When Size Matters
Best Practices in Online Word Counts
Thinking about adding fresh content to your website? Starting a blog for your business? Drafting a newsletter for fans or sending an email blast to your customers? No matter what type of content you’re producing, one of the first questions on your mind is probably, “How many words do I need to write?”
The answer is…well, it depends.
This isn’t some artificially-created cliffhanger to keep you engaged, but rather the murky truth about word count for online content. In this blog post we’re going to explore some important rules to keep in mind when it comes to word count to help you get to the bottom of this tricky content hang-up.
Rule #1: Write for People, Not Search Engines
There’s a lot of debate about the “ideal” word count if you want your content to get found by search engines—and honestly, that’s because there isn’t a hard-and-fast rule when it comes to how many words a product page, contact form, or blog post should have. The most important thing is to put out quality content rather than strain yourself to reach some golden number of words. Strong copy that is educational, entertaining, or helpful is much more likely to check the engagement metrics search engines use to identify quality content. Time on page, bounce rate, and backlinks are examples of metrics search engines use to determine a good piece of content—and good pieces of content are more likely to reach the top spots in Google and Bing than content that is stuffed with keywords and fluff.
Rule #2: Fill Gaps in Content, Not Gaps in Word Count
Before you publish a piece of content, read through it and determine if there are any “gaps” where you can add information to deliver more relevant and helpful content to your users. This serves a couple different purposes. First, it’s a good way to put out meaty content that serves the interests and needs of your users (which is rule #1 when it comes to content marketing). It can also help keep visitors on your site longer instead of going to other sites to find answers to their questions. Once you’ve filled in all of the gaps and you’ve answered all of the questions or satisfied all of the concerns a reader might have, your content is good to go. Remember, quality comes first, word count comes second.
Rule #3: Match Word Count to Content Type
The type of content you’re publishing on your site should also influence the word count you’re aiming for. For example, a “bite size” quiz or infographic meant to engage users and be shared on social media channels shouldn’t rival War and Peace in terms of word count. On the other hand, a product overview page or online brochure should check all the boxes when it comes to the questions, concerns, and needs a potential customer might have. For the latter types of content, you might go well over 1,000 words; in that case, make sure the piece of content is designed with the user experience in mind. Bullet points, numbered lists, images, and callout boxes are some easy ways to break up lengthy pieces of content and make them easier to consume by online users who are becoming increasingly attention-deficit.
Writing for word count is easy; writing quality content that engages online readers and drives visitors through the sale’s funnel toward a conversion is difficult. Luckily, Avenue 25 can help. In addition to our custom web design and development services, we offer professional copywriting for all of your marketing copy needs. Contact us online or call (602) 864-1233 to learn how we can help.