Content marketing involves creating and sharing material online for marketing purposes. The content may be written, or it may be videos and social media posts. Written content will be the primary focus of this piece so when “content” is mentioned, it will refer to written content for marketing purposes. There has long been a question of the ideal length of material for content marketing. The answers are many and everybody has one. Some say that shorter content is better because people will not take the time to read through long articles. Others say in-depth content is better because it ranks higher and gives the readers more value. The answer is really that everyone is correct if the material is amazing. However, longer content marketing material typically performs better in the SERPs.
Long-form content typically refers to content that is over two thousand words. Well-written long-form content includes authoritative links, infographics and sometimes images to give the readers as much information as possible. It should be organized into headings and subheadings to break up the material for readers who like to scan. When people click on a link and find a crowded page full of words with no white space, they typically leave. This means that the formatting is as important as the content. You may have the best piece ever written, but if it is not formatted correctly nobody will read it.
Content less than three hundred words is usually referred to as thin content. It doesn’t have much credibility simply because of its length. Again, it may be a great piece but if it is too short then it will not achieve the desired results. This kind of goes back to the formatting. The best way to fix this problem is to lengthen the article, but it must be done properly. Don’t ramble and don’t stuff it with keywords because then it becomes spammy.
A Happy Medium
As hard as it is to believe, there is a happy medium even for content marketing. Shoot for about fifteen hundred words. It doesn’t necessarily have to be over two thousand, but it does need to be over five hundred. Articles between five and fifteen hundred words seem to perform best for content marketing. They rank higher in the SERPs and seem to achieve a higher return on investment. Studies show that a well-written piece between five and fifteen hundred words has a better chance of being shared on social media, too. Again, it is best to include authoritative links, references, infographics and images. It should be well structured and in-depth without rambling. Remember, people learn and interpret information differently and you want to appeal to all styles. Don’t forget clear, concise calls-to-action as well.
When the search-bots crawl the page, you don’t want there to be any question about the focus of the content. Content marketing has only been a recognized form of marketing for the last few years and it has taken this long to determine the best length for articles. The most recent algorithms now include the measured time on a site and social shares in its metrics of SEO success. They do not differentiate between content marketing and plain old content, so this must be taken into consideration for SEO purposes.
There are many differing opinions on the sweet spot of content marketing length. Take your cues from research and past performance. Longer content performs better in the SERPs and it gets shared more. The sweet spot is between five and fifteen hundred words.