Conquering The Word Count: Does Size Really Matter?
When most people think about content quality the kind of things that come to mind are things like the skill, dedication, and knowledge of the writer…
But other things affect quality too (like the word count).
You could take the best writer in the world, give them a perfect brief, and pay them handsomely to create a masterpiece on a topic of your choosing…
But if you’ve only given them 150 words to play with – even they would create a garbage piece of content.
Short But Sweet
The absolute bare minimum amount of words that a blog post should contain is 300. With anything less than this you’re not going to be able to convey any kind of message, tell any kind of story, or get any kind of traction.
To be honest you’d be better off tweeting your content than writing a post shorter than 300 words about it (which is conveniently why the shortest post length we offer at The Content Panel is 300+ words).
However, we strongly recommend that the majority of brands opt for 600+ words as 300 words is still a very limited amount of space to get your message across with (and there are very few topics/industries that are suited to such brief pieces of content).
Despite this, 300-word posts are considered “acceptable”, and you’ll still stand a chance of meeting your goals with them – it just might take a little longer than you’d like. You’d almost certainly get a better ROI if you opted for a higher word count.
Note: To give you an idea of how short a 300-word post is, we passed the 300-word mark about a paragraph ago.
Anything But Standard
It’s generally accepted that a great middle ground between cost and quality is around 500 to 600 words per blog post. This amount of words allows for a writer to get into a topic with a decent amount of depth (and also allows them to showcase their talent for writing).
Needless to say, this creates a much more well-rounded piece of content that’s going to engage and inform the reader without taking up too much of their precious time. A 600-word blog post takes around 3 to 4 minutes to read on average, and with today’s attention spans being lower than ever – it’s the perfect length for content marketing.
However, it’s not just your readers that will love content around 600 words in length – Google will love it too.
It’s been accepted for several years now that for Google to give a piece of content any kind of credibility (and therefore a high position in their search results) it needs to be at least 500 to 600 words in length. Google knows that a piece of content with a lower word count than this is unlikely to be high quality – it’s simply not possible to be informative about the vast majority of subjects with fewer than 600 words.
As such, if your posts are shorter than this then you’re robbing yourself of long-term, passive organic traffic from Google’s search engine (which is arguably one of the best benefits of blogging).
Note: At this point in the post we’ve still got a paragraph to go before we hit 600 words, try scrolling up to the 300-word mark to see the difference.
Bigger Is Better
600+ words are more than enough for the vast majority of post topics, but as is often the case with content marketing – quantity and quality go hand in hand. Bumping the word count up to around 1000+ words creates blog posts that are much more detailed. They start to become more like a guide or a resource than a standard post. Posts of this length are often shared and cited more (which means they get more Google love) and they keep visitors on a site for a longer amount time too.
Long form content is generally accepted to be anything that’s over around 1,400+ words. They are great additions as one-off posts that complement a posting strategy that’s usually between 600 and 1000 words, but for many industries, they’re too long to be used for bread and butter blog posting.
This being said, there are industries (such as medical, legal, and tech) where 1,400 words can easily be required for regular posting. The detail needed for posts in these industries would be missing if you were to opt for shorter lengths.
The Final Word
Hopefully, I’ve answered most of your questions about post length here today.
To be honest the vast majority of people reading this post should be opting for 600+ words as a minimum. If you’ve got the time (or budget) then 1000+ words per post would be even better (and would almost certainly help you hit your goals sooner).
There are very few industries and brands that should opt for 300+ word posts by choice. Budget constraints are perhaps the only real reason we’d recommend 300-word posts – and even then we’d almost always suggest a smaller quantity of 600+ word posts instead. ROI is almost always higher at this length, and you get a good chance of getting organic Google traffic too.
Note: We’re up to 900 words now at the end of this post. Scroll back up again to see the difference between 300 and 600 words to make your own mind up about which is right for you and your brand.