July 8, 2019
Does Google prefer long-form content?
The answer is a simple yes. But it’s not as easy as that; because there are several qualifications that Google considers before it decides this piece of content is worth seeing and worth bumping up the rankings.
Before we begin giving out tips, let’s all remember that Google doesn’t simply prefer long-form content just because it’s longer. You can have an article with 2,500 words and it’s still not good enough. What you should be looking to create is high-quality, relevant, and valuable long-form content.
Long-form content ranks higher, but it’s not necessarily always first.
So why should content marketers and writers dedicate time and effort to creating long-form content?
Long-form Content & its Advantages
Exactly how long an article is to be considered long-form content is purely subjective. Some consider 800 words to be quite lengthy, and there are some who only consider content to be truly long-form if it exceeds 2,000 words. Of course, there are others who claim that 1,500 words and upwards is already considered long.
As a general rule, 1,200 words and above can be classified as long-form.
The apprehension in writing long-form content comes in the form of recent data confirming that people’s attention spans have gotten quite a bit shorter. In response to that, the general wisdom is to keep your messages short and sweet to attract their attention, and let them go when they’ve absorbed your message.
But I say we keep that to teasers and social media posts, right along with pitches in email marketing. Your articles could certainly benefit from being more detailed; not to mention it would give you several advantages too.
Google and every other search engine in existence is all about providing solutions to people’s problems. Looking at it closely, it’s easy to see that search queries are all problems that need solving — whether that’s in the form of a trivial question or something that really needs deeper research.
Long-form content is a way for you to create rich and detailed solutions to what can be considered complex problems (for some). And when your content ranks well, there is an immediate increase in organic traffic.
Good for Google Rankings
In addition, they’ve never shied away from the fact that their ranking algorithms have and will prioritize articles that have depth and are long — not because long articles are lengthy for the sake of being long, but because they’re usually in-depth and provide value.
Higher Engagement Rates
Short and compelling content gets noticed and is very easy to digest. But don’t underestimate how well long-form content can be remembered — especially if it’s evergreen. As time goes by, your valuable article that reaches over 2,000 words has a higher chance of being used as a reference in other articles that will follow it.
Plus, detailed content has greater chances of holding interest for a longer period of time. So, the more people who reference your articles online, the more backlinks you earn.
It’s a win-win situation.
It’s Far More Shareable
Valuable long-form content is a good place to display knowledge and delve deep into analysis and step-by-step strategies. It tackles complex issues more comprehensively too — most of the time.
Better for Lead Generation
Curata’s content marketing team made adjustments to their strategies to create in-depth content. Further analysis into their experiment showed that longer posts far outperformed the shorter ones. On average, they discovered that long-form content generates 7x more leads than short-form content.
4 Steps to Writing Long-form Content
Your audiences are quick to share the five-second video or the incredibly helpful infographic, but that doesn’t mean ebooks, case studies, white-papers, and step-by-step guides are out of the picture. In fact, we daresay the need for long-form content is on par with the demand for short and digestible ones.
But long-form content is only as active of a marketing strategy as its execution. So, here are the steps you need to follow to get it right and reap the benefits.
Step 1: Define what you want to achieve from writing this
Every endeavor starts with a ‘why.’ Before you really go down the road to writing content that will provide value for your target audience, your purpose for doing so must be clear. Are you doing it to increase engagement rates? Or maybe you’re writing this type of content with the purpose of informing your readers by detailing a complex function in your niche.
Whether you’re after the higher place in search engine rankings, to create a stronger brand awareness, or to be established as a thought leader in your niche, this purpose will help you determine your plan of action. In addition, you’ll be able to foresee if your content writing plans will succeed or fail.
You need to know exactly:
- Who you’re writing the article for.
- Why you’re choosing long-form content.
- What success would look like when you achieve it.
- How to measure that success when it comes.
Step 2: Decide on the topic you’re going to write
When you know why you’re writing the content and what it’s for, finding the right topic shouldn’t be overly tricky. Of course, you need a topic that appeals to your audience, answers their needs, and encourages them to take a certain action by the end.
If you’re stuck, there are a couple of resourceful ways to find blog topics that you can focus on, expand on, and provide deeper and more compelling insights.
Use Tools like Ahrefs or BuzzSumo
Tools like these are excellent tools for finding blog topics to write about. Fun fact: Big name bloggers utilize tools like this to generate content that goes viral.
Ahrefs is good for research when you’re delving into the SEO benefits of the long-form article you’re about to write. It shows costs-per-click, along with the similar keywords, and other insights that show how well your chosen topic ranks organically.
On the other hand, there’s BuzzSumo. This tool also shows which types of posts drove readers crazy, and how many social media shares a single blog post generated. You can do your research through keywords, or through exploring other types of content on the internet.
Yahoo Answers, Quora, and Reddit are great places to find blog topics. These are sites that let other users ask questions and let complete strangers answer them.
For any of the three, just type in your keyword into the site’s search box and scour through conversations and lists of questions. You’re bound to find one that’s interesting and worth expanding on.
Check Social Media Groups
Joining social media groups is much like joining a Community on Reddit. You will find people there who you can get help from, and offer help in return. Questions are asked, and problems are discussed.
In response, you can write an entire blog article centering around someone’s concern and providing solutions to that problem. Plus, it’s a good place to know about what your target audience would be interested in.
Leading blogs have a ton of followers and people who are avid readers. They leave their two cents in addition to the article, and some drop questions. Read the latest blog posts relevant to your niche and your topic of interest. After that, comb through the comments’ section and note the consistent queries that you see.
Step 3: Write and write
You could probably get off easy on the research in short content. But that’s no such thing in writing detailed posts. Adequate research and giant heaping of fact-combing is needed to pull off a relevant and incredibly useful long-form article.
It doesn’t matter if you are an expert or not, you still need to do your research to make sure you cover all the important bases. Other things to remember include:
- Writing a compelling headline: No matter how great the body of the text is, if readers can’t get past the headline, your efforts fall flat. So make your headlines just as good as the rest of your long-form content. Research, experiment, and track the headlines that generate the most traffic. And above all, let your industry knowledge and expertise guide you down the right path to perfect headline creation.
- Do some storytelling: Telling stories makes the world go round. In every conversation you’re in (online or offline), you’re telling stories and trading it with others. So even if you’re busy presenting cold hard facts, don’t neglect the importance of partnering with a compelling story. Your target audience would be more likely to relate and engage with long-form articles that are creative.
- Use simple words: If anything can be expressed in one word or a short phrase, then do it that way. One surefire way of getting people to turn away from your work is to include jargon with your posts. It’s not going to be inclusive to your target audiences. Remember that not everybody is on the same level of expertise as you are. So exhibit some consideration.
- Write for SEO: Break up paragraphs into two or three sentences per line. Use subheadings too to make it easily skimmable for a lot of people. And use bullets and numbering.
- Steer clear of self-promotion: Tooting your own horn blatantly in your article is bad taste. If you do, make sure to do it properly and sparingly. You can include relevant links that lead to your other works though, for further reference.
Step 4: Promote like crazy
These types of content that require so much effort need payoff in the form of heavy promotion. After you’ve finished writing, done all the on-page SEO, and hit ‘publish,’ it’s time to let your audiences know that you have something educational and relevant for them.
How do you promote your long-form content extensively?
- Outreach via email: Email is nowhere near dead. It’s just as effective as ever. Like your content, you need to make your email messages as attractive as ever to draw people’s attention. Write compelling subject lines and make the body of the message just as irresistible.
- Paid promotions: 4.5% of bloggers make use of paid traffic to get people to notice their content. This can be expensive if you’re new to blogging or your business is young. This tactic is advised for companies that have the budget to spend on paid promotions and exposure.
- Promote your content on social media: Your followers need to see your content. And they can’t do that if you don’t give it to them or show them. So, in addition to doing your email outreach and paying for exposure, utilize the free network at your disposal
- Repurpose your content: Long-form textual content can only go so far. So, if you want an even broader reach, you need to kick it up a notch and produce different versions of your long-form content. You can create an infographic that summarizes every point you made and the data you found. You can also talk about a subtopic in a YouTube video and promote your blog on that network too.
Long-form Content is for Everyone
Whether you’re a struggling website trying to climb the ranks, an entrepreneur with a baby business, or a veteran business owner in your niche, everyone can do well with producing long-form content.
If you aren’t doing it yet, you’re missing out on some incredible benefits. As long as you do your research thoroughly, come out with an article that has a great headline and astounding visuals, and promote it the right way, you’re going to see significant benefits cropping up from your efforts.
Al Gomez is a Digital Marketing Consultant for Dlinkers & Sagad. He has over 12 years’ client digital marketing experience and has proven track records of successful projects and expertise in various marketing channels. He is passionate about solving online marketing problems like generating leads and an increase in sales.