Content. It’s all we can talk about as marketers and is quickly becoming the new buzzword. Are you sick of hearing about or don’t want to invest in content? Then please add yourself to our bounce rate stats because this blog post is not for you.
For those who have stayed with us, you know content is critical. It’s your lifeblood to inform and delight your audiences. Done effectively, content is what gets you seen. Content converts your prospects into customers, clients, and partners. Content is also what keeps those customers, clients, and partners coming back to your brand.
That being said, how do you know whether you should write longer or shorter pieces of content for your audience? If you want to provide resources and value to your readers, long-form content is the way to go. We’re not knocking short-form content by any means. But short-form content simply can’t compete with the value that long-form brings to your readers.
What is long-form content?
Okay, so long-form content. What is it exactly? Long-form content is a piece of writing that lives on your website and is more than 1,000 words. Sometimes, long-form content can be in the 7,500 to 8,000-word range.
These in-depth guides or resources provide a comprehensive overview of a topic. Let’s say, you’ve just purchased your first home and you’ve obliged Nana’s request of hosting Thanksgiving. Had there been a resource available to you of the ins and outs of everything that goes into that meal (see: prep and cook time for a turkey, number of sides to prepare, perhaps more importantly amount of wine to have handy, how to arrange your table for the number of guests you’re expecting, and even suggestions on what to do if Cousin Eddie shows up) you may have enlisted more help before agreeing to solely taking on the task.
While this is just one example of an infinite number of topics long-form content comes in handy for, it’s not hard to see why a 500-word blog post would not give as much information as needed to understand the full scope of properly hosting Thanksgiving dinner.
Let us be clear, short-form content does have its place. It is useful and concise, but it serves a very different purpose — and it’s crucial to know when it’s appropriate to use long-form content or its Danny-DeVito-sized counterpart.
Long- vs. Short-Form
Short-form content pieces are short and less than 1,000 words. Short-form content examples include:
- Video descriptions
- Press releases
- Social media posts
- News articles
As you can imagine, there is no reason a 2-minute video necessitates a 3,000-word write-up. It’s superfluous and wastes the readers’ time.
Same with social. Every caption and post is a piece of short-form content. Even the mere 280 characters of a tweet are crawled by Google. (Ironically, social posts that introduce a piece of long-form content perform quite well. But, more on that later.)
In a world of TL;DR, short-form content is best for mobile. Last year, approximately 54% of all website traffic and 61% of searches came from mobile. Think about it, when you’re searching for something on your phone, you’re likely to be the most receptive to an article that’s easy to read and concise. Just like when you’re looking for a definition to your query.
Less arduous to create, short-form content contains less words which is less time all in all to write and keep up with a daily cadence to post.
While these factors all fall into the pros category, there are many areas where it falls … short.
So, you know what long-form content is, but what is it best used for? Long-form content is best as:
- In-depth guides
- Step-by-step tutorials
- Pillar pages
- Thought leadership blog posts
- White papers
- Case studies
Providing in-depth information for your audience is not the only reason to invest your time to create long-form content. A few other perks include:
With higher word count comes higher authority … domain authority that is. More words provides more opportunity to tell Google that you’re abiding by their E-E-A-T guidelines.
Google only wants credible content at the top of their rankings. And, your expertise depends on you creating high-quality and in-depth content. A lot of this rides on the length of the article, blog, guide, etc. While word count is not a ranking factor itself, there is a correlation between longer-worded pieces and better rankings. Simply put, more (quality) words provide more opportunities to rank.
Google is continuously evolving and is getting better at recognizing content that is valuable to searchers. When you’re creating your content be sure to research your targeted keyword(s) — including reviewing your competition and the search engine result pages (SERPs). If you take the time to provide all-encompassing information, then you’ll be rewarded higher search rankings.
Backlinks = More Authority
Backlinks. Gone are the days when you could buy backlinks to boost your authority. Just like anything that’s worth earning, you have to put in your work to get them. And, longer content provides more likelihood of you positioning yourself as a resource and thought-leader for not only your readers, but other organizations looking for credible sources to link to.
Backlinko conducted a study that found that 3,000+-word content gets 77.2% of more domain links than articles that are sub 1,000 words. Diving deeper into the types of long-form content that get more links — infographics (see: highly embeddable) are among the top three content types.
So, if you’re looking to build a higher domain authority by getting backlinks — infographics along with “why” and “what” posts are your best bets (garnering 25.8% more referring domain links than how-tos and videos).
Ah, yes, the reason we’re all here. To make sales. Build up our customer base. Bringing prospects from top of funnel to bottom — in a perfect world, they’re working their way through your sales pipeline and become brand loyalists.
And, long-form content provides the best chance for this to happen. Think about it, by providing as much information on your pillar pages as possible, you’re providing your prospects with every reason why they can’t live without your service or product. You’re educating them on how you’ll make their lives better and easier … or at least you should be.
Customers want to be well-informed. They want to know about the features and benefits of what you can provide them. Especially, if what you want them to buy is a higher price point, consider adjusting your pillar-page content to a minimum of 1,000-1,500 words. More than likely, your bottom line will thank you.
Easier to Share
Another great thing about longer articles is that they’re perfect for sharing on social. Brands want to be seen as a resource — so why not be that resource. You’re provide plethora of chances for social channels to pull what they deem is relevant to their brand to create additional value for their personas.
They’re striving for engagement — and so are you. It’s easy. More content gets more shares. According to HuffPost, 3,000-10,000-word pieces get the most shares on average. They also found that there is more short-form content out there — about 16 times more content that’s less than 1,000 words than content with 2,000+ words.
What does this mean for you?
Since there’s less long-form content out there, there’s space for you to create great, long-form articles, listicles, blogs, eBooks, and the like for all the hungry social media managers to share. We know the downside of creating long-form content is that it takes time to curate a quality piece. But if you trust us, and the process, you’ll reap the benefits.
How to Make Long-Form Content
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution in terms of word count when it comes to creating long-form content. It’s purely a topic-to-topic basis if you should be writing 1,500 words or 7,500 words. You should continue to add fluff for sake of hitting a target word count. You need to be methodical and do your homework on your topic to truly know this answer.
But what we can tell you are ways to make your long-form piece of quality, and more importantly, engaging for your audience:
- Have a compelling introduction. If your initial first few sentences don’t grab your reader, they won’t get to the important parts of your article and the fruits of your labor will never be sown.
- Make it scannable. As marketers we’re constantly fighting the uphill battle of short attention spans and busy schedules. We need to not only provide value to our readers, but something that they can skim and still get what they’re looking for — well-worded title and header tags will do just that.
- Break up your text. Add images and infographics. This will also provide breaks and will create visual interest.
- Keep it conversational. Write like you’re speaking to someone in person. If they’re going to stick with you for 4,000 words, better make it seem like you’re having a conversation rather than blathering on in convoluted phrases or buzzwords.
- Don’t forget about sharing. Add links to your header and footer so that your hardwood can be easily shared across platforms.
- Have a distribution strategy. You’ve put in the time and effort. Your blog is posted. But where’s the traffic? Just because you built it, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll come. Have a plan of how and when you’re going to promote your new content piece. Website headers, your owned social channels, newsletters, etc — get it out there as much as you can.
And, overall, just remember that quality is the key above all else. Stick to that rule of thumb, and your readers will thank you.