A Writer’s Guide to Digital Content

One of the first things that a writer asks when given an assignment is: How long should it be? How many words do you want?

wordcountThe length of your content determines not only the amount of words at your disposal, but the intensity of the work and the final product. The shorter a piece of writing must be, the harder it will be to write because you need to choose your words with the utmost care. Every word counts.

When it comes to digital content and online copywriting, the word count matters even more. Social platforms have different restrictions ranging from a 140 word count on Twitter to unlimited words on Facebook and blogs. But just because you can write as many words as you want, that doesn’t mean that you should.

Not only that, the word count can directly affect the success of everything you write online. Even if you have the best writers and the most entertaining content at your disposal, if you don’t know how to adapt your content to digital, you might never reach your full potential.

This guide aims to give you basic guidelines for writing online content to ensure that your efforts are well rewarded by increased engagement and search engine visibility.

The ideal length for a domain name is 8 characters.

If you are just starting out and deciding what to name your business, blog or online enterprise, it’s useful to know that the best domain names are 8 characters long.

The characteristics of a good domain name, according to Daily Blog Tips:

1. It is short
2. It is easy to remember
3. It is easy to spell
4. It is descriptive or brandable
5. It does not contain hyphens and numbers
6. It has a .com extension

The best length for a blog post is 7 minutes or 1 600 words.

According to the Medium Data Lab, the ideal length of a blog post is 7 minutes or when translated into word count, 1 600 words.

To arrive at this number, Medium measured the average total seconds spend on each post and compared this to the post length. They adjusted their analysis to allow for shorter posts on their website (overall, 74% of posts are under 3 minutes long and 94% are under 6 minutes long. They came to the following conclusion: “The average total seconds rises for longer posts, peaks at 7 minutes, and then declines.

The best length for a headline is 6 words.

Usability research has revealed that we don’t only scan body copy while reading online, we also scan headlines. We absorb only the first three words and the last three words of a headline. If you want to maximize the chance that your entire headline gets read, keep your headline to six words.

It’s not easy or always advisable to write six-word headlines, but by being aware of how your headline might be read, you can adjust your writing accordingly.

The ideal length for a email subject is 28 – 39 characters.

A study released by Mailer Mailer found a slight bump in opens and clicks in emails at a certain range of characters. Here is their analysis:

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  • 4–15 characters: 15.2% open; 3.1% click
  • 16–27 characters: 11.6% open; 3.8% click
  • 28–39 characters: 12.2% open; 4% click
  • 40–50 characters: 11.9% open; 2.8% click
  • 51+ characters: 10.4% open; 1.8% click

The ideal length of a SEO title tag is 55 characters.

Every brick-and-mortar store has a business, similarly every web page has a title tag. These tags are the bits of text that define your page on a search results page.

Largely defined by Google as the most popular search engine, title tags have a maximum length of 60 characters. If your title exceeds 60 characters, it will get truncated with an ellipse.

The ideal length for a Facebook post is 40 characters.

Forty characters is not a lot, especially if you consider how many characters Facebook puts at your disposal.

Recently Jeff Bullas discovered that 40 was the magic number in his study of retail brands on Facebook. Bullas measured how many users liked or commented  on Facebook posts and he found that 40-character posts received 86% higher engagement.

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The ideal length of a Tweet is 100 characters.

When deciding who to believe when it comes to the best practices for Twitter, we opted to go for the good guys themselves. Twitter recommends 100 characters as the optimal number for a tweet.

Facts can only be defined as facts if you can reproduce the experiment and arrive at the same conclusion, right? Track Social performed a study that also found that 100 characters was the sweet spot for a tweet.

Track Social’s analysis saw a spike in retweets among tweets in the 71-100 character range. These medium tweets are perfect because they leave enough space for the person who retweets to add commentary to the original post.

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For more information on writing content for digital platforms, contact us at info@marilize.co.za or give us a call on 021 981 1290.