Short Vs. Long-form Content: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
There seems to be a never-ending debate among many new and established bloggers regarding article length and their effectiveness. Should you keep your content short and leverage people’s decreasing attention span? Should you publish content that thoroughly covers any given subject to the point where it qualifies as a book?
Let’s look into the various benefits and drawbacks about short vs. long-form content.
Short-form Content Overview
Short content generally consists of 1,000 words or fewer, although the number is subjective.
Shorter articles can compliment people’s busy lives. With an average attention span of only eight seconds as of 2015, you might want to keep some information short and sweet.
Mobile users are often on the go, so providing shorter articles may be their cup of tea. Especially if your content is filled with visuals, as they can really help tell a story.
Short pieces help you get to the point more effectively and it encourages you to leave out obvious details.
Short content often scratches the surface of a much bigger subject, but doesn’t leave you quite satisfied. This largely depends on the subject matter, however, as sometimes “less is more.”
Short-form content is great for news pieces, as nobody wants to read a 2,000-word post about a common incident.
This is great for general advice, such as a post on How to Defeat Procrastination. For certain straight-forward instructions, remaining concise beats the short vs. long-form content war.
Moreover, it is ideal for articles with casual storytelling and anecdotes, though this could apply to long-form pieces as well.
Shorter content works especially well for entertainment sites, especially those with listicles such as 10 YouTube Channels to Bing Watch.
Long-form Content Overview
Longer content often consists of 1,200 words or more. Many bloggers like to keep it under 2,000 words, with a “sweet spot” of roughly 1,700 in length. This, too, is pretty subjective.
Longer content gives you the chance to fully explore the topic with everything a reader could possibly want to know.
It gives your brand greater authority, whether the added value is merely perceived or actual. Many people automatically perceive a long article as “useful” compared to a short one based on a similar topic.
A greater sense of authority often leads to more shares, backlinks, and mentions.
Longer content may naturally allow for more relevant keywords and authoritative links, which are said to help with SEO. As a result, a long article may inadvertently increase website traffic as detailed here.
It’s often exhausting for bloggers, and sometimes overly long for readers. If audiences aren’t 100% interested in your niche, the short vs. long-form content debate will largely depend on your ability to draw their attention.
Great for data-driven pieces that really get to the heart of the matter. Ideal if you wish to answer a question definitively.
Ideal for case studies, allowing you to discuss various testing procedures in detail.
Do you want your content to be a one-stop shop? Long-form is the way to go.
Short vs. Long-form Content: Verdict
In my opinion, you should adapt both short and long-form articles into your overall content strategy. The short ones are especially helpful when you don’t have anything truly substantial to back up with statistics and case studies, but still wish to explore a particular subject nonetheless.
Many professional bloggers publish one long article each week, with the occasional “round-up post” consisting of condensed content or link syndication.
Your content should ultimately adapt a good mix of relevancy and authority, which is something that both short and long pieces can do.
All in all, consider your main audience and the type of message you wish to deliver on a case by case basis. Nobody should permanently adapt one article type over the other.
What type of content do you like to create and how long are your pieces? Have you personally noticed greater results with either short or long-form content?