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One of the most common misconceptions I encounter as a content strategist is that a high word count directly equates to better rankings. It’s simply not true.

Is word count something I take into consideration? Absolutely.

But it’s only one of many factors that come into play—and it’s definitely one of those instances where more does not necessarily equate to “better”.

I once worked with a content specialist who insisted that every single piece of content our firm created needed to be a minimum of 1,500 words. In this person’s mind, if we didn’t hit that goal, we had no chance of ranking. It didn’t matter if our competitors on page 1 of Google had only written 700 words on the same topic—we were forced to come up with an extra 800 words of filler content.

The reality is, this was an arbitrary rule that was based on superstition—not expertise. It was a rule for the sake of having a rule, and it wasted time and resources.

So how do you decide what the word count should be for a particular page or post? Let’s dig in.

Quality Over Quantity

The truth of the matter is that for any given query, Google is looking for the best resource on the topic.

By that logic, if I can provide a succinct resource in 500 words, and you write 2,000 words of fluff—I have the best resource.

Do your best to think about your audience’s point of view when researching a topic. What is truly important to know? What is good to know, but not mandatory? What can be omitted entirely?

Have you answered every essential question a person landing on this page would have? If the answer is yes, then you’re probably good to go.

Competitor Analysis

As part of my process, I always analyze what my top competitors are doing before I create a piece of content.

If you are a plastic surgeon trying to rank for “rhinoplasty in Phoenix”, then open an incognito tab and Google that phrase.

The top 3 plastic surgeons on page one of Google for that phrase are your main competitors. Scan their content and their headings. What topics are they covering. What questions are they answering? What internal pages are they linking to?

It’s clear that since they rank in the top 3 for this query, Google is telling us that THIS is the most valuable content on the topic.

Take the average word count of those top 3 competitors and now you have a rough idea of where your content should be.

Again—we’re not just trying to arbitrarily hit a word count here. But if the average word count for page 1 competitors is 3,000 and your page only has 150 words on it…do you think Google will consider you the best resource on the topic?

Focus on User Experience

User experience or “UX” is paramount. Instead of worrying so much about how many words your page has, worry about whether or not your end user is finding what they need on your page.

Be concerned with the flow of your content and whether or not answers are easy to find.

When it comes to ranking websites, Google’s bots aren’t just scanning for keywords; they’re evaluating how users interact with your site.

Remember, Google isn’t just ranking websites; it’s rewarding experiences.

A Final Word on Word Count

By focusing on creating the most thorough and succinct resource on a given topic, it’s likely you won’t have to worry about word count.

By prioritizing substance over arbitrary length, you’ll naturally create content that resonates with readers and earns the attention of search engines. So, let’s shift our focus from word count quotas to delivering the best content possible for a given topic.

Remember, in the realm of SEO and content creation, quality will always reign supreme over quantity.