Short-form vs. long-form content: Which is best for you


Producing your own unique content is vital for any brand and business. You can create and publish many different types of content on your site, social or elsewhere. To be sure that your efforts will pay off, you will have to come up with a content strategy that will help you achieve your goals. One part of the strategy will be deciding if you want to produce short-form or long-form content and how much each type is. Both have their good and bad sides, let’s see what they are.

Short-form vs. long-form content

To choose between short-form and long-form and understand which one will be more beneficial for your business, you will have to know more about each type. The different content types like blogs, ebooks, videos, infographics, social content, etc., can be of a different length. And you need to know exactly how long each of them should be.

What is short-form content? 

By definition, the short-form content is, as you can suppose, short. It should be less than 1,200 words in total. So this is typically content that isn’t going too much in details of a specific topic but covers its basics. It shouldn’t take too much time to read, and it should be easily digestible. The most common types of short-form content are:

  • Blogs;
  • News articles;
  • Social media posts;
  • Email newsletter;
  • Infographics;
  • SMS notifications, etc.

Short-form content should be very light and not be too hard to consume by the reader. It should still provide helpful information but not overwhelm them with too many details in so few words. So, you should focus on only one topic in the short-form content and not go too far away from the main idea. 

Social media posts are an excellent example of short-form content. Many businesses use it to communicate with their customers. Their posts might focus on the main benefits of a product or service they offer with a couple of words. It can also be turned into a series of posts showing each of the product’s benefits with a couple of details.

What is long-form content?

The long-form content is logically the one longer than 1,200 words. Because it is longer, and basically has no limit of how long it can be, it is perfect for going deep into the details of any topic. You can give a lot more insightful information and cover different aspects. The most popular types of long-form content are:

  • Long, insightful blog posts;
  • Ebooks/whitepapers;
  • Guides/tutorials;
  • Webinars;
  • Videos;
  • Landing pages;
  • Evergreen pages, etc.

Here, you can cover one central topic, dig deeper into its aspects, and provide valuable additional information. The audience expects you to give them the details, and you shouldn’t worry if you overwhelm them. The goal of the content is not to be quick to read and easy to digest, but quite the opposite — provide them all the insights and answer all their questions on the topic. 

Ebooks are the perfect example of long-form content. They are usually very long, with over 7,000-9,000 words, and focused on one topic. The topic would be relevant for your customer, and they will appreciate all the details. All the insights you can provide them, starting with numbers, examples, user stories, and more, will be helpful and fit perfectly in an ebook. 

Creating long-form content requires significantly more time. This is why it is often published as gated content and used as a lead-generation tool in many cases. The length will allow you to focus on more keywords than a short-form one. Since you can focus on some side topics that complement the main one, you can add various keywords and have better chances for your content to be discovered on the internet. 

The time you invest in creating long-form content is longer but it is worth it because those pieces of content are usually evergreen. The information won’t require many changes over time and can be easily reused to create other short-form content pieces to promote it. 

Does the word count matter, and why?

You probably have heard that question quite often if you are a content manager. When it comes to SEO, the length of the content really does matter. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the longer content is always better. Short-form and long-form content can be SEO optimized if you know the rules you should respect. 

The most important thing when determining how long the content should be is the purpose and the main topic of the piece. Once you know your goals, it will be easier to understand how many words you will require to cover everything you need without making it too long and adding irrelevant information or too short and skipping essential parts. 

The content length will also determine what type of content you will create. Maybe you will be fine with some social media posts for small, easy-to-cover topics, but you will need a whole ebook for others. But when it comes to the keywords, it doesn’t mean that producing long content is always better. As we mentioned, long content will allow you to add more keywords, but similar to short-form content, you will need to know how many times you need o add a particular keyword. 

When it comes to backlinking, though, long-form content is a bit better since you can add more links and such that are related to different topics. One guide, for example, can include over 20 backlinks that are focused on your main subject and some side ones that might be of interest and have good potential. 

Thanks to those 2 factors — more keywords and more backlinking, long-form content might be considered a bit better in terms of organic performance. Another reason is that such types of content are supposed to provide a better answer to customers’ questions. However, this is the case only if your content is relevant and it is helpful for the readers to understand the topic better.

Pros and cons of short-form and long-form content

We already mentioned a couple of the advantages and disadvantages of short-form and long-form content, but let’s cover more details on the topic, starting with the short-form content. 

Pros of short-content

  • It is quicker to produce; 
  • It requires less research and resources; 
  • It is very effective to provide information for a specific topic;
  • It is effortless to promote over different media;
  • It is easy to read and understand by customers; 
  • It is easy to SEO optimize it.

Cons of short-content

  • It is harder to go into the details for the covered topic;
  • It is harder to find topics for original content; 
  • It’s not evergreen and needs more regular updates; 
  • It is hard to build a strong backlinking strategy.

Pros of long-content

  • You can cover a topic in detail and make it very helpful for readers;
  • It can be very well SEO optimized which can lead to better organic rankings;
  • You can develop a very strong backlinking strategy;
  • It is converting better because it can be used as gated content and also because it gives more information to the client;
  • It is very beneficial for your branding and position you as an expert.

Cons of long-content

  • It takes a long time to produce;
  • You will need a lot of resources and deep research to gather the required information;
  • It can be more challenging to promote over social media.

How do you choose between short-form and long-form content?

You need to consider a couple of factors when choosing what type of content will better suit your needs. And the first is your goals. If you want to have a short informative description of a product or a service, a blog post or even social media post might be enough. But if you would like to go into details about some topic and cover all the aspects maybe a whitepaper will be a better option. 

The second factor is the intent that the content should meet. So, if you know that the readers won’t be interested in reading long-form content that goes into many scientific details, for example, better avoid this. Create a series of smaller content pieces that might help the customer assimilate the information better and easier. 

Also, check what your competitors are doing. If you see they are focusing mainly on short-form content, maybe there is a reason behind it. Perhaps they tested which type works better with their customers, so they decided to stick to it.

Wrapping up

Both short-form and long-form content are great to reach your customers and answer their questions. They have their pros and cons, but they can easily complement each other and work even better in combination. You can’t count only on long-term content because it will take you too much time to produce every piece, so in between, creating some short-form ones will be a great idea. When you are establishing your content strategy, try to think about how you can produce both in a way that will be beneficial for your business and your clients. 

Gabriela Gavrailova
Gabriela Gavrailova
Gabriela is the writer at Tech Edt, where she writes about technology and often does listicles and product reviews. Based in Austria, Gabriela is a person with many and diverse hobbies. If you don't find her reading a book at home or baking something, she will probably be out hiking or taking some classes to learn a new skill.

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Gabriela Gavrailova
Gabriela Gavrailova
Gabriela is the writer at Tech Edt, where she writes about technology and often does listicles and product reviews. Based in Austria, Gabriela is a person with many and diverse hobbies. If you don't find her reading a book at home or baking something, she will probably be out hiking or taking some classes to learn a new skill.

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