Dissimilar to printed media, its digital counterpart presents very few limitations nowadays and this is perhaps the best explanation as to why it is quickly consolidating its place in our society today. While on printed media you would need additional physical resources to increase the quantity of text, the digital content permits you to write as much as your heart desires. Or does it?
Lately, I can hear numerous questions regarding the optimal word count in blogs, articles or posts due to the Penguin mayhem so I’ve decided to state my personal opinion on the matter. The first thing you need to understand that online content cannot be subjected to any one size fits all rule. Some are perfectly capable of expressing their ideas in 200-300 words (synthesizing the points). Others prefer the more comprehensive approach, so their posts on a similar subject can easily exceed 2000-3000 words. Neither category is absolutely right or wrong and let me explain why.
Aspects to consider
First and foremost, keep in mind that in the online world, all niches have different requirements and rules. I’m not saying that there is a pre-established word count for every niche, well not really. However, there are certain practices concerning the word count average for the type of post you write.
For instance, informational blogs presenting the latest news or hottest trends in a niche will typically have a lower number of words, because their goal is squeezing in as much information as possible within a limited amount of space.
On the other hand, assuming that the website or blog is directed towards client interaction or presenting technical reviews for a certain category of products, then the length of the posts definitely increases in order to present a more detailed picture.
The thing is that these are simply guidelines and in the online world, you will rarely see blog examples that fit exclusively in one category. Therefore, what you really need to consider is the type of post you are writing and its purpose, rather than the overall genre of the blog. Take it on faith, it will definitely simplify decision making. Oh, and I should also mention that in order for your blog to gain consistency, try to stick to an average word count. At least as much as possible, don’t excessively crop your content in the process.
Setting achievable writing goals
In the blogging community, the perceived average word count for newcomers is around 400-500, so my advice is to set this as your target. 500 is neither too long (in fact, a post is considered long when it exceeds 1000 words) nor too short, so you will not bore the audience or leave the impression of spam.
However, once you become accustomed with this word count, you should set incremental targets. 600, 700, 800 and yes, why not, 900 words! Between 500 words and 1000 words, anything goes. Confused about the reason you should gradually increase the length of your posts rather than stick to the iconic 500? Here is why…
Word count and Google
When you write a blog post, you do it because you have valuable information and opinions that you want to share with the online world. But in order to do so, you must first show Google that your blog is worthy of making the top ranks in SERPs. Among the numerous changes to the search algorithm in the wake of the Penguin update, the longer, high-quality text content is prioritized compared to other forms of media. This means that once you get the hang of writing good content, you can take advantage of it by offering the Google bots more of it to crawl and index.
But hold on, there’s more. In its holy war on terrorists… eh, spam I mean, Google now has a tendency of branding short posts – the ones commonly utilized in link building campaigns – as worthless.
While this currently applies to 50-100 words posts, who can predict the minimal length required by this search engine in the future? Better safe than sorry I say! And one more thing, the 500-1000 word count is the best way to introduce natural keywords without exceeding the maximum allowed by Google or making the content sound genuinely weird. Don’t forget to make the information readable by splitting the content into paragraphs or introducing relevant subheadings!