Why Blog Post Word Count is Important
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Blog post word count is important. All online entrepreneurs agree. But there’s disagreement about how many words are needed to get desired results. Those results are two-fold:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for high search page ranking
- Content that rivets reader attention long enough for them to respond to the “call-to-action.” The call-to-action is what results in a sale or other site visitor action.
All bloggers need to write posts that meet both these requirements. Above all, regardless of word count, your post must be interesting. I discuss how to write posts powerful enough to influence people in this Core Content.
Ideal Blog Post Word Count is Changing
What is the best word count for a blog post? There is an online entrepreneur I admire, but he did something I found shocking. He decided to do an experiment, which was great. He wanted to find out how many articles he could post in four hours.
The result: 10 articles. This man has been writing for years and has the chops for that kind of output, so I was not too surprised by his performance.
Then, I looked at the articles. They were under 200 words each! Good thing those words were not drops of syrup—there was not enough content to attract flies, much less people who will read and respond to the content.
When visitors see an article of only 200 words, they tend to click away instantly. If you use 200-word posts, your site will become just another Internet hit and run victim, and your chances of selling products, services or ideas will be slim.
Bounce Rate Tells the Tale
Have you examined your Bounce Rate at Google Analytics? If it’s high, that means people are entering and exiting your site on the same page. They are not staying long enough to discover what you offer. The whole point of having web content is to engage readers, and you can’t do that with 200-word snippets.
For a long time, I thought 500 words was the sweet spot. That’s long enough to create engaging content and include SEO keyword phases in unobtrusive ways. That’s still a good target.
But these days 500 words should only be considered a minimum. What is the ideal length? You want it to be long enough to provide readers with interesting and helpful information, but short enough to keep them reading to the end. That’s often between 750 and 1,500 words.
There are some “long-form” content gurus that think that 2,500-3,500 words are the ideal. I believe that’s over-kill. The minimum length of a Kindle ebook is 2,500 words, so your readership will probably be higher if you publish that many words as an ebook rather than a blog post.
Google’s own SEO starter guide states, “Content should be factually accurate, clearly written, and comprehensive.” Comprehensive means, “complete; including all or nearly all elements or aspects of something.” You should never add “fluff” to increase word count.
Some researches have pointed out that 78% of all blog posts are 1,500 words or under, so that’s a good snapshot of reader expectations. An average reader will take 7 minutes to read 1,500 words, and they consider that a desirable time investment when the article offers useful information.
Are there good reasons to write longer posts? I hope so because some of my cornerstone posts are 4,500 or so words. But they are posts designed to teach people writing skills and techniques, and SEO results are secondary to the teaching/learning process. Plus, I segment long posts with a Table of Contents so that the information in long posts is easily accessible to readers.
How to Engage Your Readers
Regardless of word count, you want to engage your readers immediately. When you do that, you hook them and can keep them reading. What engages readers? Statistics, stories, humor, case histories, and quotes.
A complete article is a little bundle of logic that leads people to a conclusion and challenges them to take action. The best blog posts have these components:
- An absorbing introduction
- Three to five points that offer helpful information
- A short summary that includes a call-to-action. You want readers to take action after reading your blog post.
Blog posts should have an entertaining quality. But, more importantly, each should have a purpose. That means the call-to-action is an important part of every post. It may include buying your product or service, signing up for your newsletter, sharing your content on Facebook or Twitter, or other tangible action.
Always ask yourself about what results you’d like to achieve before you start writing.
Keep Them Reading
There is both art and science in a blog post. That’s one reason blog post word count is Important. The art is writing on topics that attract readers and doing it in a way that holds their attention.
The science is getting them to your post in the first place. You do that in two ways. The first is by understanding keyword phrases and using them in your writing.
Keyword phrases are the words that people type into search engines to find posts like yours. You want Google and other search engines to match keyword phrases you are embedding on your post along with the phases people are using to find information.
You must do some study to discover relevant keyword phrases that get traffic and include them in your title, headings, and body copy. Generally, your chosen keywords phrases should be 3-5 words in length and repeated unobtrusively 4-6 times in a post.
A blog post can have more than one keyword phrase to attract traffic.
Structure the Visual Look of Your Post
The second part of the science is how you structure your blog posts. You want a brief, potent introduction, and headings for every 300 words of text. Use bullet points to summarize key ideas.
You want to include links in your post both to other relevant posts on your site and to outside sites. Include an image in your post related to your post topic. Use your keyword phrase in the image “alt” tag.
This coming together of science and art results in a blog post that meets SEO requirements and engages reader interest. That’s the best of both worlds.
A Blog Post is Like Tuna Fishing
Have you ever watched one of those TV shows about tuna fishing? They dump little bits of fish, called chum, into the water. That attracts all kinds of fish, including sharks. Chum does not get the profitable tuna into the boat, however.
Articles that are only 200 words long are like chum. They have no purpose other than to hide keywords to attract readers. But when readers arrive they see there is not much there for them and they swim away.
Articles of 1,500 words have bait to attract the fish, a hook to catch it, a long line to reel it in. You have enough words available to complete the final action of gaffing the fish and hauling it inside the boat.
Blog owners are like tuna boat owners who spend thousands of dollars for the opportunity to catch fish. Why would you go to all that expense just to go out each day and dump chum into the water, and not do what else is needed to get tuna aboard the boat?
To build your website traffic and to get sales, you need to offer visitors something of value. Give them reasons to take action. A 750-1,500 word blog post is the sweet spot for articles because they are long enough to offer these benefits to your site visitors.
If you’re not convinced, you may want to try a little experiment. Write 200 words that inform a prospective client about your product or service and persuades them to take action. Then read it out loud to them. Did they buy after hearing you speak those 200 words? Of course not. You can’t verbally make a sale in 200 words, and you can’t do it was a 200-word article.
You need to use more and better words, both verbally and in writing, to engage people. You need more words to inform readers, anticipate and answer their questions, and to persuade them that they are getting value from you. Blog post word count is important. Use each word wisely.