You hear it often. Size doesn’t matter. How true is that though when it comes to character length? So many SEO experts are quick to the mark, claiming an exact ‘sweet-spot’ of anywhere between 300 and 2,000 words. What consistently arises as a truth though, is that inherently it’s quality over quantity.
So, “It’s not about length – it’s what you do with it that counts”. If you can give your readers what they need in 300 words, then do it. If you need more time to massage this beast of a topic into a coherent argument, go for 2,000. Heck, go for your Masters and clock up 12,000 words. It’s one of the beauty’s about writing, the world is your oyster (or pearl if your seafood averse).
To throw a spanner in the works, Slate’s study found that on a typical 2,000 word web article most readers will make it to the 50% mark or 1,000th pixel on that page. That means that most people who read the ABC News’ article on Meg Lanning wouldn’t learn how to look out for a leader. Worse still, if they had visited this ABC News article on factors that help women get ahead professionally, they’d miss the additional studies around what other factors aside good looks are associated with success.
That’s the dilemma of the age we live in – the skimming age. We’re comfortably accustomed to convenience and getting things quickly. We’ve apparently got no time for long-form and discussion.
Despair isn’t necessary though. The goal must always be to deliver quality content. Discard jam-packing your copy with fluffy and unnecessary keywords and get to the point. Use lists if you need. Follow Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice and lean toward video, or better yet give your audience everything with a video AND a transcript/blog.
The age of articles and blogs isn’t dead. Far from it. Just take a look at when Australian media organisations went dark for one day in retaliation of growing censorship, highlighting how our current conservative government falls short when protecting the freedom of the press. Better yet, how about the fact that the New York Times noted a 5.2% subscription increase in the second quarter of 2019? We might be skimmers but give us content on something we’re interested in and we eat it up like dessert.
Give the people what they want and if you study your audience, you’ll know what they want. Use Google Analytics and Facebook Insights to your advantage and get to know who follows your page. Understand your niche. Like the New York Times, speak on current affairs or invest in investigating a subject. Spend time on something important.
More often than not when you spend time on something, you will either find you produce a short and concise piece of written work that doesn’t exceed 500 words, or you’ll have an in-depth discussion that expands well into 2,000 words.
Size doesn’t matter. It’s what you do with it that matters.