Content marketing has two main purposes. First, it’s usually aimed at engaging customers and driving brand awareness and/or sales. Second, it’s intended to raise search rankings and online visibility. Want to accomplish both simultaneously? Long-form content might be the tool you’re looking for.
Tapping Into the Value of Long-Form Content
It wasn’t that long ago when the average length of blog posts and news articles was about 400 to 500 words. The industry gradually shifted toward 600- to 800-word pieces of content.
But today, even an 800-word blog post is treated as being on the shorter end of the spectrum. If you want to be successful, you may need to be publishing long-form content … and that could entail 2,000-, 3,000-, or even 5,000-plus-word posts.
Long-form content has become popular because it satisfies both readers and search engines. People like long-form content because it’s more engaging and informative. Search engine crawlers love it because there’s more to sink their teeth into.
But what’s required to create long-form content that’s engaging and high returning? Take a look.
1. Write Naturally
Admittedly, long-form content can be intimidating for readers. In order to put them at ease, you should avoid technical jargon and academic lingo.
Write naturally — just as you would if you were speaking to them face to face — and make the topic relatable. This is the best way to keep readers engaged beyond the first paragraph.
2. Break Up the Text
On its own, long-form content can easily grow monotonous. Who wants to scroll through a 5,000-word post that takes 20 minutes to read?
The key to keeping readers engaged is to break up the text. This page from Marks & Harrison is an excellent example of a piece of long-form content that employs a variety of stylistic elements to make the article digestible.
Notice the subheadings, visuals, pull-out quotes, and other visual components that are used to provide visual relief and enhance on-page engagement. You should aim to do the same.
3. Offer CTAs Throughout
One of the downsides of long-form content is that most people rarely stick with it all the way to the last paragraph. A few may, but you have to anticipate that the majority will drop out as the article progresses. In order to extract as much value as possible, you can try inserting CTAs now and then throughout the text.
4. Try the Listicle (List Article)
For content writers who are accustomed to developing 500- and 600-word posts, the notion of churning out a massive post that’s two or four times as long can be intimidating. If you feel this way, a listicle, such as this article from Business Insider, is an effective way to simplify the process.
“You’ll find that long-form content almost magically appears when you’re writing a listicle, and it’s easy to hit that 2,000-word mark,” digital marketing expert John Lincoln says. “You’ll also have the benefit of creating content that’s very scannable and friendly to busy people.”
5. Make Content Highly Linkable
You can attract only so many clicks and views on your own. In order to maximize the value of your long-form content, you’ll likely require the help of others.
This is why it’s vital to make your content highly linkable. By including quotes from experts in your field and incorporating facts, data, and research into your writing, you can substantially increase your chances of getting referral links.
Give Your Audience Something to Chew On
Your readers aren’t interested in shallow content. Whether a search engine algorithm or a customer down the street is looking you up, long-form content is the meat and potatoes your prospective audience is searching for.
Stop wasting your time with short posts that receive the barest glance, and start investing in content that delivers real value and return.