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Short Form vs Long Form Content: Which Should You Use On Your Site?

Generating content is obviously extremely important. Many businesses have not yet realised the huge amount of positive public exposure a website packed with good content can give them. The question is, though, whether you should go for shorter articles, called short form, or longer pages, called long form, on your site. Here are a few considerations you should make to determine which is right for you. For the purpose of this list, we’ll define “short form” as 300-1100 words and “long form” as 1600 or more words.

Content writing long and short

Observe Your Audience

These days, just about everyone under the age of 65 is on social media. Assuming your demographic is not specifically the elderly. If you are serious about creating content for your site, you can spy on some of the people who would be in your target demographic to see what kind of content they are sharing. If they are sharing long form most of the time, go with that, and if they’re sharing short form, that’s a better choice. If your demographic does not seem to share much text at all, that would also call for short form or, better yet, clip videos that deliver your message using spoken word.

Consider How People Find Your Organisation

Whether your content will be discussing a new technology in a blog post or advertising a product, you should think about where on the web you want to be found before you begin creating content.

Some organisations, like service industries or manufacturers, would probably rather be found on Google than social media because their customers search online for them when they need them rather than browsing their services because they are trendy. Those organisations should probably go with long form content, because, as Brian Dean notes, pages that make the front page of Google contain an average of 1,890 words.

Other organisations, often including restaurants and fashion items, would probably rather be shared a lot on social media than appear high on Google. This is because, in those industries, customers are more likely to gravitate toward the “product” simply as a result of their friend’s recommendation, even if there is not technically any need for it. In other words, these organisations’ pages are more likely to go viral; content marketing pro Jeff Bullas points out that the most viral content on the web is usually short form.

Ask Yourself How Much Visitors Need To Know

Do the people that will be reading your page want a long read? If the page is coverage of a complex idea or current event, the answer is probably yes. Of course, do not add padding to force your page to be longer, but you should cover all of the relevant details. If you are writing about a simple product or a straightforward idea, though, or if you are writing a page where you know the readers are already committed to buying a product, the answer is probably no. Either way, you should usually let the answer dictate whether to use long form or short form content.

Long vs short form content

Also, consider how well-known the publisher of the content is. If you are reputable enough to where those reading the content will most likely already know and trust you, it is fine to use short form almost all the time. If your organisation is virtually unknown, it is better to use long form so that you can win readers’ trust by demonstrating you are knowledgeable. This applies even to product pages.

We’ve listed a few factors here, and some of them may conflict. If that is the case, use your judgment or go with whichever option meets more of the criteria listed above. In both cases, remember the content needs to be informative and topical in order to succeed.