The optimum length for web content depends on a variety of factors, including the audience for the piece, the goal of the content and where the content appears.
Despite these variables, a number of studies have tried to quantify what length may work best for a number of different goals.
The ideal length for engagement
Blogging platform Medium researched which posts were getting most engagement on their site. They found that posts that took seven minutes to read (which tended to be around 1,600 words) were the most engaging, but good content performed well regardless of length.
The ideal length for SEO
According to a study by serpIQ, content that is between 2,000 and 2,400 words ranked highest on Google. They also found that content in position 10 tended to be 400 words shorter than the content ranked at number one.
The ideal length for social shares
In a small study of his own blog posts, Matthew Barby found that content on his blog which was over 5500 words got the most social shares. This finding was backed up by Buzz Sumo, who looked at 100 million pieces of web content, and found that longer pieces got the most social shares. They also concluded that the longer the piece, the more shares it got, with posts over 2,000 words getting the most shares.
The ideal length for conversions
An A/B test run by Quick Sprout and Crazy Egg found that on their site longer pages led to higher conversion rates. Similarly, when Moz increased the length of their landing page, they saw a 52% increase in conversions. However a number of other studies found that for simple products which don’t require a lot of detail, shorter pages got better results.
Test what works for your audience
It’s important to bear in mind that all the findings above are just what worked for those businesses. What worked for them won’t necessarily work best for your audience. Use your own analytics (such as what length content gets the most inbound links, search shares and views) to give insights into what might work best for your readers.
Quality above quantity
With all web content, quality always trumps quantity. A much more important factor than length is usefulness. Content that is useful is more likely to be engaged with and linked to, which is turn is more likely to do well on search engines and social media. It’s always better to focus on creating useful, quality content than long content for the sake of it.
If you’re struggling to work out how long content should be, a good rule of thumb is that the best length for any piece of content is the time it takes to get your message across. You don’t want to waffle unnecessarily to bulk up the length of your copy, nor miss out crucial detail in order to make it shorter.
Don’t forget best practice
However long your web content is, writing in accordance with accepted best practice will ensure you get the best results.