When creating or updating a website, a common question is “how many words do I need on each page to make the most impact in my SEO?”
According to Google’s John Mueller, word count no longer matters in Google’s rankings. That’s because recent changes to Google’s ranking algorithms place more emphasis on the quality of your content rather than the quantity of words.
That being said, Google does need a certain amount of words on each page in order to count it as a proper page. Ultimately you should say as much as you can in as few words as possible while still providing yourself enough room to adequately describe services and use keywords and phrases that optimize SEO.
As a rule, you should have approximately 400-600 words on each page in order to properly use key phrases on a per-page basis while still properly describing the products and services you have to offer. The exceptions to this are things such as “Contact Us” pages and inventory pages on e-commerce sites.
Longform content does rank very well in Google search but that should be reserved for landing pages and blogs (and we’ll cover that in more detail in its own blog post). Longform is reserved for these spaces because it generally does not work well on a home page or in website copy.
So if word count doesn’t really affect rankings, why care?
Back in the early days of the internet people used to create “doorway pages” that had very little actual content but the right key phrases and metatags required to rank in search engines, spamming search results with low-quality pages.
Google clamped down on this in the 2000s by implementing word count as a factor in its rankings. But that’s not as relevant today, because Google has made its algorithm more intelligent, shifting the focus to the quality of your content. This means fluffing up a page with meaningless content in order to meet an arbitrary word count won’t improve your SEO, and in fact may hurt it by decreasing content quality – which Google does score you on. Content should always be helpful, scannable, and contain the key phrases necessary in order to satisfy the user’s search query.
Is word count ever an issue?
There are two situations where word count can affect your rank; your site’s home page and text-to-html ratio.
Everyone can agree that the home page is incredibly important to SEO and deserves careful consideration. The meta tags and content should be carefully crafted and worded. An SEO copywriter will spend twice as much time on a homepage than they spend on any other page on your website. It is also typically the last page to be written once the company messaging has been established and all of the other pages have been honed.
Since many home pages are graphical in nature, they tend to rely on graphics and a low text to HTML ratio with content often being reserved for headlines and informational paragraphs. If this is the case, it’s important to ensure there is enough content to put at least 400 words on the home page in order to meet Google’s indexing requirements and make sure all of your important key phrases are on the home page.
Text-to-HTML ratio refers to the amount of text on a page as opposed to the amount of code. A “good” ratio ranges from 25 to 70%. While Google does not use it as a ranking factor, improving this ratio leads to better usability and crawlability by search engine bots – which can help to improve your rank.
Additionally, the better the text-to-html ratio on your page, the faster the page will load and site speed is a factor in Google’s rankings. If your Google Search Engine Console is indicating that page loading speeds are affecting your Google rank, the cause could be bloated code, especially if your word count is already over 400 words per page. This problem is typically a code issue that can be detected with the right tools that SEO experts use to audit websites, although in a very few cases it does mean that there are not enough words on a page.
It’s important to remember that Google now focuses primarily on quality content, not word count. But optimizing your website’s code can make a huge impact on your website’s ranking in Google Search.
ion8 has a number of SEO and marketing experts on our team who can help you determine what you need to do to improve your company’s search ranking. ion8 is an all-in-one business consultancy with an experienced team of digital marketing and SEO experts ready to work to optimize your business’s content. To find out more about everything that ion8 can do to transform your business, contact us today.