Most articles attempting to answer this question look at thousands of posts to find high-level correlations between content length and search engine rank.
Based on this, they'll typically come to the conclusion that more content is always better. For example, take a look at a graphic from a recent Brian Dean study:
The problem with this approach is that the actual ideal word count can vary wildly based on the specific keyword being targetted.
For example, consider a keyword like "what time is it in san francisco?"
Most of the top ranking content is very short, which makes sense because most searchers just want the time and nothing else:
In this case, writing a longer, 2000+ word article is a bad idea. Most searchers would find the extra information frustrating, close the tab, and keep searching. Google would see this as a negative signal and rank a long article lower.
But for a keyword like "history of san francisco", searchers are looking for a more comprehensive answer. This is reflected in the word counts of the top ranking content for this keyword:
In this case, having a 2000+ word article is an asset, keeping readers on the page longer, which Google would see as a positive signal that the article is worth putting on the first page.
That's why we built this tool, to answer this question for each individual post you publish. By looking at the word count for the current top results, you can get a better sense of how long your article should be.
Word count matters insomuch as it helps the searcher accomplish their goal (aka search intent). Content length that matches the searcher's intent tends to rank higher because it adds more value to the reader. This leads to better engagement metrics, which Google constantly measures and takes into account when ranking content.
That being said, there are other factors that influence search ranking. For example, the domain authority / backlinks of the page, its perceived trustworthiness, the CTR on the headline are just a few other factors that Google's algorithm considers.
In addition, a search may be "fractured", which means that some searchers are looking for a short answer while others are looking for a long one. This leads to search results that have both long and short articles so that both types of searchers are satisfied.
That's why it's important to look at the current search results; So that you can make a judgement based on the variety of factors at play to pick a word count that works for you.
Our recommended word count is based off the average word count of other top ranking articles in Google, excluding excessively terse or wordy pages. We also do our best to give more weight to articles and less weight to landing, product, or ecommerce type pages.
As with any fully automated system, our recommendation can benefit from fine-tuning, which is why we include the ability to see the word counts of the other top ranking pages so that you can compare your word count and adjust as needed.
When we analyze a page for its word count, we attempt to separate the "non-content" parts of the page (think navigation, ads, comments) from the actual content so that our recommendations are as accurate as possible. Because every page is structured differently, this process is not perfect.
However, in our testing we have found that in most niches, the system is able to extract an approximate word count that allows us to make an accurate recommendation. If you find that an article's word count is wildly different, we recommend using the slider to fine-tune the recommendation.
Please email us at [email protected], we're in the PST time zone and will do our best to reply within a business day.