Choosing Between Long-Form and Short-Form Content
It’s a question that our content writing team receives on a regular basis, from business owners in virtually all industries and verticals: How long should my company’s online content be?
Our answer: Long enough.
What people are really getting at is whether there is some magic number they need to hit in terms of their word count. Technically, 400 words is all you need to write to ensure that your blog post or Web page is indexed by Google.
But if you’re trying to truly optimize your content — not just writing the bare minimum, but writing enough so that you can build trust, inform customers, reap ample SEO benefits, and position your brand for thought leadership — well, you may need to write a little more. Or in some cases, a lot more.
Long-Form vs. Short-Form Content
For the purposes of this post, we’re defining long-form content as blog posts, white papers, and other assets that exceed 2,000 words — give or take. Short-form content is usually closer to 1,000 words, sometimes less. In fact, a good short-form blog post can be as brief as 500 words and still be perfectly effective.
To decide which route is best for your business, you’ve got to think about your marketing objectives, and tailor your content length accordingly. We’ll provide you with some guidelines here.
Long-Form Content Makes the Most Sense When:
- You have a brand new product or service, without much precedent, and you need longer copy to explain what it is and how it adds value.
- You are writing about products or services that come with higher price tags, and thus buyers want as much information as possible before making a purchasing decision.
- You are offering products or services that require more of a commitment on behalf of the buyer.
- Your product is more technical in nature, and needs all its technical specs discussed in the marketing content.
- You are in a B2B scenario, one in which the sales cycle tends to be longer or more complicated.
Short-Form Content Makes the Most Sense When:
- You have a product or service with which most of your readers are already going to be quite familiar.
- Your product or service is either inexpensive or quite commonplace, and therefore less explanation is needed.
- You’re writing content that is going specifically to qualified leads.
- You are writing for a channel that requires fewer words — an email, a Facebook ad, an AdWords ad, etc.
In other words, your content length should be determined by how much your buyers already know, versus how much they need to be educated; by how interested your readers are, or rather, by where they are located in the sales funnel; and by the basic marketing goals for the content.