Earlier this year, Search Engine Journal published an article supporting the idea that longer online content length – longer than 2,000 words, specifically – would earn the publisher more money.
The article starts by outlining how ROI is measured on blog posts and other online content: Organic searches, site traffic, bounce rate and social shares. It gives us a glimpse into each of these categories and how longer vs. shorter blog posts performed.
While the author does point out in the last paragraph “…you need to write what’s relevant, interesting and unique, and not get too preoccupied with set formats, lengths or the ultimate result: ROI,” the majority of the article argues only 2,000-word articles are worth writing because they’ve been proven to bring in the most revenue.
The statistics are compelling. The research is legitimate. So does content length really matter to the bottom line?
Let’s play devil’s advocate with content length
There are a few reasons why long, 2-000 word pieces of content may not be the be-all, end-all.
- Maybe longer blog posts are more popular right away, but it takes time to truly measure ROI on content marketing.
- Here’s one stat not included in this study: mobile readership. Repeat the mantra with me: More and more people are opening emails, shopping, and reading content on their mobile devices. Attention spans were already short when people started using their desktops to read. Now who knows how long – or short of a time – you have to capture and keep someone’s attention. Can you imagine scrolling through 2,000 words of text on your mobile device?
- A connected series about one topic – so several shorter, 1,000-word pieces of content – may be better. You’d still be producing the same amount of words, but instead of all in one shot, it would be over an extended time period. Each of these posts would be a shorter read, so it’s more likely people will stay engaged with the entire article. And you have the pull of people wanting to find out more from blog post to blog post in the series. You almost have guaranteed readers for these pieces of content.
- Saying a blog post should be 2,000 words may encourage writers to fill up space when they don’t have anything to say. They end up writing nonsensical, pointless filler text and fluff out of desperation to hit a certain word count.
It’s not all bad
That being said, long form content does have its place. Some of the blogs I follow write lengthy content, although I couldn’t tell you how these perform engagement or ROI-wise. If you’re answering a question, explaining how to do something, or providing information you know will be helpful to a community of users, writing a 2,000-word+ blog post is going to be easy to knock out, and it will also be engaging. Also, when writing a lot of content, bullet points, subheads, short paragraphs, and other methods of breaking up the text are a must.
Our most popular content on our own blog is between 400 and 600 words. We make it a priority to solve a common problem and present useful, practical strategies. Keyword research for our industry usually gives a good idea of what people are struggling with if a client or prospect doesn’t bring an issue to my attention first.
One size does not fit all
The important thing to remember is that everyone’s content will be different because we all have different audiences. Even in the same industry, the variance may be slight, but it’s still significant. In the words of Tim Muenchen, our vice president of sales and marketing, “Don’t fret about counting words. The real point is always relevance and utility. Write stuff that helps and informs…no matter the word count.”
(P.S. The word count of this blog post is 625.)