With Google updating its search algorithms sometimes 60x a month, and as more and more people are trying to find ways to make their work stand out, marketers are turning their efforts towards long-form content.
What is long-form content you ask? Long-form content is essentially an article that is longer than the standard blog post, though what qualifies and what doesn’t is a matter that is up for debate. Some people define long-form content as being more than 700 words, while others insist that it is longer than 4000 words.
I tend to go off what two major SEO marketing authorities say.
– Bright Edge –
Bright Edge offers probably the most robust enterprise SEO marketing tools in the industry while running a very informative blog. Big companies like Nike turn to Bright Edge for marketing advice so I’d say its safe for us to trust their opinion. And they say between 1500 – 2000 words.
– Moz –
Arguably the most popular marketing blog on the internet and endorsed by google themselves. Moz also pegs long form content around 1500 words as well.
I’d say lets be safe and make it a tad longer at a solid 2000 words. I personally feel like 4000 is allot to take in for the average person in one sitting. You want it to be deep good content, but also not make the user feel like they are reading a book. If the user wants a book experience they will buy a book. If they are checking out a blog, just by sheer actions they are sending the signal they want a single sitting, short – type serving of content. Keep this user intent in mind when writing your articles. Also different industries and topics will have different “standards” for content length. Make sure you are checking out what other authority blogs in your space are doing to get an idea of the number of words you should target.
When it comes to content marketing, especially in today’s content-driven searches, long-form work is seeing a steady increase in interest. If you have been paying attention to all the blogs and marketing authorities the term “Long – Form Content” has almost become trendy. But heres the thing, its trending because its working.
Now that we know what it is, its time to ask the questions. Why is long-form content doing so well, and how can you utilize it to get the attention that you need?
When you get right down to it, anyone can write a 500 word article. It takes some people longer than others, but when your readers read a quick blog post that you have written, they are usually thinking that they could have done the same thing. When they read something longer that you have written, they naturally assume that they are reading something from someone with authority. They also recognize consciously and subconsciously the effort it takes to write longer form articles. This inherently implies to the readers mind it must be more “authoritative” content as clearly more time was spent on creating it. Isn’t that what you want when it come to blogging? You want people to trust your opinion and view you as an authority . They days of accomplishing that with small one off articles are gone, we have entered a new age with content. Internet users are getting more and more savvy at sifting out crappy content and one of the ways they do that is length
The longer the length and the more you offer, the more they realize that they cannot replicate the content if they wanted too, and that makes them a lot more interested in what you have to offer. People prefer to read things written by experts. After all, most people read to learn more about the world, and when you can establish yourself as an authority, you are offering them a higher value of education.
Engaging Your Readers
When someone reads a short blog post, they are only invested in your work for a few minutes at best. However, when they sit down to read a few thousand words on your blog, they are making a commitment. With this commitment comes engagement. The longer they spend reading your words, whether they are looking to start a business, to learn how to knit or to figure out where the best restaurants in town are, the more engaged they are going to be.
When your readers become more engaged with your work, they will find themselves coming back to it over and over again to see if you have put out something new. We have an insatiable appetite for content. And that appetite is only growing bigger and bigger.
However, keep in mind like I mentioned in the opening paragraph you also need to respect the readers time. When they commit to a blog post, they are committing to exactly just that. A blog post. Not a book, not a magazine or a newspaper. You want the content to be long and deep, but also digestible in a single sitting. When you hit that perfect balance where the reader can sit down and experience some quality content but accomplish it in a reasonable amount of time, they will keep coming back for more and more.
Another point, convenience is king. Make sure that its not long because its full of fluff and shallow points. Also, make sure its easy to read. Its not that hard to break up long blocks of text with pictures. Don’t worry if the picture is the “perfect” picture or not, whats important is that it offers variety to the eyes and breaks up the text which makes it look less like “work” to read and more like “Interesting”.
One of the most obvious reasons to write long-form content is because you can simply pack more details into the content. This is something that readers are looking for, and if you can give it to them, they will keep coming back for more.
For example, if you are creating instructions for how to make a sandwich, you could simply state “place food between two pieces of bread.” That is what a shorter article is like. With a longer piece, you can get into the type of bread that you should choose, fillings that go great together, shredded vs leafed lettuce, different types of olives, how to grill the bread perfectly and how to make the sandwich look more appealing when you are done.
Thats what a long form article is like, you can get down into the nitty gritty of the topic and for those interested in your topic, that is generally what they are looking for. Its smart to remember that you are speaking to people who are passionate about your topic. You can “nerd out” so to speak all you want. You may bore a few people who aren’t terribly interested in your topic, but that pales in comparison to the returning loyal fans you will create with the people who love your topic.
People more often than not are in need very for very specific information, and long-form content is much more likely to provide that. Readers know this, they will often open an article and perform a snap judgement. If the content appears to be short or thin, they will hit that back button and go back to the SERP and continue to look for the information they seek.
If they do that, thats what google calls a “bounce” and the more often someone hops on your site and back right out the worse you look to google. Eventually they will lower your rankings if that happens enough so not only is it in you and your readers best interest to have long form content but it also helps with your rankings. Which in turns helps with just about everything else.
A Resource to Offer
One thing that many marketers are noticing is that long-form content is more commonly shared than short-form content. When your readers find a resource that they gain value from, they are going to share it. Long-form content gives you a longer time to “scratch their itch” so to speak and increase the likely hood they will share your article. When people have invested time in reading 2 thousand plus words that you have written, they are more often than not inclined to like it by the end. Otherwise they probably won’t finish the article in the first place.
When you are thinking about the content that you want to use to market yourself, consider long-form content. It takes more effort to produce, but in the end, it can make a huge impression on your readership. Consider topics that can support long-form content, and consider topics that you know enough about to support a long form article.
A quick recap: 2000 words is a safe amount, respect your readers time, delve into the nitty gritty details, be as passionate as your readers, break up text and make it convenient to read. Long form content isn’t just a trend, its here to stay.