Marketers often look at the time it takes for prospects to consume content. Here’s another angle, as it applies to articles: what about the length of the content? Recent data from SEMrush shows content length can be a key factor when it comes to engagement metrics such as pageviews and shares.
Conventional wisdom might assume that shorter content would be more likely to receive more pageviews or shares as it takes a smaller chunk of the reader’s busy day to consume. However, SEMrush’s analysis of more than 1.2 million articles picked from domains with a blog section with between 30,000 and 500,000 sessions found that the opposite is true.
Comparing articles/posts with varying word counts, SEMrush found that content with more than 7,000 words received an average of 302 unique page views. This is a far higher average count than shorter content with 300-600 words (59 unique page views), 1,201-1,500 words (93) or 5,001-7000 words (188). Indeed, there appears to be a strong correlation between word count and pageviews.
The same can be said when it comes to the number of times an article is shared. Articles with a word count of 300-600 received the fewest number of shares (20) on average, while, at the other end of the spectrum, articles with more than 7,000 words received the most (30).
The correlation between word count and shares was not as strong as with pageviews, though. Unlike with unique page views where longer articles uniformly had more views, sharing has a bit more variety. For example, articles with a word count of 1,501-2,000 were shared an average of 28 times, yet longer articles (3,001-5,000 words) were shared less (24).
With all this in mind, it doesn’t necessarily mean that marketers should strive for higher word counts at the expense of providing quality content. SEMrush’s data includes a disclaimer: “Although long-form content is clearly the ‘winner’ here, it’s important to understand that simply writing longer articles is not a guarantee of success – nor will it automatically bring you more traffic. Indeed, longreads likely perform better because they provide users with in-depth information on the topic – not just because they contain more words.”
Read more here.
About the Data: Findings are based on an analysis of 1.2 million articles published no later than June 2020 on blogs that had between 30,000 and 500,000 sessions.