When I started writing blog posts, one of my first questions was, “how long should my articles be?” And, you can probably guess, the team responded with, “However long it needs to be.”
Although this is a good rule of thumb, there are types of content that can be way better for rankings, conversion, and engagement. What kind? Long-form content.
WHAT IS LONG-FORM CONTENT?
Although it may appear self-evident, there are many various definitions of what long-form content is. Some people view articles more than 700 words to be long-form, while others believe that articles must be longer than 1,800 words. Let’s say that long-form content refers to articles that are 1,200 words or more.
You must use critical thinking skills while creating long-form content. It’s meant to be read (as opposed to skimmed). It’s well-researched and well-placed. It is not an article that crams as many keywords as possible onto a single page. To score highly and be considered beneficial by readers, long-form content must have depth and purpose. Long-form content is sometimes gated, requiring the audience to give personal information in order to access it. Articles, white papers, downloadable e-books, guidelines, and reports, to name a few, are some examples.
LONG-FORM VS. SHORT-FORM
Short-form material is referred to as “snackable content,” whereas long-form content is a meal. It’s usually between 400 and 600 words long and makes use of relevant key terms, buzzwords, and images to make its argument. It does not involve much critical thought and may be quickly skimmed. Listicles, blog articles, and infographics are some examples.
The purpose of any type of content (long or short form) is twofold: You should try to enhance your authority and boost KPIs that support your organization’s business goals in addition to providing value to your target audience. For example, if you want to increase social media engagement, you should create content that includes many independent infographics with share buttons next to them.
So, when should you use this type of content, and when should you not? First, consider your company’s objectives. In the following areas, long-form content usually surpasses short-form content:
Search Engine Results and Conversion Rates
According to a study, the top 10 search results were on average almost 2,000 words long. As a result, content length is a characteristic of a page that will rank well. Furthermore, according to a 2012 data analysis, there is a link between the number of backlinks received by longer articles.
It’s not the length of the content that matters, but what you do with it.
Context is important to search engines. Long articles can simply provide more context for the core issue by a) diving deeper into it and b) relating it to a larger number of related topics and showing the connection between them. Furthermore, search engines prefer broad or deep material over short or concentrated content. In reality, Google’s algorithm will penalize thin material in addition to not ranking it.
Additionally, there is growing evidence that organizations that post longer-form content have higher conversion rates.
Social Media Engagement
Long-form content increases organic reach, enhances SM algorithm rankings, and generates more social shares.
Long-form content is delivered straight to an audience who is already following you on social media. Because users are already logged in, these platforms inherently facilitate participation by increasing the likelihood of likes, shares, and comments. Blogs and certain websites, on the other hand, demand users to create an account before they can participate. Furthermore, social media provides statistics on engagement.
Long-form content is beneficial regardless of when it is published. Therefore, the average lifespan is more than sufficient. That’s because good, quality information is valuable when someone is seeking it, regardless of how long ago it was published (provided it’s not out-of-date). For example, a tweet has an average lifespan of 18 minutes and becomes obsolete after 24 hours.
You should, however, examine your target audience. Attention spans are no longer what they once were!
Long-form content has been shown to lower conversion rates in some audience segments if the additional information conflicts with their prior understanding of the product or service, making them less willing to try it.
Furthermore, long-form content takes a long time to create, but short-form content may be produced rapidly. In reality, a combination of these content types is optimal for your content marketing approach. It’s just a matter of setting priorities.
HOW TO CREATE LONG-FORM CONTENT
Outline Your Goals
So, why do you want to create long-form content? First, make a list of what you’re looking for. Do you want to increase brand recognition? Do you want to build a relationship with your customers, expand your email list, generate leads, or do something else?
Your objectives will guide how you carry out the project and hold you accountable for evaluating its success.
- Who is the content intended for?
- Why are you writing it?
- What would you consider a success, and how will you evaluate it?
Gated or Ungated?
Gated content requires users to provide you their email address (or other information) in order to download your work, whereas ungated content does not.
We usually prefer unrestricted content because the value of having something open and shareable outweighs a few email addresses in the long run. Many firms, however, rely on these types of resources for lead generation; thus, gating the work is crucial. It is entirely up to you and your goals to make this decision.
Choose a Topic
Refer back to your goals if you’re having trouble coming up with a topic for a long-form piece of content. Your goal should come first, followed by the issue.
What kinds of topics will pique your audience’s interest and inspire the engagement and behavior you desire?
Consider the following:
- What are people looking for in terms of keywords and search queries?
- What content do you already have that is working well, perhaps on your blog?
- Who are you aiming for as a target audience? What is it that makes them tick?
- What else is out there in terms of competition? (Can you beat them?)
Now to the best part—writing! Quality will make your content flourish, whether you do it in-house or employ a freelancer. Although top quality content comes at a cost, readable, professional content is the difference between content that succeeds and content that fails.
If you’re hiring a freelancer, make sure you give them a detailed overview. Inform them of your objectives and introduce them to your target audience. When you give freelancers highly comprehensive outlines of what should be in each chapter, you should expect great results. In addition, if you’re not a big fan of editing, you might want to give the writer more leeway.
You have to decide:
- Will you create the content yourself, or will you employ a freelancer?
- Budget: What is the maximum amount you are willing to pay? Be aware that established writers charge more for their services.
- Will you provide a freelancer a detailed outline, or will you let them go with it?
Have a Promotion Strategy
How often have you written a blog article, crossed your fingers, and hoped it would go viral?
It’s critical to have a thorough, comprehensive, and innovative promotion strategy if you’ve put a lot of effort into a piece of long-form material.
Outbound strategies (paid ads) may be combined with email updates, features on your company’s homepage, and a direct mail campaign. You might also use long-form writing to promote an event, a contest, or a giveaway. And keep in mind that reaching out to influencers is a tried-and-true method that works. Whatever you do, you’ll need all hands on deck to ensure that your guide is a huge hit.
Now Get Started!
You’d be excused for assuming that long-form was a thing of the past in today’s world of information overload, short attention spans, and limitless consumer options.
However, the need for in-depth, well-researched, meticulously crafted content is as strong as it has ever been.
This is because people are adjusting to the ever-increasing number of options available to them. They recognize that the majority of it is noise and respond by searching out only the best available content.
They seek content that they can trust. They want their issues and goals to be treated seriously and thoroughly explored. They also want everything to be conveniently accessible.
If your brand can regularly express this level of empathy for what the reader really wants, you’ll have a good chance of attracting a loyal audience base.
So, if you want to ramp up your content marketing, long-form blog posts are the way to go!