Short Form vs Long Form Content: which works better for your brand?

Understanding how to use short form vs long form content is important when talking about content marketing strategy, and in this article, I will show you how to best manage them.

First of all, I want to dispel the myth that long articles are always preferable because being more detailed, can bring more traffic. There is no right or wrong direction in choosing how long content should be; it always depends on the ultimate purpose it serves.

It is said that humans have a very low attention span. For this reason, when writing an article, many tend to give priority to short content, hoping to meet the reader’s needs by getting straight to the point. What is the risk, though? That of not developing a topic well enough, thus not satisfying the curiosity of those who “want to know more”.

The decision to use short-form or long-form content primarily depends on the type of topic to be addressed and its complexity. There are indeed very technical and sector-specific themes that are difficult to understand without thorough explanations.

The choice of one or the other type of content also depends on the type of reader you want to target. Regardless of the format, the main goal with which content must be created is always to provide the reader with the information they are looking for, possibly engaging and interesting.

On the web, there is a continuous challenge between sites in terms of web positioning thanks to the texts produced. Search engines reward those sites that provide quality resources, and reliable and relevant information capable of providing the user with what they need. Below, I will show you how to “get into the good graces” of the main search engine, namely Google, by learning how to best use short and long content.

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What is Short Form vs Long Form content? 

What is the definition of Long Form vs Short Form content? And what differentiates them? Short form content is generally composed of a maximum of 1000/1200 words. With this length, a precise topic is addressed in a targeted and concise manner. Examples of Short form content are emails, infographics, texts for Social Media Marketing, the latest news, and short blog posts.

strategy short form vs long form content

Long form articles are composed of more than 1200 words, used to present a topic in detail to provide the user with all the information they need. Long texts take more time to read, but if used correctly, they can bring excellent results in terms of SERP positioning. Examples include long blog posts, pillar pages, ebooks, webinars, guides, and tutorials.

Long form content and the RankBrain algorithm 

Google’s RankBrain algorithm is the one that, more than any other, rewards long-form content. This algorithm uses artificial intelligence not only to better interpret the search query, and thus perfectly understand what the user wants, but also to evaluate their degree of satisfaction. In practice, Google not only understands the user’s query and responds with an appropriate SERP, but it can also assess whether the user is satisfied or not with what they found. To do this, it uses two metrics that are related to the length of the content:

  • Dwell time, or how long the user spends on the site, helps Google understand whether or not it is quality content. The time a user spends on an article is also linked to its length.
  • Click-through rate (CTR), Google uses CTRs to assess how much a site appeals to the user. The user reacts better when content immediately captures their attention without making them waste time searching for something else. Long-form content with a well-crafted description and title will rank better in SERP and will have a higher click rate.

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Why use Short Form vs Long Form content in digital strategy

In an effective Content Marketing strategy, evaluating and balancing the use of short and long content is important to fully meet user needs. It’s essential to understand how the audience interacts with the product to choose the right strategy. When choosing a format, consider that long texts:

what are short form and long form content

  • They tend to rank higher in SERP. However, this doesn’t depend solely on the length but rather on how well they can satisfy the search query. Certainly, even short content can be effective; it’s obvious, though, that long-form content, being more comprehensive and detailed, has a higher probability of providing a more precise answer to the user’s query;
  • They generate more backlinks (approximately 77.2%) than short texts, as demonstrated in a study published on Backlinko. Since backlinks are an important ranking factor, it’s clear how this positively impacts SERP rankings.
  • They are frequently shared on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, as they contain more information.
  • They lead to a higher conversion rate (estimated at 30%) compared to short content, as highlighted in a study by conversion rate experts.

Of course, in addition to the pros, there are also cons, and these primarily depend on the reader’s attention, as they may not always manage to read such long content. Furthermore, long-form content requires more time and resources to produce, which means a greater financial commitment. They are usually more challenging to adapt to mobile devices, requiring more effort during creation.

So, what are the advantages of short-form content?

  • Short-form content is certainly easier and quicker to create and consume; in fact, they are very effective, especially on social media, as they can capture the attention of even those with very little of it;

  • They require less time and, therefore, fewer resources to produce;

  • They are highly effective when one wants to address a topic simply and concisely, without going into too much detail;

  • Due to their smaller size, they are easier to make mobile-friendly.

They also have disadvantages: they are rarely considered evergreen content, which means they can easily lose interest over time. Furthermore, as they are not a suitable format for addressing a topic in a detailed manner, they are often seen as trivial and insignificant content, leading to user disengagement.

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How to decide between Short Form vs Long Form Content

Is it better to create long or short texts? As you may have understood, short-form and long-form content both have their advantages and disadvantages. For this reason, determining which type to adopt within your digital strategy is not always easy.

The answer to this question, therefore, is not straightforward but rather depends on various factors such as the target audience, business objectives, the channel used, and the topic to be covered.

These are two different formats with different characteristics and goals. Nothing is preventing you from using both; the key is to balance their usage and, above all, choose the format that best serves your purposes.

So, how do you determine when it’s better to use long-form content or short-form content? There aren’t any hard and fast rules to follow, but there are elements you can consider to make the right choice.

Set your goals

Those involved in digital marketing, especially in content strategy, believe that before deciding how to act, one must define their objective. In fact, for every piece of content created, the ultimate purpose is different, so it is crucial to understand where you want to get before choosing the most suitable approach.

For example, if you want to introduce a new product to the public, the ideal choice would be a Short form, through email or social media posts. On the other hand, if your goal is to inform, you should aim for a strong presence on Google and strive to be the user’s first choice, so you should opt for long-form content.

Analyze the intent

This is a fundamental point, but it often escapes many when they begin to create content. First and foremost, you need to analyze what your competitors are writing to understand whether they have satisfied the audience’s needs or not.

Your content should precisely fulfill the intent, which is what your content should satisfy; for example, if your target’s purpose is information or education, you will need to opt for long-form content.

Know your audience

Another important aspect you need to consider to decide whether to opt for short-form or long-form content is your target audience. You must know your target audience better than anyone else.

Rely on the traffic, conversions, and engagement of your previous content to discover which ones resonate most with your audience. If short-form content has yielded better results, it means your target audience prefers them, so focus on them more specifically.

The more information you can gather about your target audience, the greater your chances of success, and the easier it will be to choose your Content Strategy.

Study the competition

Of course, when you want to position content on the web, it’s important to understand who you’re competing against and, above all, what succeeds and what doesn’t.

Discover how your competitors generate traffic; analyze the products they offer and how their target audience behaves towards them.

Understand the strategy they use to promote themselves, the topics that generate the most backlinks, and the content that attracts the highest number of visitors.

Clarify what type of content generates more conversions

Another important step is trying to understand which type of content generates more conversions, and how many touchpoints your potential customer goes through before converting, which is crucial in choosing the most suitable format.

In practice, you need to analyze all the steps that the user takes before reaching your ultimate goal, you must track their journey like it’s a map that will help you determine the best choice.

For example, a sports e-commerce site introducing new products through short content on social media will have simpler and more immediate conversions, often because the user’s expenditure tends to be mostly low.

In essence, your role is to guide the user in their conversion journey, and the format you choose to use will help inform and raise their awareness.

Conclusion and final advice

As you may have understood, whether it’s short-form or long-form content, choosing and creating a winning format is not easy, although it is crucial for enhancing the value and importance of a website and boosting the conversion rate.

Communication is at the foundation of everything, and you must strive to use it as clearly and effectively as possible so that the reader can understand you without excessive effort. You need to have a clear strategy to reach your target audience and make sure they choose you because they’ve seen something in you that your competitors don’t have.

In conclusion, I can’t tell you how to use long-form or short-form content because it all depends on you and your strategy. However, I can tell you that to write good content, whether long or short, you need not only good knowledge of the topic but also of content marketing and SEO copywriting. This is because your initial goal should be to position yourself well in SERP in response to specific user search queries.

Lastly, try to enrich your article with high-quality visual content (videos, gifs, photos, etc.), which will help maintain the reader’s interest and improve your ranking.

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