Short-Form vs. Long-Form Content – Your ultimate content selection guide!

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So you know probably right now, you’re picking up your phone or laptop to learn, view, read something and BOOM : Content is everywhere.

So now you’re thinking which of this content do you actually want to read or view? That’s probably the dilemma for many content creators too. What content does their audience want!

So before we start selecting the type of content, let’s see a few and interesting trends in content consumption. 

Content Consumption

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our everyday lives in a lot of ways—the way we shop, the way we work, the way we teach our children and more. The same can be said about how we are interacting with and consuming media during this crisis.

As media consumption rises, so does the need to find new content to consume. Consumers are hungry for new content during the stay-at-home orders, and the ability to share original new content will be highly important for content managers and businesses to keep their audiences engaged. Just look at these crazy figures!

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Image via Forbes

BottomlineThe only thing that has changed, and will continue to change, is the selectiveness of what we consume. 

Types of Content based on Consumption

1. Focused Content Consumption

This is when you focus all of your attention on one type of content form, one device at a time. For example, when you read your daily newspaper. 

2. Multi-input Content Consumption

Consuming content from two or more devices at the same time. This often leads to multitasking and reduced user focus and comprehension. For example, using Instagram while watching a television show. 

3. Information Snacking Consumption

You’ve seen this everywhere. This is the type that allows users to multitask with time-filler content. It takes advantage of time you can utilize which would have otherwise have been wasted. For example,checking email, social media and other content via a smartphone while commuting to work.

4. Content Binging

We’ve all binge-watched! This is largely associated with video content. This type of consumption is viewing or reading multiple portions of content in a single session.

5. Time Shifted Content

Have you ever bookmarked a blog or saved a Youtube video? This category allows your audience to save content for future consumption.

So now you know what content people are consuming – but what content do we create!

Short-Form Content?

Short-form content is typically considered to be content of fewer than 1,200 words in length, although some marketers draw the cut off-point at 1,000 words.

Types of short form content: 

  1. Short blog posts
  2. News articles
  3. Infographics
  4. Social content
  5. Emails

Advantages of short form content: 

  1. No bullshit

    People don’t have long attention spans. They won’t tolerate your forced word counts. It will be noticeable no matter how hard you try to hide it. With writing anything, you want to get to the point as soon as possible.
    A research by Nielsen on how people read websites shows that people don’t read web pages word-by-word, instead, they scan it. Likewise, people don’t read your blog posts (when it’s got thousands of words), they scan it. However, if you publish short-form content chances are they read it.

  2. Higher engagement

    If your content is good, you don’t necessarily need to have a larger story because audiences typically only need certain elements and their brain will be able to fill in the story-making gaps. Short-form content improves your engagement levels through straight-to-the-point posts that easily catch the attention of your audience on social media platforms. The shorter your content is, the more likely it is for people to read it and even share it with others. One study in 2018, showed mobile phones accounted for 52.2% of global internet traffic. Therefore, it is imperative that one should focus on creating short-form content in order to engage their audience.

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Image via Statista

  1. Mobile-Friendly

    People love using the socials! We love it too!

    That is exactly where Short-form content fits best. It is mobile-friendly, just as why people love to use social media websites and apps on their mobile device. So, if your blog posts are short then people would rather read it on their mobile device itself than “saving for later”.

  2. Increased Shareability

    It’s true that long-form content gets more social shares but short-form content is more “shareable” if you think about real sharing. That is, if you find an interesting long-form article then you might share it on your social media channels but if it’s a really interesting (and useful) short-form article then you might actually read it and share it with your friends.

  3. Consistency

    Consistently publishing short-form content is a great strategy that helps drive engagement and clicks. People like short content because they like instant gratification. They search for a term or see a snazzy headline, click a link, and find the information they came for within seconds. Many experts argue that short-form content’s greatest benefit is building traffic. Because it’s so easy to produce, you can make a lot of it, and people like it.

Long form Content? 

Long-form content can be more than 1500+ words. Typically, most content creators and digital marketers agree that long-form content usually contains 2000 words or more. However, there is no definitive bracket!

Types of long form content: 

  1. Detailed and lengthy blog posts 
  2. Evergreen pages
  3. Guides and tutorials
  4. Whitepapers and eBooks
  5. Webinars and virtual events
  6. Pillar pages

Advantages of long form content: 

  1. Rank higher on search engines

    To rank higher you need a bag of target keywords, backlinks and SEO. If your content is well-researched and contains useful data, statistics, or infographics, it will attract backlinks from other websites. How to see what keyword works for your content? There are several ways to find this information, including Moz and SEMRush, and also for free using Google Search Console. If you have GSC connected with Google Analytics, you can find ranking keywords under Acquisition > Search Console > Queries. (If you don’t have these tools connected, find out how here.)
  1. Better Website Performance

    It is highly recommended writing long form content to engage your audience. But remember, your content has to be engaging and well-thought! Moreover, long-form content allows for efficient interlinking among different blog posts on your website. As a result, you can keep your readers hooked to your website for a longer time.
    Contrary to popular belief, a study in 2016 showed that Long-Form Content Generates 2x the Engagement of Short-Form on Mobile

Image via SocialMediaToday

  1. Gain credibility

    Every so often, we will notice a trending query and create an optimized long form blog post around that keyword. We follow the typical SEO rules — a few internal links, a few external, and we consider our word count by the average count on the first page of Google. But this was a thing of the past.

    Prioritize being helpful to your users. Your readers will come and read a 2500 word article if it’s thorough information about a particular topic. This will make your company’s brand not only credible but also help retain daily readers. Longer blog posts can also help with your quest to become a thought leader. People will see that you are knowledgeable and reliable. They’ll see that you care about helping others in the industry, and you’ll show you’re offering more than just sales pitches.

  2. More shares!

    While people crave knowledge, they also like to be entertained. Each day, people might read blogs that tell interesting stories, make them laugh, or intrigue them in some other way. If your blog can do that – you’ve hit the jackpot! According to a study by OkDork – If you look at the chart below, you’ll notice something: the longer the content, the more shares it gets. Specifically, 3,000-10,000 word content gets the most average shares (8,859).
    Get Writing!
  1. Less competition

    It’s obviously not easy to write an in-depth blog post (or create long-form content) that’s got several thousand words. This means that when you do it there won’t be much competition because it takes a lot to create high-quality content. BUT it’s time consuming. Very, very time consuming unless you’re a superhuman.

  2. Create Micro-Content

    A great thing about writing long blog posts is the little snippets you can make from them! Learn from Gary – “Micro content” is created from each long form content and is used to drive awareness back to the original content. It is essentially repurposing one piece of content into dozens of smaller pieces of content, contextual to the platforms that you want to distribute to. It starts with a piece of “pillar content” – your long blog or article or video and then repurposing it into micro content.

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    Image via Gary 

Is Content Length even important?

Hell yes.

And no?

You might be thinking, “OK, cool. So, long-form content is better than short-form content, right?

You can find lots of research out there showing the importance of both long-form and short-form copy. The answer is “It Depends!” 

How to choose between Long-form and Short-form content?

  1. Keep your audience on top 

    The first question to ask when choosing the length of your content is how much do your customers know about the topic or your business and what you are offering.  Ensure your content is high-quality. Make sure it’s easy to read and well written, to increase stickiness.
    Useful & Enjoyable & Inspired = Innovative Content.” – Ann Handley 

    You should be asking questions like:
  • What type of content drives the best level of conversions for us?
  • What type of content drives the best engagement on social media?
  • What type of content has the lowest bounce rate and highest retention?
  1. Understand your User’s intent

    “We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in” – Craig Davis
    Be the best answer on the web! No one will read through lots of information about a topic they don’t want to learn about. You will just annoy them with lengthy information and that could hurt your brand’s reputation. Michael Pozdnev from Wanna Be a Blogger explains more: “If a person needs a quick response, then the content should be short. If this is an information query, when a person doubts or does not know the topic, he needs a detailed answer. This is where long and in-depth blog posts win.” A great read is They ask, you answer 

    Typically users spend most of their time reading between 500-1500 words. If you want to target the niche, you need to understand what your user likes. It’s that simple. Always Analyze! Here’s a cool look at the time millennials spend on content. So if you’re someone who is creating millennial content – dig right in. 

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Image via OrbitMedia

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Image via Review.Content-Science

  1. Study what’s already ranking

    “You’re pulling in 100+ data points and citing each one with links, with quotation marks around the quotes, doing all that kind of stuff so people have the reaction that is, “Wow, there’s a lot of research in here.” Like where they look at it like it is a source to refer back to again and again because it’s so well cited. That’s what you want. You do not want to hide your source material. You want to make sure people notice it.” – Joanna Wiebe
    Remember: Always Analyze! For publishing any content, study what’s already happening in terms of competitors, market, keywords, SEO, audience. For instance, publishing longer content is beneficial in terms of SEO. Firstly, long content usually gathers more backlinks. Secondly, long-form content outperforms short blog posts in terms of shareability.

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  1. Take the topic into account 

    BrandExtract’s Chris Wilks is of this view: “the ideal length is going to be largely dependent on the topic at hand. We typically don’t start with a target length in mind but instead focus on making sure we fully address the topic we’re covering.” It is just wise to not write a piece of lengthy literature on a topic that is not relevant. Don’t write long sentences just for word count or SEO. Chances are you’re going to make your writing sound draggy and redundant. If you can condense a couple of sentences into one, do it!
  1. Don’t forget your business resources and intent!

    Finally, think about your business goals when deciding on the proper length of content. It is necessary to understand and plan. The time it takes to research, create, edit, optimize, and publish can be much longer, and long-form content often requires more people to create compared to short-form content.

    Questions you can ask: 
  • Do we have enough resources to create a 4000 word blog?
  • Do we have enough time?
  • Will we achieve our goal of audience conversion through this format?

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Final Words of wisdom?

The fight between long and short form content is never-ending. It completely depends on user intent and business needs. There is no universal rule when it comes to the “best length” of website content because it depends on your audience, your product, and your business goals. While long-form content improves search engine rankings and brand awareness, short-form content is mobile-friendly and precise.

Our Verdict When in doubt: Just write more!

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A big success isn’t the ceiling, it’s the foundation for the next leap.”
We understand business can thrive on short form content but the trio says:
More content = more keywords = more traffic
So what the hell, get writing!

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