Content length: Short-form vs Long-form?
Content length: Short-form vs Long-form?

Content length: Short-form vs Long-form?

The quality of your content is very important when you’re thinking about incorporating it into your digital marketing strategy. Be it emails, newsletters, blog posts, and social media posts, the content must be top-notch. There are many factors and variables that decide whether a post is considered high-quality. One such variable that’s debated over, is about content length. Should it be short-form or long-form? Some believe short-form is better and others say it’s best to go with long-form.

Let’s begin with what’s short-form and long-form content. Content below 1000-1200 words is short-form. Anything above this is long-form. These numbers aren’t set in stone or backed by data, but they’re a guideline for the purpose of this battle of content length. Speaking of which, let’s see how the combatants fare?

Short-form content: Pros

  • Better readership: People have short attention spans. There are multiple things on the internet vying and competing for that attention. Therefore, having a lengthy blog post may deter your audience from reading every word of it. As a result, most people will just resort to quickly scanning the post. When the post is short-form, it will encourage the reader to go through the piece in its entirety, as opposed to just looking for relevant information, in a long post.
  • Consistency: One of the benefits of having short-form articles is being able to post it more frequently. And that’s because creating short-form material and publishing it, takes less time in general. In a market where every business is competing for the attention of a potential customer, consistency in creating and posting regularly is important. Therefore short-form helps to achieve this.
  • Mobile friendly: According to Statista, in the year 2018 mobile phones accounted for over 52.2% of global internet traffic. To add to that, in 2021, the UK holds 3rd place when it comes to active mobile social media users (53m per month) within Europe. This is a big advantage, because short-form’s definitely more mobile-friendly. It’s easier to read a 1000-word article on the phone, in contrast to a 5000-word report on data pertaining to effective post length.

Short-form content: Cons

  • Lacks informational depth: Though optimised for better readability and social shares, short-form usually falls short (pun intended) on explaining a topic in detail. For instance, your business deals with public health. You have to write a blog on the “Efficacy of different vaccines on COVID-19 in 2021.” This article demands statistics, data and citations from credible research, in a detailed and engaging format. Failing to adhere to that need, will affect your brand trust and credibility. A long post is more effective here.
  • Doesn’t contribute to search engine rankings: Probably the biggest drawback to putting out short posts. Long-form is what definitely fares better in this case, as the content is usually more keyword rich, and can help improve your search engine rankings, according to a research by Backlinko.

Long-form content: Pros

  • Content seen to be reliable and of higher quality: High quality long-form articles usually comprises of not just a general overview of the topic, but goes into providing deeper insights. It’s not easy to create high quality long-form overnight and post frequently. High-quality long-form is an amalgamation of facts, statistics, detailed arguments, and citations. This creates the possibility for the post to reach an audience of experts and earn more backlinks. For example, if our post today seemed insightful to someone, they may consider citing us on their website or post. Achievement unlocked: a new backlink’s been created.
  • Keeps people around longer:Bounce rate” is a metric used in the optimisation of websites. It’s just a fancy way of saying, “your visitors aren’t staying for tea.” But, long and detailed posts tend to keep people on your website longer. The metric for measuring that is called “Dwell time.” Due to the nature of long-form, it takes longer to read what’s been posted, and if what you have is seen as high-quality, customers might even start engaging with other content on your site. What does this mean? They’re staying for tea and they want some biscuits too. Jokes aside, you’ve successfully reduced the bounce rate and increased the dwell time.
  • Long-form tends to get better search engine rankings and more backlinks: This actually ties in all of the above, to help improve your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Google has never put out a blueprint for what helps a website get better ranks. But, industry experts have gathered data on what is generally helpful when it comes to content ranking better. Increased dwell time, keyword richness, increased backlinks (if content is high-quality), are just a few of them. Guess what kind of content has these things?

Long-form content: Cons

  • Longer word-counts don’t always imply quality: One can write a 1000-word article that is packed with credible information, then write a 3000-word article that provides no actual value or information at all.
  • Compatibility with your industry: It’s very important to keep in mind who your audience is and what industry you’re in. For instance, if you’re in the fashion industry, a short post about the best eye-liner to buy is apt. But if you’re in the medical industry or finance industry, you’ll do much better with lengthy and detailed posts.

Does content length really translate to quality?

The straightforward answer to this is, there is no answer. The best example of short-form content can be found in Seth Godin’s blog. Most of Seth’s posts barely even reach the 200-word mark, yet they are considered very high-quality. On the flip side, an amazing example of long-form content can be found on Moz written by Eric Enge on “The Machine Learning Revolution: How it works and its Impact on SEO.”

Which goes to show that the quality has no direct correlation to content length. The main focus for your marketing strategy should be what you’re trying to achieve as a business, who your target audience is, and what industry you’re in. If it serves your business goals, then why not incorporate both short and long-form. To further educate yourself with some very interesting data regarding content, we beg you to check out Brian Dean’s extensive content study.

The verdict and plan of action

We feel that there’s a place for both kinds of content within the marketing strategies of a business. It’s up to you as a business owner to decide what’s the best content length. Again, the focus shouldn’t be long or short content, but what would help your business succeed.

We understand that sometimes, it’s hard to do all of that on your own and you may require professional support. Don’t worry, we’re here to provide you exactly that. Be it with content marketing, managing your social media, or even managing your events, we’ve got you covered. Whatever’s the kind of support you require, we’ll try and do our best for your marketing needs. Learn more about our services.

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