Content publishers are still wondering whether they should play the short game or go long.
It’s an interesting conundrum that we face in the digital world, because some of our audience members only want to consume content quickly. Other audiences want content that’s thorough, similar to what would be found in magazines or newsletters.
But what does all of this really mean for content publishers?
It means that we have an opportunity to provide innovative content for all types of consumers. Short content for quick tips and consumption on the go, and long content with more substance for those with more time to spend reading in-depth articles.
Fortunately for us, there’s value in both short and long-form content online. This value comes from the audience development methods that exist. For instance, short content is valuable on social networks. This content can be created specifically with the intentions of sharing through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, depending on the social networks that you use for promotions.
On the other hand, long-form content is great from the standpoint of SEO. This content can be thorough and informative while still being optimized for keyword phrases that audiences search.
The Long and Short of Blog Post Length
So what exactly is meant by long and short content? Does blog post length matter?
Typically, when we think of short content, we think of articles around 300 words. This is the minimum length an article should be if you want to have any chance of ranking and holding rank in search engines. Personally, we prefer at least 500 words as a minimum.
Long-form content, on the other hand, might be 800 to 2,000 words. This is a length that can provide more depth on the subject, yet it’s not long enough to cause reading fatigue on the various devices the audience members may be using.
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In the past, Google has even discussed how it likes and supports long-form content. The Google algorithm favors high-quality content. And there’s a lot of room for experimenting in that gap between 300 words and 2,000-plus.
Regardless, consider value when it comes to content consumption. The information needs to be relevant; it needs to provide answers to questions that people are seeking; and it must be interesting. When creating content, we must ask ourselves “Is this contributing to the conversation?”
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Creating Short-Form Content: Three Tips
- Write articles that are at least 300 words on topics that don’t require a novel to answer a question.
- Choose a keyword phrase to optimize the article and use this keyword in the title.
- Format by using bullets, subheads, indentations, and bold words.
Creating Long-Form Content: Three Tips
- For better SEO, strive for an article length of around 800 words, although a good writer can pull off 2,000 when the topic calls for it.
- Make sure the content is of high quality. If you’re going the long-form route, you must make sure the entire article is worth reading.
- Break up the article into sections to accommodate those who skim longer articles, and use section headlines to make important points.
There is no rule that you should only publish short content or long content. Some questions can be answered in 300 words and some require further explanation. The key is to only use as many words as you need. Don’t fluff up your content to try and meet some magical word count.
After more than a decade of testing content, we can tell you that there is no one rule for every content creator – some blogs skyrocket in social and search with barely 300 character blog posts. Others gain liftoff by writing incredibly comprehensive posts on topics that need a lot of detail and dialogue.
There is no magical word count that applies to everyone, there’s only what works for you. The good news, is that you have the freedom to test! The better news (for data enthusiasts like myself) is that you have an opportunity to learn more about your website visitors and customers as you go.
There are ways to make short form and long form content work together.
You can create a relationship between short and long-form content. Short content can be used as a steppingstone to longer content. You can produce short content based off of long-form content, and share that short content on your social networks. Alternately, at the end of your short content, you can link to the longer article for those who want more information about the topic. You could even include some teasers that would interest readers enough to click through to the longer article.
Pay attention to what works with your audience. Some audiences really love short content, while others want a deep look at a subject and are even willing to pay for that content – or at least spend significant time on it. Watch to see how your traffic numbers vary on short and long content. Consider what gets shared more on social networks. This will help you determine which content you should create more of in the future.
At BuzzFarmers, we test this stuff for our own purposes, and then utilize what we learn in our work for clients, depending on their niche audiences. Sign up for a BuzzAudit if you’d like us to run some diagnostics on your content!