Long-form content vs short-form content: which is better?

Shorter text is becoming more acceptable than its counterpart. Is less words more valuable?

Long blog posts or short blog posts? I have often pondered the question on which is better. In the modern world, attention spans are shorter, which is due to the impact social media has had on current generations. We prefer to quickly scroll through content on busy days, convincing ourselves we don’t have time to read anything that’s 1,000 words or more.

This is true for the most part, but there is value in long-form content that should be noted. For one thing, long articles are more likely to contain key-words, links, and answers to readers’ questions than short articles. In her post, Melanie G. talks about the benefits of “pillar pages” or “skyscraper content”, which “provide a comprehensive overview of the subject matter.”[1]

She goes on to explain that other companies are more likely to “link to a comprehensive (and ideally better-written) article instead of finding many different links to support what they’re writing about.”[1] Therefore, long-form articles can have more value for your business, since more information in one post will generate more traffic, and that post is more likely to be shared across social media.

However, some research has shown that readers generally benefit more from reading a high number of short articles than a lower number of long ones. Jakob Nielsen states that, following his own study, “people prefer to read short articles.”[2] He adds that readers “tend to be ruthless in abandoning long-winded sites,” and “mainly want to skim highlights.”[2]

It is also important to discuss the position of the writer, as well as the reader. When writers need to produce content on a regular basis, it is sometimes impossible to submit long-form posts consistently. Of course, this is dependent on time management and other commitments, but generally it’s easier for the writer to submit a range of 300-word articles instead of many 1,000-word ones.

For that reason, I would argue in favour of short-form content for your business, in order to have regular articles that can be completed fairly easily. At the same time, at least one long article per blog is essential, so that you have somewhere to direct your readers for more detail and useful information.

Research Links:

  1. Long Form vs. Short Form Content Going into 2020 by Melanie G. (ContentWriters.com) https://contentwriters.com/blog/long-form-vs-short-form-content-going-into-2020/
  2. Long vs. Short Articles as Content Strategy by Jakob Nielsen (Nielsen Norman Group) https://www.nngroup.com/articles/content-strategy-long-vs-short/

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