Words that hook. Words that captivate. Words that leave the reader longing for more. The dream of every blogger.
I want my posts to be irresistible. I want them shared far and wide! I crave it! I’m hungry for it!
So you decide to write the ultimate post — massive and epic at 5,000 words. Surely, this will bring glory, right? You pour your soul into it for days, weeks. You click “publish” with a smile. Then you wait eagerly for the traffic to roll in.
But…tumbleweeds. Crickets. Where are the visitors? Why is Google holding out on you? You did everything “right” — huge word count, perfect SEO keywords. What gives?
I’m Alex Kosch, the founder of this blog. Let me let you in on a little secret: more words don’t guarantee more success. In fact, quality trumps quantity every time. A focused 1,000 word post can crush a bloated 5,000 word one. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way after months of blogging trial-and-error.
See, Google and readers reward understanding and value above all else. You have to truly master a topic, not just pad sentences. And you should aim to help people, not appease algorithms. Write to connect with humans, not rank with bots.
It’s a tough truth to swallow, but once you embrace it your blogging will reach new heights. In this post I’ll explain why you need to stop obsessing over word count and start optimizing for audience value instead. The results will speak for themselves.
Ready to stop counting and start captivating? Let’s begin…
- Word counts are an outdated way to measure content quality. Focus on bringing value to your readers instead.
- Write long enough to fully address your topic and help your audience, not to hit an arbitrary length target.
- Optimize your content for people first, search engines second. Valuable content leads to engaged readers and better rankings.
Word counts emerged as a content best practice because, in theory, longer content equates to more in-depth information. Early on, search engines like Google would reward pages with more words, operating under the assumption that lengthier articles were more comprehensive and useful for users.
This led many content creators to default to targeting specific word counts in their writing. The standard advice became “aim for at least 1,000 words” or “make sure your blog posts are a minimum of 2,000 words.” Hitting these round numbers was seen as crucial for pleasing search algorithms.
The problem is word count is a very crude measure of quality and value. While longer content has potential to cover more ground, length for the sake of length can easily become bloated and diluted. Shorter pieces can deliver immense value through crisp, concise writing.
What’s most important is fully addressing your topic and meeting your readers’ needs — whether that takes 500 words or 5,000. Creating fluff and filler to hit arbitrary targets now recognized as an outdated approach that frustrates readers and fails to deliver useful information.
Today’s best practice is to optimize content for your audience first, not for fleeting signals in search algorithms. Write long enough to add value, not just to tally words. With this reader-focused mindset, word counts become secondary to providing information people truly want and need.
“Stop counting words and start optimizing for audience value — write to deliver usefulness first, not to game fleeting algorithms.“
Striving to hit a certain word count target can easily lead content creators astray, resulting in lower quality work. Here’s why word count falls short as a measure of value:
- Padding with fluff and filler — It’s very tempting to just add superfluous words and repetitive phrasing to inflate word count. But this fluff dilutes your content quality and quickly becomes obvious to readers.
- Sacrificing engagement — Stretching writing solely for word count can make your content dense, overwhelming, and boring to read. People are more likely to tune out, even if you’ve crammed in more words.
- Obscuring the core message — Trying to pad out word count can result in burying your core point under layers of less relevant details and tangents. Even if you have 2,000+ words, the key takeaways get lost.
- No correlation with usefulness — More words don’t automatically equal more useful advice or information for your audience. A concise 300-word article can provide tremendous value, while a bloated 3,000-word piece might contain little tangible help.
- Optimizing for the wrong goals — Focusing on word count above all optimizes content for search engines first, not for delivering value to human readers. But neglected readers mean low engagement.
Word count does not reliably measure the quality, usefulness, or reader impact of a piece of content. It’s an outdated yardstick that pushes creators in the wrong direction. True excellence comes from optimizing for audience value, no matter the length.
Forget arbitrary word counts — craft content that connects with and helps your audience, even in just 300 words, if that’s what it takes.
When writing content, your goal should be to provide enough depth and detail to fully address the topic at hand in a way that brings maximum value to your readers. Resist any pressure to artificially inflate your word counts.
For example, I recently wrote a comprehensive blog post reviewing the top AI content detection tools. It ended up being around 13,000 words because properly covering each tool and providing useful insights required that level of depth.
I tested the tools extensively and included every bit of helpful information from my research — nothing extra just for padding. Though long, the post delivers tremendous value precisely because I wrote it to fully address the topic, not to hit some arbitrary length target.
On the other hand, sometimes a topic requires less length and depth to be useful.
In my post explaining how Originality AI works from my experience, I covered the core question succinctly in 500 words. But rather than stopping there, I crafted additional content to further assist readers.
I discussed how Originality AI can check multiple languages, compared it to competitors, and explained how the tool simplifies my workflows. This supplemental content doubled the length while providing even more value.
Write enough to completely answer the reader’s question or address the topic responsibly. Resist pressure to inflate words artificially or cut things short.
Sometimes being concise is best, other times more thorough explanations are warranted. Keep your audience’s needs front and center instead of defaulting to length goals. Deliver what provides true value, whether that’s 500 words or 5,000 words.
“Give each topic the exact depth it requires — 1,000 words for a concise guide, 10,000 if that’s what comprehensive value demands.“
When creating content, your core focus should be crafting something your target audience finds genuinely useful, relevant, and engaging. Valuable content that truly resonates with readers is what leads to the best outcomes over the long-term, both in terms of audience trust and loyalty as well as search engine visibility.
For example, when I wrote a detailed guide reviewing the top GPT-4 writing tools, my focus was entirely on providing maximum value for my readers. I included every bit of helpful information and insight from my extensive testing, organized logically to best assist people. The result? The guide reached the top 3 search positions soon after publication!
Of course, search engine rankings fluctuate, and I’ve made some mistakes in updating that piece over time, like carelessly expanding it with AI like ChatGPT that resulted in disjointed nonsense paragraphs.
Lesson learned — use AI carefully to maintain quality, integrity, and coherence from start to finish. Tools like Agility Writer aid human creators in optimizing content without compromising authorial voice and context.
The main takeaway here is that centering your audience and crafting content that deeply resonates with their needs and interests is what will make that content perform best long-term.
Don’t get overly distracted trying to reverse engineer what search engines want. Optimize first and foremost for people — deliver value, and the visibility will follow.
“Optimize for people first — deliver true value, not fleeting wins with algorithms, and you’ll earn audience trust and loyalty.”
Some contend that higher word counts are important because they signal authority and expertise to readers. The logic is that if someone has written a 3,000 word guide on a topic, they must really know their stuff compared to someone who only wrote 500 words.
It’s true that more extensive content allows you to showcase greater depth of knowledge. However, authority is not defined merely by word count padding. True subject matter expertise and authority comes across through:
- The quality of information provided — insightful, accurate, comprehensive details on a topic reflect knowledge better than sheer length. A short, laser-focused guide can demonstrate expertise.
- Clear, confident writing — An authoritative tone comes from crisp, concise writing that gets right to the core of the topic. Bloating length with fluff has the opposite effect.
- Reader trust and engagement — If your content actually helps readers deeply understand a complex topic, they’ll recognize your authority on it, regardless of length.
- Addressing audience needs — Authority means writing specifically to fill your readers’ knowledge gaps. More words don’t automatically achieve that better than fewer, well-chosen words.
- Credible credentials — Your background, credentials, and angle inform perceived authority more than word counts alone.
“Earn trust through high-quality, laser-focused content that helps people — no matter how long or short it needs to be.”
So rather than defaulting to higher word counts as some benchmark for authority, focus on truly owning your topic and offering maximum value to readers. Well-crafted, incisive writing that helps people meet goals demonstrates true expertise and leadership. That’s authority that earns reader trust.
Let’s recap the key points:
- Word counts are an outdated and unreliable measure of content quality and usefulness. Place your focus on delivering maximum value for your audience instead.
- Write long enough to fully address your topic and readers’ needs — no more, no less. Resist pressure to artificially bloat length.
- Optimizing first for reader experience, engagement and usefulness leads to long-term success. Stop chasing immediate wins with search engines.
- Authority comes from the actual quality and helpfulness of your content, not meeting arbitrary length goals. Offer value.
The bottom line: we need to shift our content mindsets away from simply tallying words to intently crafting value. Have confidence that reader-focused content gets results. Avoid getting distracted by metrics like word counts.
Instead of endless editing to hit some random target, spend that time making your content more actionable and engaging. Be inspired to create truly standout resources your audience will appreciate and benefit from.
So free yourself from the tyranny of word counts! Stop counting and start optimizing for value. Craft content that helps and resonates. Deliver what your readers have been searching for.
Oh, and this article ended up being around 2,000 words long. Is that a whole bunch or just a little? That’s for you to decide, dear reader!
I tried to give you a super thorough answer and show I really know my stuff by sharing real stories. So what do you think — did I write enough to get my point across?
My mission was to explain the idea fully with zero fluff. I wanted to pack in all the important bits without any word count goal. Just pure value from start to finish.
I hope I helped you see that counting words doesn’t matter — creating awesome, helpful content does!
About the Author
Meet Alex Kosch, your go-to buddy for all things AI! Join our friendly chats on discovering and mastering AI tools, while we navigate this fascinating tech world with laughter, relatable stories, and genuine insights. Welcome aboard!