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Content on Trial: You Decide the Fate of Shorter Content.

Short vs Long Form Content

Updated Sept 2018

It's the age old question: does size matter? Now, it applies to content. We saw the rise and fall of super short keyword stuffed 250 word articles, the eventual take over of the 500 word blog and less keyword stuffing.

And now, as a new year moves quickly past us, to appease the google genie, we focus on writing long form content that would once have been considered short eBooks. So as we embrace the evolution of digital content marketing and our SEO strategy, mindful always of the customer experience, what should the lengths of our blogs be?

Will the first defendant please take the stand. Do you swear to tell the whole truth.....?

Please forgive me, Judge(YOU), but to keep this trial brief, I will be leading the witness.

A Case for the Longer Blog

A longer blog, if done well, allows you to add more substance to your idea. You can add several points and counterpoints, site reliable sources.

It also makes the reader feel that you made an investment for their time, that you are a teacher at heart and want to share.

Longer pieces help build the relationship between Audience and Brand.

If a person takes 10-15 minutes to read your blog, they are in fact making a commitment to you, not unlike, signing up for email lists, buying your product or giving you a "shout out". This, in a way, is a conversion , that hopefully we will better measure in the future. This conversion precedes the measurable action you seek.

A person who reads your longer blogs is giving you a vote of confidence. Long-form builds trust. They feel that the time is well spent and that they will walk away from your blog a changed person, or at the least better or more enriched by your words.

The longer blog also adds SEO value. It allows you to apply a broader keyword strategy with more related keywords. And it is current SEO best practice to develop longer content to improve rankings.

Long-form content does deliver 9X the leads, among B2B audience, but is less effective among B2C, for which stats are often less available.

The average person only spends 37 seconds reading your blog, likely by skimming it for key information. Your B2B audience is likely to spend a bit more time reading and making the decision.

But when someone does read a long form, they do tend to take the next step. Long form content is instrumental in converting sales in the purchase decision stage, particularly for B2B.

A Case for Shorter Blog

It requires less investment on the part of the audience, so they are more likely to read the whole thing. If you have a call to action, that's important to you.

For those who already know your brand, they may be less hesitant to click through to your content if they don't have much time because they don't necessarily think they are committing to reading War & Peace.

79% of readers just skim through longer articles, but are likely to read a short piece in its entirety or at least commit that 37 seconds.

In a short piece there is less likely to be fluff. If you set out to write a shorter piece, then you are not attempting to up your word count with clumsy language that can lose a reader.

A shorter piece is easier for you as a content creator to write. You don't have to focus so much on supporting your ideas or laying out your points in a cohesive way. It's usually easier to organize a shorter piece. put it can start going the other direction for a very short piece.

Shorter blogs are more often shared,

As a content creator you can produce more pieces that your audience will love.

Closing Arguments

In conclusion, Judge, Your Honor, or whatever the appropriate term might be, I would make the case that both long and short content add value to SEO and the customer experience and that they can share our content space and our acceptance. Each of them have their strengths and their weaknesses.

In the end, it is all about how you engage your reader. And that continues to be our greatest challenge. By utilizing long and short form content together, you can strengthen your brand and strategy.

Together, they help you achieve the content marketing nirvana that you seek. Either way, don't forget your visuals. But visuals are not on trial today, so I digress.

Ultimately, Judge, the decision must be yours. I rest my case.


What are your thoughts on Short and Long Content?

Should one or the other be abandoned?

What have you experienced in terms of measurables or that educated observation about interactions when measurement is less possible?

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Leigh Clayborne is a Hubspot certified freelance content marketing / SEO content writer & strategist with 10 years of healthcare management experience on 15+ years of creating content. She is a strong proponent of creating the right customer experience to meet business goals.

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