February 17, 2020 Why long-form content is important

By Ali Pinch

person writing on white notebook

While snackable content is more popular than ever, long-form blog content reigns supreme. Taking the time to pen over 1,200 words may seem like an overwhelming process, but the benefits of long-form content are substantial. From increasing shareability to building brand credibility and SEO rankings – long-form content can re-energise your content strategy. Let’s see how!

What is considered long-form?

Before we get into the nitty gritty of why you should have long-form blogs, let’s clear up any confusion about what this actually means. Long-form content can be a collection of tips and tricks, say about content marketing, or maybe it’s a captivating way to tell a story, like a travel blog. Popular blogging platform, Medium, suggests the optimal length-to-engagement ratio should be 1,600 words (or, an average of seven minutes reading time).

The benefits of long-form blog content

One of the most important elements of developing a content strategy is taking a step back to review if what you’re currently putting out there is helping you achieve your goals. SERP slumping? Audience engagement low? Not happy with your conversion rates? This is where long-form content can come in.

While the time investment into writing one may seem like a pain, the benefits of long-form content can include:

  • Better Google rankings
  • More opportunity for long-tail keyword optimisation
  • Increased backlinks
  • More time spent on your website
  • Social media shareability
  • Brand credibility
  • Smarter content creation.

Better Google rankings

Google loves good quality content. A SerpIQ study showed that the best-ranking SEO articles were long-form content with a 2,000+ word length, outperforming short-form blogs. Why? Because they’re more likely to provide answers readers are searching for in one place, rather than having to jump around from one piece of content to the next. In turn, Google rewards long-form blog content with higher search rankings.

More opportunity for long-tail keyword optimisation

Highly targeted long-tail keywords and conversational phrases, such as location-based keywords, are less competitive and convert exceptionally well for businesses. Given the increased real estate you have with a 1,500+ word blog, this allows you a bigger canvas to weave long-tail keywords into your piece and increase your ranking for niche terms.

For example, if you’re writing about sustainable fashion, packing long-tail keywords in, like ‘ethical clothing in Australia’ and ‘how to avoid fast fashion’ can be much easier when you have 1500+ words to play with. In turn, this can help you rank on a number of different sustainable fashion search terms, rather than just focusing on a couple.

This is especially important as we move into the voice search revolution, where long-tail keywords and conversational phrases are much more leverageable with Google’s algorithm.

Increased backlinks

If your content is well researched, it can attract backlinks from other websites. Backlinks are a link from one website to another, which Google uses as a ranking signal that your content is valuable to the reader. The more comprehensive your content, the more likely you’ll earn quality backlinks from outside sources, which will then boost your long-form content’s credibility in the eyes of Google.

More time spent on your website

If your content is comprehensive and well written, people will generally spend more time on your website. Plus, if you link to other pages on your website, like older and relevant blogs, this will give readers more content to jump to, increasing the time spent on your website. Content guru, Neil Patel, found readers stayed on his long-form content guide pages 40% longer, and looked at 25% more pages than the average visitor.

Social media shareability

According to OkDork.com, content with 3,000-10,000 words gets the most average shares on social media, compared to any other content. This may seem surprising given that Buzzfeed-like content – about dogs, cats and star signs – seems to rule our social media feeds.

Despite their feed dominance, there’s 16x more short-form pieces (1,000 words or less) than there are long-form (2,000+ words). This goes to show that there’s plenty of opportunity to tell your story and share your insights – the social media community want to hear it! The shareability factor shows there’s more bang for your buck with quality long-form blogs, rather than churning out lots of short-form ones to get your message out there.

Brand credibility

Producing valuable content can help build your brand credibility. It’s easy to waffle your way through 2,000 words but creating good quality content that tells the complete story, rather than just the highlights, is much more difficult.

A study by Pew shows that people read long-form and short-form articles for around the same time, but spend more time engaging with long-form pieces. While it seems obvious that readers are spending more time on a longer piece, if an article is captivating enough, people will focus beyond the point of where short-form ends.

This is because you can express a more comprehensive and detailed picture of your message than you would with short-form content, adding weight to your brand identity and credibility. The more long-form articles you produce, the more this builds on your image as a trusted source of knowledge.

Smarter content creation

While a long-form blog can be a major time investment, the content itself can be repurposed across many platforms. Instead of constantly creating new content to sit across all your platforms, use what you already have and turn this into bite-sized chunks.

For example, you can cut up your long-form blog into bite-sized chunks to use across your socials. Repurposing your content is a great strategy to both satisfy your audiences’ needs for new material and make your content work harder for you.

TED nails the art of smart content creation. They turn talks and events into long-form pieces, neatly wrapping up the ‘Big idea’, ‘how’ and ‘quote of the talk’ for each speaker. This goes to show that long-form content doesn’t need to be original in any way.

How to write long-form content

Now you know the benefits, it’s time to get writing.

Set your goal

In order to use long-form as a weapon in your content marketing arsenal, you need to have a clear aim to guide you through. Are you looking to build brand credibility or boost your audience engagement across socials? Do you want to get more people into your sales funnel through SEO rankings, or increase your page views and the time spent on your website?

Whatever your goal is, some things to consider are:

  • What’s the reason for producing it?
  • Who’s your target audience?

How you’re going to measure the success of the content (page views, number of social shares, CTA sales conversions).

Choose your topic

Once you’ve picked your goal, next up is your topic – both should be connected. If you’re a content agency trying to showcase your expertise, writing about the importance of long-form content would be more fitting than writing about health and wellbeing.

Good places to start:

  • Keyword research: what are people searching for? What long-tail keywords can you capture easily.
  • Existing data: do you have any customer surveys or page analytics you can use? Do you know what’s worked well with topics in the past and what hasn’t?

Look at the competition: what are other people in your industry doing? If they’ve already published similar content, it may be worth angling away from that topic so you can stand out from the crowd.

Select your channel

Once you’ve picked your audience, your purpose and your topic, think about the way that you’d like to relay your message. Remember, long-form content doesn’t just need to be an article – it can be a series of e-books, guides, listicles and infographics. A 1,500+ word piece of content can be jam-packed with information, so structuring this in the right way can seal the value of your piece.

For example, if you’re writing a content marketing 101 guide, this may be better conveyed in an e-book format, where the information is broken down into digestible segments and images.

Get writing!

Now to put pen to paper. Having a clear structure and direction for your piece can help make sure your message doesn’t get lost in the 1,500-word abyss. For readers, long-form content can be difficult to digest too, so writing in way that they can navigate easily is important. Listicles, images, bold headings and sub-topics are quick wins to make your value-packed content simpler to read.

Don’t know where to start? At Avion Communications, our team of copywriters can help your brand shine through a long-form content strategy. Contact us today to learn about how we can create value-packed content that connects with your audience.