Is long-form content better than short-form content? Is there an optimal content length?
These have been some of the most widely asked questions in the digital world for many years. With research studies coming up with different, often contrasting, conclusions and digital marketing experts preferring different length, there has been a lot of confusion among content writers and marketers.
Should they believe in the famous attention span research report that jolted many by concluding that the average attention span of humans has become shorter than a goldfish and write short-form content?
Or they should follow what content marketing specialist Emma Siemasko said in a guest blog post on Neil Patel’s blog?
Is there a definite answer?
To many people’s disappointment, there’s no magic number (in terms of word count) that guarantees improved search engine ranking and increased traffic.
What should you do then?
Let’s go into a little detail and evaluate the pros and cons of both forms of content to help you determine your path.
Long-form vs. Short-form Content
Content creation is a difficult task that takes time, effort, and money and no one wants to waste resources creating content that doesn’t provide results. This is why experts put a lot of emphasis on market research and analysis, identifying needs, goals, and target audience before they start writing content.
Types of Short and Long Form Content
While the concepts are pretty self-explanatory and almost everyone is aware of different types of content that exist in modern-day digital space, here are the most common types of short and long-form:
- Short-Form Content – Facebook posts, tweets, Instagram posts, short Infographics, and articles and blog posts up to 300-400 words
- Long-Form Content – Whitepapers, eBooks, and long articles and blog posts
In view of shrinking attention spans and multi-tasking becoming the norm, many content marketers now prefer to create shorter forms of content. Short content, such as Facebook posts and tweets, are more likely to get higher numbers of views, clicks, and shares.
These benefits, however, are usually short-lived because the lifespan of such content is very small.
Creating short-form content is easier and takes less time, but its lifetime value is very short. Even if your latest Facebook post or tweet has received hundreds of likes and shares, it will soon be taken over by someone else’s post.
Short-form content also has a significantly lower SEO impact than long-from content.
However, keeping in view the importance of maintaining your presence on various social media platforms we cannot simply say that one should not create short-from content at all. Rather, limit this form content to only social media, unless SEO does not matter. And of course you can get away with short form content if rules don’t apply to you like Seth Godin.
99% of Godin’s blog posts fall into the category of short-form content. His latest blog post has only 66 words.
That’s fine for him. He is not working on building his brand or trying to gain his audience’s trust. He’s already done that.
When it comes to long-form content, one of the most widely asked questions is:
What counts as long-form content?
There are different views on what classifies as long-form content, but most agree that 1,200 words is great. Content that is below this word count does not generally fall into the category of long-form content.
This is what digital marketing expert Jeff Bullas says in one of his blog posts:
What benefits does long-form content offer?
According to various research studies, long-form content offers the following key benefits:
HubSpot claims that high performing pages in organic search results usually have 2,250 to 2,500 words.
A study jointly conducted by Buzzsumo and OkDork found that contrary to popular belief, long-form content is shared more than short-form content.
According to them, the longer the content, the more it is shared.
Although there are countless statistics available to prove the benefits of long-form content, the biggest question that arises is:
Does anyone actually read thousands of words?
Honestly, most of them won’t!
Now you may ask, is it worth investing so much time and effort into creating long-form content when no one is going to read them all?
The answer is – yes, it’s worth it!
Despite the fact that only a small percentage will read long-from content till the end, it is one of the greatest tool for brand-building and establishing your authority. When you publish a long blog post or an eBook, people begin to believe that you have a lot of knowledge and information to share and consider you an authority.
Quality Is More Important Than Quantity
The internet is filled with statistics and research findings in favor of both short-form and long-from content. While each type of content may offer unique benefits, nothing can take precedence over quality.
With Google getting increasingly more intelligent, quality of content has become the most important factor in determining organic search ranking. The time when keyword stuffing was a useful technique is long gone – if anything, it is going to get your website penalized.
No matter how long your eBook or blog post is, it’s not going to appear in top search results if the content lacks quality. Similarly, even if your blog post is not that long or you have written a short eBook, but your content is high-quality and you have naturally used relevant keywords, your content will organically rank in the top search results.
For example, if you type video marketing in Google search bar, the top 3 results that it provides you contain 10,681, 951, and 2,390 words respectively.
Similarly, if you search for What is SEO, here are the top Google results you will get:
The top posts have 684, 791, and 779 words.
These examples show that quantity is not the sole determining factor of your search engine ranking; your target audience, their behavior, and your goals are important. These factors help you find what type of content you should create.
Different types of content work differently for different people. For example, companies like Hubspot and content marketing experts like Neil Patel and Jeff Bullas generally prefer long-from content whereas Seth Godin clearly prefers shorter posts.
Because this is what works for them!
Experiment with different content lengths to find out what works for you or, even better, create content pieces of different lengths for different platforms.
If you are having difficulty in content creation, contact us and we’ll help you out.
Guest article written by: Content Development Pros is a leading content agency that’s got more than a decade of experience. We have completed over 60,000 projects for our clients. Our popular services include blog writing, SEO, infographics, videos, and website design and development. Contact us today to learn more about our service, to discuss a project, or to get a free proposal!