Have you heard that writing short copy is spammy, and you should always write a minimum of X words?
You’re not alone. Recently, I received this question:
“What is the minimum number of words for a blog post?
I was told many years ago that it was 300 words and then a couple of years after that I was told the minimum should be 500 words. Anyway, recently, I read somewhere that the minimum number of words is 300, although, longer posts have a tendency to rank better.
I’ve been blogging for an attorney for about 2 years and making sure that I hit the 500-word minimum but I’m wondering if, every once in awhile, I can throw in a 300 or 400-word blog without creating SEO problems.”
Short answer — yes! There’s a huge misconception about word count and what Google “wants to see.”
Let’s break it down.
Once upon a time, you could get great Google rankings by writing short, crappy content. People would create poorly-written 100-word “articles” that repeated the keyword over and over — and those articles would actually position (!)
In fact, a number of large companies moved their content production offshore to non-English speaking countries. Although those writers did their best, they were paid (very little) on volume — not on value. The result was typically pretty horrible.
Then, Google made a sweeping change and made it known that “thin” content was bad. This algorithmic update, called Panda, devastated sites that relied on poorly-written content.
But here’s the thing…
Although “thin” content is often short, short copy isn’t necessarily bad.
“Thin” content and “short” content are two different things.
Here’s more information on what thin content is and how to fix it.
In fact, Google said in 2019 that word count isn’t indicative of quality.
Sometimes, what you’re writing only needs 300 words to fully explain the topic.
Maybe even less.
The purpose of smart SEO writing is to answer the readers’ query and to entice her to take the next action step. Adding 200 more words to reach a mythical word count “requirement” won’t serve the reader and may detract from what you’re trying to say.
So, don’t be afraid of short copy. It can position.
Know that short copy positions for highly specific queries — not broad concepts. Don’t expect a 300-word article to position for in-depth topics like [how to take care of a kitten] or [content marketing strategies for 2020].
It won’t. Nor will it fully answer your readers’ questions. That’s when longer content comes into play.
In fact, this post weighs in at slightly less than 500 words. Sure, I could have gone in-depth on the history of content words counts, and discussed why everyone wanted short copy back in the day.
But, that wouldn’t add much value, would it? :)
So yes, short copy is OK.
What do you think?
Have you been asked to write longer content “for Google?” Leave a comment and let me know!