What’s the optimal number of words to have on a web page?

(What follows is the outline I wrote in advance of recording the video. They’re my talking points. Not a regular post or article. Just an outline.)

This is a question from Holly who has taken my course on Web Content Optimization.

She asks, “I’m confused about all the different messages I get on the length of articles and posts. Are longer articles better? Is there an optimum length? Is there a point where content is too long?”

Good question. Complicated question.

A page, article or post can be optimized for a number of reasons…

  1. Optimized for the reader
  2. Optimized for the search engines
  3. Optimized for social media

There are a variety of ways to optimize for each of these options.

But for now let’s stick to the word count.

How many words is best?

Let’s take them one by one.

Optimize for the reader…

The word count should match what the reader wants from the page. Could be 100 words, could be 10,000. Totally variable.

For example, I have a page on my site about coffee that answers the question, “Is coffee fattening?” Well, the answer is NO. That’s a one-word page. I added some extra words, but it’s still a super-short page, because that’s all the reader wants and needs.

Optimize for SEO…

There is some discussion about this. Some WordPress plugins suggest you’re good to go with as few as 300 words per page or post.

But, if you make a study of the top 10 results on Google for the search topic of your choice, you’ll find the number of words per page are usually a lot higher than that.

Myself, if I’m being lazy, I’ll write about 750 words. If I’m serious about really pleasing Google, I’ll write over 1,000 words.

If there are videos or a few images on the page, I think you can get away with fewer words. I don’t know for sure, but I think so.

Optimize for social media…

This one is a little counter intuitive. You’d think that pages and posts with fewer words and less content overall would be shared the most.

Put another way, you’d think bite-sized content would be the most shareable.

Not so. Among others, the folks at Buzzsumo.com have tracked this many times. It seems that longer pages get more sharing. And I’m talking pages with 1,000 or 2,000 words of text.

Surprising. But good to know.

This is a big topic, and there are optimization issues that go beyond just the number of words of the page.

But I hope this goes some way towards answering Holly’s question.

NOTE: To learn more about optimizing a whole range of different types of web content, check out my course, Web Content Optimization.

Course on web content optimization


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