Long-Form Content: Why It Matters, How to Write It

Long-Form Content: Why It Matters, How to Write It

Long-Form Content: Why It Matters, How to Write It

The mere thought of producing long-form content is enough to make some marketers and business owners break out in a cold sweat.

That’s understandable; it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day as it is.

However, although creating long-form content might sound like a big hassle, the efforts can pay off exponentially, which brings us to;

Why Does Long-Form Content Matter to Your Marketing Strategy?

Long-form content matters to your SEO and content marketing campaigns because it offers many competitive advantages including better search results than shorter content.

BuzzSumo’s analysis reveals that long-form content gets more social media shares.

Long-Form Content: Why It Matters, How to Write It
This type of content is more in-depth and well researched, the type of material Google loves, which makes it generate more traffic and improves user engagement than short-form content.

Some of the competitive advantages and SEO benefits of longer content are:

  • Higher search visibility
  • Increase social media shares
  • Improve conversion rate
  • Quality link building opportunity
  • Better search rankings
  • Credible website authority
  • Etc.

A recent study by Moz found out that long-form content often receives higher social media shares and backlinks when compared to short-form content.

What Is Long-Form Content?

With no end-all-be-all definition of what classifies content as “long-form,” different people have different ideas of the word count that puts articles into that classification.

Some blogging authorities consider 1,000-plus words as long-form. Others, such as Neil Patel, set the bar at 2,000 words or higher.

When asked to write long-form content, I usually find clients request a minimum word count within the range of 1,200 to 2,000 words. Occasionally, a client will ask 2,000-plus words.

Ultimately, what a publisher considers long-form content is driven by the word count an SEO specialist has determined to be the sweet spot for achieving better online visibility.

How to Write Long-Form Content

1. Get organized

Before you start writing long-form content, have a process in place to help guide your efforts.

  • Establish target completion and publication dates.
  • Identify who will be involved in the content process and what their roles will be (e.g., brainstorming topics, keyword research, subject matter experts, writing, SEO optimization, uploading into your content management system, promoting on social media).

2. Determine the topic you will cover.

First and foremost, tap into what your target audience wants or needs to know more about.

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A few ways to figure that out include:

  • Review your website analytics to see which past blog posts performed well.
  • Glean inspiration from your company’s FAQs.
  • Ask your customer service and support teams for comments.
  • Post the question on social media and encouraging followers to chime in.

Also, use online tools to help explore the “legs” and possible angles of a subject. One of the most effective and easiest to use is Google’s search results page.

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Using Google SERP for Fine-Tuning Long-Form Content Ideas

A quick search on a prospective topic can unearth ideas about the angles you might explore and the key points you might include in your long-form content.

The SERP offers insight in three ways:

  • The top search results: Observe the articles that appear on page 1 to get a feel for what they cover and how you might “up the ante” by providing more in-depth or better-quality content in your long-form articles.
  • PAA: About one-quarter to halfway down from the top of the SERP, you’ll see a “People also ask” box that shows other inquiries users have made about a topic. These can generate ideas about what sub-topics you should cover in your article.
  • Related searches: At the bottom of the SERP, you’ll see related terms that users searched for on Google. These can also help you flesh out what you might include in your content.

To prove, suppose I’m going to write a long-form article about interior design. If I do an online search using the phrase “interior design tips,” I see the top-ranking articles.

I also see the people also ask (PAA) box, which offers some food for thought on different sections I might include in my article.

Long-Form Content: Why It Matters, How to Write It

The related searches at the bottom of the page provide some additional insight into what I might cover in either the article at hand or in future articles.

Long-Form Content: Why It Matters, How to Write It

Please, Read: How to Write Stunning Blog Posts That Will Drive Tons of Traffic to Your Website.

3. Do Keyword Research.

Long-Form Content: Why It Matters, How to Write It

To maximize SEO outcomes for your long-form content, you’ll want to conduct keyword research to help you find words and phrases that will help your articles rank higher in the SERP.

With lots of competition to rank using general keywords, you’ll want to incorporate relevant long-tail keywords.

Granted, they don’t generate the same search volume, but they will be more targeted to your specific audience’s interests and give your content a better chance of ranking prominently in searches.

Long-form content, why it matter, how to write it.

Image Source: Wpbeginner

The graph above shows that long-tail keywords generate 70% of search traffic, which makes it a must use for your content marketing and search engine optimization campaigns.

Some keyword research tools you might use include:

Also, consider how people use voice search technology.

According to a Gartner press release in 2016, “By 2020, 30 percent of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen.”

As Google fine-tunes voice search, and more homes and businesses buy devices such as Amazon’s Alexa and Echo and Google’s Google Home and Google Home Mini, the number of voice searches will increase.

Moral of the story: You will need to think about what people will say, not only what they will type.

Here is a list of the best 15+ SEO website audit tools of 2018

4. Create an outline.

When you’re writing long, you need to make sure you structure your articles logically. Failing to do so will cause readers to get lost and tune out.

Identify main points, sub-points and the order in which they should appear to guide readers fluidly through your content.

This will also serve you well from an SEO perspective because it will help you decide the headings structure (i.e., h2, h3, h4 and so forth)

Revisiting my earlier example, if I were writing a long-form article focused on interior design tips, components of my outline might look like this:

Title — Room-by-room Interior Design Tips for New Homeowners (h1)

Introduction

Main point 1 — Kitchen design tips (h2)

Sub-points (h3s)

  • Kitchen counters
  • Kitchen cabinets
  • Kitchen flooring
  • Kitchen lighting
  • Kitchen appliances

Main point 2 — Living room design tips (h2)

Sub-points (h3s)

  • Living room furniture
  • Living room flooring
  • Living room walls
  • Living room window treatments
  • Living room lighting

The outline would go on to cover the other rooms and offer a roadmap for what I will want to research and write about in the article.

Recommended Post: 6 Powerful Steps to Help Non-Writers Write Terrific Blog Content

Long-Form Content: Why It Matters, How to Write It

5. Write like a pro.

Here are some tips to help make sure your writing puts your best foot forward:

  • Whether you’re writing your content in-house or using a freelancer, make sure it reflects your brand voice and writing style.
  • Write meaningful content, not fluff. Quality matters more than word count. 
  • Use bold headings (h2, h3, h4) to showcase the main points that you’re covering.
  • Break text into bite-sized chunks for readers. Use short paragraphs and numbered and bulleted lists to add eye rests and make content easier to follow.
  • Use a conversational tone and use “you” rather than third-person pronouns to make content more relatable.
  • Don’t use excessive jargon that might confuse your readers.
  • Review and fine-tune what you write. I find that reading content out loud enables me to detect mistakes and weaknesses that I miss all too easily when only visually viewing what I’ve written. Also, consider using Grammarly. Its free version offers basic proofreading and editing, and Grammarly Premium has enhanced features to step up your game.

These 21 blogging tools will make you a better and successful blogger.

6. Optimize for SEO.

After writing your long-form content, you can improve its chances of getting found online by optimizing it for SEO.

Below are some things to pay attention to:

  • Revisit the long-tail keywords you identified in your keyword research efforts, and (if you haven’t already) add them into your article, with particular attention to your blog title and headings.
  • Use your focus keyword in the first 100 words of your article.
  • Create a compelling meta description to piqué reader interest and make them want to click-through to your post.
  • Keep your page’s URL short and make it keyword-rich.
  • Use images, videos, and other visual elements to increase visitor time on the page and cut bounce rate.
  • Add several internal links to relevant articles and pages on your website.
  • Incorporate outbound links to relevant content on reputable websites.

7. Put it out there.

Don’t adopt a “build it and they will come” state of mind, thinking that because you’ve published and optimized your content, people will find and flock to it.

You must take an active role in sharing your long-form content on social media platforms and in emails to your subscriber list.

Also, have social share buttons on your blog to make it convenient for readers to share your posts on the social media platforms they use.

Long-Form Content: Why It Matters, How to Write It

Go Long or Go Home

While some blogs, such as that of marketing expert Seth Godin have gained vast exposure and immense popularity with short posts, most businesses need to publish some long-form content at regular intervals to gain traction.

Make no mistake, doing so will need a bit more of everything involved in the content creation process:

  • More brainstorming
  • More keyword research
  • More time to write
  • More time to optimize for SEO
  • And more

If you find yourself feeling lightheaded at the thought of all that, realize you don’t have to go it alone.

To reap the optimal benefits from long-form content, consider enlisting resources to help you do it right.

SEO specialists, writers, social media consultants and other professionals with content marketing expertise can offer valuable insight and lighten your load.


 Dawn Mentzer Author Bio – Straight North

Long-Form Content: Why It Matters, How to Write It

Dawn Mentzer is a contributing writer for Straight North, a leading digital marketing firm in Chicago that provides SEO, PPC and web design services. As a solopreneur and freelance writer, she specializes in marketing content — and collaborates with clients nationally and globally. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn

17 thoughts on “Long-Form Content: Why It Matters, How to Write It

  1. Hi Dawn, nice to see you at Moss’s place. I didn’t realize the keyword should be in the first 100 words though I do use in the first paragraph as directed by Yoast SEO. How many times do you recommend it there?
    I barely get to 3,000 but it’s on my bucket list and I understand why we need it!
    Thank you and I hope you both have a great weekend!

    1. Nice to meet you, Lisa!

      It depends on the subject matter, but I will usually use the focus keyword just once or twice in the first paragraph so that it doesn’t sound like I’m stuffing keywords. 3,000 words is a lot! I don’t hit that too often either, and most of my SEO-focused clients want articles between 1,000 and 2,000 words. Many still request posts in the 600 – 800-word range, though, because that has been working for well for them.

      Thanks for introducing yourself! Have a wonderful week!

      Dawn

  2. Fab post Dawn! Getting your outline down pat is key. I wrote some whopper-sized posts over the years by simply setting up an outline first, detailing 5 or 10 steps or tips. Then I fill in the tips, beefing the sucker up. Rocking tips, rocking post 😉

    Ryan

    1. Thanks, Ryan! You’re very kind!

      I agree 100 percent — the outline is SO critical when writing those gargantuan articles. It sounds like you have a great system down!

      Have a fabulous week!

      Dawn

  3. Hi Dawn,

    You have shared a very detailed and informative post. Content is the king and it is very important to write good quality content which provides some kind of solution to your target audience. Once your visitors finds value in your content, they will come for more.

    Thanks for sharing, have a great weekend. 🙂

    1. Hi Tarique!

      Thank you for your kind comment!

      You are spot on about the power that good-quality content wields. It builds authority, trust, and a brand’s reputation.

      I hope your week is off to a great start!

      Dawn

  4. Hi
    Dawn,
    Happy to read this post. Long-form content have the capability to solve the reader’s problem because this type of content usually loaded with in-depth information. Long-form content affects SEO and it ranks well in search engines. To write long form of content, it is very necessary to know about your target audience and their needs.

    Keyword research plays an important role in content creation task. Doing keyword research properly is very crucial before writing a blog post. Your tips will be very helpful in creating a compelling and Long-form content.

    Thanks for this informative post.

    Have a great day.
    Praveen Verma

    1. Thank you for your insight, Praveen!

      I completely agree with you on how important it is to understand your target audience’s pain points and needs. Keyword research, as you said, is essential before writing long-form content…and what you mentioned about knowing your audience must come first to ensure you’re identifying the most effective long-tail keywords.

      Thanks again for your comment, and have a super day!

      Dawn

  5. Hey Dawn,

    Share-worthy article. People often get tired of thinking/writing such long post but the thing they are missing is that readers love detailed things. If your content is providing value and solving the problem you will surely crack the mark.
    Once again great article. Looking forward to reading more from you.

  6. hello dawn

    The biggest misconception about web site content is that the website is a channel (content site, blog, etc.) that offers content. However, content marketing, which is one of the most preferred marketing strategies today, is not specific to content sites. Even if your website is a site that sells products or provides services in any subject, content should work.

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