The word count is sometimes used as a measuring stick for good blog post writing, which is really a shame because it’s a lousy way to tell.
When you’ve written a blog as long as I have, it’s sometimes a shock to the system when you decide to revisit a topic you assume you wrote about a year or so ago only to discover it has been five years!
Such is the case this week.
One of the items listed involved word counts. Mark Zeni points out that shorter posts of between 200 and 400 words used to be “good enough,” at least when it came to satisfying SEO requirements so that search engines would notice you. After a while, though, longer posts — 1500 words or more — became the norm, he says.
When I wrote, back in June 2012, a post titled “Why I Don’t Do Word Counts,” I had this to say:
I write when I have something to say, and I write until I feel the point is made. … But here, at my site, I don’t count words. I do my best to say it concisely, particularly if more than one aspect of a problem needs to be addressed.
What I didn’t say back then was a policy I’ve adopted since that time: there is a word count I pay attention to. But once I hit that particular number, I no longer worrry about word counts at all.
The magic number these days that I watch for is 300. Yoast, a free plugin I use to help with SEO, suggests that 300 is something of a sweet spot in word counts that tends to make search engines happy. If you have a post much below that, they’ll likely assume you don’t have enough content to worry about — at least, that’s the way I understand their little scorecard when it comes to that point.
I try to make sure I hit the 300-word mark, but once that’s accomplished, I don’t even look at the word count.
As Zeni points out, “Quality is much preferable to quantity.”
If you have something to say, say it, as well as you can, and as succinctly as you can. Sometimes, that can be a challenge for someone like me.
But if you can’t be clear in what you’re saying and why you’re saying it, fewer people will be willing to read what you have to say. That can be a great motivator to say it clearly (and quickly).
The word count for this post, by the way, is 453. Not bad.