I recently opened an email that asked a question I frequently hear from new bloggers. Here’s the email:
Experts suggest that your homepage should contain a minimum of 500 words. I got an email from WordPress telling me that when scanned, my homepage word count was more than 500 words.
Should I minimize my word count and if so why?
When it comes to your content, how many words are enough and how many are too many? In this post, we’ll talk about the ideal amount.
The Google Debate
Google has the ability to send you a lot of traffic. Looking at the Google Analytics data for my Biology Blog from last month alone, I received 47,652 visits from the Search Engines, with 43,719 coming directly from Google.
It’s a beautiful thing.
Since many so-called “experts” know that Google can send you a lot of traffic, many people have tried to figure out the ideal word count for high rankings in Google.
I remember when I first started blogging, I was taught that I need to try to write at least 300 words if I wanted to really help optimize my posts for Google rankings.
Then I heard that Google was starting to focus on higher quality articles and one of the elements they used for gauging high quality was the length of the article. The rumors insisted on blog posts being 500 words in length.
Then I’ve heard 800, and then back to 500.
I finally found an article, from a reputable source, that suggest that long form content is the best.
The gist of it is – if you want to make Google happy, do what Google likes.
Another Perspective (mine)
Google is a search engine – the BEST search engine. They make most of their money on advertising.
However, in order for Google to work well, it has to deliver high quality, relevant content within a fraction of a second to that individual who is searching for, let's say, a recipe for German Chocolate cake, or the lyrics to “Baby Got Back.”
The better the quality of the search engine results, the more likely the user is to come back to Google in the future and search for something else.
Google wants users to get exactly what they want, so if you are trying to target a particular kind of person, you want to deliver blog posts that are the length your audience would appreciate.
There are bloggers out there like Seth Godin who gets away with writing blog posts that are less than 100 words. The one below is only 62 words.
And then there are bloggers like Yaro Starak who regularly posts articles well over 3,000 words in length.
My answer to the question of word count is simple, and the same one I emailed to the lady who sent me the above mentioned email:
Forget what everybody says about a minimum number of words. Write enough to help your audience. How much is that? It's different for everyone. My articles are somewhere between 1000 to 1500 words, sometimes more.
I don't care how many words someone else says I should write. I care about what will serve my audience best.
So, whether you are a short article person like Seth Godin, or you have a lot more to say in a post (like me), write articles long enough to reach and sustain your target audience.
Test out different word counts and see what works best for YOUR audience. If you notice people interacting with your content more when it’s a certain length, use that length. Test and tweak until you find what works for THEM.
If you make them happy, you will make Google happy, because Google wants them to be happy.
What About You?
Do you have a certain word count you try to meet with your blog posts? If so, what is it? Let me know in the comments below.