There are 3 angles to consider when answering that question… the never-really-answered question.
We’ve published thousands of articles over the years at Toast and length (and word count) is an important variable when planning your content production.
In any content brief, the question of content length or duration arises. In video production, the impact on cost can be great as it directly impacts shooting costs and post-production. Between a 2-minute clip and a 12-minute film, your budget will really not be the same.
Although the same is true for editorial and written content, the impact is not as great. Between a 500-word blog post and a 1,500-word more in-depth article, the difference will not be irrelevant, but not as important as a video production that is 3-times in duration.
So this is why the question of article and blog post word count can become a question mark when creating your content strategy.
Your word count needs to check three boxes:
- The value you want to bring;
- The need of your audience;
- What the data says.
Let’s look at all three.
The value you want to bring
We’ve been hammering this for years, but your audience will not care about your content if it doesn’t bring them value. Period.
This is why you need to make sure you understand and realize the value each piece of content you create brings to your audience.
Whether you want to inform, educate or entertain them, you need to focus on the “what’s in it for THEM” (not YOU!).
This is where word count comes into play. How many words do you need so it can bring value? How in-depth do you need to make your article so that people really come out of it satisfied with their content experience?
It is important to consider that your goal is to make sure there is value and no fluff. In a way, your content should be as long as it is meant to be. Don’t necessarily try to fit your content in too much of a predefined box (although you will need to give some direction to your copywriter).
Focus on value, make sure you bring value, and the word count will follow.
The needs of your audience
You know the value your brand brings to the market with its product and services. And if you have documented and built a strong content strategy, you know what kind of value your audience needs in order to start building a relationship (or maintaining one) with your brand.
Knowing your audience and its needs are key in making sure the content you publish will resonate with the people you want to reach.
In addition to thinking about the value you bring to your audience, you also need to empathize with that audience, put yourself in their shoes, find out what kind of content they expect, how much headspace they may have for the value you bring and how much time they are willing to spend with you.
These are all questions that will impact the format and length of your content. Although you might need 3,000-words to really bring value to your audience, when you think about their reality you might decide to split it into 3 x 1,000-word articles. You bring the same value, but you demonstrate that you understand their reality and them.
What the data says
Once you are set on the value, you are bringing and you add the consideration of your audience, you will want to take a look at what seems to work from a statistical perspective, in your industry.
- Real Estate
Through this study, the team wanted to uncover what word count works best in each vertical. In the end, the discovery is that it greatly varies from one industry to the other:
The table above shows how 0-500-word content generated the most traffic in the Education sector, while in the Entertainment sector, it is 3,500-4,000-word content that generated the most page views.
The article published by Neil Patel’s team dives even deeper into how this content is shared, and how it performs through search engines. A great read that can inform you and help you understand how your audience and your peers view content.
But remember, it is not because your industry zigs that you cannot zag as a brand. Each brand has its own way to bring value to its audience and you need to find yours.
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