The earliest days of the internet championed short form content over long form content. Readers skimmed online. Long, unbroken paragraphs were difficult to read on screen. Lots of white space, bullet points, and plenty of subheads meant readers could scan, absorb, and move on.
“Look for the clutter in your writing and prune it ruthlessly,” said William Zinsser in On Writing Well. “Be grateful for everything you can throw away.” I embraced this no-frills approach to writing tight, concise web content as well as everything I produced for print.
But now, long form content has become more prevalent online – written in a conversational style, mind you, with lots of breathing room for the internet reader. For some, long form has even become the preferred content writing form.
Meanwhile, that leaves online publishers increasingly confused about word count. What’s the ideal content length? Is long form content better than short?
Long form content is written project that clocks in at 1,200 words or more.
If you want to be technical about it, some gurus say long form content is anything more than 750 words. Others say long form content is at least 2,000 words in length. Still others say a piece needs at least 3,000 words to earn the long form content moniker.
Regardless, long form content has substance. Its goal is to answer a particular question or cover a specific topic in depth. Think of long form content as a complete meal.
Short form content is a written project that’s less than 1,200 words long. It’s easy to read and digest in just a few minutes. Think blog posts, email, short articles, and social media posts.
And while long form content addresses a topic from different angles, short form content has a singular goal. Its purpose is to communicate one message.
That’s not to say that short form content is just fluff. Quite the contrary. The best written content – long or short – offers useful, valuable, or entertaining information to the reader. Short form content simply does so in a tight structure, as a tidbit or small portion rather than a full portion.
If long form content is a full meal, then short form content is a snack – albeit a nutritious, sustaining one.
Plan and track your content using this fillable and re-usable Content Calendar Template
Several forms long form content stand alone as individual projects: books, ebooks, podcasts, courses, and webinars, for instance. Their benefits are clear. A book or an online course are valuable pieces of intellectual property in their own right. A standalone work can reach a unique audience both in print and online.
But what are the advantages of writing long form content online – content that’s part of a larger site or larger work? That would include articles, blog posts, landing pages, pillar pages, email newsletters, and white papers.
Long form content’s biggest benefit is online visibility. High-quality long form content pages return …
For the user, short form content is easy to read and digest. It offers quick answers to specific problems or questions. It’s simply less overwhelming.
Plus, when you link your short pieces to other pages on your site, your short form content can extend reader engagement.
As for the writer, short form content takes less time to create – provided you know your niche and understand your topic.
So while long form content has a record of boosting search engine results, both long form content and short form content have a place in a balanced content writing strategy.
Are they part of yours?
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