Three hundred words. Five hundred. Eight hundred. Over 1,000. Article content writers can’t decide.
When it comes to deciding how long to write your blog posts, you might get 10 different answers from different digital marketing experts.
Case in point: Neil Patel of Quick Sprout has covered the same topic, and it was more than 1,700 words long. On the opposite end of the spectrum, most posts on sites like Gawker or Mashable are in the 300- to 500-word range.
So how long should your posts be?
Know Your Audience
When it comes to story length, you need to understand who your readers are. At least, that’s the advice from digital marketing expert Joel Friedlander, an award winning blogger and digital marketing expert.
“I’ve spent a huge amount of time figuring out who my readers are,” Friedlander told Nimble Media. “So if I want to post something today that’s, say, 1,000 words and tomorrow post something that’s 400 words, it’s OK, because I know my readers will be OK with that.”
But SEO writing is a different beast, he explains. It can be more mechanical and more technical, he says, due in part because the faster you write, the more income you earn.
“With SEO, the 400- to 600-word range is probably ideal, but that sort of depends,” he told Nimble Media. “Again, you have to know who you’re writing for and know their expectations. Gadget and tech readers, for example, want something quick, in and out. But what they don’t want is a 1,000-word story on why this widget is better than another. They want a ‘top 3 things’ list.”
Don’t Worry About the Length, but … Longer is Better
The above subhead contradicts itself, but both statements are true.
As Friedlander says, “write until you’ve said what you wanted to say.”
Patel agrees, saying, “… It simply depends upon your purpose and the message you’re trying to communicate.”
However, Patel is a big fan of longer posts. The reasons?
- Longer posts typically get more search traffic: “Evidence suggests that the more content your page has, the better chance it has of a top position in Google results,” Patel writes. More content means more of it will get indexed, too. And the more content that’s indexed, Patel explains, the better it should perform in searches and results.
- Better variety of keywords: This is fairly simple to understand. A 300-word post might use one keyword two times. But a 2,000 word post will use that same keyword twice as often and include variations of it.
- More backlinks: As Patel says, the longer your posts are, the more likely they are to gain backlinks to your pages.
- More share-worthy: Believe it or not, research shows that longer articles are shared more often.
Elements of Determining Story Length
Patel breaks it down to substance, style, frequency, purpose and audience, among other factors, when deciding how long to write.
Substance goes back to what Friedlander said: If you can write something in 200 or so words, then keep it at that length. If it requires more than 1,000 words, then go for it. Just don’t force the issue. Likewise, the style depends on the subject matter and audience. Some topics don’t need to be long, while others need a more comprehensive report.
How often you blog can also help determine length. Some sites only have one long(ish) post a week, while others have several, shorter posts. The same can be said of your posts’ purpose. From educating to growing email lists, some posts naturally lend themselves to longer (or shorter) lengths.
And finally, your audience plays a big role in how long you should write, as both Patel and Friedlander say. “Your goal is to create content your audience is going to read,” Patel says.
(Total word count of this post, excluding the headline and bio, is 644 words.)
The ultimate goal of content marketing is offering your target audience information and materials that will engage them and motivate them to choose your business.
Seems easy, right?
Often, companies will simply share general content to please everyone. But let’s be honest: you can’t win them all. And that’s okay!
Rather than throwing a line and hoping the fish will bite, create Thought Leadership content strategically catered to your target market. Consider the people who would genuinely need or care about what your business offers, rather than wasting time, effort, and resources on creating general, unfocused content. Successful content marketing involves promoting your products and services to the people interested in the subject matter, who will read the content, click on your company website, and take action.
As an executive of an organization, you are a valuable piece of the brand. Consumers want to know about the human presence leading companies, in order to understand more about the company’s values and goals.
Take advantage of your position as an industry expert and share extra content to attract more attention to yourself as an industry leader and your company. Your quality content will build your reputation as a reliable voice to earn your consumer’s trust. However, if it’s not focused on your target audience, you won’t earn many conversions from your content.
Consider these techniques to guide your Thought Leadership content so it can expand and strengthen your loyal consumer following:
- Identify your target audience by reviewing your current consumer data and identifying who is investing in your business or reacting to your thought leadership materials so far. Look for trends to find why these people are interested and if others like them haven’t been reached yet.
- Conduct customer research to learn how they will respond to your thought leadership content. Request participation in surveys, polls, social media comments, and more to learn about your existing impression on your audience and how you can improve your platform.
- Create target audience character profiles. Identify their interests, demographics, pain points, needs, and desires, and write to them.
- Find where your current and potential audience is active online. Catch their attention by being active and sharing your content marketing materials on these platforms.
- Pull inspiration from other Thought Leader examples. Research other executives within your field who implement successful content marketing through their personal platforms. Learn what qualities make their content attractive and why readers respond to it positively. These examples can offer a base for you to visualize what you want to achieve.
- Recognize your strengths as a Thought Leader. Often, leaders aren’t necessarily aware of the unique talents that give them an advantage in their industry until asked. Reflect on what topics you know best and how to input your insights to humanize your materials, make them original and more engaging for your audience.
Case Study: How Strategic Content Marketing Can Broaden Your Audience
In our client strategy calls, our team will interview our expert clients to learn about their industry expertise and find out what’s meaningful to them, their business, and then identify who we believe to be their target audience. We use these insights to inspire our content subject matter and tone to create impactful content for their current and potential consumers.
For example, our client, Dr. Nitin Desai, approached our strategy team to create content to promote his COVID Pre-Check app. His innovative software is intended to help employers ensure their employees who enter the office are COVID-free, providing a safe environment by eliminating the chance of spread.
Our team of strategists recognized that with Dr. Desai’s thorough professional knowledge around the COVID-19 virus, he had the potential to become a reliable voice in a culture of people seeking answers. We created content for Dr. Desai that focused on sharing COVID-related insights to reach a wider audience, which has been a successful mission. Our thoroughly planned content reflected his industry expertise, which brought him attention from various media outlets and publications, including Forbes.
By reaching out to our professional content marketing team, Dr. Desai achieved his goal of promoting his groundbreaking app, while also positioning himself as an authoritative voice in his field. Our team learned about his voice, discovered what was meaningful to him and his target audience, and optimized this to create focused, engaging content that broadened his consumer scope.
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