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The Truth (And Numbers) Behind Short-Form and Long-Form Content

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Which is better, short or long content? The truth is, you need both, and you need to focus more on what your audience wants and needs.

Key takeaways:

  • Short-form content is typically around 1,000 words and is used for emails, social posts, videos, and the like
  • Long-form content is anything over 2,000 words and is best when you’re writing eBooks, whitepapers, and other longer documents to share more detailed information
  • While long-form content may perform better as far as page views, it’s not always the right option to accomplish your goals and reach people
  • The right mix of both short and long-form content is key
  • Focus more on user intent and purpose, which will guide content length

When building a solid marketing strategy, you have to identify your audience, create an editorial calendar, decide which channels to use, and outline your budget. And that’s just the beginning.

When you start creating your content, you’ll quickly realize that length matters, and that SEO best practices help people find you organically on the internet. There’s a lot to consider beyond having great ideas to share with your audience.

But both short and long-form content have their place in an effective marketing strategy. This article will cover what these formats entail, when to use them, and why you should focus more on purpose and user intent.


What is short-form content?

Short-form content is typically around or under 1,000 words. You’ll want to use short-form content for your:

  • Emails and newsletters
  • Social media posts
  • Infographics
  • Short blog posts
  • Product or service descriptions
  • Videos

Short-form content can be pretty effective with leads who already know about your business, and even current customers who already trust you and your services. And, some types of content just require short lengths, like your ads or meta descriptions.


What is long-form content?

Long-form content is—you guessed it—longer. It’s usually over 2,000 words and is best for:

  • eBooks
  • Long blog posts
  • Whitepapers
  • Webinars
  • Product or service releases

Long-form content is best when you’re trying to drive home complex information. Maybe you’re releasing a new higher-end product or your service is a bigger commitment from people. You may need more space to emphasize quality and show proof like case studies or statistics.

Long-form content can help you build awareness around your brand, so it’s often great to target this content toward new prospects.


Which content length is better?

There are many claims that long-form content performs better on the internet. The idea is that lengthier content gives brands more room to incorporate keywords and SEO best practices, so the content is recognized and ranked higher on Google.

Additionally, in 2011, Google launched Google Panda, originally known as Farmer, which was an algorithm that weeded out the low-quality from the high-quality websites that show up in the organic search results. One of its criteria was looking for thin content—pages that didn’t have much meaningful, substantive content. Obviously, this change led brands to think that shorter content was bad.

The numbers also point to long-form content performing better as far as traffic. One study found that longer content between 3,000 and 7,000 words gets two times the page views, and 24% more shares, than articles between 900 and 1,200 words.

Content with 7,000 words or more drives nearly four times more traffic than articles between 900 and 1,200 words. Content between 300 and 900 words sees 21% less traffic and 75% fewer backlinks than 900 to 1,200-word articles.

However, it’s not always the case that long-form content performs better. For example, short-form video content has been taking over the internet, especially with the increasing popularity of TikTok and Instagram Reels. Video takes up about 82% of internet traffic, and on average, a person watches around 100 minutes of online videos every day.


Why you need both

The fact is, you need both short and long-form content across your marketing channels. You need the right mix.

Why? Because obviously you can’t send out 5,000-word emails. No one would read them or even begin to read them. There are plenty of opportunities for utilizing short-form content, even in your blog posts. 

For instance, blog posts announcing a company update, press releases, or research summaries may not need to be very long at all. 

But perhaps most importantly, your length will be informed by what you’re trying to say. What are your goals for each piece of content or post? What are you trying to accomplish? A well-written, valuable post that’s 1,000 words can still be ranked highly on Google, but it’s more important that your audience can connect with the information you’re giving them.

Engaging your audience should be your top concern, not hitting a certain word count.

Otherwise, it’s too easy to get caught up with adding filler words when you don’t really need them. Your audiences will be able to tell when something isn’t genuine, and writing just to write to please Google will not seem authentic.

Aside from your purpose with your content, the other major consideration is user intent. You need to consider why someone is searching for your keywords, looking at your different channels, and reading your content. What’s driving their behavior? How much do they know about you already?

When you know your purpose and the user intent, you’ll be able to figure out the right length for your audience and your channels.


Need some help with your content? We’ve got you

Both short and long-form content have their place in your strategy. It takes knowing who you’re talking to, what each campaign is trying to accomplish, and what will resonate most with people based on their intent.

Whether you need short or long content, email newsletters or blog posts, social copy, or whitepapers, ContentBacon can help. We’ll walk through your marketing strategy with you, so we understand your goals, voice, and audience. Our experts will give you feedback about length and other SEO best practices to ensure your content sizzles.

Check out our content subscriptions today to get started with better content marketing.

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