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How many words is enough?

When I encourage people to put more content on any web pages which they expect to rank highly for given search terms, I’m often asked: “How many words is enough?” Naturally, there’s no set answer. A bit like the old joke about outrunning a bear, you need to beat the competition. If you want to rank highly for ‘blue widgets’ and a competitor has published a definitive 10,000 word article on blue widgets, linked-to from all over the world, then sometimes you have to know when you’re beaten. On other occasions, you might find the top-ranking sites have very little serious content, and the 1,000 word article you’re about to write could blow them away in terms of substance.

If you want a ball-park figure, research shows that top-ranking articles tend to have around 1,500 to 2,000 words. I’m not suggesting that an article this long is all you need, of course. If your website hasn’t got much ‘domain authority‘, and the page doesn’t attract links, then its outlook may not be great, no matter how good the words are. But it gives you an idea of what’s needed for Google to consider an article to be suitably authoritative, in general. Too many companies think that their ‘widgets’ page, which is just a list of the six different types of widgets they sell, with photos, somehow ‘deserves’ to be the top-ranked result for ‘widgets’. They’ll need to do a lot more than that.