Good Reads: The Case for Long-Form Content

October 14th, 2015

Blog Posts and Articles Don’t Always Need to be Short. Here’s Why Longer Content is Often a Good Choice.

Readers want quick information. They crave tweets, Facebook posts and other short, to-the-point messages. At least, this is the prevailing wisdom in the world of internet marketing. But is this really the case? Is shorter content always better?

Not always. There’s a place on the web for long-form content. Done correctly, longer articles will appeal to both visitors and search engines. Let’s take a look:

What is Long-Form Content?

An article with five hundred words is generally considered the minimum word count which will be noticed by the search engines. Long-form content is roughly double that. For our purposes here, we’ll consider long-form content to be at least 1,000 words.

However, you’ll likely want to go beyond that. An extra 500 or even 1,000 words will give you a competitive advantage over articles on similar subjects. Here’s why:

The Benefits of Long-Form Content

There are four major reasons you want to publish longer articles. Long-form content:

1. improves your site’s positioning on search result rankings.

2. increases reader engagement.

3. increases shares on social media.

4. establishes expert status.

Let’s take a look at each benefit in detail:

Improves SERP and Reader Engagement

Long-form content gives you more space to utilize various SEO tools. Longer content allows you to insert more keywords. You can also target your audience more directly. You can even create several long-form pieces directed to different target audiences. For instance, suppose you sell a bodybuilding supplement. You might want to create:

·         A long-form article describing all the ingredients, for those potential customers who are science-minded.

·         A long-form article describing how fast and effective the product is, for those potential customers who are results-oriented.

·         A long-form article describing how popular the product is, for those potential customers who are interested in current trends.

You can use keywords and specific language to target each audience in a way they’ll respond to. Short content doesn’t really have to space to appeal to any group beyond a general, generic audience. With long-form content, you get space to expand on your ideas.


Establishes Authority

Longer written material has a tradition of being successful in advertising. Pre-internet, direct mail advertisements were often several pages long. Yet many people read them and bought the products.

“All my experience says that for a great many products, long copy sell better than short,” wrote ad legend David Ogilvy. “Advertisements with long copy convey the impression you have something important to say, whether people read the copy or not.”

This same principle works in internet marketing. When readers see a long article on a site, they tend to think of that site as an authority. Even better, long content also helps search engines see the site as an authority.   

Increases Social Media Shares

Long-form content works well on social media, as long as you do it correctly. You don’t want to post long Facebook status updates or multi-part tweets. Longer material posted in such a way on social media sites is usually overlooked, just due to the very nature of those platforms. Instead, social media can be a great way to get links to your long-form content shared. 

First, you need a short, catchy and descriptive title. The title needs to be brief enough to fit into one tweet. You want people to understand the content of the article instantly. This will increase their likelihood of sharing your content (even if they haven’t actually read it).

You also want to create a brief summary of the article. This will appear in the Facebook post promoting the content. Keep this under 100 words, so the idea is easy to grasp by anyone scrolling through their Newsfeed.

How to Create Long-Form Content

1. Avoid Fluff

You don’t want to add words just for the sake of length. Instead, you want your long-form articles to contain a wealth of information. If the topic is complicated to research, you might consider hiring a professional copywriter.

2. Use Subheadings

This helps break up the content. Readers tend to avoid large walls of text. Subheadings allow the reader to find the exact information they want. Plus, subheadings are usually a great place to insert some keywords.

3. Be Direct

You want to write in a simple, direct style. This is similar to how news is written. Keep your sentences short and your language plain.

4. Add a Summary

Add a sentence or two describing what the article is about. You can put this summary after the headline and before the article. Make the summary descriptive but also tease the reader with the promise of useful information.

News articles on The Daily Mail are a good example of effective summaries.

5. Create Listicles

This is a combination of an article and a list. Each entry is numbered, like a list, but also contains a short paragraph of additional information, like an article. Readers find listicles easy to read.

Buzzfeed is probably the most famous example of a site which uses listicles effectively.

What to Include in Your Long-Form Content

The topic of the content will vary based on your product or service. As mentioned above, you’ll also want to target specific audiences with your content. But there are certain subjects you’ll want to include in almost any type of long-form content. They are:

·         A description of the benefits of your product or service.

·         Answers to common questions about how your product or service works.

·         Information about your industry in general.

Long-Form Content is Worth the Extra Time

Writing longer articles isn’t as easy as writing shorter ones. But the extra effort can translate directly to more customers and better search result positioning. Long-form content works well for both new pages and existing pages. If you have existing pages which are underperforming, try creating some long-form content and see if there’s a positive change. By using the tips listed above, long form content can benefit your site in a variety of ways.