What’s the “best” word count for SEO copywriting?
The email from a SEO copywriter read, “My colleague’s SEO company is insisting that I write at least 500 words per page. But you said that the best word count is 250 words. What should I do?”
Stuff like this drives me nuts. I call it the Easy Bake Oven approach to SEO copywriting. That is, write 250 words, focus on your keyphrases X times each and pop it into HTML. Voila! You’ll have a top-positioning document.
It’s just not that simple.
The “how long should a Web page be” debate has been flaring fast and furious for years. Long ago, I wrote that a good rule of thumb for SEO content pages was 250 words because:
- It’s easier to gain keyphrase relevancy with a longer word count
- The tone, feel and conversion flow could still be maintained
- I was seeing success (as well as other copywriters) with a 250ish word count
I still preach this rule of thumb. However, it’s just a rule of thumb. It’s true that short copy (think catalog copy) doesn’t seem to position as optimally as copy that’s more fleshed out. And the more content you have, the more opportunities you have to position for a wide variety of keyphrases (especially long tail keyphrases.) But that doesn’t mean that there’s a magical word count for search engine positioning.
Unfortunately, many SEO copywriters think that they have to write exactly 250 words (or more) on every page. This is fine when the writer has a lot to say — articles, FAQ pages and some product descriptions can easily maintain a 250 word count without sounding fluffy. Fluffy, bloated copy can kill a conversion flow just as fast as too-little copy.
However, there are some pages where squeezing 250 words out of the content is impossible. There’s just simply not enough to say. Conversely, some pages actually benefit from a longer word count. It’s not the search engines that should dictate your per-page word count. It’s your customers. What works for them? What word count conveys your information in the best way for your target audience?
Think about this when you’re writing the copy: Have I said everything I could? Have I overcome all objections? Have I showcased the product or service? Is the keyphrase usage seamless? Does the copy encourage the next conversion step? Have I placed my keyphrases in the search engine power positions?
If your answer is “yes,” you’ve done your job. It’s really as simple as that.