Is Short-Form or Long-Form Content Better?
- 1 What Is Short-Form Content?
- 2 What Is Long-Form Content?
- 3 Final Thoughts About Short-Form vs Long-Form Content
There are all different types of content — blog posts, infographics, videos, etc. And within some of those content types are sub-types, including short-form vs. long-form content.
Both types of content are what they sound like. Short-form content is on the short side, and long-form content is on the long side.
When it comes to the short-form vs long-form content debate and which one is better, the answer is a dubious “it depends.” The “just right” length of content will vary based on what you’re covering.
Sometimes, there are distinct reasons to choose one over the other. Other times, you could benefit from the content type you didn’t pick and could be hurting your marketing strategy by choosing the wrong one.
In this article, we’ll compare short-form vs long-form content, including each one’s pros and cons.
What Is Short-Form Content?
There’s no word count cap that makes a piece of content short-form. However, you can assume that anything under approximately 1,000 words is short-form content.
If there’s a 300-word or 500-word blog post, that’s definitely short-form. Once you hover around 800 words, some people may consider that long-form territory, while others think long-form content doesn’t start until you’ve reached 1,200 words.
To make it simple, you can think of 1 to 999 words as short-form. In terms of audio or video content, it may be up to 20 minutes long and still considered short-form in some cases.
Here are the characteristics of short-form content:
- Concise and to the point
- Designed to digest quickly
- Snappy pace
- Takes between a few seconds and 4-5 minutes to read
So many types of content can fall into the short-form category:
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- Landing pages
- Press releases
- Social media posts
Here are a few examples of short-form content found online, starting with a Facebook ad:
Here’s part of a short newsletter from Printful:
And here’s a landing page from Slack:
Short-Form Content Pros
There are a lot of benefits of short-form content. Let’s go over them.
It’s Easy To Digest
There’s always the risk of rejection when you ask someone to consume any type of content you create. Reeling them in for 30 seconds or so can be much easier than holding their attention for 10 minutes or longer.
When your content is on the short side, the audience member is more likely to (1) jump into it and (2) stay to the end. That means they’ll get all the way to your CTA, and there’s a better chance they’ll convert.
Digestible content can snag you more readers and improve performance metrics.
Demand Is High
Short-form video content is all the rage, partly thanks to social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok specializing in quick videos around 1 minute long (or as short as a few seconds).
You also can’t ignore the popularity of video content. It’s a major driver for generating leads and sales, and consumers crave it.
Production May Be Quicker
Not all short-form content is easy or fast to create. However, in terms of content like blog posts, podcast episodes and videos, shorter is usually quicker to make.
This can free up your time for other endeavors, like working on a long-form piece or focusing on a different aspect of your marketing strategy.
You can also get a lot of content up fast. If you have a brand new blog or social media profile that you want to fill up so you don’t look like a newbie, short-form is the best way to churn it out.
Short-Form Content Cons
Short-form content can seem like a walk in the park, but it has its downsides, too.
There’s Less Authority
One of the best things about long-form content is that you get to show off your in-depth knowledge on a topic. With short-form content, you miss out on that chance.
Even if a short-form piece is thorough for the topic at hand, it can still seem far less exhaustive than a 3,000-word article.
The shorter the content, the fewer opportunities there are to show your expertise.
It’s Harder to Optimize
Search engine optimization (SEO) relies on tactics like using keywords throughout the copy, linking to other sources, and adding images. With short content, there aren’t as many chances to do that as there are with long content.
While this isn’t always the case, longer SEO content tends to perform better than shorter optimized content.
Shorter Isn’t Always Easier to Create
Don’t be fooled — short-form content may have fewer words than long-form content, but that doesn’t make it easier to write.
Actually, in some cases, short-form content can be more difficult to write than long-form content.
A lot of information has to be jammed into limited space, so there can’t be much description or padding. Trying to say something in 100 words is no small feat.
Also, a lot of short-form content is for print or marketing, so it has to be 100% clean (meaning error-free) before it goes live. Stellar editing and serious attention to detail are needed for short-form content, and even then, mistakes slip through.
When Should I Use Short-Form Content?
Here are some common use cases for short-form content:
- Matching the content to search intent. For example, someone looking for a definition of a term will want short-form content.
- Posting on a platform that’s intended for short-form content, like Instagram Reels or YouTube Shorts. (Most social media is a good match for short-form content.)
- Repurposing a long-form piece of content into a more digestible spinoff. For example, you can show clips of an hour-long webinar to get people interested and wanting to learn more.
3 Tips for Writing Short-Form Content
Choose a topic that doesn’t need too much explanation.
For example, “packing tips when moving” is far too big a topic to cover in a short-form piece. That’s better as a long-form pillar page.
However, an aspect of that topic, like “how to choose the right moving boxes,” may be answerable in short-form content.
Provide a complete answer.
Short-form content doesn’t have to be vague content. You still want to be detailed and thoroughly answer the query. If the answer requires more content, then it may be a better contender for a long-form piece.
Get rid of any fluff.
This isn’t the time to be flowery with your wording. Make your writing clear by trimming the fat. The Hemingway tool can help with this.
What Is Long-Form Content?
Like with short-form content, long-form content doesn’t have a set word count or length. However, articles between 800-1,200 words and above can be considered long-form. Note that articles of this length will take 5 or more minutes to read.
In terms of podcasts and video content, anything that’s 30-60 minutes or longer may be thought of as long-form content.
Once you get into 1,000-word or 60-minute territory, you can assume you’re dealing with long-form content.
Here are the characteristics of effective long-form content:
In terms of short-form vs long-form content, there are fewer content types that fall into the latter category:
- Product roundups
- Recordings of live events
It’s not uncommon to see long-form content behind a subscription form or a paywall, like this Video Marketing Playbook from HubSpot, which requires an email address to download:
Long-Form Content Pros
Long-form content is great for SEO, and it has other perks, too.
You Can Create Pillar Content
Long-form content can serve as pillar content that other pieces branch off of. (Make sure to link internally to all related content!)
Your pillar page can draw in lots of traffic and then link to related content, particularly short-form content. Check out our article about topic clusters to learn more.
It Does Well in Search
Google likes to return results that are the highest quality it can find. Longer content is a signal to Google that it’s also comprehensive. Long-form content checks a few other SEO boxes, too:
- Higher number of relevant keywords
- Better chance of good time-on-page metrics
- Other websites will be inclined to link to your content
Note that this will only work in your favor if the content is valuable. If you add a bunch of filler words just to raise the word count, Google won’t prominently display your page on the search engine results page (SERP).
Your Reputation Can Get a Boost
A lot of the time, short-form content doesn’t require a lot of research or depth to create.
But long-form content takes more investment and a better grasp of the topic. By putting out long-form content surrounding certain subjects, you’ll establish yourself as an authority and thought leader in your niche.
It’s Ideal for Repurposing
It can take quite a long time to develop a piece of long-form content. Luckily, you can get tons of traction out of it.
There are all sorts of ways to repurpose long-form content. For example, let’s say you have a 5,000-word article on your blog. You can take each point from that article and turn it into a standalone social media post, and you can take each section and turn it into a newsletter.
Long-Form Content Cons
Long-form content may be an SEO powerhouse, but it’s not without its flaws.
There’s a Big Time Commitment
As you can imagine, long-form content takes a long time to put together.
Even if you’re writing a 1,500-word blog post on a topic you’re familiar with, that’s still 1,500 words you have to get down. Plus, there’s optimization, editing, proofreading, etc.
The key is to not work on too many long-form pieces at once.
As you’re developing one or two, continue to produce short-term content. That way, you’ll still have content going up while you work on the longer piece. Then, when the long-form piece is finished, you can use it to create shorter content, as we talked about above.
Some People Can’t Commit
No matter how thorough your content is, some people are simply not going to have the attention span or interest to stay with a topic for that long. That’s why your brand will benefit from a mix of short-form and long-form content at each stage of the marketing funnel.
When Should I Use Long-Form Content?
Here are some common use cases for long-form content:
- Creating top-of-the-funnel content that answers a broad question.
- Rounding up several products so the reader can compare all their options.
- Writing an ebook when the information feels too long for an online article.
3 Tips for Writing Long-Form Content
The point of long-form content isn’t to be long-winded. You still want the pace of the piece to move at a good clip so the audience member stays interested.
Plus, if your content is long-form simply because it’s stuffed with low-value filler, it’s not going to impress readers or Google. You’ll also lose people partway through instead of ushering them to the end, where your CTA lives.
Make it easy to skim.
Long-form content is best when it’s broken up into digestible pieces. With a lengthy article, add a lot of valuable elements that are pleasing to the eye, like headers, block quotes, bullet point lists and images.
This makes the text seem less overwhelming, and it also keeps readers from losing their place as they read.
Turn a short-form piece into long-form content.
Since it can take so much time, energy and resources to create long-form content, vet the topic beforehand by seeing which short-form pieces perform well. Then, turn one of them into broader content that’s enhanced and expanded.
Final Thoughts About Short-Form vs Long-Form Content
Often, long-form content is thought of as better because there’s more opportunity to get in all relevant information. On the other hand, short-form content is great for people who want to find an answer fast and need a digestible piece of content they can get through in under a minute.
The truth is that in terms of short-form vs long-form content, both types can be effective, so long as they’re written and optimized well. No matter what you’re writing, short-form or long-form content, it should tick these boxes:
- Answer all of the reader’s questions
- Leave them satisfied so they don’t have to look around for answers
- Avoid going on for so long that you lose their interest
When you’re able to do that, the content may naturally become either short-form or long-form.
And if there’s a topic the reader may be wondering about but it doesn’t fit with the content you’re writing, link to another resource. Whether it’s an article on your own site or content from another site, you’ll provide value for the reader.
Check out our article with 9 benefits of internal linking to learn more.