In a world where marketers regularly recommend 900-2,000 words per page to rank well on search engines, it’s easy to get caught up in length.
But as you craft your next piece of content, ask yourself, “Does my audience actually want to read 2,000 words (8 minutes on average) about ergonomic floor mats?”
According to benchmark reports, the average website holds users attention for a mere 2.5 minutes.
Based on these two numbers, there is a major disconnect between the content we’re producing and most user’s online reading habits.
Why Google Likes Long Content
It’s no wonder bloggers and businesses are cranking out words by the thousands: Google has been rewarding lengthy content for years. In one study, the number one ranking on Google’s search engine averaged over 2,400 words.
From Google’s perspective, it makes sense.
If you’re writing 2,000+ words, you must be a subject matter expert. And if users are spending 5-8 minutes on your webpage, it must be because they’re deeply engaged.
Why You Should Question Your Longwinded Content
Let’s get this out of the way: Yes, some long pieces of content are beneficial to your business.
However, just because you’re getting organic traffic doesn’t mean that you’re attracting the right type of user, growing your sales funnel, or converting anyone that comes to your website. And when all said and done, content is most beneficial when it motivates your target audience to interact with your brand beyond a single page visit.
Think about this scenario:
”Yum, this butternut squash soup looks amazing. I’m going to click on this webpage.”
Scrolls for eternity–past memoirs, bulleted lists, and 10 photos
We’ve all been there. Wanting to get past the fluff and to the meat (sometimes literally) of the post.
If you’re still not convinced, I’d like to introduce you to The Skimm, an email service that condenses news stories into skimmable pieces of content to save you time. With over 7 million users, it’s one of the fastest growing content distribution services.
Here are just two examples where users clearly favor brevity over in-depth content (another consideration is mobile experience, but that’s a whole nother post).
Sometimes condensed content is better and more beneficial to our core audience. We shouldn’t let SEO dictate what’s best for our users.
Balancing Brevity & SEO
In honor of our brevity theme, I’m going to keep this short. Here are some things to consider when creating content for your user:
- Why use eight words when four will do?
- How can you be as clear and concise as possible?
- How can you motivate your users to interact with you again?
- Will your audience continue their customer journey after reading this?
A few more practical brevity writing tips:
- Write, then condense. Then condense again.
- Show. Don’t tell. Use visuals when possible.
- Use creative writing tools: Imagery, metaphors, and hyperboles are language tools that help you paint a picture in fewer words
So next time you’re staring endlessly into a WYSIWYG editor, remember: it’s not all about length. It’s about what your user is looking for, and in many times, your user is looking for quick and easy.