Optimium word count is a very debatable subject and is inseparably tied to the subject matter being discussed and what sort of information the user could be looking for. As with all SEO practices, the data that comes from various studies and statistical analysis must constantly be used to identify the algorithmic preferences of Google.
In the most recent study of Google Search Engine Results pages, it was found that the top five results tend to have word counts in the range of 1,500 – 2,000 words. This includes all of the words in the body, sidebar content, header and footers. Google takes everything in the body section of the source code and simply strips out all of the HTML and counts the words.k This is a critical step in determining keyword density and keyword density is a big factor in understanding how strongly the content is focused on a specific topic.
Just a few years ago, the target word count for a page was in the range of 300-400 words. Google’s Panda update drastically changed this and introduced penalties for sites with lots of pages with low word count. In fact, many sites that experienced significant rankings declines after Panda, saw big recoveries in Google rankings once they removed the low word count pages from their site.
So, if your site does have pages with less than 400 words of content, consider either combining them to get the word count up, or just removing them.
If you think that this sounds like a difficult proposition for many pages that have a justifiably low word count, such as product pages, product category pages, glossaries, directory profiles, even home pages… you must realize that this may make it necessary for you to reconsider your information architecture. Combine many low word count pages into one, use expandable divs and tabbed navigation blocks to get more content onto your pages in a way that will also create a great user experience.
In the end, pages with low word count do not tend to rank well in Google and having too many of them could get your entire site penalized. However, pages with 1,500 words or more tend to rank better in Google and could give your site the depth and breadth of subject matter to become a real authority in your industry.