How Many Words Should My Blog Posts Be?

April 13, 2015

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

04_13_How-Many-Words_PinterestGoogle 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.

04_13_Google HappyThen 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.

SethGodin

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.

Infographic

04_13_How-Many-Words_Infographic

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12 Comments

  • Carey Green says:

    Hey Leslie, great thoughts. I tend to agree with you AND with the “more is better” idea – but only IF the “more is better” is helpful (as you suggest). Does that make sense? Here’s my attempt at a brief explanation.

    For most of us (not the Seth Godins of the world), Google NEEDS more words to figure out how relevant our post is to the search query. It doesn’t know us from Adam or Sue or Billy Bob Whatshisname. So we have to give said search engine plenty of content to digest so it knows what our article is about.

    Seth is an aberration. We can’t really base anything on his practices. Why? Because Google KNOWS Seth Godin (as much as a piece of software can “know” a person). I don’t know any of the algorithm creators at Google but I’d BET that Seth is one of the names on the algorithm “short list”… which means, if his site comes up in a search query on any level, Google bumps him to the top – because he’s proved himself to be helpful.

    There we are, back to that word again – HELPFUL! I think you NAILED this one, brother! Keep up the good work.

    • I agree with everything you said there, which is why I look at Seth as an exception. We’ve gotta be in the business of providing value. That’s what it all comes down too. So yes, we’re in full agreement Carey 🙂

  • John says:

    I’ve heard 2000+ is the proper number to rank in google. But I’m a local guy looking for local business. For me, I think, posting more frequently and inner linking are most important to rank.

    • The most important thing to rank is to provide value. If you’re doing it with 2000+ words, great. If you’re doing it with 500, great. Google is in the business of determining your value. So be valuable 🙂

  • Brian Ehrler says:

    This is one of the great debates. I am sure we will find out one day the optimum number of words debate is just like the Coke and Pepsi debates. I think you hit the nail on the head with give the audience what they want and need.

    • The great debate. Yep – one that will continue on for a while. And those that win will be the ones who do exactly what you said Brian – giving the audience what they want and need. Great point.

  • Dawn says:

    My posts tend to be longer- 900 words or more. But then, I write like I talk. And everybody who knows me personally says they can “hear me” when they read my posts. I call it hitting my sweet spot when readers can hear my voice and know I would speak exactly that way if we were face to face.
    I have wondered about shortening some posts, and I do have some shorter ones. Overall, though, lots of detail and using my own voice is working for me!!

    • That’s such an important point Dawn. Using your own voice is so crucial. It takes a while for us to figure that out sometimes, but when we do, it makes the world of difference.

  • Elisabetta says:

    I tend to get to the point pretty quickly and am generally not very worded. I find my balance between 300 and 450 words. Less than that, and I feel I am not saying anything; more than that and it all gets too complicated with too much information. Having said that, I’m launching my site (and blog) in May 2015, so my audience will let me know – Always happy to improve 🙂

  • [ Smiles ] If I can put my point across in 500 words, there is really no need for me to use 1000 words or more.

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