Even if you’ve managed to triple-check your content for grammatical errors, it could still be a real chore for someone to read. In these cases, you could hire a writing service. The costs could eat into your marketing budget, but one well-written piece of content is almost always better than several lower-quality blogs.
Value of Content
The length of your article will not matter if your intended readers do not find the topic useful. A post over 1,000 words that don’t fulfill your readers’ needs is no more valuable than an informative, well-presented 500-word article.
Additionally, when you write content for a page, you should have a clear purpose. Is it to entertain, inform or lead the reader to different areas of your website? The purpose will also influence the word count. If the page successfully achieves its goal, the word count shouldn’t matter.
Using tools like Google Search Console or Ahrefs gives you insights into the topics or questions potential visitors are interested in.
Remember: Your article needs to be focused on the topic, and there should be no keyword stuffing. Value is a recurring theme here because it is crucial. Your main focus should be creating valuable content for your visitors – there is no need to reduce the value by adding fluff to make up a word count.
Research conducted by Brian Dean for Backlinko revealed that in some cases, shorter content performs better because users are primarily looking for an answer to their question. And any site that can provide that information in as few words as possible is favored by Google.
The experts at Kinsta echo this, confirming that, as a writer, your goal should be to provide value to your readers, which is fulfilled by answering the questions they have. If your visitors don’t find any valuable information on your site, it is unlikely that they will engage with you further.
Focus on Audience
Write for your target audience. Utilize the audience profile produced via analytics tools: geographic location, age, gender, interests, hobbies, etc. Using your website analytics, you can review the type of content your visitors searched for that brought them to your page and customize the content for your most popular audience. Writing short blogs for your readers based on their interests yield better results than writing a long-form article they have no interest in.
For instance, if you notice your primary audience is made up of 30- to 40-year-old women located in England, you should not produce content about a topic that may be of more interest to American men in their 20s. That being said, a 750-word article about feminine trends in England would be more valuable to your site than a 1,500-word article about health concerns for American men in their 20s.
A lot is happening on the internet, and there is an endless supply of content. Content creators compete for users’ attention. As a writer, do what you can to keep your audience’s attention. Your web page should be attractive and include eye-catching graphics and videos, which may be more useful than creating a long post. Graphics contribute to the aesthetics of the page and can be used to provide a visual description of the topic or a quick summary of an article.
Besides graphics, video formats are also an important medium for attracting visitors. As some people are visual by nature, you may write a 1,000-word article, which you estimate to be about a two-minute read. However, some people would rather watch a five-minute video on the same topic. It would be helpful to offer a variety of methods for your visitor to take in your content so you can attract as many potential viewers as possible.
Although the ability to achieve backlinks to your website is linked to content quality, it is so important that it needs to be mentioned separately. Based on the results from this research, the more backlinks a page has, the higher it ranks.
One major finding in this research is that the top search result on the Google results page has at least three times more backlinks than the websites in the top 10 search results. Getting backlinks from multiple sites also helps with ranking, as the number of domains linking to a page seems to correlate with rankings.
Of the 12 key findings from this study, two referenced backlinks. However, it is important to note that your backlinks need to come from authoritative domains. And for that to happen, you need to produce high-quality content, more so than long-form content.
Word count may be one factor for a successful SEO, but several other factors need to be taken under consideration when creating content. Remember, readers will not want to read a long post that is poorly written or filled with fluff words.
In content creation, attention needs to be focused on determining what readers want and need and deciding how you can fulfill them, rather than just reaching a word count. As a creator, you need to prioritize the value and quality of your content. The biggest takeaway is: quality beats quantity.