The long and short of Content Marketing word count

It’s hard to find a simple, straight answer when it comes to the subject of ideal content length.

“The longer, the better!” one side of the word count argument might say; “No!” the other would shout, “the shorter the better!”

So who has it right? And what if they’re both wrong? Before we delve into this, let’s just take a quick look at the prevailing opinions out there.

Opinion #1: More is more!

“If you want more traffic and higher conversions, you should consider long form copy,” digital marketer Neil Patel writes in a (very long) blog post, concluding that the ideal word count is 2,416.

That seems like a lot of words in the age of social media.

But Patel points to the data, which, according to his research, shows that “the average content length for a web page that ranks in the top 10 results for any keyword on Google has at least 2,000 words.”

Long-form supporters also point out that “there is reason to believe that search engines actually penalize what they deem to be ‘thin content'” – or pages that have 200 or fewer words.

Opinion #2: Less is more!

There’s a lot of data to support the opposite side of the argument, too.

Recent numbers from HubSpot show robust traffic from blog posts in the  250-499-word range, according to Kaleidico, which also points to an Orbit Media survey that found 13 percent of bloggers got “strong results” with pages under 500 words.

Moreover, Kaleidico says, “a strong piece of content” at or above 300 words “shouldn’t be penalized” by Google.

The conclusion?

While we lean toward the “less is more” side of the argument (indeed, this is our first blog post to exceed 400 words!), the quick answer is, “it depends.”

The problem with long-form posts is this: They can take a lot of time and resources to write, and if your writer is trying to reach Patel’s 2,416 stratum, he or she might end up making something as “thin” as a 200-word blog. Since the content of your content matters to readers, this is a scenario you’d be wise to avoid.

In other words, don’t force it.

But if you’re blogging about a subject that lends itself to a higher word count – and you lay it out in a way that’s easy for your reader to digest, as opposed to giant walls of text with no breaks – by all means, let it flow. Your readers, and Google, will appreciate it.

As Inc. points out, however, “word count shouldn’t drive your content marketing strategy.”

If you’re interested in content for your overall marketing strategy – and you’d like to avoid these word-count pitfalls – we’d love to hear from you. Contact Fluency Digital for a FREE consultation today.

Declan Desmond