Many SEO professionals and web copywriters will tell you that a webpage must have a minimum of 300 words of unique content in order for Google’s search crawlers to accurately scan and determine its purpose.
In the early days of the SEO industry, determining the effectiveness of many tactics took some trial and error. As SEO developed from a way to manipulate search rankings into a series of ongoing improvements and adjustments to websites, certain tactics that pioneering SEOs agreed got results were set as the tenets of search engine optimisation. A minimum of 300 words per page was set as the least amount of copy to have on any page you wish to rank, the equivalent of half a page of writing on an A4 sheet of paper.
But the internet, how we access it and what we do while we’re online has changed significantly since these ‘industry standards’ were set. Is 300 words still the suggested amount of content you need on a webpage in order for it to rank?
Like with most aspects of digital marketing, the answer isn’t that simple. A 2015 study carried out by Moz and BuzzSumo that looked at over 1m pieces of content found that over 85% of articles online are less than 1000 words long but that those made up of over 1000 words consistently received disproportionately more ‘shares’ and ‘likes’ from web users. In fact, 75% of articles under 1000 words long never receive a single social interaction at all. While this could simply mean that the majority of content creators are bad at promoting their own content, it does suggest that web users are more likely to engage with longer content.
In fact, a 2017 study by SEMRush found that the average length of content on pages ranking in the top three positions in Google was 750 words. Of course, it doesn’t take long to find a website with fewer than 300 words ranking in the top positions, seemingly contradicting the whole argument, but in fact this just proves that length of content is just one factor that is used for ranking websites and webpages. The time it takes for a page to load, the amount of visitors the site receives each day and the amount of time they spend browsing each page are all factors that influence the rankings
Long gone are the days of stuffing numerous target keywords and synonyms into your content in order to trick search engines into ranking your site well. Search algorithms have developed significantly in recent years, with one Google update (known as Panda) designed exclusively to ensure that high quality content appears higher in search results than sites that offer content of little value. The Panda update is tweaked from time to time so sites that have previously fallen afoul can escape its penalties by improving the quality of their content.
So what word count should you be aiming for with your website copy and your general online content (company blog posts, etc)?
Instead of concerning yourself with the number of words on each page of your website, it is more worthwhile ensuring that the content you create and share answers the questions your customers want answered and is presented on a website that loads quickly and adapts to the device it is viewed on. 300 words is still a good minimum amount to aim for but that does not mean you have to write a single block of text to reach this. Make sure the copy on your web page fits your site design. If a certain page of your site only needs a couple of sentences, that’s fine. Keep your content focused and helpful for your visitors and the search engines will soon reflect this in your search rankings.
Say Hello Hello take a holistic approach to digital marketing, combining SEO, social media and content marketing with paid search and social in order to help clients to create a comprehensive online presence. Contact us now and Say Hello Hello to a better online experience for your customers.