John Mueller says "Word count is not a ranking factor."

Ryuzaki

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Google's John Mueller is on a roll. He said "There is no such thing as LSI keywords" recently. Now he's declaring word count is not a ranking factor.

I think we knew that, but I think it's also extremely over generalized.

Google cares about search intent related to the search query and user satisfaction. If someone wants to know "What is the definition of correlation" do they really need more than 50 words of content? Is having 50 words a causation factor in Merriam-Webster's ranking?

You can run correlation studies on word count and turn up some information, and I think what that shows is that word count is not a ranking factor, but a certain amount of words are needed in order to have enough content on the page to include all of the related words that show relevancy. Kyle Roof showed that recently when he ranked #1 for "rhinoplasty plano" with lorem ipsum content. He put the right keywords in the right on-page spots and it was game over.

So what can we learn from John Mueller's statement here? I don't think lying, though many will say he is. I don't think it's vague. I do think it lacks a lot of context. And the context is where we'll learn something.

What say you?
 
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Isn't he just saying if you can get your point across and satisfy the user in 500 words then don't fluff it out to 2,000?
 
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Yeah, there is that something about relevant phrases in the text that are related to the topic of the article in the eyes of Google's bot.

So the way I see it is:
  • Useless: adding words/fluff for the sake of word count (e.g. unnecessarily wordy sentences)
  • Useful: adding topically relevant and semi-relevant words that make the article more "comprehensive" than others on the web in the eyes of Googlebot (e.g. a long-ass buyer's guide at the bottom)
Taking apart these blanket statements is a pain in the ass though.
 
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I'd say John M is almost as useful as Matt Cuts.
And Matt Cutts was clueless to what the Google engine room was doing imo.
Watch what Google does, not what it says.
 
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Watch what Google does, not what it says.
Absolutely. The problem Google has is that is has to show its workings in the form of search results.

You want to know how to rank? Watch the results in your niche. Long-form content ranking? Write long-form. Videos taking up space? Make videos. Q&As? Etc. Etc.