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What Kind of Content Should You Create: Long or Short?

Twitter makes our lives easy. We know that our posts have to be 140 characters or less, and if we include a picture and a hashtag or two, we should be good.

[bctt tweet “Effective long-form content is ~2,416 words. Daunting as it seems, it is achievable. “]

If only content creation had the same parameters. Instead, we’re left wondering how many words our posts should be and if it’s worth spending hours of time on a long article rather than pumping out short, frequent posts.

To help you find the best content mix, here are the benefits of both long-form and short-form content.

The Benefits of Long Posts

Long-form content is at least 1,200 words, although the majority of high-performing posts are closer to the 3,000-5,000 word range. They’re usually in the form of e-books, white papers, reports, or comprehensive, “everything you need to know about X topic” type posts.

These pieces of content take weeks of research and writing, but they definitely pay off in the end.

Here are the top benefits of long-form content:

  • Makes Google Happy: In 2012, serpIQ founded that the average content length of each of the top 10 search results were more than 2,000 words. And the average number of words for the #1 spot was 2,416. While no one really knows the magic behind Google’s algorithm, it’s safe to say that Google wants to present searchers with the most in-depth, comprehensive pieces of content that are most likely to answer their questions. For more information on writing long-form, SEO posts that ranks in Google, click here.
  • Increases Social Engagement and Shares: BuzzSumo and Moz teamed up to analyze the shares and links of more than 1 million articles. They discovered that the longer the content, the more shares it gets, with 3,000-10,000-word pieces getting the most average shares. While people love to laugh at cat memes, they love to share thoughtful, high-quality content with their network. We all want to portray ourselves as intelligent, in-the-know people, so sharing a “smart” pieces of content also makes as appear “smart” in the process.
  • Boosts Lead Generation: Long-form pieces like e-books or white papers allow you to gate the content and ask for email addresses in exchange for a download. And, if you’ve really created something of value, people have no problem giving you their personal information. You can then compile these email addresses and create a targeted advertising campaign, nurture email drip, or pass them to your sales team.
  • Establishes Credibility: If you’re able to put together a 10,000-word guide about your industry, people are going to assume you know what you are talking about. The more quality content you can provide, the more industry authority you will establish. And prospects pay attention. When they need to hire a content writer or marketing agency, they’ll remember the super informative, helpful guide they downloaded and want to work with the company/person who created it.

The Benefits of Short Posts

Blog posts are the epitome of short-form content. They’re typically between 300-800 words and are published much more frequently than long-form content. They require less resources to create and allow you to create more volume, faster.

Here are the benefits of short posts:

  • Allows You to Engage More Often: Because short-form content takes significantly less time to create than long-form, many companies often post on their blog two to three times every week. This frequency allows you to reach out and engage with your audience on social media or email more often. You’ll have a diverse array of posts to share on Facebook and Twitter, and you can even create a weekly newsletter with the most recent articles, giving you a reason to repeatedly reach out to your target audience.
  • Easier to Consume: We’re all scanners. We scroll through an article and read the headlines and bullet points and if that is interesting, we may go back and read the actual post. A short post caters to our speed reading generation. It doesn’t feel daunting to skim a blog post and we don’t have to sift through thousands of words to understand the main point.
  • Makes Room for Experimentation: When you’re publishing multiple times per week, you have the opportunity to write about different topics and in different formats. You can experiment with what works best for your audience (lists, how-to posts, infographics, etc). These short posts also help you understand your audience better. You can play around with all sorts of content and really hone in on what generates the most traffic and shares.

In the end, the best content strategy involves a blend of both long-form and short-form. You shouldn’t completely eliminate your blog and spend all your free time creating 10,000-word guides. Nor should you be scared of the time required to create an e-book or white paper.

[bctt tweet “Your blogging efforts should always favor quality over quantity.”]

Your best bet is to maintain your blog, but focus more on quality versus quantity. Post one or two times per week, and use that extra time to create one long-form piece of content per quarter.


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