How Long Should Content Be?

Short and long pencilsWe all know that people are reading less and skimming more, and often relying on social media as a news source, all of which means you should write shorter articles — say 200 – 300 words — right?

Maybe. Maybe not.

What about people who really do want to go deeper and see you as an expert on their topic? Or need a little more convincing to follow through on your call to action? You can find plenty of research that says that longer content improves conversions (people doing the thing you want them to do on your web page) and that “thin content” hurts your search engine optimization.  That argues for longer content, something closer to 800 – 1200 words.

Here’s what I recommend:

1. Use as many words as you need, but only as many as you need!

2. Hire good writers who understand the difference.

If you are trying to explain something complicated, and your readers truly want and need to understand that complexity, write long. Otherwise, write short.

P.S. This post (not including this P.S.!) is 172 words. Too short or too long or just right? 

 

Short and long pencils by Big Stock

 

  • Lauren Byrnes

    Love this post, Kivi! I think longer articles or bodies of text are fine in some cases, but need to be laid out in a way that is reader-friendly with bullets, headings and subheadings. We’re all skimmers and while I might be incredibly proud of a lengthy piece of content, if no one reads it, my hard work is for nothing. I think in some cases a great image with a little bit of concise text does a lot more for someone than a lengthy piece depending on what the content is for, say an annual appeal, e-mail blast or webpage. If I look at something and think to myself “I wouldn’t get past the first paragraph,” it’s likely no one else would either.

  • Judy Walters

    I like your posts … short ones most of the time, but they always contain links to more information should the reader want more to go there.

  • Anne

    Just right!

  • Jenn Wigg

    About right.

  • http://www.nonprofitmarketingguide.com/blog Kivi Leroux Miller

    Thanks Judy!

  • http://www.nonprofitmarketingguide.com/blog Kivi Leroux Miller

    Thanks Lauren!

  • Whitney

    I’m a big fan of the miniskirt model – short enough to keep it interesting, but long enough to cover the subject. Some topics will need more explaining – others you can get by with a short blurb.

  • http://www.52weekturnaround.com/ Jeanne Goldie

    Always a challenge to hit the right balance. Lauren is certainly right that long posts need clear formatting to make them more skimmable.

  • Katie Paulson

    I like this metaphor!

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Author: Kivi Leroux Miller

Categories: Copywriting