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Does word count matter in SEO?

If there is one indisputable thing in SEO, it is that content is the fundamental pillar. Now more than ever, posting highly relevant content to the Internet user is a fundamental competitive advantage if you want to perform well in Google’s organic results. However, when talking about the quality of the content, it is common to approach its size as an inseparable element.

Write more to rank more?

As with many attributes, for text, length is a common topic in the SEO world. Just yesterday, while browsing my LinkedIn news feed , no less than 3 contacts bragged about having published an article of 1800, 2000 and even… 18000 words Impressive.

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However, this bistouquette competition on the social network for professionals omitted one thing: the quality of the article and the added value it brought. As if the number of words, supposed to reflect the richness of the content, was necessarily synonymous with quality.

Yet the numbers speak for themselves! If we refer to a study published by SEMrush in 2019, which we relayed on our blog, 88% of the 22,000 articles analyzed that are positioned on the first page of Google were composed of at least 600 words. Proof that for Google, rich content is often synonymous with relevance.

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What is it really?

Although this infographic illustrates the occupation of “long” content on the first page of Google, it is not their size that makes them appear on the first page of Google, but their quality!

To support this demonstration, our friend John Mueller, webmaster trends analyst at Google, confirmed on Twitter through several tweets that the size of a content was not taken into account by Google as a ranking factor. This is not new, of course. However, these statements are important for you to keep in mind that user satisfaction should be at the heart of your approach to content creation .

It is therefore clear that the number of characters or words that will constitute your content will not be considered as a ranking factor by Google.

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Indeed, Google has repeatedly said that your content must best meet the expectations of the user when submitting his request in the search engine. Of course, the richer and more relevant your content, the more words it will contain. Therefore, the length of the text follows naturally from relevance and richness of its information.

Why take too long? Aim right!

With the deployment of the BERT algorithm , Google seeks to improve the quality of its search results by trying to understand precisely the intent behind each search query.

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You will therefore understand that a user will not necessarily find satisfaction in his research by landing on content of 10,000 or 20,000 words! Worse, content that abuses the length may hamper the user experience. Last example to date, on the blog of a colleague that I will not mention The latter decided to publish an article of almost 7,500 words (that’s very, very… very long) explaining what Google BERT is and how to optimize your site for this algorithm. Problem, Google, through a tweet from Danny Sullivan, indicated that there was nothing specific to do to optimize its site compared to BERT, except to respect the fundamentals of SEO and place the Internet user’s intention at the heart of their content strategy.

Personally, if I google search for a quick and easy solution and land on a 7,500 word article… I get scared! Where can I find the information I’m looking for? In an age when everyone is looking to consume content as quickly as possible, writing too long when it isn’t necessary will do you a disservice.

FYI, the article mentioned is not even positioned on the first page of Google for the query “Google BERT”. Instead, it is this article of just over 1000 words that is placed in Position 0. All that, getting to the point That is to say by responding to the Internet user’s expectations as early as possible in the text.

So yes, we can only advise you to build rich content for your audience, going into detail and allowing for an effective understanding. But… please… think about what will satisfy your visitors. I do not know if you have noticed but the great fashion of the moment, to position oneself on a request, is to write an article in which all the questions relating to the theme are dealt with and answered. So yes, for a guide that might make sense, but when it comes to positioning yourself on a tomato pie recipe and including in the text questions like “How to choose your tomatoes?”, “What season for buy tomatoes? ”,“ The story of the tomato pie ”etc… we are making fun of it. Especially since it does not help the user to find what he is looking for!

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Vary the contents

If we put ourselves in the mind of the Internet user, it is clear that an answer exclusively in the form of text may not always meet his expectations. Indeed, depending on the nature of the request and the intention behind it, Google will highlight different forms of content, which may be a textual article, a video or even audio.

Example tutorials

If we refer to questions of the type “How to” relating to the cosmetics sector, the user expects to obtain a simple result in the form of a video that he can consult, while being busy reproducing the gestures. shown on his face or body.

This is the case for the question “how to apply a concealer?”. As you can see below, Google decides to give more visibility to videos than to classic results referring to text web pages.

For a question like “how to get rid of flies?” Google will display in Position 0 a numbered bulleted list explaining the steps to get rid of them. However, the web page only contains a text of just over 600 words. Proof that the value of the information and how you present it to the user will outweigh the total number of words.

Conclusion

As you will have understood, writing a long text must be done naturally in relation to the relevance of the information that you include in your text. However, just because your text will be longer than that of your competitors does not mean that it will rank better in organic search engine results. Through the evolution of Google’s search algorithm, the priority is to meet the expectations of the Internet user when submitting a request.

If you have this issue in mind, you’ll be able to put yourself in your audience’s shoes and determine what types of content will perform better than text. Indeed, an SEO strategy effective will necessarily revolve around a variety of content: videos, podcasts … and for e-commerce merchandising and pricing approaches aimed at offering the best experience to your future buyer.

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