Long-form content is that perennial river you need in your content marketing mix. The content format helps you offer deeper topical insights and build a loyal audience for your business.
A study by Ahrefs and Backlinko discovered that the average Google first-page result contains 1,447 words.
Hence, long-form content is an essential SEO weapon in your marketing arsenal that guarantees solid SERP real estate for your website. But you also need to ensure that your long-form content comes with real value, not fluff.
In this post, let's learn how to use long-form brand storytelling to create rockstar content that gets you more followers and qualified leads.
If you’re writing a piece of content that’s going to be longer than 1200 words, you can safely consider it long-form. Long-form content attempts to give much more information than an average blog post.
And that is why the length of such content can go up to 10000 words. A content marketer's goal with long-form content is to solve as many audience queries as possible.
You might have come across shorter content pieces, say 500-600 words. Such content pieces offer a quick solution to 1-2 common audience queries.
You can categorize short-form blog posts, social media posts, infographics, news articles, and emails as short-form content.
Any content piece of fewer than 1200 words is considered short-form.
“Shorter form content works because it gives readers quick and snackable information they can consume quickly and move to the next thing on their list,” says Steve Rose, Vice President at MoneyTransfers.
Sometimes, short-form content fails to share the desired level of knowledge on a specific topic. That’s when you need long-form content.
Let’s now look at some of the advantages of long-form content.
The most significant advantage of long-form content is that it increases the average time users spend on your site.
And I’m sure you’re already aware that higher “on-site time” results in better search rankings for your website.
As I mentioned earlier, long-form content offers your readers something extraordinary. Creating successful longer pieces is about filling the knowledge gaps in your industry—a strategy that helps create an impeccable online reputation.
According to a HubSpot study, articles with a word count of over 2,500 get shared the most on social media.
Furthermore, when your site becomes the go-to source for content in your niche, it’s natural that you’ll get a high number of site visitors and conversions.
According to SEMrush, longreads of 3000+ words get 3x more traffic than articles of average length (901-1200 words).
And since you optimize a piece of long-form content for more keywords, it’s likely to result in higher rankings for all of those keywords. Hence, more site traffic and more leads.
Long-form content is link-worthy. When you dive deep into a topic and get your content to rank on search engines, authority niche blogs want to link to it.
Studies show that long-form content generates more backlinks than short-form content.
Let’s now learn about some common long-form content types.
As a content marketer, you can experiment with various types of long-form content, such as ebooks, white papers, long-form blog posts, and pillar pages. Each has a distinct purpose and use.
Pillar content is a giant content piece that links to a series of smaller content pieces.
“Such content helps you create topical clusters and display expertise around each relevant topic in your industry,” says Mark Valderrama, CEO & Founder of Aquarium Store Depot.
You can link to all the relevant articles, infographics, and videos from your website and offer your audience every possible helpful information. Here’s an excellent example of a pillar page from HubSpot:
(Image source: blog.hubspot.com)
An average pillar page can be 4000 words or more. The goal of a winning pillar page is to build authority by offering a comprehensive resource on a topic.
Ebooks are long-form content pieces that you can offer as PDF downloads. Ebooks work as long-term content assets for the users. Hence, they are great for generating qualified business leads.
An e-book's length can be anywhere between 5000 and 10000 words.
Such a content piece is a thematic combination of text and graphics. So, the right way to create one is to align it with your brand guidelines. To meet that end, you must hire a professional graphic designer who can work on creating an impressive layout.
The next step is to create an ebook landing page to offer it as a content upgrade. Finally, you can run a paid campaign to reach the right people and start collecting your prospects' email addresses.
As a content format, a white paper looks and feels like an e-book. However, the objective of a white paper is different. It aims to offer an apt solution to a specific problem.
As a content marketer, you can use the content format to showcase a particular technique or procedure. The tone of a white paper is a bit more formal and authoritative.
Joe Troyer, CEO & Growth Advisor of DigitalTriggers, elaborates, “It’s not a document where you pitch your product or service. But, it’s more of a report where you use case studies and facts to build a comprehensive argument for a solution.”
A white paper works well as a piece of lead generation content and also as a sales tool.
Long-form blog posts are the most common type of long-form content. You can experiment with different blog post types, including how-to guides, listicles, comparative posts, and expert round-ups.
Make sure you add a call-to-action at the end of a long-form post—it could be a free product trial or a newsletter subscription.
Are you now feeling inspired to create excellent long-form content for your business?
Let’s now dive deep into what makes long-form content tick with online audiences.
You don’t want to give your readers content that feels unending and boring. There are ways to make your long-form content engaging.
Why should your audience read your long-form blog post? What’s in it for them? What problems are you going to solve?
You need to surprise your audience at the very beginning of your content. Use a metaphor to describe a key audience challenge, for instance. Or ask a rhetorical question that catches your readers' attention.
A fantastic way is to start the piece by sharing what you’ll cover.
Another interesting technique is to share your personal experience—stuff you learned.
“Tell your audience how you’re going to go in-depth and solve every problem about a burning issue they’re facing right now,” says Derek Bruce, the Operations Director, Skills Training Group.
Give them a peek into your content by summarizing the questions you will answer in your post.
Here’s the rub: hooking your audience from the word go is a terrific strategy to build trust with your readers and get them to read until the end.
Bonus tip: learn about the different writing styles and apply them to infuse excitement throughout your piece.
It’s critical to make your long-form content easy to digest. An intelligent way to achieve that goal is to start with an outline.
Do keyword research to learn about the sub-topics that fall under your main topic. Now analyze if you can further break down these topics into simple-to-understand pointers.
Once you have a skeleton of your long-form content piece, you’re ready to give your readers chunks of valuable and exciting information.
You need to use small paragraphs, pointers, and visuals to make your piece easy to read.
Speaking of the overall structure, you must ensure that your long-form content piece has a definite beginning, middle, and end. You must start with the introduction before moving to the main sections. And conclude with a concise takeaway.
Moreover, the hallmark of a worthy content piece is a good, rational structure throughout each of its sections. So, for instance, if you’re starting a paragraph with an affirmation, you can add a statistic and an example to add weight to it.
And then, move to some actionable steps in the form of bulleted text before writing your concluding remark.
The readers can make proper sense of a content piece when ideas flow appropriately. Plus, that’s when they enjoy it too.
You must not forget that thin content never attracts consistent traffic.
Remove sentences that don’t add value. Cut long sentences short. Make sure not to repeat points, words, or phrases.
Before making your piece live, copyedit it for grammatical and punctuation errors.
A well-edited content piece is pleasant to the reader every step of the way.
Long-form content can be your ticket to content marketing and SEO success. What you need is a set of the right strategies.
Just make sure you focus on creating audience-centric and insightful long-form content. You must also differentiate your content by aligning it with a unique brand voice. And lastly, you should toil hard to edit your long-form pieces to perfection.