How long is 500 words?

by | Sep 8, 2019 | Writing Tips | 0 comments

How long is 500 words?

by | Sep 8, 2019 | Writing Tips | 0 comments

How Many Words Do I Have To Write?

For most marketers, business owners and content managers, budget is a real thing. You’ve been given X amount of budget to bring in X amount of revenue. As content marketing continues to establish itself as a worthy investment of marketing dollars, you’re likely to wonder what word counts get you the best bang for your buck. As you sort through content creation websites you’ll probably come across the ever common “500 word” blog post. Is this a good use of your marketing dollar? Exactly how long is 500 words?

Your marketing goals may include the writing of a white paper, Ebook, web pages, blog posts, guest blogs, category pages and more. Will 500 words work for what you need?  How long should a blog post be? The answer isn’t as simple as finding a one-size fits all word count, since different content types usually have different purposes. That being said, knowing about how long 500 words is should help you to make a decision that’s right for your audience and industry.

So, when asking the question, “How long is 500 words?”, you need a starting point.  Below, you’ll find some visual references you can keep in mind when it comes to word count lengths.

 

The Basic Averages

100 words less than 3 inches
200 words a little less than half a page
300 words somewhat more than half a page
400 words most of a page
500 words one full page
1000 words two pages
2000 words four pages
5000 words ten pages

 

In a document with standard margins, single spacing and size 12 font, it takes about 500 words to fill a page. This is because on average, there are about 5 letters in each word, about 15 words in a sentence, and the average paragraph is around 7 sentences. Variation in the length of words, sentences and paragraphs will cause natural deviation from the average. When you’re trying to figure out how long is 500 words, or 1000 words or more, you can glance at the total number of pages and assume that each page holds about 500 words.

 

Will 500 Words Be Enough for My Project?

Will 500 words be enough for your project? The answer is a solid… maybe. The truth is there’s more to be considered than just a word count!

In the digital marketing landscape, different campaigns can call for different word counts depending on the nature of the content. The key is to match reader expectations while also staying SEO-friendly.  You’ll need to factor in the fact that Google and other search engines love long-form content, but your reader may not. Someone purchasing a product doesn’t want to go through 1000 words before finding out how they purchase an item – in that case you may lose the sale.

On the other end, someone reading an E-book expects long-term value with lots of in-depth points and action items. As a result, 500 words wouldn’t likely fit a project like that. Here are some other examples of content types and some target word counts to shoot for.

 

Ecommerce Copy

Ecommerce Content rounds out some of the lowest word counts you’ll find while still staying incredibly effective. Product descriptions are usually 100-200 words or less, highlighting key features and benefits without going into incredible depth. Marketers rely on the copy being written in a persuasive way that grabs consumers’ attention and leads them to purchase. This lower word count also helps to keep costs down when writing thousands of skus worth of product descriptions.

The one ecommerce content type that you can get away with longer word counts up to 500 words or more would be category descriptions/pages. If you’re defining a category and talking about the broader scope/uses of the products within a category you can get more creative and use more information. You will still have to decide how long 500 words is once you have it on a category page, but it may be a perfect amount without being overwhelming.

 

White Papers

One kind of paper that most people have had to carefully measure in terms of word counts is the white paper. In-depth white papers explaining intricate processes that relate to certain technologies or processes may need to be pretty long to give someone a great analysis. Other white papers can get the point across using images as well as text without being as wordy.  500 words may be enough to get that across, or it may not. Since the primary purpose of a white paper is to be as clear and concise as possible in explaining a product or process, you should give that first consideration before confining yourself to just 500 words.

 

Blog Posts

As was mentioned above, blog posts are one that you can usually meet the mandate of being SEO-friendly while also keeping the reader engaged. For really effective blog posts, you should shoot for content within the 1000-2500 word range. This will help your chances of being indexed positively by Google and shows that you have authority in the space. Longer blog posts are also known to attract more backlinks – which are a huge ranking factor in search engines.

One sound content marketing strategy is to create “pillar” or “cornerstone” pieces of content that range between 1000-2500 words. You might start with focusing on one or two of these a month. Then create supplemental written content between the 500-1000 word range to help boost those pillar pieces. This is a strategic way to set up your blog writing strategy to help improve your chances of ranking for certain keywords while also not overwhelming readers with too many 2500 word posts. Use internal links and test different word count lengths to see what works best in your industry.

 

Web Articles

Unlike the standards in blog writing, press releases and white papers, web articles don’t have the same standard formatting. How long 500 words is on a web page can vary greatly. While web articles can be posted in standard formatting, they are more often whittled down to make them look more approachable.

This is especially true in the age of mobile devices which can make a standard paragraph look huge. Margins are often changed to allow room for ads, and frequently images are interspersed to make the article look livelier. These and other tricks of web articles can transform one page of text in a standard document into several screens worth of text for viewers to scroll through. Finding out how long is 500 words in this context is tricky because it really just varies by context.

For instance, see an example of a large image with little text that takes up most of the page on the Evernote site:

 

When writing web articles, therefore, it’s best to keep the formatting in mind so that there isn’t so much text so as to overwhelm the reader.

Another thing to consider is how your content will appear on Mobile. This article, for example, is a little over a thousand words, which looks very neat on two and a half pages of a standard document, but on a mobile device, it appears to go on for nearly a dozen pages. Because the nature of this content is to be read as a blog post and not a home page site, it’s something the reader will expect, even on mobile.

On average, a mobile device will display around 100 words on a screen before the text becomes too small to read easily. While most people are willing to read a two-page standard document, reading over 10 pages of text on a phone may appear daunting, especially for a web page.

 

SEO Articles

One kind of web article that requires close attention to word count is the SEO article. In these kinds of documents, keywords are interspersed throughout the content to help search engines find the kind of content that users are searching for. Search engines are programmed to ignore content that has too many or too few instances of specific phrases, so for SEO writers, placing keywords within a specific number of words and knowing how long is 500 words becomes a careful science.

According to SEO pros, there was once a time that SEO articles could be merely short articles taking up less than half a page with a bunch of keywords. Because search engines were too primitive to know any better, users would end up being directed to links that might not have much to do with what they were looking for. Since then, due to upgrades in search engine technology and algorithms, it has become important for SEO articles to contribute useful content as well as include keywords. Creating useful content has become as important as knowing how long is 500 words and where keywords fit best within those words.

 

The Right Word Count

So how long is 500 words? Typically, it fills about one full page in a Microsoft Word document at a font size of 11 or 12. 500 words is also a standard minimum word count length for writing a blog post on a common subject.  Ultimately, you’re better off deciding the purpose of the content first, then deciding the word count second. If you make your decisions in that order, then you can logically work through a content word count that helps you rank for search engines as well as meet reader expectations.

Shaundra Cragun

An avid writer, speaker, musician and five-time elementary school spelling bee winner, Shaundra knows the ins and outs of all things content. When she isn’t managing projects for BKA, she’s either binging baking shows or pulling weeds in her garden.

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