Short-Form vs. Long-Form Content: Which Should I Use?

By | October 13, 2021


Are you in the middle of developing your first content plan and wondering how long your blogs should be for the best SEO?

The first thing we tell new clients is to develop a plan to post consistently at least once per week. As for blog length, that depends on a variety of factors.

This article will break down the differences between short-form vs. long-form content. We’ll cover what’s good and what’s bad about each, as well as give you some tips on how to optimize your blogs.

Keep scrolling if you’re ready to get started.

The Role of Content in SEO

Many first-time clients don’t quite understand what big role content plays in SEO ranking. Ultimately it’s high-quality content that will push you to the top of the search engine result page (SERP).

What is content exactly? A basic definition is that it’s anything that needs to be expressed to an end-user.

Content isn’t just blogs or articles. It also includes videos, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, ebooks, and more.

The Google search algorithm prefers content that demonstrates a site’s expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T). Therefore, this is what you should strive for with your content.

Law firms, for example, can demonstrate their expertise by writing blogs about new statutes affecting their clients. Individual lawyers in that firm can position themselves to be authorities in certain areas of the law.

Developing trustworthiness boils down to providing accurate information and being linked by other websites.

Satisfy all three of these E-A-T elements and your rankings will soar.

Short-Form vs. Long-Form Content: What’s the Difference?

While we discussed above how content takes several forms, for the purpose of this article we’ll talk specifically about blogs.

Blogs can be described as short-form or long-form. When you sign up for our service HOTH Blogger you can choose between both.

Definitions vary across the world of digital marketing, but short-form blog content is typically under 1,000 words. Long-form blog content is anything over 1,000 words. In fact, in some cases, it’s as high as 8,000.

The purpose of short-form content is to use relevant keywords, buzzwords, and present imagery to readers. Shorter pieces are designed to quickly attract new readers.

On the other hand, long-form content goes into great depth on a given topic. This form of writing requires critical thinking skills and isn’t skimmed. It typically includes a lot of research as well.

White papers and reports are other examples of long-form content.

Is It Better To Write Short or Long?

This is a question we get all of the time. The truth is there’s a place for both types of writing in your SEO strategy. Both serve a different purpose and both are effective when done right.

It depends on your goals and how much time you have each week to write.

As we said above, short-form is generally to attract visitors and long-form is to educate them. The subject matter is a big factor as well. Some topics are simply better long-form.

Most SEO experts would recommend having a mix of both. Short-form should outnumber your long-form content, but whatever you post over 1,000 words needs to be in-depth and authoritative to move the needle for your SEO.

Pros of Writing Short

Internet users are more likely to stop and read a shorter piece of writing. Everyone’s lives are so busy and the average time spent on any website is only 10 seconds or less. Something short is more likely to grab their attention.

Research has also shown that shorter content is more likely to be shared across social media. This includes infographics or memes.

Businesses need to post to their blogs consistently if they hope to maintain good rankings. From a logistical standpoint, it’s much easier to post several short-form blogs each week versus in-depth pieces.

The two negatives of short-form content include not making a significant impression on your reader and not ranking for as many keywords.

Pros of Writing Long

Writing long-form content is an investment for everyone involved. You as the business need to invest time and energy into a well-researched blog and the reader needs to devote their time to finish it.

SEO studies have shown that the Google algorithm tends to favor lengthy content, especially when it satisfies the elements of E-A-T. Are there any other reasons for this?

Long-form content ranks for more keywords and is more likely to be linked by another site (especially if it’s authoritative).

Posting long-form content is a great way to stand out over other businesses posting blogs of 300, 400, or 500 words. They can also better serve a niche audience who already possesses a certain level of expertise on the topic.

The biggest challenges to long-form content are short attention spans online and ensuring that what’s written is high-quality. You may have to hire a professional to write it.

How To Write Killer Long-Form Content

If you’re intent on posting long-form content to your blog, here are some tips to ensuring it’s high-quality:

  1. Understand your audience and what they’re interested in reading
  2. Use a narrative arc for your non-fiction writing to ensure there’s a sense of satisfaction at the end
  3. Do a lot of research before you write and cite as many specific details as possible
  4. Break up large chunks of text with headings, sub-headings, images, or graphics
  5. Don’t forget to proofread your content and fact check if you think it’s necessary
  6. Anticipate what users need so they are more likely to share your blog or link back to your site

This sounds easier said than done, but you want to produce high-quality content to outlast the algorithm.

It may take time to determine exactly what your audience wants but it’s well worth it when you’re able to answer their questions or concerns in strategically placed content.

Optimizing Long-Form Content for SEO

The last section of this article will cover how to optimize your content once it’s ready to be published.

Completing your on-page SEO is just as important as writing high-quality content. These elements are also part of the Google ranking system.

Before creating any content, it’s a good idea to establish your goal. Are you simply looking to educate readers about a complex topic, get more subscribers to your email list, or create something to be shared on Facebook?

You should also conduct keyword research before drafting blogs. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner or other paid services like Ahrefs or SEMrush. Compile as many keywords as possible and include long-tail keywords.

Write a compelling headline using the HOTH’s Blog Topic Generator. Even better, find a way to incorporate your brand or product name into the headline.

Once you start writing the content, use sub-headings like H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6. Add alt-text to any images or graphics you include on the page.

This is a step some websites may skip, but fill out your metadata. Yoast SEO is a helpful plug-in for making sure it’s the right length and format.

Most importantly, make it very easy for readers to share.

Conclusion

We hope you’ve learned a lot about the differences between short-form vs. long-form content. An effective content strategy will include both.

Even more important than length is content quality. Whatever you post to your site should be well-researched and professionally written.

The problem is so many online businesses don’t have the time to write this kind of content and they don’t have a writer on staff. That’s why one of our most popular products is HOTH Blogger.

Our clients can easily order professionally written, SEO-optimized blogs ranging from 500 to 2,000 words. We even work with companies to publish the content for them.

Book a meeting with us if you’re interested in learning more about this product.

 



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