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Word Counts: Optimal Numbers for 2020



Word Counts: Optimal Numbers for 2020

There appear to be so many tips about doing SEO right that people often tend to overlook the simplest of things. Namely, with keyword research and placing, image and text optimization, ensuring loading times are optimum, and keeping an eye on the competition, the joy of the writing itself is often lost in translation.

If we add to that that there are suggested word counts for titles, image body, and meta descriptions, the whole process suddenly seems less more enjoyable than it truly could be, under different circumstances.


Keeping Things Simple

Fortunately, things don’t have to be so complicated. In truth, while SEO is undoubtedly an ongoing effort, only the initial optimization is painstaking.

How come?

Let’s start with keyword research. Normally, you’d wish to go through this thoroughly and stick to keywords that work. That means that generic keywords simply won’t do, as competitors also use them. 

Rather, go for location-based and long-key keywords.

Long-key keywords make your site stand out from the myriad of similar ones. They should describe your offer in a specific way. For example, if you deal in used cars, instead of using the generic “used cars” keyword, go for “quality affordable used cars.”

Location-based keywords will result in Google showing your business in the specific area and will also add zest to your chosen long-key keyword. Thus, the long-key keyword from above will become “quality affordable used cars in Richmond, VA.” Being more specific is even better – add different city quarters for the best results.

These keywords can (and should) be used throughout your website, which means that there is only the initial effort to find the best choice. That means that for every new blog post and image you add, you can use the keywords that work.

Keywords should be included in title and header tags, body copy, meta descriptions, and image descriptions. Remember to add alt and title attributes to images since Google Image search is often used to compare offers.

The punch line that keywords matter is well established: organic search generates 65.72% clicks, compared to, say, 3.82% clicks on paid advertisements. That’s why ranking matters and why keywords should be well-researched.


Ready for Word Counts?

Seeing as the basics have been made easier, it’s time to consider the recommended word counts.

Now, presumably, we’ve all heard that the ideal length of a blog post is a 7-minute read. We also know that people scan content rather than read it – that’s why there are so many images to break down the text.

We are not huge fans of image-heavy articles ourselves, as we prefer quality content being presented in a tidy manner (think in terms of books), but it is true that posts that feature images have more shares than those that don’t.

So… How fast of a reader are you? Or, better still: how fast do your website visitors read?

That’s a winning question, seemingly, since the 7-minute read statement has been widely misinterpreted.

Various studies have shown that the optimum word count per blog post stands somewhere between 1,600 and 2,000 words. Unfortunately, OkDork has discovered that posts longer than 3,000 words (going up to the incredible 10,000 words!) get shared 16x more than shorter ones.

And, if you think a bit about these stats, you’ll come to the logical conclusion that reading 1,600 words in 7 minutes is possible for light novels and gossip columns, but what about scientific articles?

Obviously, it takes far more time to comprehend scientific texts, which means that a post about, say, rocket science, should be considerably shorter.

What we’re trying to say is – keep these stats in mind, but don’t be fooled by various interpretations. No one knows better than you, the type of content you publish, the desires of your target audiences and the message you are trying to get across. Simply adjust the word count so that it fits into the 7-minute read scope.  

When it comes to title tags and meta descriptions, things are, thankfully, not prone to misinterpretations. Plain and square, the recommended word count for title tags is between 50 and 60 and for meta descriptions – up to 155 characters. Longer text will be truncated, and you’ll want Google to display all of your text.

It’s that simple, but remember to check for updates, since Google is known for changing the rules of the game from time to time.


Optimum Word Counts for Newsletters and Email Marketing Messages

If you run a brand that doesn’t send newsletters, you’re missing out. Keeping the benefits of email marketing aside, newsletters will keep your audience informed and make your brand always stay in mind.

Don’t understate the fact that the majority of emails are being accessed on mobile devices, which means that newsletters should not be voluminous.

According to Constant Contact, the optimum length for newsletters is ca. 200 words. These should include a clear title, a description of the offer and a call to action. Make certain that all of these elements are to the point, and don’t forget to include the unsubscribe button (they prevent your emails from being flagged, like spam in case of subscribers no longer interested in your offer).

Finally, email marketing messages should feature between 50 and 125 words. HubSpot has found out that they have a response rate of above 50%. The highest CTRs are witnessed in emails with ca. 200 words (similarly to newsletters, you’ll notice). In short, an email message should feature no more than 200 words.

If that word count sounds insufficient, remember that there are other means of providing additional information, notably images. Again, keep mobile readers in mind and keep the loading times of both your emails and pages as fast as humanly possible.


Are You Still Reading This Article?

So, are you still with us? If you are, that means that 1,000-word long informative articles may be enough to keep the audience engaged. Further out, adding an additional 600 words just to meet the numbers while beating around the bush is not a strategy of our choice, and it shouldn’t be of yours, either.

Remember that trusted sources and quality content will always rank well, so use the pros and cons to come up with the optimum word count for your blog posts and articles.


Angela Ash is a professional content writer and editor, with a myriad of experience in all forms of content management, SEO, proofreading, outreach, and social media. She currently works with a boutique agency that offers in-depth SEO analysis, custom SEO strategies, and implementation.