Content is one of the essential elements for any SEO strategy to rank well on search engines. Having relevant content on your website is one of the critical pillars of keyword research. In fact, having quality content is the number one factor in ranking well on Google. Nothing is more powerful than content, and as they say, “content is king.”  Both long-form and short-form content play a significant role in a successful content strategy, and they can be very potent tools in your content marketing arsenal.

However, in the world of content marketing, there are also multitudes of misconceptions. At some point or the other, you must have received the advice that each content on your website should be of at least 2000 words or longer content performs better. But neither of these are true or untrue – if that sounds sensible.

So what kind of content do you need to include on your website? You should consider several different types and want to choose what’s most relevant to your business. This can include blog articles, case studies, tutorials and how-tos, to name a few.

All you need to do is select the right type of content in the proper context.

You have to learn to pick the appropriate form of content to serve a particular purpose, and in this blog, we will discuss everything you need to know.

Long-Form vs. Short-Form Content

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Image Source: Experience Moxie

Before we proceed, you must know what long-form content is and what short-form content is. This will help you determine the length of your content. Most likely, you are used to making different content types, from videos and infographics to social media content and so on, but now to set up a process to determine which content to use and when you also have to find out how long your content needs to be.

What Is Short-Form Content?

Content with 1200 or fewer words is typically regarded as short-form content. However, several marketers like to keep the limit to 1000 words only. It offers quick and easy-to-digest content, covering a particular portion of a topic instead of going into too much detail or depth.

Some standard short-form content formats are:

This form of content is light on the audience, does not require much time to consume the info, and is relatively easy and faster to develop. Generally, short-form content aims at getting across a single message promptly and effectively. Therefore, keep it as simple as possible. For example, social media content is a useful format of short-form content.

So, think out of the box and be ready to develop content that engages your audience well, whatever the length be.

What Is Long-Form Content?

Any content which is more than 1200 words (1000 in a few cases) is considered long-form content.

This type of content goes in-depth on a topic and discusses it in detail. Some most common long-form content formats:

  • Comprehensive and lengthy blogs
  • Pillar pages
  • Evergreen web pages
  • EBooks
  • Webinars
  • Tutorials and guides

Long-form content genuinely engages the target audience because it dives in-depth on whatever topic it covers. It isn’t one of those quick-to-digest content; instead, it aims to educate readers who came searching for answers to their questions or grasp more knowledge regarding a specific topic.

However, this content format is not quick to create and is resource-intensive. Typically, you will have to invest a substantial amount of time and resources to produce it. But the kind of returns and results long-form content can reap is dramatically huge. 

Long-form content, especially the evergreen ones, often act as the backbone of your SEO and content strategy. When you pile up numerous successful pieces of content, one over the other, it can deliver continuous results.

Long-Form Content vs. Short-Form Content, and which is better for SEO?

Content SEO Image

Image Source: Search Engine Land

The answer is both simple and complex. The SEMrush report “Ranking Factors SEMrush Study 2.0“ states that there is a 45% difference in content length between the top three and 20th position of a given web page in SERP, with longer content ranking higher for more frequently searched keywords. The report also stated that pages that rank higher for popular keywords “have on average 1.5 times more content than the pages in the low-volume segment.”

These findings would seem to point to long-form content as the obvious answer to how long your content should be. It would help if you considered other considerations before blindly adding words or pages to your articles, blogs, and web pages. 

Here are some considerations:

SEO Content Must Be Relevant and Valuable

According to Moz, Google cares as much about the quality of your content as the length. At the end of the day, a 400-word article that contains relevant, valuable content to inform, educate, motivate or help readers is more strategic than a 1500-word article that misses the mark in connecting with your audience.

Google preferentially ranks content that deals with many different related topics because comprehensive content that incorporates related keywords is deemed to be more valuable as a reference. For complex topics, it makes sense that that content would be longer and more detailed.

Keeping your content up-to-date helps with relevance. Before you dig into a topic, Google it to determine interest as measured in search results volume. You might even find some related target keywords for your content where you could do a better job than the top three results. Google Trends can be a useful tool for determining if your topic is timely and can also be an excellent way to identify trending keywords.

Ideal Article Length Should Match The Content Goal

If your goal is to tap into a trend, offer tips or best practices in a list, or try to get a conversation going or comments on your blog, there is no reason you can’t keep your content short. In this case, short-form content such as a 400-word blog can accomplish your goal. Some bloggers post shorter articles more frequently because their goal is to get as many eyes as possible to their platform and stay top-of-mind.

Life sciences companies may use short-form content in the form of an infographic or buyer FAQ article. In this case, the goal is to offer quick and easy information to their audience to spur further engagement. This is a good approach for awareness-level buyers who may not be familiar with you or your company. Conversely, if you want to establish thought leadership or provide a comprehensive perspective on a topic, long-form content is probably ideal and can take the form of more on-page content or a whitepaper or guide. The goal of the content is of equal importance as trying to figure out the ideal article length and format to create engagement.

Should You Worry About the Audience Attention Span?

You hear it all the time; people have short attention spans. Some say we multitask too much to devote dedicated time to any one thing. Others say our mobile and device obsession has made us more impatient, demanding that content provide instant gratification to warrant our attention. This may be true, but I would argue that if you do your job right in uncovering your buyers’ pain points, needs and values, you should be able to write content that your audience really wants to read.

People make time to read information useful to them. And the more complex the topic, the more in-depth you should be to provide true value. What does this mean for the content length debate? Short-form content can expect a short attention span; long-form content can expect a longer attention span. More importantly, if all your content gets the same high bounce rates, you should understand your buyers and what they want to know more about.

The Best Word Count For SEO

The bottom line is that your primary concern should not be the best word count for SEO but rather about your content strategy. Be less fixated on content length and more dedicated to your content strategy. Strive to provide compelling, informational, not otherwise available information or offers a new or updated perspective. Importantly, seek to understand and design a buyer journey on your website for different levels of engagement, including opportunities for gated content and lead generation. Techniques such as dedicated landing pages with PPC directing to them should be considered as options, too. The more you know about your audience, the more you will understand their particular preferences and what content draws them in, engages, and converts them. Strategy before tactics, as a rule.

If you need help figuring out how to attract and engage your audiences or better understand who your audiences are, contact us. We do that.