Ideal Length of Online Content
What is the ideal length of online content? Ideal length of content depends on a few variables: what you are trying to say, the medium you are using to say it, how often and, most importantly, your audience.
We have compiled several researches to give you some broad guidelines. Please note, however, that research findings may differ and alter over time.
The content you post on your website and blog matters a lot. But is there a prescribed length for blog posts in order to attract more readers or rank higher in search engines? According to Yoast, 300 words is the minimum length for a blog post to rank.
However, blog posts that are over 1,000 words tend to rank more easily. A study by Buffer indicated 1,600 as the ideal word count but it must be readable in three minutes or less. But for those who want to get Google’s attention, the word count should be more than 2,000 words. This is the average content length of the top 10 search results for the most competitive terms.
In short, blog posts must be lengthier in order to compete with other high trafficked keywords and perform well in searches. It also depends on the industry you are in. You may simply have to test what works for you and your customers.
Top influencer Neil Patel published an article about content word counts with specific figures for each industry, from finance and sales to manufacturing and real estate. For blog titles and other headlines, the recommended length is 6 words. Others prescribe 70 characters maximum to keep it in Google’s searches. Research has shown that most readers only read the first and last three words of a headline. Therefore, focus needs to be on titles which capture a reader’s attention and get them to click through.
The rule of thumb is this: the shorter, the better. While Facebook allots a maximum of 63,206 characters per post, posts that are brief and concise gain higher engagement. Based on the 2011 study conducted by Buddy Media, posts with fewer than 40 characters engaged 86% more fans, while those that are 80 characters or less receive 66% higher engagement.
This data was used by Jeff Bullas in his blog about increasing fan engagement on Facebook. Buffer Social also based their findings on the same study data when they created an infographic about the optimal length of every social media update in 2016. In 2016, NewsWhip utilised their own analytics to examine the most engaged posts from the five biggest publisher’s pages in Facebook—Fox News, NBC News, The Huffington Post, BBC News, and BuzzFeed. Without counting the emojis and hashtags and only focusing on the posts with backlinks to the page’s website, they found that the most shared links have very short captions. The average word count of Fox News’ most shared links is 24, while BuzzFeed’s is 11.
A video is short if the duration is less than 4 minutes. Those that exceed 20 minutes can be considered as a long video. Video platform, Vidyard, analysed more than 250,000 videos and 600 million streams. Their findings showed that 56% of total videos published in 2016 were less than two minutes in length. The same logic applies to videos uploaded to Instagram and Facebook. According to HubSpot’s own data, their most commented Instagram videos are those that are less than 30 seconds long. Their Twitter videos average 45 seconds in length while their Facebook video posts that scored the most engagements are only 1-minute long.
In 2017, Twitter doubled the character limit for each tweet to help users be more expressive. Now you can post 280-character tweets. But be careful, longer tweets do not necessarily mean higher engagements. Twitter’s best practice actually shows 100 is the ‘sweet spot.’ according to an often-cited research conducted by Buddy Media, tweets with fewer than 100 characters receive 17% more engagement.
In its infographic, Buffer ruled that the ideal content length for LinkedIn posts varies depending on your target audience. If you are marketing to businesses, a 16 to 25-word post is great. But for consumers, a 21 to 25-word post gets more shares. Since that the professional networking site has introduced a new publishing platform, top influencers found a new way to engage more readers keen on content. Search marketer Paul Shapiro of Search Wilderness took it upon himself to study around 3,000 of the most successful blog posts on LinkedIn and shared his insights. Titles should be 40-49 characters long, as those with this character length received the greatest number of views. Shapiro also found that people tend to like long-form content, with the average of 1,900 to 2,000 words on posts engaging more readers through likes, comments, and shares.
According to the organisers of Ted Talks, 18 minutes is the ideal time, and whether you’re Bill Gates or someone else, that’s your time limit. This is based on the fact that 10-18 minutes is the longest most people can pay attention. The physiological reason behind this “is that new information must be processed by the brain, resulting in a huge use of glucose, oxygen, and blood flow as brain neurons fire and burn energy. This loss of energy leads to fatigue”. According to Buffer Social, the typical podcast listener pays attention for 22 minutes on average. But there are some who argue that length does not really matter. In fact, according to the VP of Podcaster Relations at Libsyn, 84% of podcasts with more than 100,000 downloads per episode are longer than 51 minutes. Award-winning podcaster Daniel J. Lewis sums it up this way, “The length of a podcast episode is the same as the ideal length of string: as long as it needs to be.”
It should take 6 minutes to view a SlideShare presentation (approximately 61 slides)
Ideally, a domain name should have 8 characters
Hashtags should only be 6 characters long (but don’t use slang, start with a number or use special characters or spaces)
Email subject lines should ideally be between 28 and 39 characters. According to research, on average, subject lines containing 28-39 characters get an open rate of 12.2% and click-through rate of 4%.
Title tags’ (pieces of text that define your page on a search results page) recommended optimal character count is 55 characters. You want to avoid going over 60 characters or your titles will get shortened with ellipses because of changes to Google.
If you are using a meta description (a tag in html that that sums up your content and appears in Google searches), then the perfect length would be 320 characters. This goes hand-in-hand with the title tag.
As mentioned earlier, the ‘ideal’ length of content will depend upon a whole lot of variables. Property purchases require high levels of consumer involvement, so it is likely that some of the ‘ideal’ lengths of content may be different compared to a routine purchase such as clothing for example. Our recommendation is to use the research results outlined in this blog as a guide but to test it to find your own ‘ideals’.