Ask me to do basic math and … Oh, this sentence is too ridiculous to even complete. No one ever asks me to do basic math. At least nobody who knows me. In fact, my senior year of high school, my math teacher took me aside one day and said, very gently, “You know, you only need three years of math to graduate …”
I just reread that paragraph and realize I sound like the Barbie that declares, “Math is hard.” But the way I look at it, you just can’t be good at everything. And math happens to be one of the myriad of things on my “not good at” list.
That said, there are a few numbers I live by. And if you’ve ever needed to write any marketing collateral — or even a decent sentence — you’ll commit them to heart. Trust me: They’re way easier to remember than a quadratic equation. Whatever that is!!! (I am flipping my long blonde hair now, as I write this.)
A Copywriter’s Guide to Perfect Numbers
Sentence length: 15-20 words. Sometimes you need to go over, but once you hit 30 — even 25 — you are pushing your luck and better have a darn good reason not to throw down that period.
Headlines: 8 words or fewer. Emphasis on fewer.
Paragraphs: 30 to 60 words. Another way to think of it is two to three sentences. More than that is overwhelming. People viagragen.com sigh and turn away when they see large blocks of text, particularly on the Web.
Web pages: 250 to 350 words. Write as concisely as possible. Ideally you don’t want to make people scroll.
Keywords per Web page: 1-2. Try to optimize for too many words and search engines — not to mention users — miss the point. (Here’s a good article about using keywords correctly.
Tweets: 140, right? Wrong. According to Twitter experts, it’s 124. Here’s why: Use up all your characters and no one can retweet without cutting what you wrote. And since retweets are the whole point anyway, make it easy for your followers. Read more.
Facebook status updates: 1-2 sentences. Sure, you’ve got 420 characters to play with, but don’t use them all. People don’t read status updates as much as they scroll through them, often digesting several per second. So unless you have a major fan base hanging on your every word, pithy is best.
Advanced numbers for non-math geeks.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about in the below section, you’ll probably never need to. But if you are curious, learn more here.
- Web page title tag: Google displays up to 66 characters, Yahoo up to 120. But come on, who uses Yahoo? Stick to 66.
- Web page meta description: 155 characters long.
There — that is the last you’ll hear from me on the subject of numbers.