“It depends” tends to be the enigmatic answer of choice, but what does it depend on? Topic? Audience? Your star sign? (Though that might have changed now that NASA have updated the solar system!)
Blog copywriting is our thing, so here’s what we think about the ‘perfect’ blog article length.
Short but sweet?
Received wisdom in content marketing says shorter is sweeter. “Users have short attention spans” and “prefer pictures to words” claim the naysayers, but we know better.
Short and snappy pieces have their place right at the bottom of the sales funnel. First your visitor must read the longer pieces to become fully informed about your product or service. After this, you can then go ahead with the direct quick pitch that will push them over the edge and turn them from a lead to a sale. Shorter pieces are great for this; they’re swift, concise and can be used to get straight to the point of the CTA.
We understand that if you’re writing three pieces of content a day, not all of them are going to be the length of Paradise Lost. A peppering of shorter pieces is fine, but they must work in parallel with long-form content to be truly effective.
Be careful when populating your site with short pieces. Panda, one of the latest Google search algorithms, will punish ‘thin content’ (i.e. a piece lacking insight, that’s full of links and blatant SEO writing) and completely ignore anything under 200 words.
Sites like Facebook are also getting in on the crackdown. Short clickbait articles are being eradicated from newsfeeds across the globe to make room for long-form, authentic and meaningful content that enhances the user experience.
If you’ve been writing short blog articles for the last few years, don’t despair! Both readers and Google like short, sharp sentences that are direct and to the point, no matter the length of the post. Take the skills you’ve learnt writing your shorter pieces, apply them to your long-form content and you’ll be away!
Blog article length: more more more!
The ideal blog article length is seven minutes. This is approximately 1,600 words. Medium calculated this by ignoring the ‘clicks’ on a site and focused on the attention that users were giving it. Thanks to handy KPI tools like Google Analytics, they could work out the average total seconds per post and the post length in minutes. This resulted in the graph below:
*Graph courtesy of Medium
As well as piquing user engagement, long-form content also gains more social shares than its shorter counterparts. If a blog post is greater than 1,500 words, on average it receives 68.1% more tweets and 22.6% more Facebook likes.
Also, longer pieces often have more In Linking Domains (ILDs) than pieces that are under 200 words in length.
*Graph courtesy of Moz
So, in regards to blog article length, longer is better. Aim for that seven-minute sweet spot where you can, but if the topic can’t stretch to that word count, don’t force it. A large word count like this offers more scope to go into detail and provide real insight (which Google and readers love), but if you just add extra words to plump up your pieces, your results will not improve. If there isn’t much to say, keep it short and informative.
1,600 words is a lot of text, and those naysayers we mentioned earlier are right — people don’t want reams of unbroken text. They want a visually stimulating experience whilst reading your article. Why not add imagery, supporting graphs, quotes and embedded media (e.g. video clips and tweets) to spice up the article, keep it interesting and engage with your audience.
So goodbye short bursts of text, hello lovely, lovely essays (with a picture or two thrown in)! When you’re creating your next content plan, consider if you can really dig in deep and create your own sparkly 1,600 word piece.