All of us are familiar with the importance of building a robust content strategy and how it can exponentially grow our website when done right. However, in the world of content marketing, there are also multitudes of misconceptions.
At some point or the other, you must have received the advice that each content on your website should be of at least 2000 words or longer content performs better.
But, as a matter of fact, neither of these are true or untrue – if that sounds sensible.
Both long-form and short-form content play a significant role in a successful content strategy, and they can be very potent tools in your content marketing arsenal.
All you need to do is select the right type of content in the right context.
There is no definite answer to how long your blog post should be, and neither should you fix any minimum word count for your content.
You just have to learn to pick the appropriate form of content to serve a particular purpose, and in this guide, we will discuss everything you need to know for that.
Long-Form vs. Short-Form Content
Before we proceed, you must know what is long-form content and what is short-form content. This will help you determine the length of your content.
Most likely, you are used to making different types of content, from videos and infographics to social media content and so on, but now in order to set up a process to determine which content to use and when you also have to find out how long your content needs to be.
What Is Short-Form Content?
Content with 1200 or fewer words is typically regarded as short-form content. However, several marketers like to keep the limit till 1000 words only.
It offers content that is quick and easy-to-digest, covering a particular portion of a topic instead of going in too much detail or depth.
Some common short-form content formats are:
- Social Media Content
- News posts and articles
- Short blogs
This form of content is light on the audience, does not require much time to consume the info, and is relatively easy and faster to develop. Generally, short-form content aims at getting across a single message promptly and effectively. Therefore, keep it as simple as possible. For example, social media content is a really effective format of short-form content.
So, think out of the box and be ready to develop content that engages your audience well, whatever the length be.
What Is Long-Form Content?
Any content which is more than 1200 words (1000 in a few cases) is considered as long-form content.
This type of content goes in-depth on a topic and discusses it in detail. Some most common long-form content formats:
- Comprehensive and lengthy blogs
- Pillar pages
- Evergreen web pages
- Tutorials and guides
Long-form content genuinely engages the target audience because it dives in-depth on whatever topic it covers. It isn’t one of those quick-to-digest content; instead, it aims to educate readers who came searching for answers to their questions or just grasp more knowledge regarding a specific topic.
However, this content format is not quick to create and is resource-intensive. Typically, you will have to invest a substantial amount of time and resources to produce it. But the kind of returns and results long-form content can reap is dramatically huge.
Long-form content, especially the evergreen ones, often act as the backbone of your SEO and content strategy. When you pile up numerous successful pieces of content one over the other, it can deliver continuous results.
Does the Content’s Length Matter?
This is one of the questions that keep popping up between SEO professionals and marketers. Since we are discussing the short-form vs. long-form content, let’s address this question in the process too.
A simple and clear answer is that the length of your content does matter. But this in no way suggests that lengthy content is better.
Your content length should be just enough to serve your intended purpose and fulfill your established goals. This is the reason why understanding the right content format for different purposes is essential. You should also take some time to recognize the search intent of other identical content pieces that are performing well on SERPs.
Many studies have shown how long-form content is associated with higher search rankings. That’s simply because when it comes to obtaining backlinks, long-form content substantially outshines short-form content.
Most of the time, long-form content performs better than short-form content, and it’s not just because of its word count.
The reason is that the majority of the searches online require comprehensive results and content that covers the specific topic in detail. In this case, long-form content serves the purpose well, offering the ideal search results and ends up acquiring a higher ranking position. Thus, you must consider the length of your content even when your aim is to rank higher on the search results pages.
For example, eCommerce category pages barely have any content apart from the product descriptions, but that doesn’t stop it from acquiring the top positions in the SERPs, right? All you need to do is make content that satisfies the search query well, and that doesn’t have to be longer content necessarily.
It would be naive to assume that the purpose of creating content is always to rank organically. Sure, it is one of the key drivers of organic search growth, but that doesn’t mean it is not made to serve other purposes as well. Just think about all the businesses enjoying exponential growth across social media channels via short-form content.
Therefore, your focus should not be to develop long-form content; instead, it should be to create content with an appropriate length and format that fulfills your goals and satisfies the users’ search intent.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Short-Form Content
Short-form content has a significant role to play in every content strategy, but everything has its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at them.
- It isn’t time-consuming and helps in getting a single message across quickly and effectively. It works well with readers who have a short attention span, which is why it is so effective for social media platforms.
- It can be created quickly without requiring much time and resources as compared to long-form content.
- It is easier to read and digest and mostly mobile-friendly.
- Discussing a topic in detail is harder with short-form content.
- If not paid utmost attention, this content format can easily become very conventional, and therefore, draw your audiences away.
- In most cases, short-form content is not evergreen, which means the interest and performance are expected to decline gradually.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Long-Form Content
Just like short-form content, long-form content too has a special place in every marketer’s arsenal.
In fact, it is that powerhouse that can drive long-term growth, and probably that’s the reason marketers are always seen jumping towards it.
- Considering that most search queries require comprehensive results, long-form content ranks higher on SERPs.
- Since this content format goes in-depth on a topic, it typically ranks for more keywords.
- Usually, long-form content acquires more backlinks than short-form content, and thus it improves the web page’s performance and search rankings.
- The conversion rate of long-form content is generally higher as compared to the short-form content mainly due to the level of attention the reader gives it and their intention of visiting the site in the first place.
- Creating and publishing content regularly that educates, informs, and helps the readers make better decisions will help in establishing you as a thought-leader in your niche and an authoritative voice in your industry.
- Producing this content format requires far more time and resources, meaning more financial investment will be needed. This also means that your returns from this form of content need to be a lot higher as compared to short-form content. Although, using it as a part of your strategy makes sense because eventually, the results will come.
- Showing long-form content pleasingly on mobiles can often be difficult, which adds creative complications. We should not forget that the attention spans of active customers are changing.
Selecting Long-Form vs. Short-Form Content
As a matter of fact, what makes a marketing strategy successful is its balance of short-form and long-form content to fulfill the needs and desires of their audiences. You will be able to decide the right content format. However, it would be best if you also considered these things:
- Your Goals
You should know your goals and then pick the most effective way of fulfilling them.
Smart marketers first decide their goals and then identify the ideal way to fulfill them.
For example, if your goal is to raise awareness about your new product launch, then you might want to do this by sending a short and crisp email to your subscribers, along with publishing a few posts across all your social media channels. Here, short-form content is your best choice.
- Your Audience’s Intent
The next step is understanding the intent that your content needs to satisfy. Doing this is as simple as researching the content around the same topic that is working well for your competitors.
All you have to do is identify what your audience wants or expects out of your content.
For instance, if the audience wants to educate themselves, then long-form content is your best option. However, if their aim is to stay updated with the latest news and nothing more, then short-form content is the ideal choice.
Understanding your audience’s intent is crucial before getting on to the content creation part, but it is often underestimated.
- Your Competition
If your purpose of producing content is to rank better on SERPs or to gain traction on social media, you should know your competition and what is working for them and what’s not. This will help you create better or at least equally good content; otherwise, you will fail to drive any traction.
- Your Audience
You are familiar with your target audience better than anybody else. It’s essential to utilize these insights to form your content marketing strategy and determine if they are more interested in long-form or short-form content.
You can easily do so by analyzing your past efforts against benchmarks like:
- Audience Engagement
You need to understand what content format works best for your audience and then produce more of it, realizing that each content type serves different purposes.
You need to find answers to the following questions:
- What content type drives the best and most conversions for you?
- What content type drives the most audience engagement across social media platforms?
- What content type has the highest session duration and lowest bounce rate?
The more you utilize your audience insights, the better you will be able to shape your strategy.
- Your Conversion Path
Consider the number of touchpoints your average customer makes with your brand before they finally convert. You need to incorporate this into your decision of content format as well.
For example, an eCommerce fashion retailer can easily drive more sales to a new product line using short-form content across social media platforms. This is due to a shorter conversion window and a simpler consideration process.
Meanwhile, a B2B software platform will most likely have a more complex conversion process. Therefore they will have to educate, inform, and nurture their leads through both long-form and short-form content over time.
Both long-form and short-form content play a significant role in content strategy. Your efforts should be focused on producing content of the right length that meets the purpose you need and want. Using your internal data and insights will help you make more informed decisions and establish a more solid strategy. With these tips in mind, you will be all set to drive excellent growth using the right content format.