Word Count: How Much Is Enough?

Word count : It’s somewhat surprising that there seems to be so much confusion with regard to what is probably one of the most important aspects of online writing. Ask ten people about what the proper word count should be for blog posts and you will likely get ten different answers.

Word Count: How Much Is Enough?

What is the reason for all this confusion? Why should most people have different ideas on what the proper word count for a blog post should be?

One reason is that there really is no such thing as an “ideal word count” that can serve as a general rule for all posts. As it turns out, the ideal word count for a blog post depends on a number of different factors.

One of the most important concerns facing any blogger is SEO. All things being equal, Google tends to rank articles that hover around the 300-word mark higher than longer or shorter articles. For purposes of attracting the favorable attention of the major search engines therefore, a good word count to shoot for is around 300.

As important as SEO is however, it is not the only factor that should influence a blog’s content. You will also have to consider your niche, the type of information that you wish to convey, and the interest of your readers.

So how do you go about determining the proper word count to shoot for given your specific concerns? Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Let your content determine your word count

One mistake commonly made by inexperienced online writers is focusing all their attention on hitting a certain “magical” word count without considering the nature of the content. In many situations, the type of article you are writing should give you a clue as to what the proper word count should be.

If you are writing complex technical articles, you would probably have a higher word count than if you were writing about more “trivial” subjects. Updates and announcements should also be fairly short, so resist the urge to pad them out unnecessarily.

Structure dictates the word count

In most cases, the type of content you are offering will often determine the structure of the article. What you should always keep in mind is that you are writing in the service of your readers. You should therefore strive to present information in a logical and structured manner.

Keep in mind that a long post isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you do have to make more of an effort to present your ideas in an easy to digest manner. A “tutorial” type of article often requires long and detailed instructions, but you can break up the text easily by presenting your major points in a list form.

Pay attention to your audience

All this assumes that you know what your audience is thinking and what they prefer with regard to content and structure. However, you do also have to consider the specifics of the particular demographic you are courting.

Some readers may be more interested in information presented visually rather than in imposing walls of text. Conversely, other readers may prefer to get as much detailed information as possible without too many distracting graphics and pictures to get in the way.

Over time, you will get a better idea of what it takes to capture and hold your audience’s attention. If you start out writing relatively short posts and you can clearly manage to retain your readers’ interest, this could be an indication that longer posts will be welcomed. On the other hand, if you find that your lengthier posts don’t attract as many replies as you wish, it might be a good idea to trim it down a little.

What do you think?

At the end of the day, it is you who will have to sit down behind the computer and type out all those words. You should therefore ask yourself: how many words are you comfortable typing? How much valuable and relevant information do you really have to share?

If you feel that you can get your message across with only a few paragraphs, then that’s what you should deliver. If you feel that you need to explain your point more thoroughly, then use as many words as you feel is necessary. The point is to write in the service of your readers, and let that be your guide rather than some arbitrary word count requirement. When you do so, you will be much closer to providing actual value to your readers, which will be a lot more helpful to your blog than meeting the standard word count.

About Amit Shaw

Amit Shaw, Administrator of iTechCode.He is a 26 Year Ordinary Simple guy from West Bengal,India. He writes about Blogging, Technology, Gadgets, Programming etc. Connect with him on Facebook, Add him on Google+ and Follow him on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Hi Prime, nice post! I never thought this could be of so much importance. While writing a post the only thing I have in mind is that I need to write at least a 500 words article. Of course, I do also believe that the numbers should also depend on the nature and structure of the post.

    • When I started my blog last October 2012, I wrote a 3000 word article because I believed on the myth that the longer my post is, the more it can attract readers and major search engines. I was wrong. I broke down that article into 3 posts. However, I still believe on that myth. I told my friend that my post should be 700 words for SEO purposes and he told me “word count” has nothing to do with quality.

      Quality is dependent to content, and not on word counts. If we write a tutorial article – it could be longer. We should always bear in mind to give clarity to our readers, that is possible by writing precise posts. If our topic does not call wordy sentences and paragraphs – then pushing it to 1500 articles, for instance, may destruct the essence of our message.

      Thank you for the comment.

      • Thanks for the reply, Prime.

        So, the bottom line is that it’s the quality that matters to search engines and not the word counts and that the word counts depend on the topic.

        • Awesome! But for purposes of guest posting – we need to follow the standard word counts set by blog administrators, least – we do not have to worry about it when we write our own 🙂

  2. Most bloggers who are big SEO fans keep it in the circle of 750 word count.
    But I think writing content for the need and for winning the heart is the best way. Don’t get overthrown.
    Well put man. 🙂
    Cheers.

    • Winning the heart of readers is the best post one can write. When someone shares your post, like it, stumble it, tweet it – you won his heart… so it’s regardless of the word counts. Translating our best thoughts, ideas and opinions into words – the result would be an awesome post worth reading!

      750 words – setting standard word counts is not bad as long as it can win readers. There are few tricks to make longer post engaging such as bullets, images and the like. Thanks for voicing your thought man!

      Regards.

  3. I always try to keep my word count close to 800 words.

    • Hi Felix, that’s great – well it depends on your post structure… and for the purposes of guest post submission, it’s always safe to write post between 700 to 800 words. Thanks for the comment!

  4. Ravi Pathade says:

    Thanks Piyush for Posting this
    Too much Words Count can Bore the Audience if the Topic is small and explanations are just without reasons. But I have also heard that Blogs having articles short Word counts can be penalized by Google, Is this true?

    • Quality contents is not penalized. That’s the thing I am 100% sure of. But if you wrote short articles full of keywords (keyword stuffing) – Google will definitely take the appropriate action.

      Tutorials, for example, are basically longer articles – by using post templates, like headings, sub-headings, block quote, image marker as bullets, images/screenshots – then you can get rid the boredom or you can prevent your readers from getting drawn in the sea of words.

      Regards,
      Prime Aque

  5. hello
    Prime Aque
    thnx for this complete description on word count. really got a lot of help to improve my word count and seo going to bookmark it

    • Thank you bro! Just keep on reading – and apply and experiment what you learned… I believe on the saying “experience is the best teacher”… You will find the essence of my post when you personally tried it – especially if you already see some good result!

      I have visited your blog and I will comment on your post shortly 🙂

      Regards,
      Prime Aque

  6. I think word count do not matters if we have given proper headings and a proper summary before starting the brief discussion .People need quality and fresh content not more word count or slugish content.

    • You are right there… an awesome post does not depend on word counts – but it depend on it’s freshness and quality. When people read, comment, stumble, tweet, or email your post to a friend, it only means you are providing great contents worth sharing regardless of word counts 🙂

  7. Amit Sharma says:

    When i talking with famous bloggers my first question always related about word length of my article, mostly replied me and said as much words possible…some times i spend my most of time to write lengthy article, i know very well its lengthy article makes difficulty for readers but what we do always in confusion….

    • You can write a maximum of 1500 word articles, but make use of a good post template – like headings, subheadings, visible bullets (image marker), block quote, bold texts, etc… to emphasize your points. You can also make it a semi-list posts. Basically, when you are writing a tutorial, post my end up longer than you expect so make use a good trick. Anyway, quality is not dependent on word counts – we should always bear that in mind! 🙂

  8. I think the most important question to ask and answer is the last one you shared.

    How much valuable and relevant information do you really have to share?

    To me that’s what it’s all about being helpful, sharing secrets, and giving information that valuable to others!

    This is a great read and thanks for sharing such valuable information!

    Eric

    • Hi Eric, I wonder how I missed this comment of yours! Anyway I am here now to say thank you so much for liking this piece. If I write stuff that needs more elaboration, I know I need to come up with a lengthy one – if it’s the opposite, I guess few word counts is enough – “substance over form” – well yes, sharing precise and valuable information matters most. See you Eric 🙂

  9. Word count matters a lot when you are going to write on a general topic that is already been discussed several times. To add your unique voice on the same said topic you have to gather information in a difference perspective and manner and then you have to prove your points.

    • I agree with you Rakesh – but not all the time. I guess I better link to those discussions instead of rewriting them – then I just present my opinion… what do you think?

  10. Hi Prime,

    In my opinion, writing articles with approx 400-500 words is a good start and it is doesn’t consume much time of the reader and he/she may get interest in reading it. A lengthy article with lots of blah blah without getting straight to the point, may deter the reader.

    • You are right. If your article or post does not require long explanations, then it’s favorable to the reader to write it precisely without flowery words. Thank you 🙂

  11. nice article mukesh..
    The word count is the most important and the key concept of SEO it is the basic fact that the word count should not be too less and too much so it creates the bore doom to the reader.., if anybody finds that the article written by him is too long then he should break the article into the series of articles..
    I am very much impressed with the statement you made in the article that
    “let your content determine your word count”
    its very much true..
    thanks for this nicely written article 🙂

  12. Thank you! That is so true our content always determine the perfect word counts for our article!!! The most important thing is we write for our readers and not for the search engines – it’s about pouring our heart when we do write!!! Come again for more!!!

  13. Its an awesome post. Its very true that it is ultimately us who sit and type those contents. So if we do not like to explain in a lengthy manner, then we should try points or lists. The main concern for Google is a good content and it does not matter in what way we are delivering it. 300 is said to be the minimum count and I think it is reached anyway and the main focus should be on content.

    • Awesome, yes that is right vicky! No matter how short or long our post is, as long as we have been precise with our message to our target audience, it sure can go viral! 🙂

Speak Your Mind

*