Why Long-Form Content Can Help You Get More Traffic
The age old debate of “Do SEOs like it long or not?” is finally over. With the advent of 2016, it has become quite clear that when it comes to content, long form content is ine of the most successful blogging practices out there.
This might seem odd, considering that the average attention span of a human in today’s world is just 8 seconds. But think about what potential customers or people really interested in a topic want- they want information that is valuable to them.
The majority of blogs out there are 500-700 words, a blog that crosses that limit stands out from the crowd, and therefore, people gravitate towards it.
Why Does Long Form Content Work?
Let’s say you need to know content marketing for your startup.
You spend a long time on the internet looking for content that will be helpful but only come across scanty material. Then you find a blog that covers the topic thoroughly, taking you through each step of content marketing – from finding the target audience to tracking the analytics.
Which one would be more beneficial to you? The first one would be okay if you just want an overview, but if you actually want to learn the tips and tricks of the trade, then the second one would be the one that you would prefer.
The same applies for long form content. If someone has come to your page with the intention of actually learning something, then you need to satiate their hunger for knowledge. If the information is truly valuable, they will be hooked and will want to keep reading more.
Statistics back this, by revealing that the “short” attention span of our generation exceeds expectations when it comes to hunting for resourceful content, and the ideal length of a blog in 2016 is a 7-minute read, which translates to 1700 words.
Quote from Neil Patel
Image Source: neilpatel.com
If someone wants to learn how to make it as a digital marketer, and spend hours trying to be successful in their trade, they will be overjoyed to find a blog that explains the world of digital marketing and the pointers that can get them to the top. If freelance content writers stay up nights, writing article after article, but doesn’t get paid enough to sustain themselves, then a blog post that provides real insights into freelance writing will be their saving grace.
These people would prefer a one-stop-solution to their problems, i.e. a lengthy post that covers everything they need, instead of having to get information from dozens of different sources.
After reading these lengthy posts, when readers realise that they have gained valuable information that they can use in their crafts, they begin to trust you. This trust means that they will keep a look-out for things that you post, as they know it is worth and authentic.
Longer Blogs are More SEO Friendly
If more people read longer content that means more people want to find longer content through an internet search, which is why Search Engines have updated their algorithms in such a way that longer content is preferred.
The Internet search giant, Google, keeps updating its algorithm with every phase of the moon, and we can only speculate about how it exactly ranks content. However, if you have some time on your hands, you can look at the first few pages of a Google query search result, and will realise that all of them are long-form content.
“How to play Pokemon Go like a pro” Search result
We performed a search, “How to play Pokemon Go like a pro” and the first few results were all lengthy guides containing all the information we could ever need to be an expert at the game, as seen in the picture above.
A study done by serpIQ shows that this wasn’t just a coincidence. Looking at the summarised data in the image below, we can see that the top results that show up on the first page of Google have an average length of approx. 2500 words.
Image Source: serpiq.com
What is more, Pandu Nayak, one of the members of Google’s technical staff, said in a post on the Google Webmaster’s Blog, “up to 10% of users’ daily information needs involve learning about a broad topic. That’s why today we’re introducing new search results to help users find in-depth articles.”
So long-form content can officially be added to your list of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Tips and Tricks, since creating “compelling in-depth content” is a recommendation given by Google itself.
Long-Form Content is More Successful on Social Media
Longer content can go viral on social media faster.
Even a website like Twitter, which is all about saying more in less number of words, prefers tweets that are on the higher side of the 140 character limit, with 100 words being the sweet spot.
Image Source: blog.hubspot.com
We have all seen long posts on Facebook, which slowly build up, and appeal to the emotional side of people. These posts use words generously to take the readers on a journey and therefore have a huge number of likes, comments, and shares.
Studies show that longer content gets more shares, which means if you invest time in writing your content you can drive more traffic to your website or blog and isn’t that the point of writing the content in the first place?
Lengthier Content Helps in Inbound Marketing
Having long evergreen content on your website will ensure that you keep getting traffic long after the content has been posted.
In a recent report by Hubspot, it was revealed that companies save an average of $20,000 every year by investing in inbound marketing. So the time you are going to spend on creating long-form content is going to be well worth it as it is going to give you a great Return On Investment (ROI).
Image Source: relevance.com
Example of some big names that use long-form content successfully are:
- Hubspot: It offers gigantic e-books covering a broad range of marketing topics.
- New York Times: The name speaks for itself when it comes to producing content, and it should be noted that they don’t just create excellent content, they create excellent long-form content.
- Neil Patel: The co-founder of KISSmetrics, Hello Bar, and Crazy Egg, Neil Patel sure knows a thing or two about lengthy content. His massive blog posts garner a lot of online attention, and for good reason.
Who Has the Time to Write Such Long Blogs?
Now there are those of you who will be wondering about the effort that will go into writing long-form content and if it is worth it. But in the words of the famous writer Paulo Coehlo, “Forget about shortcuts. Instead, enjoy the wonders of your path.” Take pleasure in writing longer content, knowing that you are investing time for the sake of being useful to someone somewhere.
Spending time on writing long and informative content shows that you are enthusiastic about the topic you are writing, which is why a reader tends to read it. They know that it is not just a marketing gimmick, but an actual attempt at sharing the understanding of a domain. Long-form content shows that you are a position of authority about the domain you are writing about.
The best part is, if people are reading your lengthy blog posts, it means they are spending more time on your blog or website.
Quality Over Quantity
Just because you now know that long-form content works well for you does not mean that you can string a lot of words together and get attention on the web, just like throwing in a lot of keywords where they don’t fit will not get you a good ranking on a Search Engine Result’s Page (SERP). Your content has to make sense to the target audience. This means that you should only opt for long-form content when you have something substantial to say, if you want to give a message to your readers, or if you are an expert in your domain and wish to share your knowledge.
If you care about the domain you are writing on, then you will only post content that is well-researched and eloquent. Not only will you spend time on doing keyword and factual research, but you will also make sure that it stands out from the plethora of content already present on the web.
Tips to Write Long-Form Content:
- Choose a topic that falls in a domain that you have ample knowledge about. If you are well-versed in a subject, you will be able to provide personal suggestions that will make you stand out from other content on the web.
- Pick a topic that needs a lot of detail. A celebrity divorce may not warrant 2000 words.
- Make sure the topic is evergreen and is searched all around the year, and will be looked up for years to come.
- Choose the right format. Infographics will get you more shares, but whitepapers and e-books will get you more lead conversions.
- Provide a summary at the beginning
- Use subheading to make the post easy to navigate
- Use images so that the post is more attractive, and not dull. You can also add GIFs and embed videos to keep the content interactive.
- Don’t make your paragraphs too long. People don’t like reading big blocks of text; break them into different paragraphs.
- Use bullets where possible. It is easier for a reader to process the information given in bullet points.
- Write as if you are talking to one of your customers. Try to answer questions you think they have.
- Since the content is long, keep it conversational. It should be easy for a reader; avoid a lot of jargon.
- Besides niche-oriented blog posts, write a lot of content for Landing Pages, Product Pages, and Service Pages, that is, content that drives people to take some action (that is, opt for your service/product)
- Choose if you want your readers to sign up before having access to your content (gated content). Gated content is better for SEO, but a lot of readers may not be willing to fill in a form and register for reading a content piece.
- Do not copy paste content in order to avoid writing long content; the same content appearing at multiple places on a website can lead to it being penalized by search engines.
- Don’t just focus on the length of the blog and forget essential practices like keywords, the length of the title, share buttons, etc.
So don’t just keep churning out 500-word blogs because it is easy to do so; set a target of 2000 words for your next blog. Short form content will always have a place in the content industry, but trends keep changing, and you must adapt to long-form content in order to keep up.
If you are still in doubt about lengthy content, here is a small exercise. Ask yourself – why didn’t you leave this blog post halfway?
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