The Debate Over Article Length
Is 400 words enough?
Is 1,000 words too much?
What is the ideal article length?
Target Articles Between 400-700 Words in Length
First, assume the articles in question, no matter the length, are of the highest quality and provide original, informative value in a well articulated and cohesive manner.
Next, let’s get down to business: 400-700 words vs. 1,000+ words.
We know articles between 400 and 700 words achieve better results in terms of reader views, click-throughs, syndication, and more. 400-700 word articles are long enough to provide essential information to readers, while being brief enough to be compatible with the average Internet users’ reading habits.
As Chris Knight said over 5 years ago, “7 articles that are 500 words will out perform 1 article that is 3,500 words in terms of the amount of traffic, exposure, and interest you’re able to attract with the same volume of content.” It was true then, and it’s true today.
Why Brevity Wins Over Superfluity
What is the 400-700 words length recommendation based on? Internet-reader habits, screen size (what content they can immediately see on their screen without scrolling), and instant gratification. If you follow the pattern of the typical search engine user, most of their search queries do not suggest the user is on a leisurely stroll on the information highway looking to connect with a particular author. Search engine users want relevant information and they want it now.
The typical search engine user won’t wade through text (even if it’s the most beautiful prose ever written), nor will they scroll to find their information. Hence, 400-700 words meets the user’s needs of instantly viewing the information they need to determine its relevance to them and it fits on the average screen without requiring the user to scroll.
When a search query is entered and the user finds your relevant, quality, and original article (and it exceeds their expectations), the user will continue on their quest with you for MORE information because you’ve proven you’re a credible source. The user will visit your website or blog where you may offer additional relevant content (e.g., ebooks, videos, infographics, newsletters, etc.). In turn, this will seal the deal on their interest in you and your platform by allowing them to bookmark, subscribe, or download your content.
Other Arguments for Concision
Even science is on the side of 400-700 words! In yesterday’s feature post on Neuroscience Writing Techniques, Expert Author Stephen Hager pointed to the 400-700 word range to ensure your key points are unhindered and easier to read for Kinesthetic learners (learning associated with a physical activity).
And finally, brevity isn’t “dumbing down” content. It’s trusting in what your audience knows and what they don’t need to know to still convey an idea. Think of Ernest Hemingway (literary legend and the father of the theory of omission), who wrote a profound and highly emotional story in as little as six words:
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
Article size does matter and it can be what is holding you back from being truly successful. Give brevity a try.
What do you think is the ideal article length? We’d love to hear from you!