One factor you’re likely considering when creating your blog content is the word count of each post. Indeed, the word count is important, but probably not for the reason you’re thinking. To further explain this, we need to talk about long-form vs short-form content.
What is Short-Form Content?
The answer is right in the name. It’s short! But what does this mean, exactly? While there’s no definitive answer, the general consensus is that short-form content is approximately 1,000 words or fewer.
Because of this length, these blogs typically cover topics that can be answered quickly and concisely. They are simpler and easier to digest.
What is Long-Form Content?
Long-form content, then, is anything over approximately 1,000 words. (To be clear, some people will say that long-form content is anything 2,000 words and up.)
These might be:
- Guides (like our blog post on the “People also search for” feature in Google).
- Tutorials or how-tos.
- Pillar content.
Long-form content is going to diver deeper into the content, with a lot more detail. Since the goal is to educate the reader and teach them something, it’s much more robust.
Is Long-Form or Short-Form Better for Your Content?
The answer is… it’s complicated. Or at least, it’s a bit more complicated than most content creators assume.
The mistake that a lot of brands make is that they follor a blanket rule that all their blogs need to be a certain word count. This is the wrong approach.
Other brands tend to assume that longer is always better. This is also the wrong approach… kind of. We’re going to come back to this in a minute.
Rather, what you should do is this:
- Step 1: Figure out the topics and keywords you want to blog around.
- Step 2: Determine the search intent for those keywords.
- Step 3: Satisfy the search intent in however many words it takes.
These are the exact steps Spark follows when we’re building out a content plan for a client (although this barely scratches the surface of the full process). Let’s break these down.
Step 1: Figure Out the Topics and Keywords You Want to Blog Around
If anyone has tried to tell you that SEO is dead, you need to start hanging around new people.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is alive and well. Conducting thorough topic and keyword research is crucial in planning your blog content.
As a very general rule of thumb, look for keywords that are higher in traffic and lower in competition. One of the best SEO reporting tools is Ahrefs, and it’ll give you this information and so much more.
Once you have a topic and keyword for a blog, you can move onto…
Step 2: Determine the Search Intent for Those Keywords
Search intent — also known as user intent — refers to what someone is trying to find when they enter a query in Google.
“Duh, they’re trying to find whatever they searched for,” you’re saying. And you’re correct! Here’s the thing. The search intent isn’t always obvious.
If someone searches “SEO best practices,” we can be pretty sure what type of information they’re looking for. But let’s say they search “SEO.”
This is so broad. Do they want a definition of SEO? Best practices? Do they want to know more about the benefits of SEO? We don’t know.
If you don’t know the search intent, then you can’t know what to write about in your blog.
So, by this point, you have your topic and keyword, and you know the search intent behind that keyword. Next up is…
Step 3: Satisfy the Search Intent in However Many Words it Takes
Ah, yes. Now we’re getting to the long-form vs short-form debate.
To determine how long or short your content should be, start writing the blog and don’t stop until you’ve satisfied the search intent.
Your blog might be 500 words. Or it might be 3,000 words. If you’re giving the user what they want, then that’s what matters most.
But Wait — I’ve Heard that Long-Form Content is Better
Let’s revisit this now.
Yes, there has been research into the type of content that performs best. There are two particularly interesting findings:
- Long-form content gets roughly 77.2% more backlinks than short content.
- Long-form content gets more social shares than short-form content, but this declines once the blog passes 2,000 words. (To be clear, though, other research says that blog posts between 3,000 and 10,000 words get the most shares.)
There is also some sound logic and common sense that long-form content is better. Think about it. If there’s a 300-word blog that users spend one minute on, and a 1,300-word blog that users spend seven minutes on, which one is going to look better to Google?
The 1,300-word one, because it keeps people on the page longer. So, Google will rank that page higher.
But there is a huge caveat here.
If you think you’re going to beef up the word count of a blog and automatically increase the time people spend on that page — and thus improve your rankings — you’d be wrong. Again, it comes down to satisfying search intent.
If you spend 1,300 words writing a blog that could’ve been written in 800 words, people aren’t going to stick around to read the extra 500. They’re going to leave as soon as they’ve gotten what they need. This is why longer is better only if all the content delivers value and is necessary for answering the users’ search intent.
Quality over quantity, always. Above all else, deliver value.
- Short-form content is generally 1,000 words or fewer.
- Long-form content is generally 1,000 words and up.
- While long-form content can perform better, satisfying search intent matters more than anything.
- To determine how long or short a blog should be, you should: (1) Determine the topic and the keyword, (2) Determine the search intent for that keyword, and (3) Write a blog that satisfies the search intent for that keyword, however many words that may take.
Confused? We don’t blame you. Google is getting more saturated and more competitive by the day. Ranking on page one is so much harder than it used to be. We can help. Contact Spark Content Agency today to tell us more about our blog, and let’s tackle this together.