Is Long Or Short Content Better?

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The content marketing world is constantly changing. One day, search engines are optimizing super-long content that’s full of keywords. The next day, SEO prioritizes sites with downloadable content. A week later, search engines want flash content with a quick answer and lots of images. Then next thing you know, it’s back to the long-form content. How do you keep up?

It’s the biggest debate in the content marketing community: is long or short form content better?

The short answer to that question is: both! Sometimes, you need long content to delve deep on a topic and build credibility. Other times, you’ll need short form content to boost reach and spread awareness. Search engines reward both in different ways.

Let’s take a look at the advantages and drawbacks of both types of content so you can create the perfect blend for your marketing campaign.

Short content is approachable

Most of your readers have a short attention span (estimated around 8 seconds). So, not only do you have to quickly grab their attention at the beginning of the article, but you also have to keep the reader’s attention for the entire span of the piece. Customers typically like reading short content between 500 and 800 words, because it provides value without investing too much time on a longer piece.

The shorter the content, the more likely your reader will finish the article. Longer pieces tend to have a higher bounce rate, but shorter pieces can actually get someone to stay on your page longer by encouraging them to read the piece in its entirety. This will make the customer feel they invested time and energy into your business, which increases engagement and likelihood of converting with your final CTA.

Short content works especially well to boost your library and increase your reach. You can create more short pieces that you can repurpose and reuse on a variety of platforms, which makes it easier to broaden your digital horizons.

Short content may not be enough

Short content doesn’t always give you enough space to get your idea across. It works well if you’re giving your input on a popular industry topic, you’re providing a quick and easy tip or trick, or you’re pushing a well-known product or service.

But if you’re only offering short content on your site, it’s hard to build trust with your audience. Readers are looking to find value, which is harder to prove in shorter posts. You need to throw in some long-form content like articles, whitepapers, case studies, and ebooks to build credibility and authority in deeper topics and opinion pieces.

Short content also isn’t enough to really boost your SEO game. If your goal is to rank higher on search engines, short form content alone doesn’t usually cut it. Algorithms don’t necessarily favor long content when answering questions, but in general a longer answer will be more complete and filled with keywords than a shorter answer.

The goal is always to provide value. Short content reaches your audience quickly, but it may not be comprehensive enough at times.

Long content gets shared more

Studies by Moz and Hubspot show that readers are more likely to share long form content as opposed to short form. This is especially true on social media, which is where a lot of businesses are seeing the greatest amount of traction with their content marketing.

Why does sharing matter?

  1. Sharing increases your backlinks. Search engines want to see a lot of people linking back to your article, because it demonstrates a level of credibility. The more people that share you, the more search engines will see your site as a legitimate source of information.

  2. Sharing increases engagement of the reader. When a viewer shares your content, they’re putting their stamp of approval on it. This automatically links them to your brand, which starts to build loyalty and push conversion.

  3. Shares get more people to see your content. You want your readers sharing content with their friends and family, so you’re more likely to expand your reach and visibility. Not only does this boost your brand awareness, but it also gets even more content views and shares that boost your search engine credibility.

Long content keeps people on your site

Long content gets people to stay on your page longer as they read. The longer they’re on your website, the more engaged they are with your brand. This time investment means they’re more likely to convert with your CTA and look for other content from you.

But didn’t we just say that short content keeps people on your site longer? In general, short content attracts and retains readers more. But high-quality long content that’s providing unique value is one of the best ways to pull in your readers and keep them there for the long haul.

Long form content only keeps people on your site if it’s high quality. Low-quality content of any type will have a high bounce rate, which will damage your ranking on search engines.

Search engines like long and short

Here’s the wrong question: does long or short content perform better on search engines?

It’s the wrong question because both perform well in their own way. Google’s goal is to inform readers in the best possible manner. So if a reader is asking a simple question, Google wants to show them a short blurb or press release that grabs their attention and provides fast answers. If the reader wants more in-depth info, Google wants to show them a long form article that will provide a deeper dive into that topic.

It’s also interesting to note that search engines love really short form, like Tweets and news headlines, as well as really long form, like ebooks and whitepages. You want to use the type of content that will inform your reader in the most efficient yet thorough way.

Which is it?

There’s no right or wrong answer. You should be incorporating both long and short content in your marketing campaign. Short form grabs the viewer’s attention, increases the number of impressions, and helps stock up a strong content library. Long form goes in-depth on a subject to build authority, enhance engagement, and get more shares and backlinks.

Are you using the right balance of short and long form content? Is your content strategy poised for success with both readers and search engines?

If you’re ready to improve your content marketing game and grow your business, it’s time to get in touch with Palm Beach Content Company. We look forward to chatting with you about how to build the right content strategy for your needs.

Allison Hess