Word Count: Basics for Writing & SEO Considerations

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Updated 2/3/2024

Understand the essentials for word count, how it affects SEO, and other considerations. Find when you should use it for your content strategy.

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Word count refers to the total number of words in piece of writing. It’s a metric used to evaluate the length of a text, and it’s often used in the writing and publishing industry.

Word count plays a role in different forms of writing, such as academic writing, creative writing, and technical writing. It provides a quantifiable measure of the content of a document, making it easy to evaluate the document’s completeness and consistency.

Knowing the word count of a piece of writing can help you to ensure that you meet the requirements of your target audience or readership. It’s also a useful metric in tracking your writing goals, whether you’re a student, blogger, or professional writer.

Average Word Counts

The average word count for popular forms of writing can vary depending on the specific genre and format, but here are some rough estimates for a few common types of writing:

  1. Novels: Typically, novels range from 70,000 to 100,000 words, although some can be shorter or longer.
  2. Short stories: Short stories can range from 1,000 to 7,500 words; the most common length is around 3,500.
  3. Blog posts: Vary widely in length, but most are between 500 and 1,500 words.
  4. News articles: Typically between 300 and 800 words for short reports, with longer lengths for feature articles.
  5. Academic papers: Can range from 2,500 to 8,000 words, depending on the discipline and the assignment’s specific requirements.
  6. Emails: Can be as short as a few sentences or as long as a few paragraphs, but most are between 50 and 200 words.

It’s important to note that these are just rough estimates, and word counts can vary widely depending on the specific piece of writing and the writer’s preferences.

Word Count and SEO

Word count is an important factor that influences SEO. Search engines like Google tend to prioritize long-form content in their search results over shorter pieces. However, that largely depends on the search query.

Here are some general guidelines:

  • Longer content can offer more value by covering the topic in more depth, providing more context, and answering more questions.
  • Longer content tends to attract more backlinks, a significant factor in SEO ranking.
  • Aim for at least 1,000 words. That’s a safe minimum threshold to provide value while staying efficient.

Focus on providing the best content, rather than worrying about word count. If your content feels thin, add more to it. If it’s bloated and repetitive, cut some of it. That’s the best use of your time.

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