Great Content ≠ Long-Form Content

Posted by randfish

[Estimated read time: 2 minutes]

Yes. I’ve read the studies. I know the correlations. Long-form content, on average, earns more engagement, higher rankings, and more shares than their more concise brethren.

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

But, that does not make long-form content the same as great content.

It does not make long-form content the goal of every content effort.

It certainly does not mean that longer content is better content.

Confounding variables are, in my opinion, behind many of these correlations. Long-form content, at least the good stuff, intentionally targets searchers and browsers seeking lengthier, more comprehensive information. If you want to challenge those “longer content performs better on average” statistics with equally unapplicable numbers, check the data on diminishing attention spans, ever-increasing abandonment rates, and what percent of visitors actually read long content to its end.

The right content:

  • Serves visitors’ intent by answering their questions and helping them complete their goals
  • Delivers an easy, pleasurable, accessible experience on every device and every browser
  • Gets the right information and experience to visitors FAST
  • Does all of the above better than any of the competitors in the space

The phrase “great content” doesn’t mean “long-form” content. In fact, as Ronell Smith recently pointed out, “great content” doesn’t, universally, mean anything at all. Its definition is subjective and sometimes mythical when what we need are pragmatic, clear boxes to check to determine whether our content efforts are on track.

My proposal: rather than applying a tactic like long-form content universally or setting length as the bar (or even a metric) for greatness, we instead match our content to our audience’s needs and our business/personal goals. 700 more words will not help you reach your goals any more than 7 more words. 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.

P.S. If you’re seeking some examples of long-form, short-form, interactive, visual, and even single-blog-post content that I think fits with the philosophy above, check out my list of 10X Content and Ross Hudgens’ recent list of content marketing examples. Both have lots of short-form excellence included.

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