Advantages of Long Form Content Versus Short Form Content

Are you ready to test longer written content?

In the last article we discussed why Search Engine Optimisation is no longer optional. Now it’s important to cover the many advantages of long form content. In spite of the move towards visual content, and the rising popularity of visual content sharing platforms (like Instagram, SnapChat and Pinterest), there is still evidence that longer copy can perform better than short copy.

Longer content is defined as 1,000 words or more and can work well across web pages, blog posts, email marketing and sales letters.

“All my experience says that for a great many products, long copy sells more than short … advertisements with long copy convey the impression that you have something important to say, whether people read the copy or not.” Ogilvy on Advertising, David Ogilvy

A Flight to Quality – BuzzSumo research published in 2018

BuzzSumo have unrivalled access to the content performance of thousands of online publishers (including bloggers and influencers). They regularly review and research the content uploaded and shared via and have noticed a key change: a number of online publishers have apparently bucked the trend. The New York Times has actually seen shares of its online content (news) treble over time, since 2015. The Economist and Harvard Business Review had also seen an increase in social shares since 2015 – not in all content but in some content. The conclusion that the author of the report, Steve Rayson, draws is that in an age of ‘fake news’ and information density, quality may trump quantity.

These publishers already have a reputation, earned over many years in traditional media, for producing well-researched, informative, long form and credible ‘news’. Rayson suggests that “people are more selective in their sharing” as they want to share something worthwhile with their audience.

New York Times - BuzzSumo report 2018
Average shares of New York Times content treble – BuzzSumo report 2018


“Content Shock isn’t the problem, it’s the solution. By producing high quality, core evergreen content, and also regular content such as news, updates and practical tips, you provide less opportunity for new entrants who will struggle to gain attention.” Steve Rayson, BuzzSumo

The advantages of long form content

Longer, quality content gives those who want more information everything that they need in one place. Sharing more helpful information will make customers feel more comfortable buying your products or doing business with your company, as well as suggesting to them that you have something important to say.

In his detailed article on the topic, How long should your blog articles be? Neil Patel shares his research into ideal blog length. He is a devotee of long form content and has been really successful in this area. He is clear, though. Quantity is not better than quality. Your content still needs to be helpful, detailed and informed.

Check out his blog if you’d like to learn the ideal length depending on the sector or industry that you work in. If you want some ideas on long form content examples, check out this blog.

“I feel like creating content with a high word count leaves readers feeling like they’ve just read something epic when they leave.

There’s a certain sense of satisfaction that thin, short content just can’t provide.

I know that I often find myself immediately backing out of short posts under 500 words, especially if they lack images or headers.

I just feel like it has no real value to offer.

So that’s why I only create long-form content these days.” Neil Patel

Moz co-founder Rand Fishkin supplies the following caveat, though:

“Create content that helps people. Do it efficiently. Never write an ultimate guide where a single image could more powerfully convey the same value. Trust me; your audience and your bottom line will thank you.” Rand Fishkin

I want to leave you with a few words from the blog Why big content is worth the risk:

“We all want the low-hanging fruit, but let’s be honest – the low-hanging fruit is rotten, bruised, and covered with the grubby fingerprints of all the other spoiled brats pawing at it. There’s a time for easy wins, but easy only gets you so far. Sadly, I see too many SEOs putting days or weeks of effort into crafting the perfect low-value scheme, when that same time could’ve easily gone into content that has real staying power and drives sales.” Dr Peter J Meyers

Test blog length see what works well for your target customers

Why not try: to experiment with some long form content on your website, especially blogs. It’s impossible to predict who in your target audience wants more and who wants less information. For those who don’t want to read it all, highlight the important points and format the copy into “bite-sized” sections, using sub-headlines and graphic elements.

Example: a number of brands we work with have achieved success with just one or two really well-researched, targeted, optimized pieces of content, like a blog or video, that bring the majority of traffic to their website. Once on their website, other quality content helps the buyer with their research: educating, building trust and encouraging conversion in the form of a sign up, download, enquiry or purchase. Check out our online programme, Content Marketing Conquered – Part 5 is dedicated to building your plan.

I have had the pleasure of working with hundreds of marketers as they embrace or fine-tune their content marketing and have concluded that success is built on three pillars:

  • Empathy & Customer Insight
  • SEO & Targeting
  • Content Planning & Distribution

You can certainly compete on quality and you may not need to win the quantity game depending on the sector or industry you are in.

In the next article we look at why your content marketing demands its own distribution plan.

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*Photo by Pereanu Sebastian on Unsplash