Companies today absolutely need to establish a strong online presence if they want to compete in their respective industries.
Achieving this includes content marketing, which is a vital piece of an overall marketing strategy.
The thing is, there are many variables associated with content marketing, including the type of content.
One of the biggest decisions many companies often struggle with is determining the optimal length of content — should it be short-form or long-form?
The reality is, that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. When weighing the short form vs long form dilemma, you’ll want to consider your type of business, audience, business goals, and existing SERPs.
In this article, we’ll cover the pros and cons of both short and long-form content, along with other important information we think will help you to reach your conclusion.
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What is Short-Form Content?
Short-form content is generally content that falls under 1,000 words.
However, these definitions vary. You might see it defined as less than 500 words or more than 1,500, so 1,000 words is a good rough estimate.
Types of content that fall under the short-form definition usually include:
- Blog posts
- Landing pages
- Social media posts
- News articles
It’s the perfect approach to give readers the basic information they want to know or to answer their most common questions.
Sometimes companies use a short-form style as part of a series of distributing information and building upon a topic with each piece of content.
Benefits of short-form content
Shorter pieces of content are usually less overwhelming visually for readers, tend to be easier to digest, and often drive immediate action from readers.
It also takes less time to create, especially if the writer knows the topic well or possesses the right expertise.
In an era where the internet is flooded with information and people are heavily using mobile phones, sometimes people appreciate content that is short, sweet, and easily scannable.
Short-form content also pairs nicely with infographics, podcasts, or video marketing strategies that take a deeper dive into the information being presented.
In this respect, short-form content introduces the reader to additional content being shared, which can help augment it and make it easier for readers to find exactly what they’re looking to get information about.
Drawbacks of short-form content
If not strategically used, the biggest drawback of short-form content is that sometimes not enough information is being shared with audiences.
When companies publish content that is lacking and doesn’t adequately address the needs of their readers, this can be a deterrent that leads them to competitors who are publishing the higher level of detail they seek.
Additionally, with short-form, depending on the topic, the information may not be unique enough without more detail being shared.
It also can be difficult to pack the same punch as long-form content can be simply due to not delving deep enough to be thought-provoking or generate emotion.
You also might find it a lot harder to integrate keywords without sounding spammy and lose the opportunity for more backlinks.
What is Long-Form Content?
Long-form content is generally comprised of more than 1,000 words, but some describe long-form as being more than 2,000 words.
Again, this can vary, depending upon how you choose to define it.
Types of content that fall under the long-form definition usually include:
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Pillar pages
- How-to guides
- Case studies
- Research reports
These forms of content are perfect if you want to demonstrate your expertise and share your authoritative knowledge on specific topics.
Benefits of long-form content
Aside from demonstrating authority or thought leadership, benefits associated with long-form content include showcasing the ability to provide rich, thought-provoking, and informative content.
Since it’s comprehensive in nature, long-form content often satisfies a reader’s quest to obtain in detail the information they seek.
Long-form content also offers numerous opportunities to add in keywords, construct great link building, and get more visibility, all of which can contribute to better SERPs.
According to Hubspot, content with word counts of more than 2,500 tend to get shared the most on social media and earns the most links.
Perhaps, most importantly, long-form pieces of content present themselves as trustworthy and authoritative, which tends to lead companies that use it to enjoy higher conversion levels.
In essence, if you can accomplish gaining this level of authority through your content marketing strategy, your investment in developing content can theoretically pay for itself.
Drawbacks of long-form content
Unsurprisingly, long-form content takes longer to create than short-form content does, which is probably its biggest drawback.
Another potential disadvantage is that some B2B purchasers or consumers are simply too busy to read lengthy pieces.
However, you can combat this by adding headers, subheaders, bolding text, and using bullet points to make it more digestible while delivering the right information to them.
Short-Form vs Long-Form Content: When should you use them?
Choosing between short-form vs long-form content isn’t necessarily an “either-or” scenario.
Both are simply tools marketers can use to boost their efforts. Theoretically, you can easily use a mix of different types of content, depending on what you’re looking to convey.
Search Engine Journal has a good explanation of five key questions to help you determine the ideal length for your content:
- How much do your customers know? Will shorter content give them exactly what they want or will they want more information that only long-form can offer?
- How interested are your readers? This will largely depend upon if your readers want easily digestible information or whether they are looking to delve deep before making a purchase.
- What resources do you have to produce content? Do you have dedicated staff to generate content or a partner who can do it for you?
- What is your user’s intent? If they are looking for specific information, use the right keywords to help them find your information.
- What are your business goals for content? While reader preferences are highly important, you also need to meet your goals to empower yourself to meet their requirements.
The bottom line is that both short and long-form content have their benefits and drawbacks.
It’s important you evaluate them all to come to the conclusion of when to go with short-form and when to go with longer pieces.
Depending upon different variables, such as season, current market conditions, and where consumers are in the buyer’s journey, will likely play a larger role in the content you ultimately decide to go with.
Long-Form vs Short-Form Content: Which is best?
When asking yourself the question of whether short-form or long-form is best, it’s kind of an apples and oranges type of question.
What is better will be dependent upon your business’ needs and goals. If you ask yourself the following questions, you can bring yourself to the right conclusion about which approach to take to meet your content marketing strategy goals.
- What message are you trying to convey to your audience?
- Are there any information gaps needing to be filled on your website?
- What supportive information, if any, will accompany your content?
- Do you have any restraints in time or resources?
Also, to consider, B2B customers will likely require different levels of information than B2C consumers.
Which audience are you primarily serving? It’s important to thoroughly understand your audience and its buyer persona because when you get down to it, if you haven’t correctly identified who you’re creating content for, you’re not going to get the response or results you want.
Regardless of which one you choose when evaluating short-form vs long-form content, you’ll need to generate topics, research, write, and edit before it’s ready for publishing.
The longer the content, the more time this will take. For companies that don’t have the time or resources to invest, this can present a challenge.
The good news is, you don’t have to do it yourself. By partnering with an expert content strategist, you’ll get access to the expertise you need and be able to cultivate the right type of content you want.
If you want to make excellent content, it’s not an aspect of your marketing strategy you want to take lightly.
To succeed, gain readership, generate conversions, and obtain the highly-coveted SERPs in Google and other search engines, you’ll want to thoroughly examine what both short and long-form content has to offer.
With over 2 billion websites on the internet to compete with, to meet your objectives, you’ll want to carefully consider your content strategy.
To create a content marketing strategy that sets you up for success, you need the right foundation and key components.
Check out our quick assessment to learn more about how to develop your content marketing strategy and get started creating content that rocks!