Backlinks Count More Than Word Count in 2019

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Backlinks Count More Than Word Count in 2019

Your SEO guy probably tells you that you're good to go with an optimized H1 and a count of 2,000 Words - but is that still true in 2019?

Back in 2016, Brian Dean and Eric Van Buskirk looked at how 1 million websites ranked. When it came to content:

"Based on SERP data from SEMrush, we found that longer content tends to rank higher in Google's search results. The average Google first page result contains 1,890 words."

However, that was a while back, and algorithms have changed. It's now believed that the bots put more weight on the quality and authority of content - and crucially perhaps, how well the material satisfies search intent.

Ahrefs examined 2 million websites more recently. Their 2018 study, on one hand, backs the practice of longer content but also found that top-ranking articles need only have around 800 words.

How to Achieve Page One - Cut the Fluff and Answer a Question

This is where it gets interesting. A study by Dean and BuzzSumo in 2019 looked at a whopping 912 million blog posts and found that longer-form material attracts 77% more backlinks than shorter articles. Dean and Van Buskirk found backlinks to be the primary ranking factor back in 2016!

Also, Ahrefs discovered that 91% of webpages get zero organic traffic - because they get zero backlinks.

Ranking isn't about one single thing.

Longer content attracts more links but it has to be of value to the reader. The more you get linked, the better your ranking and higher the levels of organic traffic you get. Write the most informative and interesting content you can - and answer the search question better than anyone else.

Don't aim for a word count. Instead, create content until you've satisfied the ranking requirements and you've got a happy Googlebot. Begin with the main message of the piece, and add more detail further in - kind of like a news article.
#2019 #backlinks #count #word
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  • Profile picture of the author ryanbiddulph
    I moved toward 600-1000 word posts a while back and dove deep into guest posting, too. Feels fun to me so I ran with it but I spied more exposure too. Not thru Google as much but just by expanding my exposure, through guest posting. Good to know Google is on board with this approach as well.
    Ryan Biddulph inspires you to be a successful blogger with his courses, 100 plus eBooks, audio books and blog at Blogging From Paradise
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  • This is good news. I really hated it when I'm forced to write more just to serve an algorithm. Good thing backlinks and content quality are major considerations.
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  • Profile picture of the author elsneraustralias
    Wow that's amazing to know..
    I mean seriously, We don't like when our site ranking hated with an algorithm. Good link which is passing link juice to your site are very useful.
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
    I cannot believe someone actually took the time to write this silly thread.

    Backlinks have ALWAYS counted more than word count. This isn't something new. Links have been the #1 ranking factor in Google since their launch.
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  • Profile picture of the author sparrow
    All of what has been said it depends.

    What if your selling image based products like mugs, t-shirts etc...

    Really how much can you write about this.

    Also how do small websites rank on page one over huge websites/brands
    you can't do this by links. You can't out link a brand.

    Here is what I have observed in my research.

    Google can now see user interactions clearly in my opinion, it is the only reasonable reason when small websites are outranking many big websites for highly competitive buyer keywords.

    What is surprising is very few people are paying attention to is clickstream technology, if you look around it is mentioned many times and I was surprised when I discovered this. So little is mentioned about this because the narrative is about links and how much text in content.

    I feel the new SEO is UX.

    Getting people to react on your pages is really what Google is paying attention to. It is the thing I see that can allow a small website outrank big websites.

    Just about every small website I see on page one has optimized for the click. Getting your visitors to click on something I believe Google can see this today with no problems.

    Test it yourself find competitive keywords that small websites are on page one, especially if they are in the #1 position.

    In addition check out image based niches and check out what they are doing. Almost all of them get the visitor to click on something while the brands depend on their reputation and trust factors to get them where they are.
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  • Profile picture of the author Bob Steve
    Glad to know there was a change from quantity into quality
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  • Profile picture of the author dave_hermansen
    There never was a quantity of words element to the Google algorithm. The studies by Brian Dean, etc. merely pointed out that there was a correlation between longer articles and ranking. For some subject matters, it takes a whole lot of words to explain them thoroughly and those articles tend to rank better because user metrics indicate that they are better than articles that merely skim the surface.

    In the end, you write just enough words to thoroughly cover a subject - no more, no less.
    Signature - FREE TRAINING - Learn How to Build Your Own eCommerce Website
    My PROVEN ecommerce process, as seen on: Fox Business News, the NY Times & Flippa
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  • Profile picture of the author CherryMiss
    Longer content attracts more links, make sessions longer and decrease bounce rate. And also I recommend to check if your content is not present on some resource without credit back. Valuable posts are often stolen by bloggers.

    Best and worst brands, reviews from real customers -

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  • Profile picture of the author Blakers1
    There's so many things wrong with this statement as Mike, Sparrow and Dave already pointed out. For one thing, content length really depends on the niche and may be 500 words for one and 5,000 for another.

    Links are always going to be the most important ranking factor and don't expect to 'attract links' just because you wrote some massive article. That might happen naturally in a few months or years but if you're writing for a client or trying to make money, you better promote your site.

    Then you have to think about the relevancy of the study Brian Dean's an overall correlation with a massive sample across multiple niches if I remember correct. How do you know the cause is or is not the content length? It could just be more of an indication that people doing SEO - and building links! - were already trending to longer content, LOL!

    We get niche and location specific with our content by looking at top ranking competitor pages and finding the content averages along with the averages of major ranking factors like headings and title tags. It takes a lot of extra work and planning, but it definitely moves the needle when you get your onpage just right. Sometimes we make a local attorney page 650 words while the exact same term in another market might need 1125 total. There's no magical across the board formula to SEO. It takes time and testing.
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  • Profile picture of the author farasatkhan
    The 3 things I think are part of 2019 SEO factors are:
    • User Experience i.e. UX
    • Serving user intent for the keyword hence produce content smartly
    • Variation in backlinks on Partial, Phrase, Exact match keywords
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  • Profile picture of the author Rajeev Gaur

    I really dont understand whats going on here. how come both are connected.
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  • Profile picture of the author emrannk
    In 2019, Dean and BuzzSumo reviewed 912 million blog posts and discovered that long-form content gets more backlinks, the number 1 ranking factor according to the study from 2016! "Long-form content gets an average of 77.2% more links than short articles
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  • Profile picture of the author Ina Salazar
    Writing good content is merely our first priority. Yes, you can get more backlinks and better ranking if you do create a longer content but make sure to deliver an informative and interesting content that can be helpful to the reader.
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  • Profile picture of the author Medon
    It is true the more the content the better the ranking. I have been creating content for a client and him always instead on 1300+ words. When I checked his ranking worldwide it was under 2 million. I concluded that longer and optimized content results in better ranking.
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  • Great share. It's always important to remember to write content FOR your website visitor. It should identify and solve some problem that your potential visitor has. When people find content to be very valuable, they naturally link back to it. So, the quality of the article matters, rather than how long it is.
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  • Profile picture of the author dburk
    Hi Guy,

    The whole notion of "word count" is SEO was promulgated, in my opinion, by a bunch of rank amateurs.

    Yep, you can easily post a bunch of graphs and data that show some sort of correlation between "word count" and "page rankings", however to make a conclusion based that is a classic questionable cause logical fallacy in statistical analysis known as a Correlation fallacy.

    You could also draw incorrect conclusions from correlations of font types, font size, font colors, image counts, days of the week, phases of the moon and favorite colors, and some of those are actual ranking factors (the real experts will know which ones ).

    Word count has never been a ranking factor, ever. Let's not pretend that it was. It's just that some people were tricked into believing it and then as more data came in they were proven to have made invalid conclusions.

    The only thing that changed in regard to word count in SEO is that some folks wised up, while some are still going down the rabbit hole.

    The bottom line: Word count has never been a factor in SEO.

    If I can express the same quality of information using 50 words that you express with 2000, I can easily outrank your page. Doubt this at you own peril.


    Don Burk

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  • Profile picture of the author Medon
    I think the word count is still important. According to me, the more the words the more the number of times the kw appear without looking spammy. So anything above 1000 will help you rank well.
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