Clients will often ask, “How long should my content be?”
And my answer has often been that there is no magic word count. Instead of fretting about content length I encourage them to simply take the time it takes to fully unpack their argument, present their product or answer the questions most vexing their audience.
However, the problem I’ve noticed for most clients isn’t that they’re writing Melville-esque tomes and need someone to rip the pen from their still quivering hands. It’s that they’re writing too little.
Both search engines and humans will skim right past thin content. You cannot prove you’re an expert by pasting two tweets together and calling it good.
While there is no cap on content length, research suggests Google favors more text over less.
This has less to do with some hard word count being baked into the algorithm than the simple logic that quality, audience-centered content takes more time to unpack.
10 Content Length Best Practices for Quality and Ranking
- Your #1 aim should always be to delight your human audience.
- If you want a page or post to have a decent shot at ranking the bare minimum of words expended should be 300.
- Core page content (home, about, products and services) should be kept more succinct. Get to the who, what, where and when without burying the lead. You may tease your audience a little with the how and why, but save these to be fully unpacked in your blog. Depending on your subject matter, keep your core pages to 300-600 words. Link out to your blog for expanded explanations and help.
- Blog posts are the appropriate forum for diving deeper into the how and why of what you do. It is where you display and prove your expertise and compassion for your audience by anticipating and fully answering their questions, which are quite often valuable long-tail keywords.
- Think about your audience’s time. Some propose the ideal length of a blog post to be around 1,600 words, or 7 minutes in reading time. I’d argue, somewhat unscientifically but passionately nonetheless, that the sweet spot these days is in the slightly shorter range of 3-5 minutes of concentrated reading time. I don’t think there’s any need to be legalistic about this so long as you’re doing your best to craft quality content and respect your audience’s time.
The more questions you answer, the more likely you are to be found and trusted by an audience primed to become customers.
- Format your content for maximum readability. The longer your post is the more reliant it will be on proper formatting to be both readable and scannable.
- Introduce each section of a post with an H2 heading
- Avoid overly long paragraphs, or walls of text
- Use bullets points for lists
- Pay attention to spacing throughout so that it’s uniform and ample enough to properly separate paragraphs, list items and images
- Read 5 articles on your topic before you begin writing. This has many benefits, including helping you approach your subject in a well-rounded manner by increasing your own expertise. It can also help you flesh out your article by providing more meaty bits to offer your audience, which you may not have otherwise considered. Just be sure to cite your references.
- Read your content out loud before you publish. This is the best way to identify redundant language and ensure your content is a pleasure to read.
- Cut the fluff. If what you're writing doesn’t add value to your audience’s day, or is overtly self-promotional then it’s more likely to act as an anchor than a buoy for your brand.
- Finally, don’t forget the images. Including relevant images, charts and/or graphics is known to increase user engagement via time onsite and reduce the bounce rate. Try to include at least one supplementary visual element in addition to your page/post’s hero image.