Long-Form vs. Short-Form Content: Which Is Better for Legal Websites Staff Profile Picture
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Long-form vs. short-form content is a dilemma that law firms looking to grow face. These days, deciding how long articles or videos are is one of the challenges of legal marketing. Unlike larger law firms, which tend to have internal marketing teams, the average legal practice is staffed by around 2.4 attorneys, according to Zippia. 

This limited workforce is an obvious concern for smaller firms. In a Thomson Reuters report, 80% of the surveyed small law firms said that they did not have much time to practice law due to administrative tasks. So, for them, marketing decisions — like choosing between short-form vs long-form content — often took a backseat.  

The latter phenomenon might be common in the legal field, but did you know that there are risks to not prioritizing marketing? A 2024 report from PracticePanther shows that 82% of small and mid-sized firms are either maintaining or increasing their marketing budgets. As such, law firms that do not implement marketing strategies may fall behind other legal practices that allocate resources for content creation, distribution, and promotion. 

Understanding Content: Long-Form vs. Short-Form

A 2024 Thomson Reuters report about the State of the US Legal Market mentions that clients see specialist knowledge as essential when choosing law firms. Given this, lawyers need to demonstrate their expertise in their field as part of their marketing strategy. 

Long-Form vs. Short-Form Content: Which Is Better for Legal Websites?

Generally, two types of content can be incorporated into a marketing plan: long-form and short-form. 

What Is Long-Form Content?

Long-form content refers to media that delivers in-depth information about a particular topic. Some marketers agree that articles with a length of over 1,000 words are considered long-form. Similarly, videos that last more than 10 minutes are defined as such. 

There are different examples of long-form content writing. Besides articles, these include case studies, e-books, white papers, and newsletters. Other long-form content examples are recorded webinars, brand films, and podcast episodes. 

One thing to note about long-form content is that the standard word content is increasing. According to a Chicago-based digital marketing agency, the average blog article is over 70% longer than a decade ago. 

What Is Short-Form Content?

Meanwhile, short-form content refers to media that provides relatively easy-to-digest information about a specific topic. Unlike long-form content, articles with fewer than 1,000 words are generally considered short. Videos that are under 10 minutes are also seen as short-form content. 

There are numerous examples of short-form writing. These include social media posts, checklists, blog updates, slideshows, and infographics. Other short-form content examples include mini-podcasts. 

Social media platforms also provide numerous ways for businesses to post short videos. These have different names depending on the site. For instance, they are Reels on Facebook but Shorts on YouTube. 

Further Exploring Long-Form Content

When it comes to long-form content marketing, one must understand the benefits and drawbacks of various forms of media, including white papers, e-books, and case studies. This is because law firms, especially smaller ones, have to deal with limited resources. 

Benefits of Long-Form Content on Legal Websites

One of the primary benefits of long-form content is that it enables attorneys to showcase their expertise in a particular field. For example, a law firm specializing in estate planning can write multiple articles covering a range of areas, from tax management to trust creation. 

The firm demonstrates its extensive knowledge through this in-depth treatment of the topic. 

Another benefit of long-form content is that it fills more content gaps, giving lawyers opportunities to increase their topical authority through different hubs and spokes

Long-Form vs. Short-Form Content: Which Is Better for Legal Websites?

Other competitors might cover a topic like tax avoidance. However, the legal ways someone can reduce their tax liability vary state-by-state. As such, a New York law firm looking to market its tax management services has the opportunity to create content that revolves around the federal, state, and local tax burdens that New Yorkers uniquely face. 

This comprehensive approach toward different topics helps law firms develop short-form content later. For instance, a well-researched piece about copyright law may be turned into tweets or infographics for social media platforms. 

Drawbacks of Long-Form Content on Legal Websites

A disadvantage of long-form content is that it takes a relatively longer time to create than short-form media. A writer may need three to four hours to create a 1,000-word article. However, the time required can be longer, depending on the level of research involved. 

Regarding videos, these generally take longer to create than articles. Depending on the topic and budget, an editor may require eight to 20 hours to produce a 10-minute video. This is because various factors, including color grading, complex audio mixing, and motion graphics, play a role. 

Long-form content also requires more maintenance. In other words, a law firm needs to update articles or videos that remain relevant for only a short time. Content that discusses potential new laws and trending topics requires editing when new developments occur. 

Another disadvantage of long-form media is that some content can be challenging to display on mobile screens. Since smartphones and tablets have a smaller display size than desktops, in-depth articles, white papers, or ebooks may be difficult to read. 

Further Exploring Short-Form Content

At first glance, short-form content marketing fits the strategy of law firms pressed for resources. After all, checklists, social media posts, and infographics take less time to create than ebooks and videos. But like long-form, there are both benefits and limitations to short-form. 

Benefits of Short-Form Content on Legal Websites

One of the benefits of short-form content is that it can be optimized for mobile users. Platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter may be considered mobile-first platforms, where videos and snippets on these sites are primarily viewed on smartphones. 

Short-form content also takes a shorter time to produce. A 700-word article needs less research to complete than a 2,000-word article. Similarly, videos that run for one to five minutes may only take one to three editing hours for a social media marketing agency to complete. 

The relatively quick turnaround time of short-form content means that law firms can engage with potential clients more frequently than with long-form content. Tweets about a recent tax code change or 30-second video explainers about the new Supreme Court decision allow lawyers to evoke more reactions from people. 

Long-Form vs. Short-Form Content: Which Is Better for Legal Websites?

Drawbacks of Short-Form Content on Legal Websites

The limited amount of information found in short-form content means that it is not as authoritative as media with more extensive details. A long-form article, for example, can include more references from experts as opposed to a shorter post. 

Short-form content also leads to competition; other firms may publish similarly brief posts. With different videos or tweets to view, potential clients may find information for their problem but not pay attention to the attorney who posted that helpful content. 

Another drawback is that shorter content is unlikely to be thought-provoking. Social media posts or infographics are easy to scan. However, the limited information does not provide the depth necessary to make a compelling point. 

In-Depth Comparison of Long-Form and Short-Form Content

With the pros and cons of both types of content laid out, it can be challenging to determine how blog articles, social media posts, white papers, or ebooks fit into a marketing strategy. This is why knowing how long-form and short-form can help or hinder factors like SEO, engagement, and user experience is crucial. 

Initially, it seems that long-form content wins at SEO. An SEO agency may create a 3,000-word article, incorporating more keywords and phrases relevant to the topic than a 700-word one. This helps search engines like Google understand what the website is all about. By extension, this leads to better rankings. 

It is also likely that a long article leads to more backlinks. A comprehensive discussion of a topic like “divorce laws in Connecticut” or “how cryptocurrency affects estate planning” can be valuable content for other websites. These can then link back to the original article. When Google sees the backlink, it interprets this as a vote of confidence, and more votes mean better rankings. 

However, the likelihood of backlinks decreases the longer an article gets. An Ahrefs analysis shows that after 1,000 words, the number of backlinks goes down. This is because some articles meander on and on rather than provide succinct points. Readers then may find fewer ideas to link back to on their website. 

Engagement is another factor brought up in discussions between long-form and short-form content. At first, it looks like shorter content is better at engaging potential clients. After all, the current attention span toward a device is 47 seconds, a decrease from 150 seconds in the early 2000s. 

Social media platforms understand this. TikTok recommends that creators publish videos that last between 24 and 31 seconds. Meanwhile, YouTube shorts only last 60 seconds, and Facebook reels only run for 90 seconds. At most, x (formerly Twitter) allows users to publish texts in 280-character snippets, while paying members have a 4,000-character limit. 

But the briefness of short-form content means it can be difficult to explain a complex topic. Readers may find it challenging to follow the train of thought if that train keeps stopping every 60 seconds or 280 characters. 

User experience, or UX, is an additional concern marketers have when choosing whether to create short-form or long-form content. The former looks to be better for mobile devices. Given that over 60% of Google traffic in the US comes from smartphones and tablets, users are looking for fast facts, not comprehensive results. Note that a huge wall of text is not well-suited for mobile screens. 

But that wall can be broken down into bite-sized sections. Articles may start with a table of contents, for instance. This allows the user to skip to the part they want to read. In addition, articles can contain bullet points, quotes, and colorful diagrams to break up dense texts.

Long-form videos can also be divided into sections. YouTube has allowed this since 2020 through its Video Chapters feature. 

These techniques mean short-form does not have a monopoly on user experience as some marketers think. It also shows that the discussion over whether to choose between the two formats is not straightforward. 

This is why it is essential to have a content marketing strategy. Rather than randomly publish 3,000-word articles or 30-second videos, a law firm should methodically create content that meets a specific goal. 

Verdict: Which Is Better for Lawyers?

Overall, knowing which fits more into a legal marketing strategy depends on information about the target market. To do this, a law firm must analyze different types of data. These categories include: 

  • Demographic data: This refers to information about the characteristics of a population. Age, income level, gender, and marital status are some examples that fall under this category. 

  • Psychographic data: This refers to information about how a group thinks or feels. Their interests and values are some examples that belong in this category. 

  • Geographic data: This refers to information about where the target market lives. Besides the city or state, the language, climate, and whether the community is urban or rural are some examples of geographic data. 

  • Behavioral data: This refers to information about how the potential client acts. Some family law firms report a 25% to 30% increase in divorce filings in January compared to other months, which is an example of behavioral data. 

These data points shape how a law firm markets itself. By extension, information about the target client also influences the choice between long-form and short-form content. 

For example, a Thomson Reuters survey shows that 78% of legal consumers visit two to five different websites before contacting a lawyer. Thus, law firms need to show that their content is as comprehensive as possible so that potential clients no longer need to visit multiple sites. 

In another study by, 40% of Gen Z consumers — those born in 1997 and later — favor short-form content in video ads on social media sites. In other words, the younger generation would rather see an ad on TikTok than one on a chatbot. Given this, legal practices targeting clients in their early 20s must publish concise content. 

Data that comes from researching the target market is not the only information that can impact strategy. A law firm may also test its content with the help of marketing consultants to see how it performs. There are numerous ways to go about this.

One involves the use of heat maps. These graphical representations show colors depicting how long a reader stays on a particular website element. This data helps firms understand how a user engages with the content. Information from heat maps answers questions like, “Are users reading the entire article or looking for a specific fact?” 

Another way to assess how content is working is through A/B testing. This means that two versions of the same content are shown to different groups of website visitors simultaneously. The point of these tests is to check which version works better.  

Long-Form vs. Short-Form Content: Which Is Better for Legal Websites?

Ultimately, the more information lawyers have about their target market, the more confidence they have when creating a marketing strategy. A law firm can further hone its messaging, establish trust, and achieve growth through deep understanding. 

Improve Your Legal Content Strategy with Expertise

With over 420,000 law firms in the US, competition is fierce. Expertise Growth Marketing is your partner in navigating the unique challenges of legal marketing, offering a comprehensive suite of services designed to help your firm stand out. From generating high-quality leads and managing your online reputation to increasing your visibility on search engines and optimizing your paid media strategies, our team crafts custom solutions focused on delivering measurable results. Discover how to achieve your growth goals and drive more revenue with Expertise today.

FAQs on Long-Form vs Short-Form Content

Does the type of law practiced influence the effectiveness of long-form vs. short-form content?

To some extent, different clients have varied legal needs. For example, personal injury victims look for representation more quickly than the average legal services consumer. The concern over potential and actual health issues means that obtaining the services of a law firm is a top priority. 

As such, attorneys aiming to represent personal injury victims must improve their presence on mobile-first platforms. This differs from family law clients, who extensively research their issues. They want to educate themselves as much as possible, especially since the disputes involve personal matters like child custody and asset division. 

How can a balance between long-form and short-form content be achieved in a law firm’s content strategy?

To balance long-form and short-form content, a law firm can work with a digital marketing agency to analyze multiple factors. These include: 

  • Goal: This refers to the marketing objective the law firm aims to achieve.

  • Search intent: This refers to what the potential client is looking for.

  • Competition: This refers to data showing what content other law firms cover. 

  • Audience: This refers to how individuals interacted with published content in the past.  

A legal practice aiming to reach more clients may transform ebooks into audiobooks. This provides a new format for individuals to engage with. 

Are there any specific guidelines for creating long-form and short-form content for lawyers?

Yes. For instance, a lawyer cannot claim they are a specialist or an expert unless they have the credentials to support that claim. Also, if a law firm mentions that it provides nationwide representation, it may have to determine whether the content meets the ethics codes of all states. By using keywords specific to a local area in website elements like title tags, a law firm — with the help of a content marketing agency — can reduce the need to consider lawyer advertising rules throughout different locations.

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