Best Word Count for a Blog Post
What is the best word count for a blog post? There is an online entrepreneur I admire, but he did something I found shocking. I won’t mention his name because he might change his mind about what constitutes an effective article, and I want to give him the space and grace to do that.
The man 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 took a look at his articles. They were under 200 words each! Good thing those words were not drops of syrup—there were not enough of them to attract flies much less nourish them.
When visitors see an article of only 200 words, they almost always click away instantly. Have you examined your Bounce Rate at Google Analytics? If it is 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.
Your site is just another Internet hit and run victim, and your chances of selling products, services or ideas are slim.
The purpose of rich content
The content on your site must grab the immediate attention of site visitors, offer valuable information, and prompt them to take action. Also, in this world of social media, you want compelling content so readers will share it with others.
The whole point of having web content is to engage readers, and you can’t do that with 200 word snippets.
What engages readers? Statistics, stories, humor, case histories, quotes, “how-to” steps, trends and interviews. An article is a little bundle of logic that leads people to a conclusion and challenges them to take action.
That action usually means buying your product or service, signing up for your newsletter, sharing your content on Facebook or Twitter or other responses that improve your profits and help you gain exposure. You can’t do that in 200 words. It can be done in 500 words, but sometimes it takes more to get the response you want.
Sadly, most readers don’t stay with articles of more than 750 words; they get click fever and move on to another page. It is very hard to engage Internet readers for more than 750 words because they have a certain expectation about such articles. If you want them to read more, you need to offer an ebook because their expectation changes for that format.
What are the limits?
I am convinced, along with many other professional writers and marketers, that it is false to think that your site visitors don’t have the time or attention to read articles in the 500-750 word range. People are doing searches precisely because they are looking for something to help them with their life or business. If you can supply the solution to their problem or meet their need, then they will read as many words as it takes to be satisfied.
Why do I think 500 words is the sweet spot for articles or blog post length? Because the article must be long enough to hook the reader. You then want to be able to walk them through your logic. You want to close them with a call to action. You want to help them form the right thoughts. You want to trigger a message from their brain to their mouse-clicking finger. It takes a minimum of 500 words to do that. In some cases it takes more.
If you are not convinced, you may want to try a little experiment yourself? Write 200 words that informs a perspective 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 more words, both verbally and in writing, to engage people, inform them, anticipate and answer their questions, and to persuade them that they are getting value.
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.
On the other hand, articles of 500 words or more have bait to attract the fish, a hook to catch it, a long line to reel it in, and a gaff to complete the final action of grabbing the fish and hauling it inside the boat.
Like the tuna boat owner, you are spending 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 chub into the water, and not do what 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. Help them with information before they buy. Build trust. Give them reasons to take action. A 500 word minimum is the sweet spot for articles because they are long enough to offer these benefits to your site visitors.