Which Is the Better Option, Long Form or Short Form Content?


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As a provider of New York SEO services, we know that quality content is one of the most important ranking factors in Google. However, the length of the content has always remained a matter of debate. Any content that is more than 1200 words is considered as long-form content and any content less than 1000 words is regarded as short-form content. Content with less than 500 words is reserved for content along with visuals like Infographics or video.

Long-form Content

Several studies and researches have shown that long form content produces higher ranking and it also dominates page one of search ranking. This does not mean that Google values only the word count, the quality of the content matters a lot. The length of the content is better correlated with better ranking. Some of the factors that help with Google PageRank are:

  • More backlinks, shares and traffic: Making your content long just for the sake of keeping it long is not the right strategy. Doing justice to the topic and replying to user queries is more important. According to The State of Content Marketing 2019 by SEMrush, “long reads of 3000+ words get 3x more traffic, 4x more shares, and 3.5x more backlinks than articles of average length (901-1200 words)”. Long-form content helps the readers to get all the information, from beginner to advanced materials, about a topic from one post. It has also higher chances of linking to the resources in their own articles, get more share son social media and more traffic.
  • Better performance in search engines: Content marketing plays a significant role in digital marketing today and therefore the demand for good quality content has risen drastically. Search engines are flooded with several articles and blogs with relevant keywords try to rank higher. To make the user experience better, search engine algorithm also keeps changing and several changes have already been made to bring quality content on top for search engine ranking. Earlier, keyword stuffing was one of the easiest ways to get to the top of the ranking, but this practice doesn’t work anymore. Today when a user asks queries on Google, the top results on an average are long-form content with 1200 plus words. So, creating quality content is the best solution to stand out in the competition. Dwell time is another reason for better performance of long form content. If content is long, the user will stay on the page for a longer period of time. The longer they stay, Google considers your page more valuable.
  • Better conversion rates: Long-form content has better conversion rate. According to website optimization tool Crazy Egg, the conversion rate improved by more than 30 percent when the length of the landing page was increased. According to Crazy Egg blog, it is believed that people no longer have the capacity to focus. Reading a page that is too long could be boring. So, providing the answers for the queries asked is more important.

Short-form content

Although long-form content is given more value than short ones, recent studies have shown that short-form content can earn more backlinks. According to a study published by Search Engine Journal, Fractl evaluated around 5000 articles that are around 695 words length. The study includes analysis of content length and insights about most shared articles, most linked to article, and timely content.

The study evaluates the backlink counts and share counts of articles to find out what marketers can understand from the content that gets more shares and links. The main goal of this study is to know the quality of content that is capable of getting backlinks. Only articles worth 25 backlinks were considered for this study. Fractl also avoided content from major sites to make the findings more relatable to the marketers. The main findings of the study are:

  • Evergreen vs timely content: A piece of content is regarded evergreen only if it can maintain its relevancy for a long period of time. An article is given evergreen score based on its social engagements and backlinks after being published for 30 days. The better the social engagement the higher the score. Average evergreen score of all articles is 5.5 out of 30 which shows that timely content can get more links. The most evergreen articles are typically “How to” articles.
  • Highly shared content: According to the study, the average number of shares by vertical are
    • Sports (5,202)
    • Sex and relationships (4,610)
    • Fitness (4,587)
    • Health (3,883)
    • Technology (2,996)
    • Travel (2,928)
    • Food and drink (2,878)
    • Finance (2,018)

    Top five content types according to number of shares are

    • How-to article (14,475)
    • List/video (10,251)
    • How-to article w/ video (8,623)
    • List/infographic (7,260)
    • Newsletter (4,914)

    Content with 1000 words or less has the highest average number of share count. But many articles with high word count received a large number of shares. This shows that the digital marketers should not aims for word count to get more shares. According to Fractl, word count must depend on the article topic and also for whom you are writing the content.

  • Most linked-to content: The top number of articles based on the number of backlinks are:
    • How-to article
    • General article
    • List/general article
    • Newsletter
    • Video

    The study takes into account the emotional responses on Facebook and the findings say that there is much more anger on Facebook because anger reaction is the most over used.

    The following are the different content verticals and the type of emotional response:

    • Sports (sad reaction)
    • Sex and relationships (angry reaction)
    • Fitness (wow reaction)
    • Health (love reaction)
    • Technology (angry reaction)
    • Travel (love reaction)
    • Food and drink (sad reaction)
    • Finance (angry reaction)

The findings of this study help to create content that taps into particular emotions based on the vertical you are writing for. For example, if you are writing about travel and health then the content will get more of love reaction.

Advantages of Short-form Content

  • Useful for people with a short span of attention: Today customers are always on the go and multitasking. So, the ideal way to provide information is in short form article. This helps to keep up with the interest of the people. This is one of the reasons why social media channels have set limits. According to Demand Gen Report 2019 Content Preferences Survey Report, 93% of B2B buyers even say they prefer shorter format content.
  • Quicker to produce content: Short-form articles can be produced very quickly and if you are hiring a professional to write the content, then short-form contents are more affordable.

No matter how long or short your content is, its quality is the thing that matters. Superior quality content always wins good search ranking and the best audience. Make sure to do justice to the topic and do not focus more on increasing the word count. If you wish to produce quality content, associate with a reliable provider of Content Writing Services. Professionals in the field can develop long-form or short-form content that is valuable and unique. It will help your business to reach out to more prospective customers and successfully engage them.