Word Count Doesn’t Matter Online

Word Count Doesn’t Matter Online

Word Count Doesn’t Matter Online

I’ve been getting a question frequently: how long should my blog posts be? Is there a minimum word amount for blog posts? Maximum?

No. There isn’t. People will tell you otherwise, but I’m telling you there isn’t.

Side note: this only counts when online. Magazines and other print media will require specific word counts because of space. I’m not saying that you should ignore those word counts. In fact, those word counts are extremely important. The only time word count really doesn’t matter is when online.

If you charge a flat rate per word, you should stop doing that right now. Charge per piece. Not per word. I’ll talk more about that in a future post.

Blog post word count doesn’t matter, even for SEO.

In SEO (Search Engine Optimization), the rule of thumb is frequently changing on blog post length. It was 300 words. Then bumped up to 500 words. Then bumped up to 1000 words. I don’t keep up with it anymore, so I don’t even know where it is now.

It doesn’t matter.

Google and the other search engines are going to find your content if your content is good. They’ll rank it well if your content is good. Focus on creating valuable content for readers, and you won’t need to worry about those stupid SEO rules.

The thing about those SEO rules is that they had to be enforced because SEO’s were all posting as much trash as possible. It was all about more pages and more keyword optimization and stuffing and all that. Of course, they’re trying to get hundreds, if not thousands, of pages out every month, which is expensive, so they shoot for lowest word count possible to get them all out. There can’t be duplicate content, either, so each page needs to be written individually.

The problem with SEO is that it has always encouraged sketchy practices, work-arounds, and generally just trashy work for the sake of getting more rankings. SEO’s would sell companies that more rankings are important.

What’s important is getting the right traffic, not as much traffic as possible, and then turning that traffic into leads/conversions. Of course, that has been done with SEO by many companies, but I have found that all companies do much better when they focus less on SEO and more on content marketing.

Of course, I still write with SEO in mind, but I’m focused more on providing value to readers and website visitors, which ultimately turns them into customers and clients.

Get the point across in as many words as you need.

Here’s the thing about writing content that provides value: the word count doesn’t matter as long as you get the point across.

You need to provide the value the user is looking for.

If they found you on Google, because you’re ranking well, they’re looking for an answer to their question. Answer it. Don’t fluff the content with a bunch of BS in the beginning or end to reach the wordcount that some SEO recommended to you for every page.

A lot of stuff, especially “how to” guides, will come under whatever word count is recommended. I bet you can find a ton of them ranking well in Google that are under 500, 300, even 100 words.

They’re ranking well because they have been seen to provide value to visitors to the site. The people who read the content share it because it answered their question and they want the rest of the world to know the answer to their problems, too. People are nice like that. Sometimes.

If clients want a specific word count, obviously do it.

Some clients aren’t going to know this. Or they’ve heard it and they don’t understand. It’s not your job to educate them. It’s not worth your time to educate them. Those clients are going to ask for specific maximum and minimum word counts.

Sean McCabe would say those aren’t the clients you want. And, he’s right. But until you’ve switched over to Value Based Pricing model he teaches, and ditch scarcity mindset, you’ll be taking clients on that want specific word counts. And that’s okay. Take them and do their word counts. Get your pay. Save up for Value Based Pricing and get out of scarcity mindset. Or, even better, go get a day job and then only take on good clients.

This was supposed to be a short article to prove a point, but it ended up being well over 1500 words because there was so much to say.

​Learn To Grow Your Audience Two Different Ways – June 10, 2016 Newsletter

This week, I wrote all about getting traffic to your content.

If you’re writing non-fiction on the web, you need to make sure you know how to write with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in mind.

Optimizing your content for search engines will bring you lots of traffic from people searching for the things you write about.

Whatever it is you’re writing about, I promise you: people are out there searching for it.

If you care about it, they care about it.

I wrote this pretty epic two parter that will get you started: http://bit.ly/1swmI5z

I also wrote about vlogging and social media this week.

If you’re not growing your audience through social channels, you need to check out this article: http://bit.ly/1Ya5I0E

Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you next week!

Garrett Mickley, GarrettMickley.com

How To Write With SEO In Mind So You Get More Readers From Search Engines (Part 2 Of 2)

writing with seo in mind

writing with seo in mind

You will benefit from employing SEO techniques in your writing.

Despite the fact that SEO is dying thanks to smarter algorithms, tailored experiences, and the always increasing popularity of social media: it’s still worth knowing basic SEO practices and employing them in all of your online content.

(This is Part 2 of 2. Please click here to read Part 1)

Establish the purpose of the article.

The first thing you need to do when writing SEO friendly content is to figure out the main point of the article, blog post, or page.

The point of this blog post, for example, is to teach you how to write SEO friendly content so that you can get more hits on your webpages. More hits leads to more exposure leads to more money if you monetize properly.

Knowing how to write SEO friendly content can also get you a job or contracts because it’s an important skill to have when writing non-fiction for the web.

Conduct keyword research.

Now that you have established the purpose of your article, it’s time to figure out what people are searching for in regards to that. This is called keyword research and it’s a whole art in itself, but we’ll keep it simple here.

Just go to Google and start typing what you think people would search regarding your topic. Check out those autofill suggestions. Those are the kinds of things people are searching.

Hit enter, or grab one of those, and then scroll to the bottom of the first page. Look! more suggestions. Awesome.

Compare and contrast those with what you wrote first. You should get a good idea of what people are searching for regarding your topic, and especially what type of language they’re using (how they word their searches). You want to be mindful of all of these different suggestions when writing your content.

Your title needs to have this sort of language in it, as does the rest of your content. In fact, you want it to be as close to the front of your title as possible. However, you also need to make sure that the title and content make sense when read.

Write reader-friendly content.

“Reader-friendly content” means that it reads well, is relevant to the topic, and is useful. When people are searching stuff, it’s because they want to learn something. They need to know the thing. What is the thing? That’s whatever you wrote about.

You’re targeting their thirst for knowledge. Google will lead the horse to water, but you have to provide the water for them to drink it. And of course, as the saying goes, you can’t make them drink it. But we’re going to do our best by making sure our content is friggin’ awesome.

Write good content! Write what you would want to read.

Write the way you talk.

Imagine you’re sitting down with your best friend and they ask you about the thing. Explain it to them. Write it the way you explain it to them.

Okay, but what about the optimization part? Didn’t we look up those suggestions so that we would have better content optimized for the search engines? Yeah, throw it out. You’ve already learned it and subconsciously ingested it into your brain.

If you didn’t naturally use that language when writing your content, it’s probably because it feels unnatural to you. And if it feels unnatural to you, then it’s going to be unnatural to other people.

Before we write content for the search engines, we need to write content for the users.

Studies show that content written with the user first, rather than the search engine first, will rank better for longer. Content written for the search engines tends to turn off users, and the users stop reading, stop buying, and stop coming back to your site.

Like I said, SEO is dying.

There’s lots of other stuff you should know, at least according to SEO’s, such as keyword density and crap like that. Don’t worry about it. We’re writing for the user, not for the search engines.

One thing that used to be important was to make sure your keyphrase is in a subheader. If you’re writing for people, it might not fit naturally in, and injecting the keyphrase where it doesn’t flow is not good for the reader.

You shouldn’t be building your headers around what is SEO friendly. You should be building your headers around one thing: what are the key takeaways for the reader?

Another thing that used to be important was bolding the keyphrase. Again, it doesn’t always work out that injecting the keyphrase in somewhere and bolding it is going to help the reader any.

You shouldn’t be bolding things just to have the keyphrase bolded. You should be bolding key takeaways for the reader.

I know, this is titled “How To Write With SEO In Mind…” Listen, I’ve been working in SEO for a while, so I know how it all works. It’s not the way it used to be, and these old SEO guys are stuck in their old ways and wondering why I’m doing better than them.

Check out my case study on writing regular content and I’ll show you that my system for writing content is better and consistently improving every website I write for. (Coming soon)

SEO is dying because if you do everything right, your content will automatically be Optimized for Search Engines and you won’t have to worry or even think about it. Backlinks will come naturally, because you wrote good, useful content that people want to share.

How To Write With SEO In Mind So You Get More Readers From Search Engines

writing with seo in mind

I often tell people that SEO is dead.

Like Gary Vaynerchuk says, “marketers ruin everything.”

And like my friend Scott Russell said, “you don’t need an SEO specialist. You need a writer that can convey your message clearly enough for a bot to get it.”

You’re going to learn to be that writer.

Wait, let’s backtrack a bit. I might need to explain SEO to you. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

Have you ever wondered what makes things appear in Google in the specific order they do?

When you Google search, or Bing, or whatever you use, there’s a method to the madness that is SERPs, or Search Engine Results Pages.

Go search for “David Lynch Quinoa Recipe” (that third word is pronounced “keen-wah”). For a lot of people, the first thing that comes up is an OpenCulture.com article. Cool.

For some people, you might get something else. If you’re logged into your account on whatever search engine you’re using, you probably have results custom tailored to you. If you’re not logged in, or if you’ve never searched the keyphrase before, then you’ll get the same results as anyone else in your shoes.

(Note: I added “&pw=0” to the link above, so if you clicked that, you will receive the results that show for logged-out users even if you’re logged in.)

These results are decided based on an algorithm that is a secret except for a few people who are working on it at the company.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s just stick with Google for the sample company and search engine. They all work the same, though have different algorithms to decide the ranking of websites.

Google has this super secret algorithm that a few people know, one of which is named Matt Cutts, and that algorithm reads a ton of different things around the web such as links, social signals, and basically whoever is talking about a website or article. Then it decides where, amongst all the rest of the related things on the web, it ranks in terms of usefulness for the user.

There was a time where we used to spam content networks with articles full of backlinks to artificially raise the ranking of websites so we could make more money. We gamed the system. I wouldn’t say it was wrong, but maybe I’m just biased because it kept food on my table for a few years. I definitely wouldn’t say it was right, either.

Now that you know how search engines work, we can discuss why SEO is dead.

The search engine algorithm is getting smarter and previously mentioned systems that used to game the algorithm are no longer working. On top of that, the search engines are learning to build SERPs that benefit the user more and more. There’s far less “SEO trash” showing up on page one than there was 5-10 years ago.

Of course, SEO’s (Search Engine Optimizers) are trying out new things to game the system more and more, and there will always be new things, but it’s definitely not like it was back in 2009, where all you had to do was slam content aggregators with backlinks.

Backlinks are links in an article that link back to your main content (or, as marketers call it, “the money site”) with the sole purpose of increasing ranking. Backlinks still help your ranking, however getting good backlinks is very difficult these days.

People are using search engines less and remembering content more, for some inexplicable reason.

I don’t know how that works considering our brains are awful at storing information (great for processing it, though).

But here’s what’s going on: people are starting to remember sources more. A lot of people will go to a specific source to find information about a subject now.

For example, I am a big fan of the brand seanwes and the information they provide. I frequently search for things on their site rather than a broad Google search. To speed things up, I’ll still use Google, but search it with a “+seanwes” which makes sure it only searches for things on the internet that include the word seanwes in them.

Search engines are more tailored to the individual (at least, when the individual is logged on).

When you’re logged in to your Google account, it’s tracking the things you search and the pages you go to, and may or may not track what’s saved to your bookmarks (when using Chrome).

Then, when you search for things, your history plays into what results are provided to you. This has been, and will continue to get more and more custom tailored as times goes on.

And of course there’s social shares.

People are sharing things through social media, and a lot of people will use the search engines built into the social media to find the information they’re looking for.

An example of that is how a large portion of people no longer conduct Google searches for news. Instead, they go straight to Twitter to find out what’s going on. Twitter moves way faster than CNN or Fox and most internet savvy people know that.

SEO’s really not quite dead yet, but it’s getting there.

Next, we’re going to discuss how to actually write with SEO in mind, despite the fact that SEO is dying, because it’s still going to benefit you.

You will benefit from employing SEO techniques in your writing.

Despite the fact that SEO is dying thanks to smarter algorithms, tailored experiences, and the always increasing popularity of social media: it’s still worth knowing basic SEO practices and employing them in all of your online content.

Establish the purpose of the article.

The first thing you need to do when writing SEO friendly content is to figure out the main point of the article, blog post, or page.

The point of this blog post, for example, is to teach you how to write SEO friendly content so that you can get more hits on your webpages. More hits leads to more exposure leads to more money if you monetize properly.

Knowing how to write SEO friendly content can also get you a job or contracts because it’s an important skill to have when writing non-fiction for the web.

Conduct keyword research.

Now that you have established the purpose of your article, it’s time to figure out what people are searching for in regards to that. This is called keyword research and it’s a whole art in itself, but we’ll keep it simple here.

Just go to Google and start typing what you think people would search regarding your topic. Check out those autofill suggestions. Those are the kinds of things people are searching.

Hit enter, or grab one of those, and then scroll to the bottom of the first page. Look! more suggestions. Awesome.

Compare and contrast those with what you wrote first. You should get a good idea of what people are searching for regarding your topic, and especially what type of language they’re using (how they word their searches). You want to be mindful of all of these different suggestions when writing your content.

Your title needs to have this sort of language in it, as does the rest of your content. In fact, you want it to be as close to the front of your title as possible. However, you also need to make sure that the title and content make sense when read.

Write reader-friendly content.

“Reader-friendly content” means that it reads well, is relevant to the topic, and is useful. When people are searching stuff, it’s because they want to learn something. They need to know the thing. What is the thing? That’s whatever you wrote about.

You’re targeting their thirst for knowledge. Google will lead the horse to water, but you have to provide the water for them to drink it. And of course, as the saying goes, you can’t make them drink it. But we’re going to do our best by making sure our content is friggin’ awesome.

Write good content! Write what you would want to read.

Write the way you talk.

Imagine you’re sitting down with your best friend and they ask you about the thing. Explain it to them. Write it the way you explain it to them.

Okay, but what about the optimization part? Didn’t we look up those suggestions so that we would have better content optimized for the search engines? Yeah, throw it out. You’ve already learned it and subconsciously ingested it into your brain.

If you didn’t naturally use that language when writing your content, it’s probably because it feels unnatural to you. And if it feels unnatural to you, then it’s going to be unnatural to other people.

Before we write content for the search engines, we need to write content for the users.

Studies show that content written with the user first, rather than the search engine first, will rank better for longer. Content written for the search engines tends to turn off users, and the users stop reading, stop buying, and stop coming back to your site.

Like I said, SEO is dying.

There’s lots of other stuff you should know, at least according to SEO’s, such as keyword density and crap like that. Don’t worry about it. We’re writing for the user, not for the search engines.

One thing that used to be important was to make sure your keyphrase is in a subheader. If you’re writing for people, it might not fit naturally in, and injecting the keyphrase where it doesn’t flow is not good for the reader.

You shouldn’t be building your headers around what is SEO friendly. You should be building your headers around one thing: what are the key takeaways for the reader?

Another thing that used to be important was bolding the keyphrase. Again, it doesn’t always work out that injecting the keyphrase in somewhere and bolding it is going to help the reader any.

You shouldn’t be bolding things just to have the keyphrase bolded. You should be bolding key takeaways for the reader.

I know, this is titled “How To Write With SEO In Mind…” Listen, I’ve been working in SEO for a while, so I know how it all works. It’s not the way it used to be, and these old SEO guys are stuck in their old ways and wondering why I’m doing better than them.

Check out my case study on writing regular content and I’ll show you that my system for writing content is better and consistently improving every website I write for. (Coming soon)

SEO is dying because if you do everything right, your content will automatically be Optimized for Search Engines and you won’t have to worry or even think about it. Backlinks will come naturally, because you wrote good, useful content that people want to share.