It’s simple - there is no ideal word count for SEO articles, or any other form of content. Google’s algorithm for search results is far less concerned with content length than its ability to answer a searcher’s questions - the intent - succinctly and thoroughly. Want to find out more about why? Read on.
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Search intent is important because Google’s aim is to deliver relevant information on virtually any topic. Their mission to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, is worth keeping in mind when you write for your audience. There is no mention of the number of words needed to do this. It’s unlikely there ever will be an ideal length for SEO articles. That’s as true for Google as it is for all other search engines. Some questions are easier to answer than others, because of this they often take less words to do so.
“What’s the ideal word count for an article? There isn’t!”
What is an SEO article anyway?
SEO articles are not really SEO articles at all. They are simply pieces of useful, and mostly informational content that are designed around a number of keywords related to a single topic. For example, a shoe seller may wish to have SEO articles written for their product range. The keywords associated with the business would be included in all of their website’s content, including articles and product descriptions. This includes the terms that most customers use when searching for their items; formal shoes, high-heels, stilettos, trainers, runners and sandals are just the start. Leather upper, steel toe, rubber sole and handmade may also be relevant to the products offered.
A good article (let’s drop that, sometimes misleading SEO element) includes main keywords and appropriate synonyms that are relevant to the piece of content being written. It also sticks to a single topic, covering it comprehensively and clearly answering the questions, or questions that a customer commonly has about that topic.
To return to the shoe seller example, a great SEO article could cover ‘The Best Shoes for a Holiday in the Maldives’. Shoe styles, the benefits of particular soles for sightseeing and beach days, and versatility of shoes for matching with different clothing can be included.
Keywords and length are just a small part of the SEO writing process. More importantly is the quality of the content in terms of how well it answers the reader’s questions around packing shoes for their Maldives holiday. This kind of article is positioned well to answer a specific set of questions, garner organic rankings because of its specificity, and is user-friendly because it solves a problem for the customer.
Wordcount is hardly relevant when creating content that engages and informs your audience. What is far more important is the ability of your article to meet search intent, provide quality information that helps a customer achieve their goals, and a logical structure that makes it easy to read. Relevance, readability and reliability of the content are the mainstays of a good SEO article, not wordcount. Quality trumps quantity, always.
What are good standards for great SEO content?
When creating SEO content, it is helpful to consider why and what you want your content to achieve. The “why” may be to raise awareness of your product or it could be to share some company news with your customers – this will impact the way you structure the content and the length of the work.
Regardless of the why, the goals for SEO articles and all of your other other content should always be to add value to your customer’s journey, appeal to the end user and solve a particular problem. SEO content should be written for people, not search algorithms. Keyword research can be used to guide your language when writing about a topic. Careful consideration of what your customer or reader will take away from the content is also needed.
Google has 168 pages of Quality Rater Guidelines that cover all aspects of great content and website experiences for users. If distilled down to a simple few pointers you can use to create SEO articles and other content for your website, it would look something like this:
- A clear purpose for the content
- A clear, logical structure and order for the piece of writing
- Valuable external and internal links to relevant and reputable sources
- Write using the EAT acronym – Expert, Authoritative and Trustworthy information
A great example of a successful article in search is this 1200 calorie diet plan from the Good Housekeeping site. We measured over 1000 top 10 keyword rankings, and success since the day it launched in 2017 (it’s been updated since.)
It achieves a high rating because it provides a good amount of high quality main content, providing answers to many questions about 1200 calorie diets, along with a full plan and links to alternative diets and information. The article is well structured too, at least on the mobile platform, despite ads and affiliate links. What’s more, the website has a good reputation, the article is written in an authoritative manner and the images are superb.
Conversely, a poor piece of SEO content has no clear intention, doesn’t help the user with any question or solve an issue, and often has keywords shoe-horned in uncomfortably or is overly long, filled with ‘fluff’ to meet some imagined ideal number of words. All of this makes it difficult to read.
How can I improve my content for SEO?
When working to improve SEO content, keep your end users – customers, other businesses, readers or prospects – at the top of your mind. Ask yourself some simple questions about the content on your website:
- Does my content help customers answer a question or solve a problem?
- Is it easy to find and read?
- Does it include the words that would typically be searched for if trying to find this information?
- Has the topic already been covered on the website elsewhere?
- Has the question been answered by my competitors and, if so, does my article do a better job?
Duplicate content can harm your search result rankings for the entire website. If you wish to cover a topic in depth, make sure that each of the pieces you create answers a different problem for the reader within that subject. Don’t just copy sections of text from elsewhere on your website. More content is not always better, this is always the case if it is a copy of something you already have published on your site (or somewhere else on the internet). Uniqueness will win each time over copied or duplicated work.
If your SEO article is on a subject that your competitors have already covered, either make yours more comprehensive for the customer or simply do it better. This could mean answering the same search query in a more succinct and direct manner – with less words.
SEO-friendly content does include keywords that are relevant and natural in the writing. It is always of a length that allows for a full answer to the question being asked, and never longer. It is clear, concise and authoritative – the reader will walk away from it with more knowledge, feeling satisfied that their needs have been met.
To improve content for SEO, run some keyword research around your topic or industry, read it through the eyes of your customer or other end user, and stick to your topic.
It’s also a good idea to include images, relevant videos and lots of “white space” around the content. This makes it more attractive, easier to read and allows people to obtain the information in a way that works best for them. Another advantage of using images and videos is the background work that goes with it. Alt text and captions for images and videos can boost the authority, searchability and in some cases, credibility of the written work.
Writing good articles that rank well in search needn’t be hard. Following the simple rules for great content – relevant words, natural language, sticking to your topic and answering the searchers question effectively and efficiently and considering the “intent” of the article – will help you create the content you need to appear higher up in organic rankings. Forget about the length and focus on the value you can deliver with each word.