Sometimes, it’s shocking that long-form content is still around.
Think about it: we live in a 24-hour news cycle world where everything seems to be about speed, efficiency, and convenience. The newest celebrity scandal is only hours away from being ancient history.
People are getting their news in 280 characters or less.
Speed is the name of the game.
Yet, this impulse to make everything quick and convenient has not rendered long-form content obsolete; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Our culture of instant gratification has created an opening where people are looking for longer, more in-depth content.
This is an opportunity you need to capitalize on in your marketing strategy!
The Difference Between Long-Form and Short-Form Content
When it comes to the difference between long-form and short-form content, there isn’t a magical number of words that separate the two. While long-form content will obviously have a greater content length, it is better to separate the two by thinking, instead, about their purpose.
Long-form content is meant to be read and analyzed by a reader who is interested in the subject and wants to learn more. It is content that the reader is actively trying to learn about.
Short-form content, on the other hand, is meant to be quickly accessible and easy to browse. It is meant to capture the attention of the reader who wasn’t necessarily looking for the topic of your content but rather happened upon it. That is why capturing attention is paramount in short-form content while long-form content requires authority and substance.
The difference between the two has been usefully compared to a meal and a snack.
Other than purpose, the two types of content tend to be delivered in different formats.
Long-form content would include things like investigative journalism, blogs, surveys of scientific literature, opinion pieces, and even documentary-style video productions. The common denominator is that all of these formats allow the author to cover a topic in considerable detail.
Conversely, short-form content often includes a lot of lists, keywords, and infographics. Posts from sites like Buzzfeed are a prime example of this type of writing.
The idea behind producing long-form content is to attract potential clients by answering their questions on a particular subject.
If done properly your long-form content, such as a blog post, will answer the readers’ questions in a way that is authoritative and inspires confidence in your business. The increase in authority and confidence that long-form allows has been found to improve conversion rates by up to 30%.
The idea is simple: provide information to grow customer confidence in your business and convert that confidence into new sales.
For example, a law firm may hire a writer to write a blog on the implications of being charged for driving under the influence (DUI). Then, when someone who has been charged with a DUI turns to Google trying to figure out what to do next, they will find the blog.
Upon reading qualified content the potential client realizes the need for a lawyer and is already on the law firm’s website. Through a simple blog post, the law firm stands out from the competition and generates new business.
People Are Looking For Long-Form Content
It is true that much of our society seems to be focused on speed, researchers have even found that hashtags are now trending for shorter periods of time than they used to. However, there is concrete evidence that people are looking for long-form content.
Podcasts are a prime example of long-form content that is thriving. The most-viewed episode of the popular Joe Rogan Podcast has a running time of 2:37:03 and has been viewed 36,855,598 times!
In recent years podcasts have been reaching more and more people, crossing an important milestone in 2019 as more than 50% of Americans had listened to a podcast.
This isn’t a purely American phenomenon either. A recent survey revealed that almost a quarter of Canadians had listened to a podcast in the last week. All of this growth has happened while traditional short-form news stations such as Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC have all seen significant drops in viewership in the last year.
Blog content is a good form of inbound marketing. The need for long-form content isn’t limited to podcasts. Indeed, long-form blog content receives much more attention online. Research has found that articles that are 900 words or longer are shared more often, have more page views, and receive more backlinks than shorter articles.
Backlinks are important because they help increase the authority of your page in Google algorithms which in turn helps your webpage perform better! The same research also found that articles that had a word count of 7000 words or more received 4 times more traffic and 1.5 times more shares than articles that had a word count of 900-1200 words.
The evidence is clear, whether it comes to podcasts or blogs there is a clear desire amongst consumers to access long-form content. However, to ensure you receive maximum returns on your investment in long content, you must understand how long-form content works in search engines before you start the content creation process.
How to Make Long Form Content Work for Search Engines
The old days of simply stuffing keywords into short-form content to help it rank better in Google are gone.
While Google algorithms still employ keywords, they have become more intelligent and now understand content much better than they previously did. This has caused a shift towards favoring the substance of content rather than keywords alone.
Consider which subjects your target audience is searching for and how your SEO work lines up with your content strategy. Here is a list of tips about how you can optimize your long-form content to ensure readers can find it.
Provide Useful Content for Customers AND Other Businesses
Google ranks articles according to their authority on a subject matter. A way to create quality content is to increase the authority of your long-form post. One way to do this is to have other websites provide more backlinks to your content.
Try finding topics that are useful to businesses that aren’t your direct competitors but are complementary to your industry, product, or service. Such businesses are more likely to provide backlinks to your content than your direct competition.
Keep It Simple
While substance is the most important in long-form content, you still need to optimize the way it is delivered for search engines. Google recommends using clear titles that represent the topic of the writing and to make sure that headings are used to clearly organize information in a way that is easy to navigate. This will be beneficial for search engine optimization (SEO) and the reader.
Words Still Matter
Nonsensical keyword stuffing is ineffective. For example, writing something like “Delicious Ice Cream Shop Selling Delicious Ice Cream Flavors” would not perform well because it sacrifices coherence for keywords. However, the choice of words still matters. It has simply become more complex as Google’s algorithms have become more intelligent.
You should research which keywords are very popular, which ones are most commonly associated with your topic, and what are people looking for when researching your topic. Use these searches to help narrow the substance of your content.
Understanding the user search intent will help you align the substance of long-form content with the power of search algorithms. To fully capture the power of SEO technology it may also be worthwhile to hire a company that uses AI to optimize the substance of your long-form content for keywords, authority, and search intent.
Life is About Balance: Long-Form Content and Short-Form Content
In the end, it is clear that there is a place for long-form content in any well-developed content marketing strategy.
Long-form content can improve conversion rates, convey authority on a subject, and (especially when optimized) perform very well in search engines. However, there is no denying that people still consume a lot of their information in shorter formats.
Therefore, much like everything in life, balance is the key when debating between long-form and short-form content for your website. If you are looking to find that balance and improve the quality of your content, consider okwrite!
Our team of professional writers and content editors can help you craft a strategy that will help you take your content to the next level!