Do you understand short-form vs long-form content content?
There are two schools of thought in today’s content marketing industry.
- One asserts that shorter articles (short-form content) are more effective, given the short attention span of most readers.
- The other is saying that longer articles (long-form content) offer a better way to engage readers and reward them with a more beneficial experience.
This article will not dispute the first contention, as it is founded on a solid and reasonable premise. Nonetheless, we will discuss writing longer articles and how they can be beneficial in their own right.
What Is Long-Form Content?
Aside from having two philosophies in terms of the optimum length of an article, there are also many definitions of what could be considered as long-form. There are those who believe that articles longer than 700 words fit the bill. Others think that they should be longer than 1,800 words to earn the label of long-form. However, a large majority of content marketers argue that long-form articles should be longer than 1,200 words. This will be our frame of reference in this article.
Given its length, long-form content can accommodate a wealth of information on any given topic, which it can then pass on to its readers. Still, writing one can be daunting, even to the most seasoned writers. It requires a lot of time, effort, and research. Keyword usage must also be deftly done. But if implemented well, you can have long-form content that ranks highly with search engines and is genuinely useful to its readers.
What Are the Benefits of Using Long-Form Content?
Most people do not have the time or the patience to plow through a long article, especially if they are just browsing. More often than not, they would just skim it and get to the meaty parts. But imagine you are an entrepreneur who needs to create high-ranking content to drum up business. The thought of generating organic traffic keeps you up at night, and you are anxious to learn how to get this done. Then you go online and stumble on short articles that offer little to no help. You realize that you need content with more substance, something that only a long-form article can offer. There are plenty of benefits to using long-form content, some of which are discussed below:
1. It gets the attention of search engines.
If you ask digital marketers what their top-ranking content is, they would most likely tell you that these are articles over 2,000 words long. This could not be considered as light reading, and it makes you wonder why search engines are rewarding it with more ranking points.
To get to the bottom of this, it is important to note that search engines are more focused on context. Longer articles are more visible to Google or Bing, not because of the number of words you wrote, but because of the amount of information, you are able to fit in the article.
With a lower word count, it is so easy to come up with thin content that offers little to no value. This can be considered as bad content. Not only does it end up wasting the time of the reader, but it actually draws penalties from search engines in terms of ranking points.
2. It attracts more backlinks from other websites.
A longer article with more information lends authority to the page it is posted on. It establishes your brand as a thought leader in the industry you operate in. This reputation will help you earn more backlinks from other websites that offer products or services similar to yours. This, in turn, will propel you further up in the search engine results pages, putting your brand in front of more of your target audience and driving up your sales. While long-form content requires more of your time, energy, and even money, all these benefits will help you get more return on your investment.
Creating long-form content is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to acquire natural, merit-based backlinks!
3. It gives you more avenues to tell your brand story.
Some brands use long-form content to tell their story more effectively while providing useful information to their target audience. If done tastefully, it can resonate with readers more powerfully.
For instance, a car manufacturer can create content that takes a reader on a journey through the company’s history. This can contain some of the most successful models over the years, including some details about the cars. This makes for an informative and entertaining way to engage potential customers and encourage brand loyalty.
4. It keeps the reader on your website longer.
If your article is skillfully done and is truly helpful, it will keep the visitor reading, no matter how long it is. This means that the reader would be willing to spend more time on your website. The more invested they are in your content, the less likely they are to bounce off your pages. These are the types of readers that are more amenable to purchase your products, hire your services, or take other profitable action in your favour.
Aside from increasing your conversion rate, the increased time spent on your website helps build trust with potential customers. Even if they do not make an outright purchase during the first visit, they will leave your pages with a better understanding of your story and more appreciation for your brand. This means that if the time comes that they do need to make a purchase, they are more likely to come back to your website for it.
5. It stays relevant for a longer period.
Studies have shown that the shorter a content is, the shorter is its lifespan. For instance, the optimum lifespan of a Twitter post is estimated at 18 minutes. After 24 hours, it will become obsolete.
Long-form content packed with relevant information remains useful for a longer period, which means that you need less time and energy updating your pages to maintain your SERP ranking.
6. It gives you something to promote.
Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are great for promoting blog posts. This often gives you the chance to connect with your target audience.
However, with the limited value of shorter articles, they do not offer enough for you to launch a full-blown marketing campaign or strategy, which you need to reach more potential customers.
If you do not have something substantial to promote yet, you could try creating long-form content. This will give you the opportunity to launch a campaign and even try out certain types of ads, putting your brand in the line of sight of more readers and creating more quality leads.
7. It establishes your brand as an authority in the industry.
Apart from attracting more inbound links to your pages, creating effective long-form content can establish your brand as a credible source of information. Whether you post a helpful guide, an FAQ, or simply tell an inspiring story, it shows that you are not only knowledgeable about the industry but also passionate about anything that is relevant to it, giving them more motivation to purchase your products or hire your services.
8. It helps maintain your relationship with current customers.
While investing on longer articles can help you draw in new visitors, it can also help you maintain your connection with current customers. You can reach out to them and promote your new long-form content, after which you can ask them for feedback. This gives them an excuse to visit your website again and possibly make another purchase. It also helps keep your customers loyal to your brand and steer them away from exploring other options.
How to Create Long-Form Content that Works
Before you start typing or writing your long-form content, it is important to have a plan in place. This will put you in the best position to create an article that will have the desired effect. Below are some tips on how to get this done:
Establish your business goals
While your first thought when writing a long article is to give your intended reader a meaningful experience, there are business implications that you should not forget to consider. Do you want to generate more organic traffic? Do you want to increase your conversion rate? Will your content grow your email list? These are just some of the many questions you have to answer first before you can get started. This information will help you decide which readers to target, what to write, and how to determine if it is successful once it is posted. You could also take this opportunity to decide if you want it to be gated or not.
Choose a topic based on your goals
Once you have set a direction for your article, you can now decide on how to proceed. Come up with a topic that will help you achieve the goals you have established. To narrow down your search, you can use popular keywords or search terms to get a sense of what people are looking for or use data analytics to find out which of your pages are doing well so you can create similar content. You could also check out your competition and see which content is successful and try to come up with something better. Find out more on our post entitled, Quality Content Checklist.
Write your long-form content
When it comes to writing your content, the first decision you have to make is whether to outsource it or do it in-house. But whichever way you go, you must make sure that the article’s outline is clear. This is a bit easier to do since you have already answered most of the essential questions about your content. At 1st on the List, we have expert content writers that are available to help create engaging and informative content for your website. If you’re seeking to hire a content writer with an in-depth understanding of SEO and how to create content that satisfies the needs of search engines like Google and Bing, then reach out to our team today!
Create a content marketing strategy
Finishing your content does not mean that the job is done. You should not just post it and hope for the best. Do not let your efforts so far go to waste by creating a comprehensive content marketing strategy that will get the word out about your brand new content.
Using the above tips, you could be on your way to creating long-form content that holds the reader’s attention, gives them a meaningful experience, and guides them through the conversion funnel.
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