How Long Should an Article Be?
Writing is a strange and wonderful thing, and everybody does it in a different way. It can be really difficult to know if you’re writing an article that is way too long or way too short. In this…well, article, we look at how long an article should be for many different purposes.
For Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Personally, I take SEO into consideration for a lot of my blog posts and other articles. It is important to me that at least a fair chunk of my posts find their way onto the upper reaches of google, and drive some traffic from search engines. I don’t write exclusively for these reasons, I write for people not for the robots who evaluate my site, but unfortunately the robots have to be considered if I want to even reach people in the first place.
As with most SEO techniques, there isn’t a definite science to it, and nowhere in Google’s guides does it give an ideal post length. I’ve seen 200 word articles outrank 900 word articles, and I’ve seen two articles the same length perform very differently. That said, the most success I’ve seen with my own articles on Google has come to articles between the 550 and 750 word mark. This has increased slightly, and I have seen a lot of my shorter articles drop off in recent times, as google seems to move towards favouring more thorough content. Its always changing, and if it is of paramount importance to your articles, you should definitely keep your finger on the pulse of all things SEO.
For Article Directories and Guest Posts
One of the most popular methods of driving traffic and building links to your website is to write articles for publishing elsewhere, such as other peoples’ blogs and article directories. So how many words should you aim for in these circumstances?
I try to write my articles for directories and other people’s blogs as I would write them for my own. I reserve some of the more ‘evergreen‘ topics for my own blog, as they are the mainstay of what I am trying to create, but once I have picked a subject for a guest article, I write it as I would for my own blog, aiming for between 400 and 800 words depending on the subject matter, and how much I have to say.
Blogs and directories will probably have their own rules or guidelines. I am yet to find an article directory that will accept articles under 300 words, which is fair enough. If you’re writing an article purely for a link back to your site, and aren’t bothered how it ranks in the search engines or how it engages people, then by all means stick to the lower end of those guidelines, but don’t expect the article to do wonders for your own site.
For Your Readers
The third on my list, and most important of things to consider when writing your articles, is the readers you are writing them for. Goes without saying really, doesn’t it? A good man once said “don’t say in 10 words what you can say in 5″ (or something like that), and it is true that waffling on for the sake of it wont do anybody any favours. People are busy, and they probably aren’t willing to sit around and wait while you get to the point, so make sure you provide value, and quickly.
I’m also a believer that the other points are kind of secondary. Writing is not something that should be formulaic or processed, it should be well thought out, but not manufactured, write in your own style, and with your readers in mind, and whatever the length ends up being, whether 60 words or 6,000, it will be correct for you.
For Print and Publications
I mustn’t forget that people still do write for print media, and in these cases (though you might have a rough criteria for word count), I believe the same as I’ve said above applies. Don’t waffle, and write however many words it takes to get your message across in the way you want.
Hopefully these points have been helpful. There is no simple answer to “how long should an article be?”, but these guidelines will serve you well on your journey to creating new pieces of writing.