Let's write content.
Specifically, long-form content!
Creating long-form content can be seen as a daunting task. But it doesn't have to be! Once you get started, you may find that it's pretty rewarding.
Not only do long-form write-ups better serve search engine rankings, but it's also a great way to showcase your authority on a specific topic.
However, you can't simply take a topic and start expanding it with filler content that doesn't provide value to the readers. That's not going to help you or your audience.
Think about it this way: would you rather read a 2,000-word article packed with helpful information and insights or a 10,000-word article that is mostly fluff?
The answer is obvious.
So how do you start writing long-form content that is actually worth reading? Let's find out in this guide!
What Is Long-Form Content?
Long-form content is defined as articles that are typically over 2,500 words.
This doesn't mean that every article you write needs to be 2,500 words or more. But it is a good benchmark to aim for when creating evergreen, pillar material for your blog marketing strategy.
Remember, the primary aim of your content should be to provide users with valuable and comprehensive information. Regardless of the number of words you write, make sure the content is useful for the readers.
Some of the best examples of detailed content are:
Type of Content
These are articles that walk the reader through a particular process step-by-step.
The writer interviews an expert or a small group of people on a particular topic.
These are similar to how-to guides, but they usually focus on teaching the reader how to do something.
These are in-depth looks at a particular product or service, discussing the features, benefits, and drawbacks.
These are usually intensive research to discuss how a particular product or service has helped a company or individual achieve its goals.
Now that you know all about long-form content let's take a look at the reasons for writing it:
Benefits of Long-Form Content
Long-form content can give you a number of benefits. The following list outlines some of the most important ones:
Establishes You as an Authority
When you write long-form content, it can help you establish yourself as an expert on the topic you’re writing about.
This is because you are taking the time to go in-depth and really explore all aspects of the topic, linking to authoritative sources, and demonstrating your expertise to your audience by providing your unique insight.
Readers who find your content helpful and informative are more likely to return for more. Also, they are also more likely to share your content with others, which can help increase your reach and audience.
It's Better for SEO
Another benefit of creating detailed content is that it makes it easier for your webpage to secure the top position on search engine results pages(SERPs). This is because search engines prefer longer articles when ranking content in their search results.
Since longer articles contain more keyword-rich information, search engines can use it to determine what the article is about and where it should be ranked. Also, long-form content gets more links and social shares, both of which are factors that the search engine algorithms consider when ranking content.
Long-Form Articles Get The Lion's Share of Traffic
A study by HubSpot showed that articles greater than 2,500 words tend to get the most traffic from Google. Similarly, Semrush found that articles with over 3,000 words get 3x more traffic than articles between 1,000 to 1,500 words.
As we all know, Google's first-page real estate is limited. And as a result, they tend to favour comprehensive articles and go into great detail on a given topic.
When Google sees users spend more time on a particular article, they take it as a sign that the article is high quality and relevant to the search query. Consequently, they rank it higher in search engine rankings, giving the web pages more traffic.
Success on Social Media Platforms
Long articles typically get more social shares than shorter ones. This is likely because people feel they can get more value from a longer article and are more likely to share it with their followers.
Ultimately, this increases website traffic and boosts brand awareness.
When it comes to posting directly on social media channels, we are aware that most cater to short and concise posts. Users of the sites also prefer content that is easy to consume. However, given the popularity of long-form content, many platforms are now introducing features where marketers can share detailed posts.
For example, Facebook Notes and Linkedin Publisher provide tools where you can write, edit, and publish long-form posts. Furthermore, a recent leak shared in a tech publication revealed Twitter to soon be removing the 280 characters per tweet limit.
Your Site's Bounce Rate Will go Down
Bounce rate is determined by the number of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate is generally not a good thing as it indicates that people are not finding what they're looking for on your site.
Long-form content can help to reduce your site's bounce rate as it gives people more reasons to stay on your site and navigate to other pages.
As users consume an article, there is an opportunity for you to naturally direct them to additional content on your web page. Besides valuable content, hyperlink to other articles or pages on your site or recommend similar products or services to retain their attention.
The Main Characteristics of Long-Form Content
Writing great long-form content requires thorough planning and understanding of the process. Now, let’s talk about the main attributes of quality long-form content.
The headline is the first and most crucial element of your article. It will determine whether or not people will actually click on your article and read it. In fact, experts say that your brilliant content will not be read if your headline fails to attract the audience's attention.
When writing your title headline, be clear and use the core keyword your article is aiming to rank for. Subsequent headlines for SEO-focused articles should also include as many keyword variations (synonyms or related keywords similar to your core keyword). It is also a good idea to be interactive with the readers. For example, convert your statements into questions to generate curiosity. You should also focus more on the value and describe what the audience will achieve by reading your article.
It’s important to have t is to have an engaging introduction. When a reader clicks on your article, they should be able to immediately see what the article is about and why they should care.
Your introduction should be concise and to the point. It should also be interesting enough to make the reader want to keep reading.
Remember, people have shorter attention spans than ever before, so you need to make sure your introduction is compelling enough to make them want to stick around.
Well-Researched and Well-Written Text
This should go without saying, but your content must be thoroughly researched and immaculately written.
As mentioned above, no one wants to read an article that is full of fluff or is poorly written. Your content should be informative, accurate, and engaging. Back your information up with data and sources. You should also make sure your article is free of grammar and spelling errors.
It's easier for people to engage with content that contains images, videos, or infographics.
Having long blocks of text can intimidate the readers and make it appear bland. Adding relevant visuals can break up the content, make it attractive, and more scannable. The images will also help explain information interestingly and engagingly.
Visuals are more likely to get shared on social media, which can help to increase the reach of your article.
Optimized for Search Engines
There is no use in writing long-form content if no one will see it. That's why it's essential to optimize your article for search engines.
Make sure to include relevant keywords sparingly throughout the article. The keywords or terms you use should define your content and reflect the queries used by internet users.
However, don’t make the mistake of using the same keyword or phrase too often. This practice is called keyword stuffing and is highly disapproved by Google. If the search engine algorithms detect keyword stuffing, they would penalize your website. It will also negatively impact the user experience on your website.
As a general rule, experts recommend adding 1-2 keywords per 100 words of content.
Also, take advantage of other SEO practices, such as using proper tag structure, internal links, and optimizing meta titles and descriptions.
Call to Action
Lastly, don’t forget to add a Call to Action (CTA) to your content.
A call to action is typically a statement or an icon that directs the audience to the action you want them to do next. A suitable CTA depends on your brand and its purpose. A few examples of CTA you can use include:
- Buy Now
- Order Now
- Sign Up
- Learn More
- See More
- Swipe Up to See
Including the proper CTA will help increase your conversions and reach your marketing goals.
How to Create Awesome Long-Form Content
Once you have a clear knowledge of long-form content, it's time to start writing. However, don't try to rush the process, as writing detailed content takes a lot of time, effort, and consistency. Here are the steps to follow for creating your long-form article:
Define Your Goals
Before you start writing, it's essential to take the time to outline your goals. Every piece of content has its purpose, and you must know what yours is before you start writing.
Ask yourself the following questions to figure out your objectives:
- What are you trying to accomplish with this content? Is it to raise brand awareness, drive traffic to a website, or generate leads/sales?
- Do you have a specific target audience in mind?
- What type of long-form content (how-to guide, interview, tutorial, case study, or product review) is relevant to your marketing strategy?
- Do you have an interesting topic in mind that can be expanded upon?
Answering these questions will help you determine the focus of your article and what you want your readers to take away from it.
Write for Your Audience Personas
Once you know your goals, it's time to start thinking about your target audience. Create a buyer persona to help you understand who your audience is and how you can engage them with your content. Here are the steps you can follow to define your audience:
- Compile demographic data of your current and prospective customers. Include details such as age, gender, profession, location, interests, and buying habits.
- Identify their needs and wants.
- Determine how you can help solve their issues.
The details you have collected will help you determine your article’s tone and style. It will also help you develop ideas for what to include in your article. As a writer, your goal is to offer value to your readers, so make sure your article is relevant and helpful to them.
3. Add a Lead Magnet
A lead magnet is defined as a marketing tool used to generate prospects. It is generally a piece of valuable content you offer your prospects in return for their contact information, particularly their email address. The tactic helps promote your product/services and establishes your expertise. On the other hand, the customers can benefit from your valuable advice that helps their pain points.
A long-form lead magnet can take many forms, such as guides, reports, ebooks, and whitepapers. However, HubSpot reports ebooks as the most popular lead magnet form.
4. Choose Your Topic
After you know your goals, target audience, and the type of content you want to create, it’s time to brainstorm your article’s ideas. Think about the problems your target reader is facing and develop ideas for how you can help them.
You can also look at what other businesses in your industry are doing and brainstorm content ideas that you can do better.
Another way to analyze the interest of your readers is through Keyword Research. Many tools are available to help you with the search. Just make sure to keep an eye on two primary metrics: search volume and competition.
The search volume indicates the number of queries a particular keyword generates. At the same time, the competition shows whether similar content is present on the World Wide Web.
Try to choose topics that show high search volume and low competition. Selecting such a combination would represent the preference of your prospect and the lack of available content.
Create An Outline
Once you've chosen your topic, it's time to start creating an outline for your article. This will help you organize your thoughts and ensure that your article is well-structured.
Think about the sub-topics you want to include. Long-form articles must be skimmable so that the reader can quickly get the gist of what the article is about and decide whether or not to read it in full. For ease of scannability, add headings, subheadings, and bullet points. This will make it easy for the readers to find the information they need.
Make sure each section flows seamlessly into the next and that your article has a natural progression.
Hire a Writer or Write it Yourself
Suppose you don’t feel confident about your SEO writing skills or simply are too busy in other aspects of the business. In that case, you can hire a writer for your online business.
There are many freelance writers and agencies who specialize in creating long-form content. For instance, if you are in the healthcare industry, you can look for a healthcare content writer.
The benefit of hiring an experienced writer or agency is that they will be able to help you create content that is both informative and engaging. Plus, they will also be able to help you with the keyword research and optimization process.
Use a Conversational Tone And Simple Language
For long-form articles, it is best to use a conversational writing style.
Don't write like you are writing a research paper. Instead, use simple vocabulary and a casual tone so the content is easy to read and understand.
Use short sentences and avoid jargon or technical terms. Make your article easy to consume so that readers will keep coming back for more.
Take the example of this particular article. Did you find any difficulty in understanding the language used here?
Use Images to Break up Your Text
A variety of images make it easy for readers to skim through articles rather than read them word for word.
Images help break up the text and make your article more visually appealing. They also help to illustrate your points and make your article more relatable. Including images in your article will help it rank higher in Google image search, which can drive more traffic to your site.
But here is the catch, don't just add any images. The pictures you use should be high quality and relevant to the topic of your article.
For that, you have two choices: original photographs or stock pictures.
To acquire custom and original photos, you will have to hire a professional photographer, model, and even a venue. For small marketers, this can go over their advertising budget.
On the contrary, acquiring stock photos from reliable websites will save time and money. When chosen correctly, they can make your article look more professional and credible.
The end choice depends upon your resources. Just make sure the pictures convey the message in your text clearly.
Design Your Post For Readability
When writing long-form content, it's important to keep your readers in mind. It should be easy to comprehend.
Here are some elements to check to ensure the readability of your article:
- Check spelling and grammar.
- Read aloud to a friend to determine the correct flow.
- Break up long paragraphs.
- Use active voice.
Promote Your Post
Once you've written your long-form article, it's time to promote it. The first step is to share it on your social media channels.
Use relevant hashtags and tag other relevant people and brands in your posts.
Another great way to promote your article is to email it to your list of subscribers. If you don't have a list yet, now is the time to start building one.
You can also submit your article to social bookmarking sites like Reddit, StumbleUpon, and Digg.
And finally, don't forget to add a call to action at the end of your article. This could be something like, "If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends." Doing so will help increase the reach of your article and get more people to read it.
Writing long-form content can be a daunting task. These tips can help make the process easy for you. So, follow the strategies above, and you can be well on your way to reaching the content marketing goals you have set for your brand.
Of course, don't expect prompt miracles. You will have to wait for your long-form content to deliver the desired results. But with consistency and patience, you will surely see the success you want. Good luck!
Amos Struck (Guest)
Amos is a successful entrepreneur and publisher in the stock imagery field. Besides founding Stock Photo Press and co-founding Microstock Expo, he is the creator of several software solutions in stock photography, like the Microstock Photo Plugin and PixelRockstar WordPress Plugin. He is also passionate about digital marketing and technology.