The Long Form Content Strategy and How to Make It Work
January 27, 2021
You have your site. You have your blog. Now, you’re ready to put your company at the forefront of digital marketing through SEO and…now you have to figure out a way to be heard through the noise. With supposedly over 500 million blogs floating in cyberspace, how can you possibly hope to capture the attention of the audience of your company? The answer: long-form content.
In the new normal, budgets are tight, and results will always be king. The question is, how can you turn your content into sales?
Why Long-Form Content Works
By now, everyone in marketing knows that current audiences have the same attention span as a goldfish: eight seconds. And on social media, the shorter things are, the better. The more people you reach, the better. But does that strategy truly work for written content? To be sure, casting a wide net to cater to different preferences quickly can gain views, but it won’t be sustainable.
Ironically, even with shorter attention spans, what makes your content successful is to prove yourself an authority on the matter and write longer articles. Some of these simple rules from Neil Patel can help increase your blog traffic by 206%! And it makes perfect sense. In an age where just about anyone can write content (including tweeners), people are looking for content creators they can trust, much like children who look to teachers for their authority and lengthy lectures to gain knowledge. If that means investing time in long reads, they will do it.
Topical Authority as the Gold Standard
In an age rife with fake news, conspiracy theories, and hearsay, people are now hungrier for actual facts—and usable, truth-based insights—than they have ever been. Setting yourself up as an authority on a particular interest means that you have won half the battle for people’s attention. With Google’s algorithms evolving to be smarter than just relying on keywords, your content needs to be rich with information as the search engine continually evolves to focus on context, meaning, and natural language.
However, creating and curating content on a particular topic on your site is not the only way you can garner topical authority. Link-building is another great way to build on your reputation, especially when sites with authority themselves link back to your content. This means that people find you credible, even if you don’t write on a daily basis. At the end of the day, link-building is all about trusting their sources.
In this day and age, being relevant through topics rather than keywords bring more people in and keeps them coming back knowing they can rely on you for information they can trust. Organizations like Content Marketing Institute that set themselves up as an authority in their field only get better in searches because people trust their content. This is further evidenced by more sites linking back to their content.
Long Form: Not Just a Matter of Number of Words
Many marketers are now telling you that to rank better, you have to have a longer word count on your content. After all, looking at the top results, you can see at least a thousand words penned. So how many words minimum do you need to rank better?
Google knows that longer posts have more hard work put into them. Or at least it thinks that’s how it goes. Technically, length is one of the biggest factors that search engine algorithms look at, especially when they are usually linked with content that people are actually looking for. Longer content usually means that the content creator did a more in-depth dive on the topic, which implies that it can spark more conversation among the blog readers.
Some articles say that articles with over 3,000 words get better results, but is that truly enough to stake your blog on? The answer is both a yes and a no. Lengthy articles, while usually proof of a deep dive into a particular topic, may have mundane content that does nothing for the reader. These are the lengthy articles that have been written long for their own sake but without providing any substance.
This was the problem before in previous search engine technologies. Many blogs then had been peppered with so many keywords they rank high in search engines, only for readers to be disappointed with their content which appeared repetitive and was boring to read. Nowadays, you can’t get away with that kind of strategy. Current AI technology is now more intelligent than its predecessors, which means that your long-form must bring something to the reader, or risk staying at the bottom of the search.
So what length should you be writing at the very least? However long you need to get your message across and answer any questions your reader may have still lingering in their minds. This builds on the previous point about topical authority. The more well-explained answers you give on the topic of your choice, complemented by accurate, thorough, credible research, the more people realize that they can trust your content.
More importantly, the more you deep dive into the topic, the more dwell time you get. Digital marketing rock star Neil Patel knows this very well, and so, his lengthy articles are not lengthy just for the sake of being long. Each paragraph gives value to the reader, or excites them to find out more about the topic that the author has proven to be an authority of. His content is a solid example of long reads that people actually devour without minding the time.
So the final say on the word count? It depends on you and how deep you want to go into your topic, and about a thousand words already reveal that you have much to share about it.
It is not easy to stand out in the crowd especially when thousands of content, long-form and short, gets added every single day. Your voice has to cut through the noise and be heard, and the best way is to create content that people can trust and gain knowledge from. Even with shorter attention spans, buyers still value people who have something meaningful to say. In the information age where knowledge is power, people are hungry to know more. Your role as a content creator is to serve up the most important content, at the right time. The best way to do that is to invest in long-form SEO content.