As a content creator, one of the questions I’m asked is what the ideal length of online content is. The truth is, getting the balance of short-form and long-form content right is something that all business owners often struggle with. Too short and you might not get the message across, and too long and you risk boring your audience.

There is a need for both long- and short-form content but knowing how to handle each can be a bit of a mystery. Here, I aim to break down what each term means and when to use each in your content marketing campaigns.

What is short-form copy (with example)

When we talk about short-form copy, generally it falls somewhere around 1,000 words or less. You can push the boundaries and call 1,200 words short copy, too, depending on the type of copy.

From a creator’s point of view, short-form copy is much easier and quicker to create and can be adapted to all sorts of different mediums. Don’t just think blogs etc., stuff that you create for your social posts, quotes for Insta stories, infographics, and even video shorts can be types of short-form copy (more on those later).

Something else to consider is that if you can produce a good bank of short-form copy across your online mediums, your message is more likely to be noticed because it’s much easier for your readers to consume, making it much more memorable.

Many of your viewers will be looking at your content on a mobile, so your copy should be as concise as possible.

Definition of long form copy & an example 

Content of 1,200 words or more – we’re speaking of blog posts and articles (but there’s also scope for longer infographics, eBooks, video content etc. – too much to get into here!). Long-form content is one of the best options if you’re looking to up your SEO game. Search engines favour longer articles because they offer much more scope to search keywords.

Another win for long-form copy is that they give you more authority within your subject/industry. A massive portion of content on the internet is now made up of blogs and articles, and the likelihood is if you search for something on Google, it’s going to be a blog post that comes up first.

Bear in mind though, that search engines want quality over quantity – a hundred half-arsed blog posts will not rank your website more highly than 20 quality posts. If you lack the resource to produce content, then consider getting someone else to help with your long-form content writing (points to self!).

When it’s best to use each type of content

Now that we’ve sorted out what short-form vs. long-form content means, you might wonder when and how you should use them. There are plusses for both (and in my humble opinion, you SHOULD use both in your content marketing). But how do you decide which is better for the message you’re trying to get across to your audience?

As a rule, I’d suggest that you use short-form content to:

  • Create a quick piece of content with a short, sharp message
  • Make your content skim-worthy and easy to digest
  • Increase engagement
  • Be remembered by your audience

And long-form content can be used to:

  • Drive organic traffic to your website
  • Build authority
  • Build trust with your audience
  • Keep your audience engaged long-term

What type of content to use for website pages?

Now, this is a big question that people tend to agonise over. How many words should I write for my actual website? How long should my homepage be? How many pages and what should be on them?

OK, so here’s my simple answer: each web page on your site should convey the message that your headline or link promised in the most concise way. In other words, remove the waffle, and tell your story quickly.

Experts reckon that we tend to stay on a website for about 15 seconds. After that, we decide to either come away from the site altogether or click on another page or link on that website. So, you have precisely 15 seconds to convince your reader that you’re worth investing time in.

I think it’s important to remember the user – I’m sure you can relate to this; people are put off by reams of text on the page. They don’t want to read thousands of words and hear your life story to get what they want. It’s overwhelming and looks ugly on the page.

So, while you might feel that long-form content is needed to get your message across via your pages, remember to break it up.

I hope that helps – if you need any help or advice in your online content creation, get in touch!