One of the biggest debates in the content marketing community is over the effectiveness of short form vs long form content. That's why it's time for a definitive answer backed by real facts.
After reading this article, you can decide what length of your content fits your needs best and start producing content that engages your readers.
Time to Bust Some Myths
Short-form content gets a lot of hype in the digital marketing world, and for a good reason. It's easy to digest and gets your point across quickly. Not only that, but short-form content is often visually appealing. It doesn't look difficult, so people will devote a little time to reading the whole post.
What's more, with the average human attention span estimated at 12 seconds for some tasks, visitors may not want to spend much time reading your content.
However, it may come as a surprise to you that studies show long-form content is actually more effective than short-form content. Why is this? Let's explore.
Building Authority With Long-Form Content
When it comes to building authority, long-form content trumps short-form content. There's nothing wrong with the average 400-word blog post, especially if it's on an exciting topic that doesn't require much in-depth writing. That being said, nobody will take your content seriously if you only offer one brief point.
It doesn't matter if you're a B2B company or a fashion retailer. Authority is what makes you stick out in a crowded field. It means that people not only trust your opinions, but they look to you for direction and to set trends. With long-form content like whitepapers, e-books, and educational webinars, you demonstrate your expertise on a whole new level.
As your brand becomes more recognized as an authority figure, consumers and other businesses will feel secure purchasing your products and services.
Consider the outdoor supplier REI. The company has become an authority by publishing long-form content that shoppers can use to make informed decisions. On the website's Expert Advice section, you can find articles over 4,000 words long on topics like:
- Outdoor basics
By giving potential customers expert information that prepares them for outdoor sports, REI establishes itself as an authority that consumers can trust.
SEO for the Win: Finding the Right Approach for Your Audience
Outdated research says that long-form content almost always wins the SEO fight. More recent explorations, though, show that websites need a mixture of long-form and short-form content. It depends on what you hope to achieve with your content.
A 2017 article from Search Engine Journal recommends publishing with more than 2,000 words when you want to:
- Sell high-end products that cost a lot of money.
- Promote technical products that include a lot of features.
- Reaching out to potential buyers about a new product or service.
- B2B sales that involve multiple sales funnels and long purchasing cycles.
If you want to reach these goals, search results will reward you for writing longer content that includes plenty of keywords and other SEO techniques.
Not all companies need such an intensive level of content marketing, though. You can get great results from 1,000-word posts when you:
- Already have customers familiar with your products and services.
- Consumers already trust your company.
- Have a target audience of repeat buyers.
Search engines have gotten very good at anticipating each person's needs. If a consumer wants to learn more about a popular product like a new Dell computer, they often emphasize results that provide straightforward information as quickly as possible. Search engines know that people shopping for inexpensive Dell PCs don't need 4,000-word posts to make informed decisions.
There's another reason why long-form content is so important for SEO, and that has to do with backlinks. Studies show that long-form content gets more backlinks than short-form content. More backlinks will improve your search engine ranking and help more people find your content.
Keep in mind, though, that some of your content may not need a lot of backlinks. A post with about 250 words gets approximately one-third of the backlinks as a post with more than 2,500 words. Your publishing schedule, therefore, may want to include a couple of long-form posts and several short-form posts. Using them together, you can attract more attention without letting days pass between your postings.
Does Word Count Get Your Content Shared?
What gets shared more, short-form or long-form content? You may be surprised.
A study by BuzzSumo of 8 million articles on social media also found that long-form content gets shared much more than short-form content. In fact, they found that the top 10% of social shares involved long-form content across Facebook, Pinterest, and other social media platforms.
Despite claims that long-form content would die due to mobile phone users who can't be bothered to read anything longer than a tweet, the data shows that the opposite is true.
There's no doubt that you can boil down content to a 200-word blurb or even a funny cat picture. Sometimes that works well for brands, and it can help you save time and resources in the process.
However, this type of content is ubiquitous. As a result, one individual piece of this type of short-form content has trouble breaking through and really getting traction across the web. If you want short-form content to work, mix it with long-form posts that give people more details.
Get More Eyeballs on Your Page
Short-form content gets shared and read all the time. It's especially useful for sharing across mobile, where many readers don't want to put in a significant time investment. That being said, a lot of websites don't want people to just read an article and click away. Smart companies want readers to come to their websites, stay awhile, and come back regularly. You need to understand user intent to tap into those benefits.
Well-written long-form content not only helps stay in the head of the reader, but it also gets visitors to stay on a page 40% longer and visit 25% more pages than short-form content. This means more eyeballs on your website, more website traffic, and potentially more ad revenue and a higher conversion rate.
At the end of the day, there's a sea of short-form content out there, some of it not much better than click-bait. This is not to say short-form isn't vital to a content marketing strategy. Short-form content is key for product descriptions, tweets, and keeping your blog updated daily.
That being said, long-form content holds an edge over short-form content. If you do it right, you'll definitely notice a positive difference.
Get the Long-Form vs Short-Form Content Your Site Needs
In most cases, long-form content has an advantage over short-form content. At times, though, you can use short posts to your advantage.
No matter what, you must give your audience convincing, engaging content that keeps them interested. Scripted works with diverse writers who have experience developing everything from social media posts to lengthy whitepapers.
Buy blog posts for your business today so you can see the difference it makes when you have professional writers on your side. The long form vs short form content debate doesn't matter as much when you have some of the world's most talented writers creating content for your website.