Without a doubt, this is one of the most frequent questions I get in emails, on forums, and during my Content Consultations. It seems like everyone out there wants to know exactly how many words equal content marketing success.

The answer? It depends!

There is no “magic length” that you can rely on for every topic, in every niche. Sure, you’ll hear plenty of people swear that 1,000 word articles outperform 400 word articles, while others say that shorter is better because web searchers tend to be so impatient. Every time you hear one of these blanket statements, disregard it. Even if the person claims to have “proof” that what they’re saying is the truth, they can only go by their own success. They can tell you what has worked for them — and their specific target audience — but your audience has its own specific needs and wants.

The only way to pick the perfect length for your web content is to keep two things in mind — your target audience and the topic you’re writing about.

Let’s say you’re targeting single moms. With all of the responsibilities they juggle on a daily basis, they probably don’t want to spend a ton of time reading about how to get grape juice stains out of the carpet. They simply want a quick assessment of which chemicals are best at removing the stain, instead of reading an in-depth case study that compared Chemical A with Chemical B. They want to know what to use to make their carpet look better so that they can get on with their busy lives.

On the other hand, if you’re targeting middle-aged people who want to build a comfortable nest egg for retirement, you’re going to need longer content. After all, these people won’t trust what you’re saying if you simply gloss over a few stock and investment options. Instead, they’re going to want to know why you chose those options, what makes them better than everything else out there, and what kind of returns they can realistically expect.

Bottom line — forget the “magic” solutions. If you really want to see content marketing success, you’re going to have to approach every single piece differently. Give your content the attention it deserves, and you’ll wind up with loyal readers who are happy to give your business the attention it so desperately needs!