Word count and SEO: how long should a blog post
Marieke van de Rakt
Marieke van de Rakt is the CEO of Yoast. Her main focus is on growing the company. She is really passionate about maintaining open and friendly company culture. Marieke is also heavily involved in the marketing of Yoast and with Yoast SEO Academy: the online courses platform.
Yoast SEO’s content analysis checks the text length of your post. For regular posts or pages we advise writing more than 300 words. Why is that? Well, a higher word count helps Google to better understand what your text is about. And, generally speaking, Google tends to rank longer articles higher. Hold your horses though, we don’t advise just adding content for the sake of it. Nobody wants to read badly written lengthy articles. Quality and user-friendliness still come first!
Table of contents
Did you get a red or orange bullet because your word count isn’t high enough? Read about the text length check here, or jump to the paragraph on how to write high-quality lengthy posts or informative taxonomy archive pages.
Why does the word count of your post or page matter?
Defining text length is quite obvious: it’s how long your text is. But, why does it matter? Well, you have a higher chance of ranking in Google if you write long, high-quality blog posts, of 1000 words or more. We’ve also experienced this ourselves; we have written quite some articles that are over 2500 words. They are cornerstone content and they help our organic traffic grow. Here’s how long articles contribute to SEO:
When your text is longer, Google has more clues to determine what it is about. The longer your (optimized) text, the more often your focus keyphrase appears. This is no excuse for keyphrase stuffing though! If you optimize your copy naturally, your focus keyphrase will pop up here and there throughout your text. You can also fit in more synonyms and related keyphrases. In a longer post, you can add more headings, links, and images, in which you can also mention the keyphrase. So more content, means more on-topic, high-quality information here.
A longer text might also help you rank for multiple long-tail variants of the keyphrase you’ve optimized your text for. That’s because, in a lengthy text, you probably address various topics. Your article, or your other posts that take a deep-dive into the subtopic, will have a chance to turn up in search results for the long-tail variants of your keyphrase. If you do some smart internal linking you can even boost the traffic to the extensive post you’ve written. This will help you drive more organic traffic to your site.
Also, if a page consists of few words, Google is more likely to think of it as thin content. All search engines want to provide the best answers to the queries people have. Thin content is less likely to offer a complete answer and satisfy the needs of the public. Consequently, it will probably not rank very high.
What does Yoast SEO check?
The text length check in Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO helps you by checking the length of your texts. This check is part of the SEO analysis, and you will find it in the SEO tab of the Yoast SEO meta box. It calculates how many words you’ve added on a page and whether you have enough words to rank.
Feedback of the Yoast SEO analysis on text length
Every page on your site needs to contain a certain number of words to be able to rank. How long your text should minimally be, depends on the type of page. Taxonomy pages require (slightly) less content than blog posts, whereas cornerstone content should be exhaustive and therefore needs to contain a significant number of words.
In the table below, you can see how we assess the different pages. If you have less than the minimum number of words on a page, you’ll get a red bullet point in the Yoast feedback. Conversely, you get a green bullet point when the length of your post or page is good.
|Taxonomy page||>250 words|
|Regular post or page||>300 words|
|Cornerstone content page||>900 words|
Minimum number of words per type of page to get a green bullet in Yoast SEO
Not enough content check
In the readability analysis, you will see a similar check. Yoast SEO will give you feedback with a red or orange bullet point if your post or page consists of less than 50 characters. To properly evaluate the readability of your content, the Yoast SEO plugin needs a minimum number of characters. If your post or page contains less than 50 characters, the plugin’s readability checks won’t be able to give you the best results. And, in most cases, you can’t give the best answer to your audience in such a short span of words.
How to write a high-quality lengthy post
So, extensive articles – written for people, not search engines! – might have some advantages over short posts. But while you’re writing posts with a high word count, it is even more important to keep the quality of the text at a high level. But what does that mean? Good quality texts are readable, well structured, and contain original content.
Writing high-quality content is hard. Especially when your goal is to write articles with a high word count in order to make your organic traffic grow. If you’re a skilled writer, you can write very lengthy posts of over 1000 words. If you’re less experienced, we’d advise you to aim for around 700-800 words. In any case: make sure you keep the following aspects in mind:
Write readable texts
The most important thing when writing long (or any kind of) posts is – write for your audience. That may sound obvious, but it is surprisingly easy to get distracted and start adding irrelevant information. So start by thinking about questions a reader could have about the topic you’re covering. Then, provide clear answers to those questions. Of course, the answers should be well-written and readable.
What should you do to make your text readable? Your text needs to follow a logical line of thought. To accomplish that, we advise you to start every paragraph with a topic sentence, i.e., a sentence that gives off the main idea of that paragraph. Then, use the rest of the paragraph to elaborate on the topic sentence. Be sure to keep your sentences and paragraphs short and snappy. If you find any unnecessary words and sentences – delete them. Of course, you should connect the ideas you present in and between paragraphs. That is why it is good to use plenty of transition words. And, to keep the audience engaged, you might want to keep down the use of the passive voice.
One way of structuring your text is by using headings. Headings within a text serve (at least) two purposes. First: they show a top-down hierarchy. You immediately see that a subject has, for instance, three subheadings that elaborate on it further. Another function is for scanning. You can let your readers know what a paragraph is about by using clear headings. That also makes your text pleasant to read, as a heading tells you what the next piece of text is about.
Write original content
This is the hardest one. It is not easy being original with so much content out there. But, it might help if you reflect on what makes you unique. Think about how what you offer is different and better than the offers of your competitors. Then do some keyword research to see what your audience searches for and what competitors are up to. Preparing with research can give you plenty of ideas on what to write about and how to make yourself stand out from the crowd. In case you get stuck, we have a whole blog post on how to find inspiration.
Want to learn more on how to write high-quality posts that users and search engines will love? Our SEO Copywriting course and other SEO courses can help you with that. You can get access to these courses with Yoast SEO Premium, which also gives you access to extra features in the Yoast SEO plugin.
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How to write high-quality archive pages
Let’s start by explaining what archive pages are. WordPress uses so-called taxonomies to group content. The word ‘taxonomy’ is basically a fancy term for a group of things (website pages, in this case) that have something in common. WordPress has two default taxonomies:
The difference between a category and a tag mostly has to do with structure. Categories are hierarchical: you can have subcategories and even sub-subcategories. Tags, however, don’t have that hierarchy.
WordPress automatically generates a page for each category or tag you create. We call these pages archive pages because that’s what they do: they archive posts (or products) that have something in common. Besides categories and tags, there are also other types of archive pages. For example, WordPress can archive pages based on post date and post author. You can even create a custom taxonomy or use a plugin that creates one.
Why are taxonomy archive pages important for your SEO?
Taxonomy archive pages are very valuable when it comes to structuring your site. A clear site structure helps both Google and your visitors to understand and navigate your site, and it can even help you rank higher.
To get the best of taxonomy archive pages, you will need to work in them. The pages that WordPress automatically generates tend to only consist of a list of posts without any further introduction. So, if visitors land on one of your archive pages, they don’t get much information. This increases the chance that they won’t find what they’re looking for, and thus that they will leave the page.
How can you optimize taxonomy archive pages?
To make your taxonomy archives awesome, you often don’t even have to do that much. You can start by:
- adding a clear heading;
- adding an introduction, where you highlight the content on that archive page.
In addition, you could add some links to that introductory content pointing to the best posts or pages on that archive page. This will go a long way in making sure that the users understand what the page is about.
For descriptions on archive pages, we recommend a minimum of 250 words. That’s less than what we recommend for blog posts, but that’s because the description of an archive page has a different purpose than a blog post. Rather than exploring a topic, these descriptions serve as an introduction and guide to the rest of the content on that page. These texts don’t have to be lengthy. You obviously want to rank with these pages though, and that means category and tag pages need content.
Conclusion on word count and SEO
This post taught you that the word count of your posts and pages could influence your rankings. However, and this is very important, you should not compromise the quality of your text for the sake of writing longer pieces. So, use your common sense and, when necessary, write long, readable, and well-structured texts. Also, don’t forget to improve your archive pages by adding useful descriptions to them!
Read more: SEO copywriting and writing for sales »