A common myth in SEO is that you need a minimum word count to get better SEO and increase traffic. This is not true. Words are only a part of SEO. Words define the context of the section and the topic of the page. Words have to be combined with proper code including H tags, meta data, schema and navigational elements. The actual amount of words can matter, but more words does not mean better SEO.
Actual SEO is creating a good user experience and a destination people will want to bookmark, come back to and share.
Creating this destination starts with providing the best user experience possible.
- Did you provide a solution that matches a query?
- Have you answered a question and backed up why your answer should be trusted?
- Is the page accessible in browsers and for as many visitors as possible?
- Accessible can be everything from speed and color contrast to having buttons you can click to engage with the page.
By doing the above you create a good experience and hopefully a destination people will want to engage with multiple times.
Adding more content because it is about the overarching topic is not going to help you get more “relevant” traffic. By adding extra copy (even if it is relevant in overall theme) you’ll likely hide the actual solution decreasing your conversions and increasing your bounce rates.
The same goes with burying the answer in the post because you had “other things” to say before the answer. This is where more words and minimum word counts do not matter for SEO.
I’m going to use recipes and cooking as the example. This is because recipe bloggers get a bad wrap. Some recipe bloggers (not all) tend to bury the recipe under a life story and sections about the products, foods, plating, types of ribeyes, tablescapes and ingredients. And because I’m craving steak, I’ll use “How to Cook a Ribeye” as the topic.
The first thing to consider is the query’s intent.
If the person is searching for cooking instructions for a Ribeye steak, we need to give them these instructions quickly and in a useable format.
Sharing a recipe for ribeye steaks is not doing that, although it compliments the copy. You may also be tempted to create a bullet list of the “types of ribeye steaks” and feature it on the top. Unfortunately this is also not helpful to the answer. The person doesn’t need to know the types of ribeye steaks, they need to know how to cook the ribeye steak they are trying to eat.
Many writers (and even more SEOs) will begin looking up FAQs, headers, etc… once they have a topic. None of this is needed. This particular piece of content is an FAQ on it’s own and has a direct answer. That direct answer is all you need to rank wording wise.
You will however want to find modifiers like “well done” (ewww), “in the oven”, “in a smoker”, “the temperature for” etc… while doing keyword research. These modifiers can be added within subsections as they do compliment and add to the theme of the post and make your article more useful.
For example you can have a list of the temperatures for rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-well, and well-done (again gross), in the step about “Knowing When Your Ribeye Steak is Cooked to Perfection”. This adds value to the topic and helps the reader learn how to cook their ribeye steak because you are sharing the right temperatures.
What you don’t want are irrelevant questions and topics clouding your post.
For our theme, irrelevant topics include:
- Which part of the cow does a ribeye come from?
- Are ribeyes the fattiest of steaks?
- Should I buy a ribeye or a filet?
- How much does a ribeye cost?
- Is USDA the same as Wagyu?
These questions are related to ribeye steaks topically, but none of them are relevant to “how to cook a ribeye steak”. But there is something that we can do.
Remember when I mentioned above that you don’t need a list of the types or grades, well if there are different ways to prepare a ribeye steak based on the marbling, quality or type, this is where that comes in.
One of the first steps in your post needs to be preparing the meat. If a wagyu ribeye steak needs less salt than a USDA prime ribeye, add these tips as sub-sections under the preparation section. A bullet list would likely be easy for your readers to absorb and work well for a rich snippet. Ok, I’m getting hungry.
Now for the last part, telling the story of the dish, meal or strategy for cooking a ribeye.
It is important for you personally to know that you learned the recipe from your mom. But that doesn’t matter to topic and likely the reader. Search engines and visitors want to know how to cook their ribeye steak so they can start dinner. But E-A-T is important. It builds trust with readers and helps with SEO.
If your mom was a lead instructor at the culinary institute, worked on a cattle ranch raising and grading beef, and also won multiple awards, you can mention this. These facts builds trust and your mom also likely has accolades online you can source. Even better, get her to quote about the cooking process with professional tips and create an author’s bio section on your site while finding a way to show that she personally fact checked your content. This helps you with E-A-T and lets your visitors knowing they’re getting correct information.
If your story doesn’t build trust for both your visitors and for search engines like mentioned above, give the instructions first and then let the person know that if they scroll down they can find everything from how to plate the ribeye steak to pairing it with sides.
You can still tell your story about how you learned to cook a ribeye steak and why it is memorable for you, but do it below the answer. By using jumplinks in the top and telling the story after you create a user friendly experience and provide a solution for the visitor while telling your story.
The same holds true by not burying the answer under a ton of topically-on-point headers and paragraphs. In the list above I shared topics relevant to ribeye steaks, but not relevant to how to cook them. Many of these topics can become blog posts on their own or be combined into an FAQ page. By writing them separately you have created opportunities for internal links which also builds your site structure. It is a big SEO win.
This is something I do with my clients and so far we’ve seen continued success each year. So as I said above, more words does not mean more traffic and better SEO. Better SEO and more traffic come from providing a good user experience, not excess content (even if it is topically similar).
Now it’s time for me to get some steaks. If Holy Grail Steaks, Butcher Box or Snake River Farms finds this post and thinks its helpful, I’d totally trade auditing one of your content pages for some steaks. Wishful thinking.