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.

Content Marketing Brings In Traffic – A Case Study

writing with seo in mind

Increase targeted traffic to your website by posting regular, optimized content focused on bringing value to the reader.

Web marketers have pretty much always lived by the rule “content is king,” but that rings true more than ever in 2016. As I wrote in this post, SEO is dying because writing regular content that is focused on providing value to the reader is going to automatically optimize your pages for search engines.

You don’t need an SEO company. What you need is a writer who knows how to write content for marketing.

In fact, SEO only exists as a concept because of content. Content is king.

Content Marketing is all about using content to help people find you.

If your entire marketing funnel has various stages, they would be: Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action. This is the AIDA model, which was created by E. St. Elmo Lewis in 1898. Coincidentally, people haven’t changed all that much and this still works today.

  • Awareness – the customer is aware of the existence of your brand.
  • Interest – the customer is actively expressing an interest in your brand.
  • Desire – the customer is aspiring to a particular product or service of your brand.
  • Action – the customer is taking the next step towards purchasing the chosen product or service of your brand.

Content marketing exists before the AIDA model even starts, and then continues through both Awareness and Interest stages.

The point of content marketing is to bring people to awareness, hold awareness, and develop interest.

Content marketing has so many benefits that people are ignoring these days. First of all, it builds your brand. All of the content will speak through your brands voice, creating a consistent experience for all visitors.

All of the content written for your site is also content that can be shared through all of your social media channels, reminding people of your existence and directing them to your website, where they can develop interest and desire, and ultimately take action.

But most of all, content marketing builds a long term audience that will continue to follow you as long as you continue to provide value to their lives. This is a flywheel effect for the rest of your marketing plan.

Your competitors are doing content marketing. If you are not, you can’t compete.

Let’s take a look at a client. This client hired me to write regular content for their website with the purpose of increasing brand awareness and traffic. All of my content aims to provide value to the reader first (through the content itself) and to the brand second (through a call to action at the end).

Each contract was three months long. I currently only offer contracts in three and six month intervals. I find that three months is how long it takes to see a difference, and six months is how long it takes to feel a difference.

content-marketing-case-study_rcvrrstrt_corrected
Graphic design is not my strength. Writing is.

Here you can see that content grows consistently over the nine months of posting regular content.

For the first three month contract, I focused on trial-and-error to get a feel for the industry and discover what value I could provide to website visitors. I posted daily content for five days out of the week, Monday through Friday.

For the second three month contract, I had figured out what content would bring in new customers, as well as bring the others back for repeat business. While the client was happy with the results by the end of this contract, I was not. I pitched a change of focus for the third three month contract.

In the third three month contract, I cut the content amount down from five posts per week, to three posts per week. This gave me the opportunity to focus more on providing valuable content without increasing the rate of the contract. As you can see, with content marketing the rule is “quality over quantity” and traffic began to grow even quicker.

The reason the content dips so drastically at the end is because this screenshot was taken at the beginning of June, so a full month’s worth of traffic had not happened yet.

This client had no SEO plan and was not buying ads, nor creating any other content that directed visitors to their website. All content growth was through my efforts, as well as their word-of-mouth marketing to friends and family. They also periodically shared the content I wrote on social media.

There’s more to content marketing than just blog posts.

While I only offer content writing services, you would benefit even more from also seeking out professionals who can create other media content.

The great thing about the content I write is that it can be repurposed elsewhere. When you hire me to write for you, you own the content. The content is yours to use wherever you like.

I recommend you connect with a professional who can take my written content and create video content for YouTube.

Another popular idea is to create a podcast based around the content I write for you.

Content marketing is right for your business.

Every business will benefit from content marketing, and the benefits are only exacerbated when working directly with other marketing campaigns.

If you’re interested in hiring me for content writing, please go to the Hire page.

“I always knew I wanted Garrett to write for my site, it was just a matter of finding the right project. Bringing a writer you hadn’t worked with before onto your site is always a risk, so it’s important to vet them and think about where their voice will fit on your site. Garrett was a consummate professional. He delivered his copy on time, it was well-written, accurate and polished, and he made any edits we asked for quickly and efficiently. It’s always a pleasure to work with writers who listen to feedback and use it to produce a better product.

It helped us launch flagship content for our website that ended up being a success, in part because of Garrett’s efforts. I really liked the research that Garrett did on the subjects we asked him to write about. Because he had done his homework, he was able to write with authority.

We got really good traffic on the pieces Garrett worked on, and the project ended up being a showcase for a redesign that was central to our overall plan for the site. I would definitely recommend Garrett’s services. Garrett’s ability to quickly understand and take ownership of an assignment means you get quality work without the hassle of having to check in constantly, or worse, deal with a blown deadline. Also a plus: Garrett is really skilled at promoting his work on social media and through careful search engine optimization.

I’d say that Garrett is a creative, experienced writer with a can-do attitude who will take a writing assignment from inception to completion with a minimum amount of hassle on your part. He’s always willing to go the extra mile to make sure you get the copy you need.” – Claes Bell, Bankrate.com

​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.